Sunday, April 22, 2012

Milk Allergies - Are They THE True Allergens?

Hippocrates was the first physician on record to mention cow's milk allergies in 370 B.C. Today an allergy or intolerance to cow's milk affects slightly more than 1 out of every 2 people worldwide . . . in other words more than half of the population!

Milk - the first recorded food allergy!

If you, like thousands of others who seek my advice, are wondering why there seems to be so many more food allergies today than 20 -30 – 50 years ago . . . trust me this is probably my most frequently asked question.

There are basically 2 or 3 reasons for this that I’d like to share with you today . . . and quite honestly, this is such important info that I’m not sure why other docs aren’t talking about it. This very concept is one of the cornerstones of my Biological Medicine training, because it seems this is the foundation behind most allergies, food and inhalant allergies!

While it’s obvious that allergies to cow’s milk and all of its derivatives – cheese, yogurt, ice cream, sour cream and the whey additives lurking in many foods – has been a long standing problem, we see the greatest rise after World War II.

Before WWII babies were born and for the vast majority of these babies, their food was breast milk. Period. This was perfect because it is the food that babies were intended to consume until they could chew and begin eating a variety of fruits and veggies and meats.

Babies are designed to triple their birth weight in the 1st year of life. This is a big task and it requires lots of nutrients and protein to accommodate all that growth.

So babies are born with a very permeable intestinal tract. In fact the holes are so large that in an adult it would look like leaky gut syndrome. But in a baby these large holes are perfect. They allow the nutrients in breast milk to be easily absorbed into the blood stream and lymphatic fluids so they can be delivered to the rapidly growing cells.

In fact, babies have an intestinal tract that was designed SPECIFICALLY for its mother’s milk. Here’s why . . .

The proteins in breast milk are just slightly larger than the holes in the baby’s intestinal tract so they cannot slip through, but even if they do, the baby’s immune system sees them as the “same as” – not “foreign” proteins.

It’s important to remember that all foods contain some protein molecules. So ANY other foods that a baby ingests in the first 12-18 months of life contain foreign proteins. These proteins are generally much smaller in size and so they can slip right through those large intestinal holes and escape.

These foreign proteins are seen as a serious threat to the baby, so the immune system sends out destroyers to engulf that protein and in the process it develops something called an antibody to that protein. So anytime that protein enters the body the antibodies come rushing to destroy it.

That’s exactly what happens in any allergy – a foreign protein is recognized the immune system mounts a response and sends out antibodies. This immune response includes a histamine response and these histamines are responsible for the inflammation that results. Each time that protein enters the body the immune system’s response is greater until we notice a problem.

You know things like, gas, bloating, eczema, cradle cap, constipation, rashes, sleeplessness, runny nose, watery eyes and so much more . . .

Remember virtually every thing you eat, and even pollen, has protein components.

So the real rise in allergies began with the Modern Approach to child rearing in the late 40’s. Baby bottles became the #1 way to feed your baby. And these bottles were generally filled with – Cow’s Milk – in the early days straight cow’s milk and as time went along and baby’s began to have more and more cramping or colic, and even scurvy and rickettes, baby formulas came along.

At first they were concoctions of cow’s milk plus maltose and dextrin – sugar and sugar – and later they began to add cod liver oil, orange juice, vegetable and animal fats and it was named SMA (simulated milk adapted). Then in 1951 the Mead Johnson company put out it’s first concentrated formula Similac (similar to lactation) and Enfamil in 1959 and as a part of a huge marketing campaign they provided formula to hospitals to send home with every new baby, so it became the standard “sanitary” way to feed your baby and By the early 1970s, over 75% of American babies were fed on formulas.

This shocking statistic may help you begin to understand the problem. By the 70’s we have 2 full generations of babies being fed something that they are allergic to. And as time goes along we see that these bottle fed babies began to have health issues, more allergies of other types. And on and on . . .

This original food allergy set up a destructive cycle in the body. It started with the immune system being over stimulated and then it progresses to the entire endocrine system. So every time an allergen is consumed your body goes into hyper defense mode and releases adrenaline, epinephrine, and histamines.

And you may not know this crazy thing . . . every time the chemicals adrenaline or cortisol are released into your blood stream to combat those foreign proteins that have gotten out where they don’t belong . . . your body actually virtually stops digestion!

This delayed digestion sets the body up for all kinds of health related issues due to lack of nutrients that are the building blocks of healthy cells.

The good news is that as babies grow and begin to get near tripling their birth weight, the holes in the intestinal tract begin to reduce in size. By the time the infant reaches the toddler stage around 12-18 months the intestinal tract is ready to take on other foods.

So limiting a baby’s food intake to mother’s milk only for the first 12-18 months sets that child up to have many fewer allergies.

If you would like to hear a more complete explanation of this please check out my archived calls on and be sure to join me live on Wednesday April at Noon Pacific/3:00 EDT where I’ll be finishing up the topic of food allergies and answering your questions live.
Archived Radio Show
I look forward to hearing from you on Wednesday!

Dr. P

Be sure to check my blog tomorrow for a great non-dairy alternative to cream!


  1. Dr. Parker,
    I just love the way you take something that we all wonder about and make the explanations so clear and reasonable. I have thought it very strange that so many people have problems with dairy. I remember growing up we all had milk from the farm with every meal. We were bottle fed because it was sanitary and we could be fed anywhere. But then you take something as simple as explaining the digestive tract of a baby, which turns out to be not so simple as we all thought and suddenly these allergies and sensitivities start to make sense.

  2. Thanks Di! When I learned this concept everything made so much sense to me also! I really love Biological Medicine.

  3. I thought you'd have more comments by now. Maybe it is like the blog. It will slowly build when people figure out it is so easy to comment now. I wish we could advertise how simple it is now.

  4. Oh well, there's one thing I've learned so far about blogs, they take a little time and then like magic something great happens! Thanks for all your efforts to help!