“Raw or Baked? That is the (Milk Allergy) Question”

Have you ever wondered: “why can some people with milk allergy tolerate baked goods, but not unheated dairy?⁠” If so, this post is definitely for you!

I think one of the important things to know, when we trying to dig down to the answer, is that our foods consist of many different parts, mainly carbohydrates, fats and proteins. As well, many of us already know that when we talk about milk allergy, we talk about an immune system reaction to proteins.

However, let’s drill down even further…

Cow’s milk actually consists of many different kinds of proteins, which have various shapes, features and properties. They also are different in their reaction to heat. Caseins, for example, are milk proteins that are resistant to high temperatures. On the other hand, whey proteins are quite sensitive to heating and start losing “their IgE-binding ability” (in other words, losing their ability to initiate an allergic reaction) after extensive cooking. This happens because heat provokes changes in the protein structure and the immune system can no longer identify them. Once the immune system stops “seeing” these proteins, no allergic response happens.

This is in part where the difference in sensitivity may happen. Some people are allergic to both casein and whey proteins, while others may only react to one or another. Moreso, some studies show that the children who tend to outgrow their allergies are often (but not always!) the same children who could tolerate baked milk earlier. These children were more likely to have antibodies against whey proteins rather than casein (more heat resistant ones) and seemed in general to have more mild reactions. It also seems that for these children, continuous use of baked milk products (instead of complete withdrawal of all dairy) can sometimes speed up their tolerance to unheated dairy.

This is not to say that other kids (for example, those who do react to baked milk goods) cannot outgrow a milk allergy. It is possible and it happens. All in all, the immune system is a mysterious and very complex thing that is yet to be fully understood.

On that note, stay safe and join @smartbitesolutions on Instagram for more tips and stories! Love you all! Til next!

Please note, that as with all of my public posts, the intent is just to share general information and interesting scientific findings. It is never intended to provide or replace medical advice. I am a big advocate of an individualized approach in health care and nutrition and I always recommend to talk to your allergist or a dietitian before making any big changes in your diet, to ensure your safety.

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