Considering a dairy free diet?
A dairy free diet was originally undertaken for lactose intolerance, an allergy to dairy or a vegan diet. Partial or full avoidance of dairy is now more common practice as more of us focus on healthy living; reducing meat and dairy in the diet and opting for more plant-based alternatives can help contribute to health as well as being beneficial for a sustainable planet. Cow's milk protein allergy is actually uncommon in adults, lactose intolerance (inability to digest the milk sugar, lactose) affects around 5% of the UK adult population and causes symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating and diarrhoea. Lactose intolerance can also occur for a short time after the use of antibiotics or gut infections. Individuals with IBS may also suffer from lactose intolerance.
Dairy free means avoiding all milk, including cow's, sheep, goat's, buffalo and other mammalian milk and their products. Often there are hidden derivatives of these in manufactured foods.
Dairy foods are rich in calcium and vitamins B12 and B2, so it is important to choose alternatives which are fortified with these. Such examples include fortified soya, almond and oat milk or rice milk (not suitable for under 5 years) or soya cheese and yoghurt. For children, it is important to see a specialist.
Other foods rich in calcium include, green leafy vegetables, fish with small bones such as sardines and seeds; alternatives rich in B12 include fortified cereals, kale, eggs and some fish, such as salmon and those foods rich in B2 (riboflavin) include eggs, rice and fortified cereals.
If you are going dairy free also look out for ingredients which are milk derivatives, such as casein, whey, rennet, butter and those which names start with 'lacto'.
Individuals who are lactose intolerant may be able to consume a small amount of lactose such as hard cheese and yoghurt. Anyone with an allergy (immune response) must avoid dairy altogether.
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