Is a Dairy Error Code the Reason for Your Body’s Check Engine Light?

Wouldn’t it be awesome if a little code appeared on your wrist every time your body signaled a problem? When the “check engine” light went on in your brain, you could glance down for the reference code and go to a manual to see what the problem is and fix it. Just ate lunch and feeling bloated? … ah, error code 008 – you’re lactose intolerant. Feeling fatigued? … looks like error code 019 – your B12 deficient. Genius, don’t you think?

It’s so true that our bodies are all-knowing when it comes to our health, but with life as hectic as it is, we can easily miss some cues. Not to mention, the messages our bodies send may be loud, but they aren’t always clear.

For example, when someone with undiagnosed Celiac disease ingests gluten, it can cause increasing damage to the intestinal lining over time. Chronic symptoms may develop that don’t magically spring up the second they consume a piece of bread. And, did you know that some food allergy symptoms can arise up to 48 hours after ingesting the food? I learned this one the hard way.

As an infant, the reactions occurred shortly after I ingested milk … hives, eczema, breathing issues. But as I got older, my problems twisted and turned. The eczema went away when I was a child (thus convincing my family and the doctor that my allergy had been outgrown), but then the digestive issues, infections, delayed rashes, and general asthma-like issues set in. They seemed mysterious … and though my body was telling me something, I didn’t know what it was.

Since that time, I have researched issues with food extensively, and have learned about many of the cues that can indicate food-related problems, particularly with milk…

Did you know that roughly 15% of you (in North America – this number is much, much higher in some countries) have some degree of lactose intolerance? After weaning from our mother’s milk, we naturally lose some of the lactase in our digestive systems. Lactase is what helps us to digest the lactose in milk. With time, the lactase often depletes further, which is why a higher percentage of seniors have lactose intolerance than children. It is actually very rare to be born with lactose intolerance (some preemies may have a temporary inability to digest lactose, but that is a special situation).

Ways your body might be telling you that you have lactose intolerance:

  • Bloating
  • Stomach Pain and/or Cramping
  • Gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting (more severe cases)

Lactose intolerance is, fortunately, a message that our bodies shout megaphone-style. Any of the above symptoms would occur within about 30 minutes to 2 hours after ingesting a dairy product (think milk, cream, cheese, ice cream, etc.). Though you might have one symptom, or all of them, and your reaction might be quite mild or gut-wrenchingly severe, there really aren’t “delayed” lactose intolerance symptoms.

But, for those who react to the milk protein, delayed symptoms are a possibility. Food allergies and sensitivities involve immune reactions to the protein in milk (casein, whey, or both), and the symptoms can vary greatly from immediate and life-threatening (yes, milk allergies can be just as severe as peanut allergies!) to delayed, mild, and even chronic. The latter types of cues are the easy ones to miss.

Ways your body might be telling you that you have a milk allergy or sensitivity:

  • Chronic sinus and ear infections
  • Asthma
  • Rashes and/or Acne
  • Eczema
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Headaches / Migraines
  • Digestive issues (see the symptoms listed for lactose intolerance above)
  • Hives
  • Aphthous Ulcers (Canker Sores)
  • Swelling (or tingling) of Lips, Mouth, Tongue, Face, Or Throat
  • Sore Muscles and Joints
  • And more (see Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for a more extensive list)

One helpful way to assess cause and effect with foods like milk is to go a step beyond simply listening to your body, by documenting it. Years ago, I created a free Diet & Health Journal download to help with this. To date, the journal has literally been downloaded by millions of people. You can download a copy for FREE here.

Please note that this post isn’t meant for diagnosis. I am not a physician, and I’m certainly not your physician. Consult a doctor if you have any of the above problems or suspect an allergy or intolerance. Of course, your physician will surely find it helpful if you log your symptoms with that Diet & Health Journal!

So what about you? Has dairy or another food lit up your check engine signal?