There’s an epidemic surrounding us of sensitivities to various foods. Allergies to foods, food intolerances, or even just increased sensitivity are becoming more and more common. Food allergies are not so common, but food intolerances seem to be increasing alarmingly.

Unfortunately for many people, food intolerances are often misdiagnosed or even missed altogether. The symptoms are often very diverse and as they can take anywhere from minutes after eating to hours or occasionally, even days to appear they are often not linked directly to the troublesome food. This delay makes it very difficult to pinpoint exactly what is the causing the problem.

In addition, the person may often be intolerant to more than one food. If it happens to be an ingredient that is commonly found in many different foods, such as gluten or lactose, it may be near impossible to detect. Simply eliminating one food from the diet does not stop the occurrence of symptoms as the other problem foods still cause symptoms. The individual often then assumes the eliminated food is not the cause, when in fact it may be a PART of the cause

Common allergy tests do not detect food intolerances and the sufferer is often given a clean bill of health after testing, but continues to endure the debilitating symptoms.

Gluten sensitivity is becoming very common and you can read all about it here.


Lactose intolerance refers to the condition where the person is unable to digest the sugar in milk (lactose) properly. It is fairly common, with estimates that about 65% of the world’s adult population have the condition to some extent. It is not a dangerous condition but can be very unpleasant, even ruining the quality of life for the person.

Some people have the condition mildly, only experiencing symptoms if they overload on dairy foods. Others have it severely with strong symptoms occurring with even the tiniest amount of dairy foods.

Symptoms include diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, stomach bloating, flatulence, and appear anywhere from thirty minutes to a few hours, or rarely, even days after consuming the food.

The degree of symptoms experienced depends on three things: The amount of lactose consumed, the levels of the lactase enzyme present and the speed of gastric emptying – the faster the gut transit the worse the symptoms.

People with lactose intolerance are not able to produce sufficient lactase, the enzyme required for lactose metabolism. Not everyone with lactase deficiency has lactose intolerance. The deficiency develops over a long period. Although it starts at about two years of age most people don’t develop symptoms until adolescence or adulthood. It may also develop as the result of damage to the intestine through illness such as celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, severe diarrhea or chemotherapy.

It has long been thought that lactose intolerance was due entirely to this enzyme lack in the gut. It is now thought that low levels of good intestinal bacteria may also be the cause. While this may be, in many instances these low bacteria levels are the result of other problems or illnesses. It is now thought that low levels of good intestinal bacteria may be the cause of lactose intolerance.


There are studies that have shown that many of those who absorb lactose poorly are actually able to absorb it in small amounts – about 12 g. For these people it is often not necessarily to eliminate lactose entirely or to take extra foods or supplements to balance the gut to see results, but rather to simply cut back on how much dairy they consume.

For others the only way to get rid of symptoms for good is to go onto a dairy-free eating plan. Dairy foods include all forms of cow’s milk, cheese, cream, ice-cream, butter, yoghurt, curds, and many foods made from these. It may also include the milk products of goats, sheep and camels. It does not include eggs. Here is a comprehensive list of all dairy foods.

If the gut symptoms are due to an illness such as IBS eliminating dairy foods will not give significant relief of symptoms.

Evidence shows that lactose intolerance can be greatly improved by replacing certain gut bacteria through eating yoghurt, probiotics and kefir. This is certainly a worthwhile practice but it does not address the problem of why the intolerance is happening in the first place. The underlying cause is not addressed if introducing probiotics is the only way the person deals with their problem.

There are many lactose-free products available now. Many are soy based. But there are many that have other ingredients substituted. Coconut milk is one used to replace milk. Rice milk, almond milk, oat milk and soy milk are all lactose free. There are many oils suitable, and used, to replace butter. Ghee has the lactose skimmed out of it and may be an excellent substitute. Some fruit sorbets have no milk added. Read the labels on processed foods and you will find lots of lactose-free alternatives.

Words that indicate the presence of lactose include:  Milk, lactose, whey, curds, milk by-products, dry milk solids, non-fat milk powder, milk solids

Lactose is also used in many prescription medicines, including birth control pills, over the counter medications and health supplements.

Some people can tolerate low-lactose foods. For example, I can digest a hard goats’ cheese although not the softer chevre type ones, and certainly not those cheeses made from cow’s milk. Foods made from goat and sheep milk have less lactose than those from cow’s milk.

When I removed dairy foods from my diet I very quickly remembered that I had actually hated milk and cheese as a child, and had only started eating them as an adult in response to peer pressure. Often our bodies know what is not going to be tolerated and lets us know.

However, the opposite can just as easily occur. Many people who have strong cravings for creamy dairy foods or milk actually have an intolerance or allergy. If you experience either strong cravings or aversions it is worth considering the level of your tolerance.


There are a number of foods and supplements you can take to help reduce the unpleasant digestive symptoms experienced after eating dairy foods.


Probiotic bacteria that are useful for lactose intolerance include Lactobacilli, Bifidobacteria and Streptococci. Bifidobacterium longum is one that is very efficient at metabolizing lactose, although these bacteria are all capable of producing lactase to improve lactose digestion.

While probiotics are live strains of good bacteria, prebiotics are the nourishment this bacteria needs to stimulate growth. Eating prebiotics as well as taking a probiotic supplement helps to significantly build the levels of bacteria. Some good choices of foods containg inulin, the most common form of prebiotic, are asparagus, garlic, leek, onion, and artichoke.

Apple Cider Vinegar

ACV can be a very effective way to reduce, even eradicate, lactose intolerance. It helps to balance the body. Try one tablespoon in ½ to one full glass of water every morning. Adding ¼ teaspoon of bicarb soda (baking soda) to the ACV before adding the water seems to help. It will take several weeks to improve and you must be diligent and not skip a day.

Coconut Oil

Taking 1-2 teaspoons of virgin coconut oil daily may help reduce intolerance. LINK Alternatively, use coconut milk as a milk replacement in many recipes.


Even though yoghurt is a dairy product, a few spoonfuls of good quality, full fat yoghurt, (such as those made by Jalna – I am NOT an affiliate) with each meal introduces beneficial bacteria to your gut. Many people with lactose intolerance can digest yoghurt because it has live bacteria in it to help break down the lactose and improve digestion.

Fermented Products

Sauerkraut and kimchi are foods made from fermented cabbage that contain good bacteria which helps to re-populate the gut and regulate the digestive system. Drink the juice of the sauerkraut as well as eating it. Kim chi is quite spicy. It will take a few weeks for the bacteria to build up to sufficient levels to reduce symptoms.

Lactase Enzyme Supplements

Lactase is an enzyme produced in the small intestine that breaks down lactose in the body. When a person does not produce sufficient lactase they experience the symptoms of lactose intolerance.

Lactase supplements are a small pill that is taken with foods containing lactose. They are useful as a temporary measure or when you are eating large quantities of dairy foods, but may not be so good for the long term. Adding the enzymes to milk a few hours before drinking it helps break down the lactose. You can get them from health food stores

Some people become immune to the pills over time. It may also not always be clear when you are about to eat dairy foods. I once watched a famous chef on TV divulge that the secret ingredient in his amazing clear chicken stock was cow’s milk.

One other problem with lactase supplements is that when the lactase appears in the gut from another external source the requirement on the body to produce its own lactase enzymes is removed, and you may very easily go from producing some if insufficient amounts of lactase to producing none at all.


If you are only slightly intolerant of lactose all you may need to do is cut down the amount of dairy you eat. You may tolerate some dairy foods better than others and if you choose carefully you may feel better in ways you had not really noticed were wrong before.

High fat milk is more easily digested than low-fat milk. Hard, aged cheeses have less lactose than soft cheeses. Butter is low in lactose. Milk products containing live bacterial cultures are already partially digested and may be tolerated. Eating good quality yogurt containing live culture 10-15 minutes before eating dairy products may help your symptoms.

If your intolerance is a little more severe you could find adding fermented foods, apple cider vinegar or probiotics gives you huge improvements.

Going dairy-free is often the best choice for eliminating the symptoms. These days it is not difficult as there are many alternatives, including soy and coconut. If you are able to tolerate a little lactose, and most people can, add very small amounts of some form of better tolerated dairy foods to stimulate your gut to keep producing what lactase it can.

For many simply cutting back the amount of dairy products is enough to eliminate the symptoms. Drinking less milk every day, eating yoghurt instead of drinking milk, replacing cows cheese with goat’s cheese are just a few things you could do.

From:’s a food-sensitivity epidemic surrounding us.

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