When I am treating someone with an autoimmune disease, I also recommend getting off dairy products. The dairy industry has had a major impact in terms of our conditioning when it comes to drinking cow’s milk. We are drinking another animal’s milk and that is not natural. Yet, we have been raised believing it necessary to drink cow’s milk- it is even it’s own food group on the Canada food guide. But is it really healthy? I would not recommend consuming it in the case of an autoimmune disease.
The problem with dairy is the large proteins that come along with it- the main one causing problems is casein. If casein gets into the bloodstream when dairy products are digested due to a leaky gut situation which I have discussed in previous posts, it can cause cross reactions with the immune system. The sequence of amino acids making up casein can be similar to our own proteins and when the immune system ‘sees’ casein in the bloodstream, it can go into attack mode and attack other host tissues like the B-cells of the pancreas. Whey is the other protein in dairy and makes up about 20% versus casein which makes up about 80% of the protein in dairy. As many people drink whey protein powders, I would recommend a rice based protein powder instead or other vegan alternatives.
An AI disease is a red flag for me concerning dairy but other individuals have problems with dairy as well. There are other symptoms you may have when you have an intolerance to dairy. Lactose intolerance, which is when you can’t digest the milk sugar lactose can cause diarrhea, bloating, and gas in susceptible individuals. This situation can also contribute to small intestinal dysbiosis and thus contribute to leaky gut syndrome. Other symptoms of a dairy intolerance include chronic nasal congestion and runny nose. Ear infections are common in kids who have a dairy allergy as is chronic hyperactivity. I do IgG testing to detect dairy allergies.
Most people worry about calcium intake when they cut out dairy products but there are other ways than milk to get calcium. Green vegetables are a fabulous way to get calcium. Some of the best sources include broccoli, kale, collards and bok choy. Nuts and seeds such as almonds and sesame seeds are also a decent source of calcium. Milk substitutes include hemp milk, almond milk, and fortified soy milk (if tolerated- I don’t recommend soy for AI patients). There are no great substitutes for cheese but nutritional yeast which is a source of B vitamins makes a reasonable alternative to parmesan cheese. I use nutritional yeast to make dairy free pesto and it tastes really good. I also add nutritional yeast to quinoa if I want a hot cereal in the am as they blend well together. Some people tolerate fermented sources of dairy such as yogurt especially if they are lactose intolerant. I still do not recommend any type of dairy when treating an AI disease.