So … your kid has Eczema? Asthma? Chronic Sinusitis?
If your child has any of these, or other chronic disorders, and you suspect that milk is a trigger – what do you do now?
The first thing to do is confirm that dairy products trigger the problem.
Try the elimination diet for confirmation. (Download the Guide to Elimination Diet from the University of Wisconsin here)
Once you confirm that dairy is the problem, you need to find decent alternatives. That can be a challenge.
- You may have heard that SOY has problems.
- You may have offered your child goat milk out of desperation (no-go).
- You may have heard about “hemp” milk (“I’m not giving MY kids anything made from Marijuana!”).
That is the topic of this two-part article: Alternatives to Milk.
So let’s start over: if dairy is a trigger for your child’s illness, what ARE the options?
We’ll break the options into two rough categories: “milk” alternatives from plants, and those from animals.
Let’s start with animal milk alternatives to cow’s milk; plant alternatives will be covered in a follow up article.
We will address milk intolerance separately.
Part 1. Animal Milk Alternatives
The biggest benefit of animal alternatives to cow’s milk is that they are similar in protein levels and in fat content to mother’s milk. They are, in fact, “mother’s” milk.
Because goats are “greener” – they eat less and require less grazing space than cows – they are gaining in popularity in the United States as a milk source. For these reasons, goat’s milk is already the preferred milk in many parts of the world. Like anything, goat’s milk is an acquired taste. If that is all you ever tasted, it may be wonderful. If you are trying to transition from cow’s milk to goat’s milk, it may take some effort.
However, if your little boogorhead is reacting to cow’s milk, goat’s milk may be entirely safe. That’s because they contain different proteins. If you have developed a reaction to the proteins in cow’s milk, goat’s milk may not incite any reaction at all. It’s worth investigating. Take a look at an informative article on goat’s milk on the “Ask Dr. Sears” website: http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/feeding-infants-toddlers/goat-milk
Goat’s milk is rapidly gaining in popularity in the United States. As a result, is becoming easier to find at your local grocer. It will be more challenging to find than cow’s milk, and the variations that we take for granted from cow’s milk products – fat-free, low-fat, lactose-free, and various cheeses – are seldom available for goat’s milk products.
Similar to goat’s milk, acquiring a taste for sheep’s milk may take some effort. But again, the proteins are different from those in cow’s milk. So it may not be a trigger if you are intolerant or if you react to cow’s milk. In general, sheep’s milk is “richer,” meaning that it is higher in fat, protein, calcium, and calorie content than cow, goat, or even human milk. Take a look at this site on the history and nutrition of sheep’s milk: http://www.sheep101.info/dairy.html
Despite recent gains in popularity, sheep’s milk and milk products can still be very difficult to find locally.
When we talk about “Buffalo” milk, we’re talking about water Buffalo, not the North American Bison that we Americans think of when we hear “Buffalo”. Water Buffalo milk products are gaining popularity in the United Kingdom. In fact, that is where many of these products are available (see an example at Laverstokepark). Cheese and yogurt from Buffalo milk was available in the States from Vermont, but they have moved their operation to Quebec, Canada (http://www.bufaladivermont.com/). Buffalo milk products are extremely difficult to obtain in the States, and it is nearly impossible to find actual Buffalo milk (other products such as cheese or yogurt can be obtained with effort).
Whereas Buffalo milk has some nutritional advantages over cow’s milk, the genetic similarity between these two bovine species increases the possibility that there may be cross-reactivity. That is, if you react to cow’s milk, the risk of reacting to Buffalo milk is greater than your risk of reacting to goat or sheep milk.
Because of the genetic dissimilarity between cows and chipmunks, and the low probability that you have ever been exposed to chipmunk milk products before, you are unlikely to react to chipmunk milk. However, note that it may take the combined milk from 500 or 600 chipmunks to accumulate an eight-ounce glass of chipmunk milk. Also note that chipmunk milk is not available commercially, so you will need to milk your own. They are nervous little creatures, and it can be challenging to get them to hold still while you milk them :))
(If I receive emails from anyone telling me that they have been bitten by a chipmunk while trying to milk them, I accept no responsibility).
Let’s review the plant alternatives in a follow up article, Part 2. Plant Milk Alternatives.
Until then, peace …
Some more articles that may interest you:
- Top 10 Food Allergies: http://www.boogordoctor.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=1533&action=edit
- 8 Food Allergy Myths: http://www.boogordoctor.com/2010/11/8-food-allergy-myths/
- Reduce Toxins in Your Food: Go Selectively Organic: http://www.boogordoctor.com/2010/08/pediatric-sinusitis-asthma-better-living-through-less-chemistry-our-food/
- 8 Natural Alternatives to Toxic Household Cleaners: http://www.boogordoctor.com/2010/08/pediatric-sinusitis-asthma-better-living-through-less-chemistry-toxic-cleaners/
- Purify and Detoxify Your Air with Plants: http://www.boogordoctor.com/2010/07/use-plants-treat-sinusitis-asthma-air-pollution/
- Dealing With Dust Mites: http://www.boogordoctor.com/2010/09/dust-mites-pediatric-asthma-allergic-rhinitis-sinusitis/
- We are Surrounded by Toxins, but there IS Hope: http://www.boogordoctor.com/2012/08/better-living-through-less-chemistry-hope/
Goat Image Credit: “benamint444″ / Used under Creative Commons License 3.0 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Boer_goat444.jpg
Sheep Image Credit: EwigLernender / Used under Creative Commons License 3.0 / http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Geschecktes_milchschaf.jpg
Water Buffalo Image Credit: Brian Robert Marshall / Used under Creative Commons License 2.0 / http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:A_water_buffalo,_Little_Hungerford,_West_Berkshire_-_up_close_-_geograph.org.uk_-_398650.jpg
Chipmunk Image Credit: Oleksii Voronin / Used under Creative Commons License 3.0 / http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Eastern_Chipmunk,_Ontario,_Canada.jpg
Elimination Diet Guide, from the University of Wisconsin Integrative Medicine Program, Dave Rakel, MD, Director: http://www.fammed.wisc.edu/sites/default/files//webfm-uploads/documents/outreach/im/handout_elimination_diet_patient.pdf
Hi, I’m Russell Faust, author of this medical education blog.
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