Dairy Intolerance

Dairy products or milk products are a food group produced from the milk of mammals such as cattle, buffaloes, goats and sheep. Dairy products include cheese, yogurt, cream and butter. Dairy can be regularly used as an ingredient in many food items such as desserts, sauces, soups and processed foods.

Dairy is consumed worldwide, however more predominantly in the Western World. Areas of East and Southeast Asia and parts of central Africa have consumed less dairy historically, however there is rapid increase in the demand in recent years.

There is a large range of dairy-free alternative foods now available to help the removal of dairy your diet either partially or fully. Good quality dairy-free milk drinks, yogurt, cheese, ice cream and creams are sold in most good supermarkets and specialist retailers.

Below are some ideas of milk drinks and yogurt types:

Common Milk Alternatives

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Brown rice

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Common Yogurt Alternatives

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Lactose Intolerance

Lactose intolerance involves the digestive system of a person because the body doesn’t make lactase, the enzyme needed to digest lactose (the sugar in milk). The stomach and small intestine fails to properly digest the milk product and the undigested lactose moves to the colon where it’s broken down by bacteria and causes digestive issues such as bloating and gas. Lactose intolerance can be uncomfortable, but not dangerous.

Lactose intolerance is a common condition in adult humans with up to 2 in every 10 people in the UK thought to be suffering (approximately 30 million Americans suffering from it by age 20). Often the condition is more common in people with Asian, African or Native American heritage and less common in people with a northern or western European background.

lactose graphic - Dairy Intolerance

Dairy Allergy

A dairy allergy differs from an intolerance as it is an immune system response. The body reacts to the proteins in milk or dairy item and releases substances that cause allergy symptoms. This allergic reactions can often be more severe and acute.

Dairy allergies are one of most common, especially in children with up to 2 in every 100 children under 4 years old are allergic to milk.

milk graphic - Dairy Intolerance

Dairy intolerance/sensitivity

A dairy intolerance or sensitivity is where the body presents digestive symptoms after the consumption of some dairy products. A less severe condition than lactose intolerance or dairy allergy, this condition can still be uncomfortable and embarrassing for the individual.


Common Lactose Intolerance, dairy sensitivity, and dairy allergy shared symptoms (less severe):

  Nausea; sometimes vomiting
  Abdominal cramps

More acute dairy allergy symptoms:

  Swelling, often in the lips and face
  Tightness in throat
  Trouble swallowing

Replacing Nutrients when Eliminating Dairy

The nutritional profile of milk products varies depending on the fat content. Milk is a good source of protein and vitamins A, B2, B12, D (if fortified), calcium, phosphorus, potassium and selenium. Milk products can also be a good source of pro-biotics.

It is important to use alternative items in your diet when undertaking either a short or long term elimination diet to maintain nutrient balance.

Below a good examples or nutritional alternatives when eliminating dairy:

Vitamin A (Retinol)

Liver, beef, lamb, cod liver oil, eggs, mackerel, salmon, tuna

Beta Carotene (vitamin A)

Sweet potato, carrots, kale, spinach, collards, swiss chard, pak choi, butternut squash, pumpkin, cos lettuce, romaine lettuce, mango, dried apricots, prunes, peaches, melon, red peppers, tuna fish, mackerel

B Vitamins

Brewer’s yeast, oats, buckwheat, brown rice, rye, whole wheat, peanuts, mushrooms, soybean flour and soybeans, split peas, pecans, sunflower seeds, lentils, cashews, chickpeas, broccoli, hazelnuts, peppers


Oysters, mussels, scallops, liver, mackerel, tuna, salmon, sardines, crab, beef, eggs, fortified products

Vitamin D

Salmon, trout, swordfish, mackerel, tuna, mushrooms, fortified products


Watercress, kale, broccoli, low-fat mozzarella (buffalo), pak choi, tofu, sugar snap peas, almonds, tinned sardines in oil with bones, tinned pink salmon


Dried apricots, salmon, mackerel, tuna, monkfish, white beans, lentils, kidney beans, avocado, butternut squash, spinach, mushrooms, bananas, potatoes


Brazil nuts, brown rice, rye, whole wheat, mushrooms, shrimp, sardines, oysters, tuna, sunflower seeds, liver, eggs, beef, turkey


Brown rice, oats, rye, whole wheat, quinoa, chicken, turkey, pork, liver, sardines, scallops, salmon, mackerel, crab, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, pine nuts, almonds, pistachios, cashews

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