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Cow's milk is one of the most frequent food allergens. Milk allergy is the immune system's response to one or more of the proteins found in cow's milk. There are many protein allergens in cow's milk that cause allergic reactions. Casein and whey are the two main components. The curd that forms when milk is left to sour, is called casein. The watery part which is left after the curd is removed is called whey.
Casein accounts for 80% of the protein in milk and is the most important allergen found in cheese. The harder the cheese, the more casein it contains. Whey accounts for the other 20% of milk protein. It consists of two main allergenic proteins - alpha-lactalbumin and beta-lactaglobulin.
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Allergen: A substance that is capable of producing an allergic response in the body.
Allergy: Hypersensitivity caused by exposure to a particular antigen (allergen), resulting in an increased reactivity to that antigen on subsequent exposure, sometimes with harmful immunologic consequences.
Asthma: A lung disorder marked by attacks of breathing difficulty, wheezing, coughing, and thick mucus coming from the lungs. The episodes may be triggered by breathing foreign substances (allergens) or pollutants, infection, vigorous exercise, or emotional stress.
Immune System: A complex that protects the body from disease organisms and other foreign bodies. The system includes the humoral immune response and the cell-mediated response. The immune system also protects the body from invasion by making local barriers and inflammation.
Lactose Intolerance: A condition caused by a lack of an enzyme called lactase, which, in turn, causes the body to be unable to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk products. Common symptoms, which begin about 30 minutes to two hours after consuming foods or beverages containing lactose, may include: nausea, cramps, bloating, gas and/or diarrhea. The severity of symptoms varies depending on the amount of lactose consumed and the amount that an individual can tolerate.
Protein: Compounds composed of hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen present in the body and in foods that form complex combinations of amino acids. Protein is essential for life and is used for growth and repair. Foods that supply the body with protein include animal products, grains, legumes, and vegetables. Proteins from animal sources contain the essential amino acids. Proteins are changed to amino acids in the body.