A milk allergy is often confused with lactose intolerance because some symptoms are similar. But the two are very different. A milk allergy is a reaction by the immune system to proteins found in milk. Lactose intolerance affects the digestive system, when there’s an inadequate supply of the lactase enzyme to break down lactose.
A milk allergy occurs when the immune system doesn’t recognize one or more of the proteins in milk as being harmless, and reacts against them. The two main proteins in milk that are known to cause reactions are casein and whey. Casein and whey are also found in many processed foods. Infants are at a higher risk of suffering from a milk allergy, with around 2-3% of the world’s population being affected. Although symptoms can be serious, the good news is that most children outgrow a milk allergy by age two or three.
Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest a sugar called lactose that’s found mainly in milk and dairy products. Normally, the small intestine produces an enzyme called lactase, which breaks down lactose into two simple sugars, glucose and galactose, which can be absorbed into the bloodstream. People whose bodies don’t make enough lactase can’t fully digest lactose, causing mild to uncomfortable side effects.
Talk to your doctor for personalized information and assistance in finding the best dietary approach for you.
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