What’s the Difference Between a Dairy Allergy & a Dairy Intolerance?

Food allergies and intolerances are running rampant these days. It’s important to know the difference between the two.

Take lactose, for example; symptoms of a dairy allergy and a dairy intolerance may mimic one another, but the cause of each is vastly different.

A dairy allergy is caused by the body’s immune system response to milk protein. A dairy intolerance is caused by low levels of lactase enzymes, which are responsible for the break down of milk sugar.

A dairy allergy can be life threatening, while a dairy intolerance, although uncomfortable, will not cause as severe a reaction.

Individuals with a dairy allergy must omit dairy from their diet completely. Those with a dairy intolerance, have the option to use supplemental enzymes (e.g., Lactaid and Lactrase) to balance their lactase levels, however, there is no ‘one size fits all’ remedy for managing lactose intolerance. Factors such as, individual lactase levels, the type and quantity of intestinal bacteria in the colon and the dairy product ingested, influence the effectiveness of supplements and the body’s ability to digest and process dairy.

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