21 Ocak 2008 Pazartesi

Food Allergies and Intolerances - Part 3

What are the common symptoms of lactose intolerance/milk allergy?

Many times the terms “milk allergy” and “lactose intolerance” are used interchangeably, creating confusion among people. However, they are different health conditions with different causes, symptoms, target groups and different treatments are needed to offset their effects. It is therefore imperative to outline the differences between these two terms.

On one hand, when we talk about “food intolerance,” we refer to an adverse reaction of the body to a food substance or additive that involves digestion or metabolism (breakdown of food by the body) but does not involve the immune system. Lactose intolerance is an example of this. It occurs when a person lacks the enzyme (lactase) needed to digest milk sugar (lactose).

On the other hand, “food allergy” is a reaction of the body’s immune system to something in a food or an ingredient in a food –usually a protein. Cow’s milk, eggs, wheat, and soy are among the most common sources of food allergies in children. Milk allergy is caused by an abnormal reaction of the immune system to the proteins present in milk.

Furthermore, the symptoms of milk allergy and lactose intolerance can take many forms, and many times they differ greatly among individuals. In cow’s milk allergy, the effects can be immediate or delayed, and symptoms will appear throughout the body. The sites mostly affected are the digestive tract (nausea, stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhoea), the skin (hives, eczema, swelling), and the airways (wheezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, coughing). One of the greatest dangers in food allergies comes from anaphylaxis, which in this case may be rare, acute or even sometimes produce an overwhelming reaction of the immune system. For some people, cow’s milk allergy might cause only hives or an upset stomach; for others, however, it can lead to serious illness or even death (life threatening).

Lactose intolerance may produce symptoms similar to cow’s milk allergy, such as diarrhoea, vomiting and/or stomach cramps; however, it can result in abdominal bloating and gas production. The severity of symptoms varies depending on the amount of lactose each individual can tolerate.

Can I use goat milk when I am intolerant to cow’s milk?

Goat milk is often presented as the solution for people with a cow milk protein allergy. Unfortunately this is often not the case.

Whether goat milk can be tolerated better than cow milk will depend on the specific protein involved in the allergy. Most people with a cow milk protein allergy are allergic to b-lactoglobulin. However this protein is also present in goat milk; consequently goat milk does not offer these people an alternative.

It is worthwhile trying goat milk as an alternative for cow milk, in consultation with your doctor or dietist, provided that the allergic symptoms are not life threatening, and the person involved is above 1 year of age. This will add an important source of proteins and calcium to the diet.

Which additives contain milk products?

None of the additives (E-numbers) contains milk protein or other milk ingredients. Milk ingredients are always mentioned as milk powder, casein, whey, whey powder, yoghurt, yoghurt powder and so forth. Lactic acid is produced from sugar by certain bacteria; it is not derived from milk.

Does soy milk contain lactose?

No, soymilk does not contain lactose. Lactose is a sugar present in all animal milk, but does not occur in plants. Soy milk, which actually is not a milk but a juice, is obtained from soy beans, and not from animal origin and thus does not contain lactose.

What are gluten?

Gluten are a group of protein in cereals, especially in wheat. Wheat is closely related to other cereal grains, especially rye, barley, and oats, hence these grains also contain some gluten.

Gluten are the proteins in wheat that are responsible for the strong structure of a dough. The gluten proteins are responsible for the network that is formed in the process of making bread. This structure that forms during the raising period is very important, without gluten there will be no structure and the bread will not leaven.

Gluten are for most people a normal protein that is easily digested via the stomach-gut channel. However a small part of the population cannot digest gluten. These people are gluten intolerant, which is most commonly referred to as celiac disease.

Gluten is a mixture of a series of individual proteins classified in two groups, the Prolamines and the Glutelins. The main prolamine protein, Gliadin, seems to be the major problem in celiac disease or gluten intolerance; gliadin antibodies are commonly found in the immune complexes associated with this disease.

When people with celiac disease eat foods containing gluten, their immune system responds by damaging the small intestine. Specifically, tiny fingerlike protrusions, called villi, on the lining of the small intestine are lost. Nutrients from food are absorbed into the bloodstream through these villi. Without villi, a person becomes malnourished–regardless of the quantity of food eaten.

Because the body’s own immune system causes the damage, celiac disease is considered an autoimmune disorder. However, it is also classified as a disease of malabsorption because nutrients are not absorbed. Celiac disease is also known as celiac sprue, nontropical sprue, and gluten-sensitive enteropathy.

Celiac disease is a genetic disease, meaning that it runs in families. Sometimes the disease is triggered–or becomes active for the first time–after surgery, pregnancy, childbirth, viral infection, or severe emotional stress.

How do you remove gluten from kitchen tools after you have used these tools with wheat products?

Gluten is part of protein complex present in wheat, considered as one of the most important because of its functional properties. This is the main reason for the widespread use of wheat in the food industry. Specifically, it is the only cereal that forms a strong, cohesive dough that will retain gas and produce light baked products.

As a whole complex, gluten is is insoluble in water, but soluble in dilute salt solutions or dilute acids/bases. To remove gluten from kitchen tools, the tools can be rinsed first with cold water, followed by rinsing with hot water. The hot water will dissolve the attached dough created by gluten, thus enhancing the process of desorption. Additionally, cleaning with dishwashing liquids or various cleaning solvents is recommended. Cleaning with dishwashing detergent in combination with hot water is acceptable. Rinse tools thoroughly with hot water and dry.

Which additives contain chicken products?

None of the additives (E-numbers) contains chicken products, except E322 (lecithin) that may be derived from egg yolk.

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