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Our pediatrician tested my son for gluten intolerance, but the result was negative. I thought milk might have been the problem because after drinking a glass of it with his meal, he threw up. I’ve tried giving him lactose-free milk but he’s still sick and has cramps. What am I to make of all this?

It’s possible to be intolerant to dairy products made with cow’s milk while having no problem digesting lactose. While lactose is found in dairy products from both goats and cows, some people are fine with the former but not the latter. In that case, the source of the problem is likely casein, a protein found in cow’s milk. 

When you’re lactose intolerant, your body doesn’t produce enough lactase, the enzyme used to digest lactose. In so-called “lactose-free” dairy products, lactase has simply been added to the milk to help people digest it better. In fact, it’s not really an intolerance. A true intolerance usually manifests as a reaction to a protein such as casein—lactose is a sugar. In these cases, it’s best to completely avoid dairy products derived from cow’s milk in order to help the body recover. 

Even if your child has no reaction to gluten, I usually recommend eliminating wheat (white and whole flour) from the diet. Wheat and dairy products are the two most common sources of intolerances because they undergo a considerable amount of processing, which makes them more irritating and therefore more difficult to digest and assimilate. The wheat used in common food products has been highly processed to increase its gluten concentration in order to make baked goods rise more easily and to make them softer. This processing also turns wheat into a stronger acidifier and irritant. You can replace wheat with Kamut®, spelt, barley, oats, rye, rice, quinoa or millet. You can replace dairy products from cow’s milk with similar products derived from goat’s milk; cow’s milk can be replaced with almond or rice milk. 

Once you’ve eliminated wheat and cow’s milk products from your child’s diet, keep a journal of what he or she eats and when the cramps arise. Keep in mind, though, that reactions to food can take up to 48 hours to appear. Once you’ve done that experiment, look for potential reactions to other foods: eggs, other grains, soy, chicken, beef and tree nuts. 

I also recommend Molkosan by A.Vogel. It’s made from cow’s milk, but the milk is simply used to feed the good bacteria, Lactobacillus casei. The end product contains no lactose or casein, and helps reduce food intolerances by eliminating harmful bacteria and Candida from the intestines; you should start noticing Molkosan’s effects in around a month. Candida in particular is a major irritant and the main cause of intestinal permeability, which can lead to food intolerances and allergies. Add to water, juice, a smoothie or any other cold beverages, but not to warm or hot ones.

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