Over the last five or so years I've developed a huge number of allergies and intolerances that have seen me visit the doctor numerous times for help. Not only were they incredibly useless, issuing advice such as "if you think it makes you sick, don't eat it" (thanks genius!) but didn't seem to understand how much digestive problems can impact a normal life. Out of nowhere I started to suffer from bloating, constipation, upset stomachs and general tiredness; I started to cut out certain things from my diet, but nothing seemed to make a difference. My stomach was completely unpredictable (or so I thought,) bloating up so badly that I frequently got offered seats on the tube; I literally looked six months pregnant.
It was only when I undertook a generic allergy test, because of another reaction, that I found out I was severely intolerant to cows milk. Having been a coffee addict (it's my only vice) for about ten years, spending a lot of my time in Starbucks sipping on lattes, it never occurred to me that this daily ritual was causing me so many issues. From that day I started to cut out cows milk and replace it as much as possible with Alpro Soya, a slightly heavier and nuttier alternative that actually tastes really yummy. Although it took a little time to get used to, now I actually prefer the taste of soya milk and happily sip my way through multiple coffees in a day.
The great thing is that the majority of restaurants, cafes and coffee shops now offer soya milk as an alternative; even Starbucks, Costa and Nero offer it as standard. I don't feel in any way shortchanged or at a disadvantage because I don't drink cows milk - it's become so mainstream and normal, that it's not even difficult to make the switch. However, it's worth noting that cows milk is also present in everything from butter to chocolate to ice cream; if you have a serious allergy it's worth minimising the amount of food and drink you consume that contains cows milk. I don't eat a huge amount of butter or ice cream, but I have noticed (now I'm aware) that chocolate causes a similar reaction in my stomach - bloating and slight irritation. Although it's fundamentally the same thing, I have found that because I've given up 95% of cows milk my body can cope with a little chocolate or a small treat here and there: for me, the issue was the pure amount I was consuming without realising.
There has been a lot of talk about the negative side effects of consuming cows milk, not only for the digestive system but on the skin. Eliminating or reducing cows milk can help with acne, eczema and psorasis too, mainly because of the hormones which play havoc with our own and cause imbalances. I've recommended to a few friends to reduce the amount of cows milk they consume, swapping it for soya alternatives, and they've definitely seen a difference in their skin; even my mother has made the switch as soya is incredibly good for joints and helps with her fibromyalgia (a painful degenerative condition) and arthritis. If you're considering making the switch or ditching cows milk for good, I'd definitely give it a go and see how much of a difference it can make to you... After four months I suffer from hardly any bloating, feel much more energetic and don't have to rush to the loo in a panic. It's one of the best things I've ever done and there's no way I'm going back to the moo-ers.
Have you ever considered giving up cows milk?