An allergy to casein or whey, the proteins in dairy foods, initiates an immune response, including symptoms such as wheezing, hives and vomiting. More commonly, individuals struggle with lactose intolerance, which arises from a lack of sufficient levels of the enzyme lactase to effectively break down and metabolize the milk sugar lactose. You will want to increase the amount of non-dairy foods in your diet if you suffer from either condition.
You may be worried about your calcium consumption if you are eliminating dairy, but vegetables such as kale, Swiss chard, broccoli and cooked spinach are high in calcium that is easily utilized by your body. According to the "Asian Pacific Journal of Nutrition," the calcium in low oxalate dark green leafy vegetables is absorbed efficiently and prevents calcium loss. Fruit and vegetables are also naturally free of dairy. This means they do not contain casein and whey, which are the proteins that can cause dairy allergies.
Although meat does not naturally contain dairy, read the ingredient label, because casein may have been added for its binding properties. Also, if you are purchasing marinated meat, check the marinade to ensure casein, butter or other dairy products were not added. Otherwise, unprocessed meat is a dairy-free source of protein, vitamins and minerals. Eggs, especially the yolks, are a non-dairy source of protein. Eggs also contribute fat-soluble vitamin A and vitamin D that can replace the vitamins you may have been ingesting from dairy.
Incorporating beans and nuts such as Brazil nuts, almonds, cashews and walnuts into your diet in place of dairy provides you with protein. Raw almonds provide you with a sufficient level of calcium, while walnuts have high levels of the heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
Some substitutes for cow’s milk include rice milk, almond milk, coconut milk and cashew milk. Rice milk can also be used to make rice yogurt. Certain ice creams have a base of coconut milk rather than cow’s milk. Some packaged food items such as brown rice pasta are dairy-free. Always check the ingredient list for milk, cheese, yogurt, casein, whey or any other dairy item to ensure you are avoiding hidden sources of dairy.
- Chris Ted/Digital Vision/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.