dairy intolerance food

Dairy Sensitivity

Food produced from animal milk is classed as dairy. This can take the form of cow’s milk, goat’s milk, sheep’s milk and buffalo milk, amongst others. The most common foods made from dairy are yogurt, cheese, ice cream, and butter.

There are many health benefits associated with drinking milk. However, not everybody can tolerate it. For some, this could result in an allergic (IgE) reaction, sensitivity (IgG reaction) or lactose intolerance.


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What are the symptoms of dairy intolerance?

The symptoms of a milk protein intolerance (IgG) are wide-ranging, so it is important to discuss your symptoms with your doctor before taking a closer look at your diet. Dairy intolerance symptoms could include, but are not limited to:

Abdominal Pain
Excess Wind

Urticaria (hives)
Itchy skin


Weight Gain



Joint Pain

Respiratory Problems

What Is The Difference Between A Milk Allergy And A Milk Intolerance?

Many people suspect that allergies and intolerances are the same thing. However, the biological processes behind them are, in fact, totally different.

Food allergies are an immediate, potentially life-threatening, reaction to foods, such as milk. Symptoms may come on very quickly, often within minutes of eating the food. Approximately 4% of the adult population suffer from food allergies, and reactions are usually for life. If you have food allergies, your body produces IgE antibodies. Food-specific IgG (food sensitivity) reactions, meanwhile, are usually delayed and are not life-threatening, but they can make life difficult. Food sensitivities are not necessarily lifelong. You can find out more on the differences between allergy and intolerance here. Our food sensitivity tests do not detect allergic reactions to milk, if you feel that you may have a milk allergy, please consult your doctor or medical professional.

In addition to milk allergy and milk sensitivity, there is also lactose intolerance.

What is the difference between a milk sensitivity and lactose intolerance?

The difference between lactose and milk sensitivity differs greatly. While lactose intolerance is caused by a reaction to the sugar in milk, it is NOT the same as a milk allergy or milk intolerance.

Lactose intolerance is a digestive issue which is caused by an enzyme (lactase) deficiency. People who suffer from lactose intolerance are unable to fully digest lactose, which is a type of sugar found in milk and dairy products. If you have a milk protein intolerance (defined by yorktest as a food-specific IgG reaction), your body reacts negatively to the dairy protein. This means that you should look to remove all animal milks, such as cow, sheep or goat from your diet as the proteins are similar unless they are separately tested.

Lactose intolerance can produce similar symptoms to a milk allergy and milk intolerance; the reaction of lactose intolerance can be delayed, similar to an IgG reaction. However, lactose intolerance is for life, similar to an allergy.

Can you outgrow a dairy intolerance?

Yes, it is possible to outgrow a milk sensitivity, if this is an intolerance to the milk protein (IgG). However, please note that if you are diagnosed as lactose intolerant by your doctor, you cannot outgrow this type of intolerance, but it can sometimes be helped by taking digestive enzymes.

How long does it take for dairy intolerance to show?

A food intolerance usually involves a delayed biological reaction. It is thought that a milk-specific IgG reaction can take between 2 to 72 hours to show.

How do you test for a milk sensitivity?

Our Food Sensitivity Test can assess the level of anti-milk antibodies in the blood, such as cow’s milk, sheep’s milk and goat’s milk. You may find you react to cow’s milk but tolerate other animal milks.  Therefore, it’s always worthwhile to consider an IgG food sensitivity test first before jumping into an elimination diet by yourself.

Please note that yorktest’s programs do not measure the levels of lactase, and therefore do not diagnose lactose intolerance. If the food intolerance test results indicate that you may have a milk intolerance, it does not mean that you have lactose intolerance, although you may wish to consult your doctor for further tests, as you may have both.

kids and dairy

Which foods contain dairy?

There are many products which contain milk. Being aware of these is important when making changes to optimize your diet. The following list of ingredients should be avoided if you have a milk intolerance:

  • Milk (whole, semi-skimmed, skimmed, UHT, condensed, powdered)
  • Cream (single, double, soured,
  • whipping, aerosol)
  • Cheeses (hard, soft and spreadable)
  • Butter and buttermilk
  • Crème fraiche
  • Fromage frais
  • Ice cream
  • Yogurt
milk and lactose intolerance

Does milk have other names?

Since December 2014, the Food Information Regulation classified 14 major food allergens which fall under the Food Safety Authority (FSA). It is a legal requirement that food businesses must provide allergen information in any food they sell or provide, making it easier for people with food allergies or intolerances to identify the trigger foods they need to avoid.

You will notice the main allergens on product packaging in bold and milk is one of them. However, milk can also take on other names that may not necessarily be in bold.

Milk can also be called:

  • Lactoglobulin
  • Lactalbumin
  • Casein
  • Caseinate
  • Lactose

If you notice these names on product packaging, it’s best to steer clear of these ingredients if you are actively avoiding milk products.

What are dairy-free foods?

If you have a milk intolerance, there’s no need to worry. Now more than ever, there are plenty of milk-free and dairy-free options available in major supermarkets, coffee shops, and restaurants. To ensure you maintain a balanced diet which provides protein, calcium and fat-soluble vitamins, you can supplement your diet with a variety of dairy alternatives. These include:

  • Coconut milk
  • Rice milk
  • Oat milk
  • Sunflower or olive oil spreads
  • Soy cheese
  • Nut cheese
  • Almond or hazelnut milk
  • Hemp milk
  • Soy milk

How do I get enough calcium on a milk-free diet?

Milk can be an important source of calcium and, therefore, it is natural to become cautious when removing this from your diet, due to a risk of Osteoporosis or calcium/vitamin D deficiency.

If your results show you have a milk intolerance, YorkTest’s Nutritional Therapists are here to help. You can book a 30-minute Nutritional Consultation to discuss an even larger range of alternatives than those listed above that could support with your elimination diet and your calcium levels. They will also give you bespoke advice on what foods and drinks you need to avoid which contain milk/dairy that are currently in your diet.

Other Intolerances