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Food Allergies: All Too Common, All Too Under-Diagnosed

 An article in Family Practice News was titled, “Food, Milk Allergies May Increase Growth-Impairment Risk.” (2.27.13)  This article reported that after age two years, food-allergic children had lower mean percentiles for weight, height, and body mass index as compared to age-matched controls.  Researchers reviewed medical records from 245 food-allergic patients to obtain the results.

The risk of growth impairment was greatest for children whose dietary restrictions required elimination of more than two foods and/or elimination of cow’s milk.  Milk-allergic children younger than two years of age were at greatest risk for growth retardation.  Over the years, I have found many children improve growth issues by eliminating food allergies.

I (along with my partners Drs. Nusbaum and Ng) have been testing every new patient for food allergies to dairy and gluten.  We have observed that over 80% of patients have high antibody levels to the milk protein casein.  Approximately 20% have high levels to the gluten antibody gliadin. 

These numbers are astounding.  Keep in mind, we see mostly adult patients, but I have no reason to believe the numbers would be any different in a pediatric population.  Most doctors do not know how to check patients for food allergies.  Food allergies are woefully under-diagnosed by conventional doctors. 

I have witnessed the most astounding positive health changes when a patient eliminates food allergies.  As stated above, the most common food allergy is to dairy.  Dairy allergies are particularly common in patients who suffer with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and colitis—including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.  In fact, I feel that anyone suffering with IBS or colitis should try a two-month trial of eating dairy free regardless of whether they have been tested or not.  My mother suffered for years from IBS symptoms.  For many of those years I advised her to eliminate dairy from her diet.  Being my mother, of course, she refused.  “A glass of milk calms my stomach,” she used to say.  About two years ago, I checked her for antibodies to casein (anti casein IgG level from Quest labs).  Her IgG levels were extremely high.  I advised her (AGAIN) to avoid all dairy.  This time she followed my advice. Now, two years later, my mother’s IBS symptoms are much better and only flare when she cheats on her diet and ingests something made with cow’s milk.

Eliminating dairy from the diet includes eliminating everything made from cow’s milk including cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese and ice cream.

Although I am focusing on dairy allergies here, gluten allergies are also common.  Unfortunately, the blood tests do not pick up all of the patients who are suffering from gluten sensitivity.  If you are suffering from an autoimmune condition including Hashimoto’s disease, you may want to consider a trial of eating gluten free.  Again, a two month trial is the minimum time frame as it takes the body approximately 6-8 weeks to clear food antibodies. 

Any health condition can be improved by diagnosing and removing food allergies from the diet. This includes childhood health problems such as growth issues as well as asthma, allergies, and even ADD.  I have seen numerous children with asthma and eczema cure their illnesses or significantly improve them by eliminating dairy.

An acupressure technique known as NAET has proven very effective at diagnosing and treating many common food allergies.  NAET has been very helpful for both dairy and gluten sensitivities/allergies.  However, my experience has shown that although NAET helps gluten-sensitive patients, it is best for a gluten-sensitive patient to avoid all sources of gluten and not re-introduce it back into the diet.  Many times a dairy-sensitive patient can reintroduce dairy back into the diet after NAET treatment.  More information about NAET can be found at:    

More information about dairy-free and gluten-free diets can be found in my books.

GLuten Free Book FRONT 12.4.12Dairy Front (1)


Author Info

David Brownstein

Comments ( 9 )

  • Author Icon
    Katy Mc

    We have found at our house with our youngest child that no processed dairy goes a long way to heal her reactive airway (it’s gone) eczema (it’s batter) and concentration (she”s a happy A student, not a distracted C student). We avoid all processed commercial dairy but curiously she can eat homemade yogurt, homemade kefir, and expensive imported fermented aged cheeses

    What is difficult in our world is finding a doctor to care for her who thinks outside the box and won’t red flag her chart with “crazy parents” She can’t tolerate immunizations. We’ve had horrific reactions. We won’t do antibiotics or steroids they destroy her gut and back comes the IBS. IT WOULD BE AWESOME if you could write on practitioners across the country who think similar to you.

    Thanks. Katy mc

  • Author Icon

    You say “Eliminating dairy from the diet includes eliminating everything made from cow’s milk including cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese and ice cream.”

    I noticed that you did not include butter. I was told by a naturopathic doctor that butter is not a problem for individuals suffering from dairy allergies. Do you agree?


    • Author Icon
      David Brownstein

      Hi JR,
      Thanks for pointing this out. People usually tolerate butter. But, if the dairy allergy is severe, it is best to eliminate butter as well. For most patients I tell them to eliminate butter along with the rest of dairy for eight weeks. After eight weeks, they can try and introduce butter back into the diet.

  • Author Icon
    Lorin Partain

    Nothing in this article makes any distinction between raw dairy and pasteurized dairy. I assume that the problems seen are by people consuming the pasteurized variety since that is well over 90%+ of the market. Do you have any information, testing, or knowledge if there is a difference in people’s reactions to raw dairy, not just pasteurized. If not, you need to make the distinction and make note of it with your studies to see if there is any difference in what people are experiencing. I know for myself and my family, that we switched to raw dairy, mostly, because the pasteurized milk was making us sick. We haven’t looked back.

    • Author Icon
      David Brownstein

      Another good point. Yes, most people consume pasteurized dairy and it does cause more problems than raw dairy products. I have seen patients who could not tolerate pasteurized products but could tolerate raw dairy. For those that think they have a dairy allergy, my advice would be to avoid ALL dairy, both raw and pasteurized for eight weeks. Then, if symptoms are better, you could try and introduce raw dairy products back into the diet. My experience has shown that 50% of dairy allergic patients are ok when the re-introduce raw dairy products back into their diet. Their sensitivities are with the pasteurized products. However, the other 50% of the patients cannot tolerate either raw or pasteurized dairy products.

  • Author Icon
    Pat Porter

    Dr. Brownstein, has anyone compared the effect of raw milk to the effect of pasteurized, homogenized milk? I stayed dairy-free for many years until I discovered a raw milk grass-fed dairy close to me and discovered how tasty the milk and cream and have had no ill effects … but some healthy ones. It seems like the pasteurized milk is killed, de-natured thus indigestible. What would be your comment on this?

    • Author Icon
      David Brownstein

      I have seen many patients who have problems with pasteurized dairy products that are fine with raw dairy products. The pasteurization of dairy certainly alters the protein structure which negatively affects those sensitive to it. However, if casein antibodies are very high, I would suggest no dairy–raw or pasteurized.

  • Author Icon

    Wow! I wish every doctor in America would be forced to read this 100 times. I started having IB symptoms in my early 20’s. I went to several doctors and basically they all told me the same thing, “It’s stress. Think happy thoughts and you’ll be fine.” As my symptoms got worse I was forced to quit school. The only job I dared to take was one delivering newspapers from my car. I couldn’t date. My life was ruined for years and through it all I kept trying to think happy thoughts. Magical thinking never helped. The advantage to being basically destitute was that I ran out of milk and couldn’t afford any more. I had always had several glasses a day. A couple weeks without and I started to notice a difference. By my early 30’s I had figured out milk was not my friend. It took me another 20 years to figure out wheat is also something I need to avoid. Now at age 55 for the first time since I was in my teens I’m finally not sick all the time. My entire life would of been so much better if only someone would of taken the time to run a few tests instead of doing nothing but telling me I was insane and handing me a bill for hundreds of dollars. Thank you for getting the word out. Hopefully it will help others.

    • Author Icon
      David Brownstein

      That is some story. Thanks for sharing it,
      Dr. B

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