Monday, December 28, 2015

Does dairy cause congestion and mucus?

I am going to answer that question for myself, once and for all, by cutting out dairy for a week to see what will happen. I have always read that it's a myth - that dairy does not increase mucus. However, so many people say that it does, that I have often wondered why the myth persists. It's definitely time I find out for myself now, as I am getting tired of living with a constant supply of tissues.

You see, I suffer from what appears to be allergies - a very stuffy, clogged nose, especially at night, but some days it can be stuffy and/or runny during the day too. I have often put it down to pollen, or the change of seasons, or pet hair or so on, but my instincts have kept whispering to me that it's not those. Because I tend to have this sinusitis in all sorts of conditions. Surely if it were pollen or pet hair then I'd be mucus free in their absence?

My poor husband has to put up with my nose blowing and sniffing every single night. It's got to the point where I have to sleep with a box of tissues by my bedside. Not that they help much, as I tend to be so stuffy at night that I invariably end up having to breathe through my mouth while I sleep. Then of course, I get my night-time dry mouth and so I sleep with a whole bottle of water next to my bed too, just so that I can wet my mouth. It's insane, really, but I have done this for years.

However, I got interested in cutting out dairy recently after reading about so many people who do so much better in all manner of aspects of their health when they cut it out.

I have hesitated doing this because I LOVE dairy. I often eat yoghurt, I think cheese is heavenly and, now, with my low carb eating approach, I have been using half milk half cream in my coffee and I adore it.

I indulge in cappuccinos with cream when we go out because I CAN now. (Cream is lower in lactose, which is the milk sugar, than milk, hence it's lower in carbs.) However, I have found that when I drink my creamy coffee, I tend to get a phlegmy throat. I notice it as I am drinking the coffee. It's as if the thick cream is literally sitting in my throat and making it phlegmy right there and then. I know it's probably not doing it as literally as that, but that's how it feels, and so it got me thinking about the dairy-mucus connection.

Upon a little Google research I found this very interesting article by on Dr. Mercola's website which says that different cows produce different milk. They classify the cows and their milk as A1 and A2.

In the article it says that:
The milk solids consist of a variety of proteins, lactose and other sugars. One of these proteins is called beta-casein, and this is the protein of interest when comparing A1 and A2 milk.
All proteins are long chains of amino acids. Beta casein is a chain of 229 amino acids. A2 cows produce this protein with a proline at number 67, whereas A1 cows have a mutated proline amino acid, which converts it to histidine.
The proline in A2 milk has a strong bond to another small protein called BCM 7, which helps keep it from being released.
Histidine (the mutated protein), on the other hand, only weakly holds on to BCM 7, so it is liberated in the GI tract of animals and humans who drink A1 cow milk. Now, BCM7 is a powerful opiate that can have a very detrimental impact on your body.
As discussed in the article above, it is likely the cause of increased phlegm production in your digestive- and respiratory tract, which can worsen upper respiratory problems.

So there you  have it. Some scientific reasoning behind why milk can cause mucus and stuffiness in the nose. Now, according to this article, goats'milk does not contain BCM7. Interestingly, that made me think of my childhood and my brother's milk allergy. He was asthmatic as a child and had to avoid all cows milk and dairy and could only tolerate goat's milk and cheese. My mom obviously noticed a huge difference because she went to the trouble of finding a local guy who sold small batches of goats milk and home-made goat's feta.

I will give it a week of being free of dairy (with the exception of butter - butter, being the pure fat, seems not to pose the same problems in people's accounts of going diary-free) and I will let you know. If I am really brave, I may even skip the butter and see if that helps, but for now I am using it instead of cream in my coffee - I put in a teaspoon and froth it up using a hand-held blender and it looks foamy like a cappuccino.

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