Food allergies got your goat?

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A "Nanny" May Help Wean Grown-ups from Milk

Do you suffer from stuffy nose, postnasal drip, or upper respiratory infections? Dull, frontal headaches? Chronic constipation or diarrhea? Rheumatoid arthritis? Chronic fatigue or irritability? If so, you may have a food allergy. And as food allergies go, none are as common as milk allergy.

Until recently, milk and other foods were almost entirely overlooked as factors contributing to ill health. This is because food allergy symptoms are unlike those of a classic allergy: asthma, soreness, itchiness, or anaphylactic shock. They also rarely test positive in skin and laboratory tests. Most food allergies are delayed and their symptoms far more subtle.

Delayed food allergies in adults and older children correspond in several ways to milk allergies in infants. First, both infants and adults allergic to milk do not manifest their symptoms right away. Second, the reactions of both are similar: eczema, diarrhea, bronchitis, asthma, sinus problems, and irritability. Third, the digestive system is the source of the reaction in both babies and adults.

It has long been assumed that infants with milk allergies outgrow them as their intestinal tracts mature. But there may be other reasons why babies seem to "outgrow" these allergies. The most obvious one is that infants ingest only milk, but as they grow older, they drink less and less. For every 24 ounces of milk given to a 16-pound baby, a 160-pound adult would have to drink two gallons of milk. Since few adults drink this much milk, little is known about allergic reactions to cow's milk beyond infancy. All we can safely say is that adult sensitivity or intolerance to cow's milk and other foods is far more common than once thought.

Detecting Food Allergy
If you suffer from food allergy, it would be nice if you could just make an appointment with an allergist to determine which food is to blame. Unfortunately, this is not possible. However, there is a reliable, inexpensive, and relatively easy means of detection. You can simply eliminate milk (or another suspect food) from your diet for two or three weeks. During this time, keep written records of your symptoms. If the symptoms don't clear up, eliminate another food from your diet and follow the same method until you pinpoint the culprit.

Non-Allergenic Foods
Milk, as we all know, has many valuable nutrients. Of these, calcium is most important. This mineral prevents high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and other bone-related problems. If you are allergic to milk, you can take calcium tablets. (The recommended daily dosage is 800 milligrams for most adults, and 1200 for pregnant and nursing mothers.)

As far as nutrition is concerned, milk substitutes are not necessary for adults. But for children and those adults who "want to have their milk and drink it, too," a healthy and good-tasting alternative is goat's milk.

Not Just for Babies
Goat's milk is a healthful alternative for adults and children with food or milk allergies. More people around the world drink goat's milk than cow's milk. And from many health standpoints, they are better off for it.

In comparison to cow's milk, goat's milk has a protein composition closer to human milk (which is why it is often given to babies), more calcium, selenium, phosphate, and vitamins A and B (especially riboflavin). It has a number of features that make it easier to digest, including its softer curd, smaller fat globules, the near-absence of alpha-s-1 casein (the main cause of cow's milk allergy), and more essential fatty acids and shorter-chain fatty acids needed to digest fat.

The digestibility of goat's milk is further enhanced, and its allergenic potential reduced, by a heating process that produces the milk in its evaporated form. It has a superior buffering quality which is especially good for the prevention and treatment of stomach ulcers. People with gallbladder and liver disease can digest goat's milk more easily. Goat's milk also has a balance of essential amino acids that equals or exceeds the recommendations of the World Health Organization. Although it is naturally lower in folate and vitamin D than cow's milk, these nutrients are added in some commercially available brands.

Because of its digestibility and unique nutritional benefits, the U.S. Department of Agriculture in March 1986, declared goat's milk particularly suitable for young children over weaning age and also for women.

Goat's milk has a slightly sweet flavor (some even say "hazelnutty") and a naturally creamy and smooth texture.

For a list of goat's milk recipes and more information about this healthy beverage write to Meyenberg Goat Milk, P.O. Box 5425, Santa Barbara, California 93150.

ILLUSTRATION

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By Claude A. Frazier, M.D.

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