Milk and Charles
Charles and his wife visited my clinic one sunny afternoon. His wife explained that Charles was generally wonderful, however, in recent months he had become tense, irritable and moody, making him very difficult to get on with. He also complained of indigestion and low energy.
Following further questioning, I had decided to run a test for food sensitivities. About a week later, the couple came in together to discuss the results and looked expectant.
I anticipated a straightforward consultation, something along the lines of, “These are the foods that you are intolerant to and you should avoid them if you want to feel better.” I got as far as explaining that he should avoid wheat and dairy when his wife burst out laughing! She turned to her husband and said, “I told you that you drink too much milk!” She then turned to me and explained that Charles consumed several pints of milk each day, and also ate cheese like there was no tomorrow.
Out of the corner of my eye, I could see that the husband was nearly in tears. I gently warned his wife not to laugh, because it was quite possible that her husband was actually addicted to milk. He would most likely have a very difficult time giving it up and would most certainly need her help and support.
When a food sensitivity, or intolerance, is present to a particular food, it can result in the release of certain amino acid sequences that can mimic morphine-like compounds. They are grouped together under the collective name of ‘exorphins’ and can act on the endorphin receptors in the brain. The result is not quite as strong as morphine, but the addiction is still very strong.
I went on to explain that all dairy products must be avoided, either on their own or in combination with other foods. If Charles was able to do this 100%, he may find that the addiction was broken. “So, can he then go back to having dairy products?” she asked. Charles looked hopeful, but I had to disabuse him. “No”, I said. “At least certainly not for a long time. It could be all too easy for him to become sensitive to the foods again. However, once the addiction is broken it is unlikely that he will crave those foods anyway. The real danger was, at least initially, that he would accidentally consume dairy that was hidden in a recipe which would then start the wholeprocess all over again.
This turned out to be true. I didn’t see them again, but I had frequent updates from his wife for the next year or more. If Charles completely avoided all dairy products, he was fine and maintained his relaxed, easy-going temperament, had no digestive problems and his general health improved. However, on the occasion that he did consume dairy, even inadvertently, he found himself heading straight to the fridge for a large glass of milk. For the most part, his wife was successful in monitoring his eating habits, and the last I heard he had overcome his dairy addiction.
This all occurred more than thirty years ago. We have since learnt more about the different forms of casein that has shed further light on this problem. When casein is metabolised in the body, morphine-like substances called casomorphins are released which act as opiates in the bloodstream. These chemicals attach to opiate receptors in the brain which can lead to both addictions and mood disorders.
Furthermore, there are two types of casein in cow’s milk, β-casein A1 and β-casein A2. Consumption of A1 type casein leads to the formation of the peptide β-casomorphin-7. This has been identified as the cause of digestive upsets that have often been attributed to lactose intolerance. Other symptoms attributed to the consumption of A1 casein include constipation (or delayed transit time), mental confusion, addictions, and various allergic-like responses. Most of these symptoms can be avoided by consuming only milk that contains A2 casein.
It is thought that when cows were originally domesticated they produced A2 milk. In the process of domestication, the development of increased udder size and greater milk production, the casein produced has altered to the A1 type. Some A2 herds are now being developed, particularly in New Zealand. In the UK some of the traditional Jersey herds still produce A2-casein.
Most, if not all, goats milk contains only A2 casein. In fact, human, goat, sheep, and buffalo milk are all generally classified as A2-like. So if you want to drink milk, or eat cheese, the best options would be select goats, sheep or buffalo as the source animal.