b-lactoglobulin intolerance

Asked September 28, 2018, 1:07 PM EDT

After years of having some digestive upset to dairy products, but not consistent, I was recently tested and found I have an intolerance to b-lactoglobulin. I have researched extensively on the internet to understand what this is and whether I need to avoid all dairy products or only certain ones. I have talked to two doctors also, neither of which knows anything about it. While the definition of it is clear -- it a protein in milk associated with casein. One piece of research says that milk heated to above 185 degrees F will break down the protein and make it safe to consume. Another says that it is associated with iron. Dairy products devoid in iron have a higher risk than those with iron but how much iron is needed is not explained. I have looked at some dairy products and some list iron and some don't but it's not clear whether that means the product does not have any iron or only that they have not bothered to list it. I would like to find out if there is some consumer-level information available on b-lactoglobulin that could be helpful in regulating one's diet. I realize I could just simply ban all dairy but that is very hard and my intolerance is not so great that doing so would seem to be an extreme measure. I would appreciate any information you might have on this topic or a reference to another source. Thank you Linda Davis

Deschutes County Oregon

3 Responses

Ms Davis,

Thank you for your thoughtful explanation of your query. My initial response as a dietitian, and as someone who also suffers from a milk allergy, is that if you have been identified by an MD (allergist) as having a true IG-mediated allergy, you must eliminate the dairy from your diet. There is no safe limit since even small residual amounts can cause damage to your digestive tract. These can remain even in ultra-pasteurized milk (high temps). I cannot speak to the iron issue. I have contacted researchers at OSU and they have no recommendations regarding iron in dairy.

In my knowledge of b-lactoglobulin, I believe it is associated with the whey protein and not casein, as you mentioned. Whey is the soluble protein in dairy milk and is pressed out when making cheese. Therefore, if you consume hard cheese, like parmesan or sharp cheddar, you may not have a reaction since almost all the whey has been pressed out. But as mentioned above, if you have a true allergy, you may still be causing damage to your GI tract tissues.

If you have done the elimination diet and avoided dairy for a set time, then tried it again by itself, tested your heart rate and body temp, you may have felt fine or had no visible reactions. But you could still be causing damage to your digestive tract. If you have questions about IG-mediated or non-IG-mediated allergies, seek out advice from your MD allergy specialist. Total elimination is optimal.

There are new dairy alternatives available every day! These can help you make the transition to dairy-free. Various non-dairy milks like almond, soy, oat, hemp seed, cashew, etc can be substituted in recipes when cooking or baking, used on cereals, and can be fermented to make yogurt. Some non-dairy milks are thicker and make good creamy sauces and coffee creamers. Be sure to select unsweetened varieties. You can also make your own with raw nuts or grains, water and a high-powered blender.

When selecting cheese, vegetarian options still use dairy proteins in the ingredients. Seek out vegan or completely plant-based varieties and read ingredient labels carefully.

Nutritional yeast can give foods a “cheesy” flavor. I use cashew cream in soups to make them creamy, and also in my lasagna instead of soft cheese. Eventually, you will lose your desire for true dairy products. I say this because I have worked with many people who give up dairy for health reasons and have found substitutes very satisfying. It takes commitment and some experimentation, but very doable.

Just FYI, it is easy to search the internet and find resources that are not accurate. I encourage you to seek out reputable sources like sites ending in edu or gov. You can also type the letters NIH (National Institutes of Health) in the search bar with your query. These resources are considered trust-worthy and may help you in your further research.

I've attached the cashew sour cream recipe (I leave out the vinegar when using in lasagna or pasta) and one recipe for making your own almond milk. Hope you find these helpful.

Hi Stephanie,

Thank you for your very lengthy, thoughtful response. I had no idea what to expect as I have been searching for some time to get answers about b-lactoglobulin.

I have been using alternatives to diary milk for several years. I only knew that at times I would get a stomach ache from eating or drinking some dairy products but did not know why. This goes back to my childhood when I complained to my mother who didn’t really take it seriously, only thought it was curious. While I loved Dairy Queens I always found them to be the worst for causing stomach pain. I think It must be that they use non-fat dry milk as the base of their confection – at least that is what I have been told. I think it is higher in whey, as I understand. Other ice creams have sometimes been a problem, sometimes not, but usually depends on how much I eat. A few years ago I had a large cone of wonderful gourmet ice cream that upset my stomach, but if I eat small amounts of commercial ice cream it does not seem to affect me. Cheeses have not ever caused me the same problems. So this is why it has been a puzzle over the years. A recent allergy test I had taken – the kind where you submit some hair samples – is the where I got the intolerance to b-lactoglobulin diagnosis. However, I could find no information about what the effects of this are or whether it could be countered with any particular product. I agree, it is hard to know what to believe what you read. Here is the link to the article I read about iron: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140822083911.htm . There's a lot of research but no information on what a consumer is supposed to do other than eliminate from one's diet.

I think I probably need to go to an MD-Allergist as you suggest to get this intolerance confirmed and go from there.

I don't think the cashew sour cream recipe was attached to your response. I could not find it.

Linda Davis

Hi Linda, I see it right above Stephanie's name at the bottom. Let me know if it doesn't show for you and maybe we can get it to you another way.