How long does it take to get dairy out of your system

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diary products - milk, cheese, butter and assorted items


Dairy is considered one of the “big eight” food allergens, which means it falls in the category of foods that cause almost 90 percent of all allergic responses to anyone who is consuming dairy.

The list of problems one can have is long and that would need another post to elaborate.

Some of the common problems people get are stomach cramps, gas, bloating and diarrhea when they drink milk or have other dairy products.

When breastfeeding it is understandable to wonder if the same thing will happen to a baby if the mother includes dairy in her diet.

Some people will take a lactaid tablet before they eat or drink any dairy food, and this prevents them from getting the gas and stomach problems.

If you or your baby are facing problems, then you must check if these are because of your dairy consumption.

Some of the problems that your baby could experience would be symptoms of colic such as excessive crying, passing a lot of gas, diarrhea, spitting up or vomiting shortly after feeds.

Once you are certain, then you should stop consuming dairy products immediately and get the dairy out of your system.

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How long does it take to get dairy out of your system?

The length of time it takes to get dairy out of the system depends on several factors.

It might vary between 1to 4 weeks.

If someone eats or drinks a lot of dairy, does not exercise and does not eat high fiber foods such as fruits and vegetables, then it might take up to 4 weeks for the body to fully clear it from the system.

However, it usually takes 7-10 days for dairy to be cleared from the system.

Is dairy allergy the same as lactose intolerance?

No. They are different.

Dairy allergy means that the body produces substances called antibodies that react with the protein in the dairy product. The reaction causes the release of chemicals that results in mild, moderate, or severe symptoms and it usually occurs shortly after eating or drinking dairy.

Some of the symptoms include skin rash or hives, itching, runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, vomiting, blood in the stools, diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, wheezing and anaphylaxis which causes severe breathing problems and even death if not treated right away.

Anaphylaxis is the term used to describe a sudden inability to breathe due to swelling of the face, throat, and windpipe. This can occur if someone encounters something that triggers a severe allergic response.

Foods that contain dairy include milk from cows, goats, sheep, buffalo, and other animals. Any food that has milk as a part of the ingredients can cause a reaction. It could be yoghurt, cheese, ice-cream or even a baked cake.

If you are allergic to dairy always remember to read the ingredients on the container to see if it has milk protein included. Sometimes the name will be written as “casein” or “whey”.

Basically, dairy allergy is an allergic response to milk protein.

If you have a dairy allergy you should not retry eating or drinking a dairy product without the supervision of an allergist or other professional who can give life-saving emergency treatment.

It is a good idea to always have some antihistamine, like Benadryl, on hand, in case there is an allergic reaction. People who have severe allergies should always have an Epi-pen just in case they have an anaphylactic response to something that was eaten.

An Epipen is a syringe that is filled with a chemical called epinephrine and a needle is attached to the syringe. This medicine can be injected into a thigh muscle to save a person’s life if they cannot breathe due to an allergic reaction. After giving the injection, the person must be taken to a healthcare professional for evaluation and treatment.

If someone is allergic to dairy, the best treatment is prevention. Avoid eating or drinking any dairy product. It is good to note that babies are not usually allergic to human milk

What is lactose intolerance?

Lactose intolerance means that the body is reacting to the sugar in the dairy product. This sugar is called lactose. The reaction might vary depending on the type of food and how much the person ate or drank. This tends to run in families and sometimes people develop this problem as they get older.

The symptoms include gas, bloating, abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, constipation, fussiness, and vomiting.

Lactase is an enzyme that is needed to digest or breakdown the lactose sugar in dairy so the body can absorb it and use it for energy. This enzyme is not enough in most people and that is why they develop lactose intolerance. There are lactaid tablets that are sold over the counter and if you take one with the dairy product you should be able to tolerate it. There is also Lactaid milk that is recommended for people who are lactose intolerant.

Most babies do not have lactose intolerance so they are able to digest their milk feeds; however, as they get older and they no longer need to drink a lot of milk, the body makes less of the enzyme, lactase, which they need to digest milk.

Therefore, lactose intolerance tends to develop as we get older and may vary depending on the type of food eaten.

Not all dairy products will cause a negative reaction because some people still have some of the enzyme, lactase, in their system and are able to digest some forms of dairy. In other words, they have partial lactose intolerance.

Can you re-try the same food after getting dairy out of the system?

If you want to know which dairy containing foods to avoid there are skin and blood tests that your doctor can recommend, but that may not be necessary.

You can stop eating or drinking all dairy products for about a month then slowly re-introduce one item at a time in your diet and keep a food journal to record any reaction.

This can be done once per week and after a while you will be able to determine for yourself which dairy products you are able to tolerate and which ones to avoid.

The lactase enzyme is found in the intestines and if you have diarrhea for a few days or if the diarrhea is brief but severe you might develop lactose intolerance for a while because the enzyme is flushed out of the body with diarrhea; however, this will get back to normal as you recover.

That is why your pediatrician may change your baby’s formula for a short while if there is a history of prolonged diarrhea.

Can I breastfeed my baby if I consume dairy?

mother breastfeeding newborn baby

Babies are usually born with the lactase enzyme that is necessary to digest milk.

As they get older, they might lose this ability and become lactose intolerant.

If you are breastfeeding and you think the dairy in your diet is causing a problem for your baby it may be possible to find out simply by removing the suspected food item from your diet for a week then re-introducing it while looking for any effect on the baby.

If the baby seems to be doing better after the dairy item was removed from your diet then this might be the confirmation that he or she was intolerant; however if you want to test the theory you can re-introduce one item at a time and look for any reaction.

Different products may be re-introduced once every 5 days.

If there is a negative response such as fussiness, passing gas, straining, or spitting up after feeds then that product should be avoided.

Nursing mothers are able to eat all types of food, but if there is something in her diet that causes the baby to have symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, vomiting or abdominal discomfort then she can stop eating that particular item and observe the baby for improvement.

Although babies usually tolerate breast milk very well, there are a few babies who are extremely sensitive to the protein in milk, even breastmilk.

When this happens, they should be taken to a pediatrician who will recommend special formulas that do not have these milk proteins and are easier to digest.

What happens to your body when you cut out dairy?

Dairy products are rich sources of protein, calcium, and vitamin D.

If the diet is not providing enough of these nutrients there are different symptoms that might occur.

Many parts of the body may be affected including the skin, hair, nails, muscles, bones, teeth, heart, and nerves.
Some of the symptoms include weakness, fussiness, bones that break easily, weak, thin teeth, dry, cracked skin, irregular heartbeats and even seizures.

There are other foods that can supply your body’s needs but sometimes they are not as complete as dairy products and you may have to eat a lot more to get an equal amount of the same nutrient.

Some examples of foods that can replace some of the nutrients usually found in dairy include soy, almond, hazelnut, rice milk, quinoa milk, green leafy vegetables such as kale, broccoli, collard greens and bok choy. Other sources include salmon, scallops, tuna, mackerel, egg yolks, beef liver, hummus, figs, dried beans, and tofu.

It is important to note that some people who are allergic to dairy also react negatively to soy products.

How do you detox your body from dairy

There are several ways that one can detox the body.

Laxatives are not recommended.

The safest way to detox or remove dairy from the body is to stop eating or drinking anything that has dairy in it.

This means reading the list of ingredients on any package of food item that you purchase to be sure that you are not accidentally eating or drinking a dairy product that is included in the mixture.

Drink a lot of water and eat foods with a lot of fiber such as green leafy vegetables and fruits, to hasten the removal from the body.

green vegetables are good for detoxifying from effects of diary in your system

Exercise regularly and avoid being overweight.

Dr. Evet Benjamin is a Pediatrician with over forty years of medical experience. She is a graduate of the University of the West Indies' medical school in Jamaica, and she has practiced pediatrics in Jamaica, The Virgin Islands and The Bahamas. Over the years she has held such prestigious positions as Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics, and Director of Pediatric Emergency Services at Doctors Hospital, Nassau, Bahamas. She has also served on the Executive Committee of the hospital. Dr Benjamin is a graduate of the Michael Cole's College of Business at Kennesaw State University, Georgia, USA, where she obtained a Physician's Executive MBA degree and was inducted into the Beta Gamma Sigma honors society. She subsequently became a Member of the American College of Physician Executives. Dr. Benjamin is a published author of a highly informative pediatric handbook titled “Pediatric Answers,” which is currently available on demand at leading bookstores in the United States of America and on the internet, including Dr. Benjamin is the proud mother of two children, and the doting grandmother of her only grandson, Charles. She is now currently practicing at The Children's Clinic, Nassau, Bahamas.