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Dairy-Free Lifestyle

For people who are allergic to dairy products, or who are lactose intolerant, a dairy-free diet is crucial to one's well being.

Milk allergies are caused by the immune system's response to the presence of milk proteins in the body. The body perceives the milk proteins as a foreign matter and attacks them, triggering the allergic reaction. Dairy allergy symptoms are the same as general food allergies, and can include breathing problems, gastrointestinal distress, hives or skin rashes.

Lactose-intolerant people simply lack adequate amounts of the enzyme lactase. Lactase is needed to digest the sugars in milk. Symptoms of lactose intolerance include abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea and gas.

Drink and food items good for a dairy-free lifestyle include:

•  Almond, rice or soy milk

•  Grain beverages and dairy substitutes

•  Margarine

•  Nondairy cheese

•  Nondairy chocolate

•  Nondairy ice cream

•  Nondairy yogurt

•  Other milk-free or nondairy products

Quick Tip: Try replacing cow's milk with soy milk. Soy milk is nutritionally close to cow's milk and is a good source of lecithin and vitamin E. It also lacks casein, is safe for people with lactose intolerance and milk allergy, and contains isoflavones and organic chemicals.

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