Lactose Intolerance VS Casein Intolerance
You have heard of lactose intolerance, and those that avoid lactose or casein but what are these two substances and what is the difference? Allergy and intolerance information can be confusing at best and can leave a parent or sufferer worried about what a person can eat. Often time’s people will simply stop eating all dairy when in fact for some that may not be necessary. People often react to one or the other of these two substances in milk but not usually both.
Lactose is the sugar in milk that needs the enzyme lactase to break it down so that it can be absorbed by the body. Babies usually produce this enzyme in abundance but after the age of weaning the production of lactase naturally declines as our dependence on milk declines. This is actually a normal process although many of us now possess a gene mutation that allows lactase production to continue past this time. Lactose intolerance while miserable for many is not a serious condition, but merely your body’s reaction to undigested food. Most people will experience diarrhea, bloating and gas as a response to undigested lactose.
Casein is one of the proteins found in milk and while one can be intolerant to casein, it is casein allergies that we hear about most. Casein allergies are more serious than lactose intolerances, and symptoms can be far more invasive than those of lactose intolerance. Symptoms can include eczema, hives, gastrointestinal symptoms similar to those of lactose intolerance, and asthma. Those that have an intolerance or allergy to casein are also at risk for anaphylactic reactions where the immune system floods the body with chemicals and the body can go into shock.
For those with lactose intolerance it is relatively simple to avoid lactose, the vast majority of people can tolerate small amounts of lactose, and only need to avoid things such as milk and possibly other dairy products. It is not necessary for those with lactose intolerance to avoid casein and most lactose intolerant people can consume milk with the lactose removed. Casein is much more difficult since it tends to be in more products and for those that have a casein sensitivity problem even small amounts of casein can cause issues. For these people no dairy product or byproduct is acceptable since it is likely to contain trace amounts of casein.