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Most of us consume milk beyond infancy by drinking the milk of other animals. Industrial processing of dairy products has brought us casein, whey protein, condensed milk, powdered milk, and many other milk based food ingredients. Lactose is found almost exclusively in milk, and lactase, the enzyme needed to digest lactose, reaches its highest levels in the small intestines after birth and then begins a slow decline. Those who continue to tolerate milk benefit from using the milk of domesticated cattle, sheep, goats, yaks, water buffalo and camels. More and more alternatives to cow’s milk are becoming readily available including oat, rice, coconut, soya and almond milks. However, it is important to test whether you have an intolerance to any of these alternatives.
While lactose intolerance is caused by a reaction to the sugar in milk, it is NOT the same as milk allergy or milk intolerance. Milk intolerances can cause symptoms unrelated to lactase enzyme deficiency, however, they are very real. Often, people’s food intolerance problems are a combination of food types, though. An elimination diet is the accepted way to identify individual food reactions where, using a process of elimination, one food type at a time is restricted in your diet for several weeks. However, it is time consuming and almost impossible to try all the combinations of food types.
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†Allergy UK report (2007), "Stolen Lives 3, The Food Allergy and Food Intolerance Report".