Okay, let’s start at the very beginning. You are new to this whole Gluten-Free / Casein Free “theory”; and most likely you are stopped dead in your tracks, staring into a traditionally stocked refrigerator. It seems like a bad-dream-sequence from a twilight zone - like the carton of milk, the block of cheese, and the large bottle of ranch dressing all have devillish faces on them that are grinning and cackling in mockery at you. On your face, a blank stare… In your mind, one simple question: Where do I even start?
In our case, the answer was fairly cut-and-dry, practically written on a prescription pad. Our daughter’s allergy test results showed ‘red-flags’ for each wheat, milk, and eggs – a trifecta of treachery for any cook, let alone a cook who was new to the special-diet world. Our only solace, though, was that this did mark very clearly to us which direction we were going to need to take.
Not every parent begins as we did, though. Some are simply giving a try to a suggested approach that is now getting some hype in the biomedical arena and beyond: the Gluten-Free-Casein-Free Diet. To all of your moms and dads whom are taking this on by choice, I give you a cyber-high-five and a jubilant “woohoo”!
So – back to the open refrigerator and the blank stare and the big question of “where do I even start? . . . for many, starting with the removal of casein has proven to heed some mighty results in a short enough time that it doesn’t seem impossible. It’s like the bunny slopes of your diet mountain. With the removal of cow’s milk products, fairly clear results can be seen in as little as a few days, and typically will present within a couple of weeks. This is a much shorter window than Gluten gives for expected results, so if you are not tackling both of these punchy proteins simultaneously, it certainly makes sense to start with Casein.
Why does Casein prove to be such a nuisance now, when we have been raised on milk and its delicious products for generations? That is an excellent question, and one that many researchers have attempted to document. Scientific evidence actually presents some very interesting correlations between cow’s milk and disease. The first case against casein is that, for many and varied reasons, our metabolic processes as a species are showing a decline in the ability to break down some proteins into the appropriate peptides and amino acids for proper absorption and/or excretion.
Casomorphin (or caseomorphin) is a peptide derived from casein, a milk protein. Casein is one of the major proteins in the milk of all mammals including cows, goats, and humans. When Casein is digested properly, it breaks down into large peptides like casomorphin, and should then be broken down further into smaller amino acids. However, Dr. Reichelt in Norway, Dr. Cade at the University of Florida, and others found that urine samples from people with autism, PDD, celiac disease, and schizophrenia contained high amounts of the casomorphin peptide in the urine. In its peptide form, casein has opiate properties similar to morphine, and may plug into the same opiate receptor sites in the brain. Researchers have found that these peptides may also be elevated in other disorders such as chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and depression based on anecdotal reports of symptom remission after exclusion of wheat and dairy.
Cited from www.gfcfdiet.com
A further study was documented by the brilliant and brave researcher, Thomas Colin Campbell. His findings during his many studies uncovered shocking evidence of a direct correlation between cancer (and auto-immune disorders) and a diet high in animal proteins. One of these animal protein sources was (you guessed it) milk.
In his book titled The China Study, Dr. Campbell writes on the effect of milk in our immune system, namely on auto-immunity:
Even though this [human immune] system is a wonder of nature when it is defending the body against foreign proteins, it is also capable of attacking the same tissues that it is designed to protect…One of the fundamental mechanisms for this self-destructive behavior is called molecular mimicry….The immune system [makes] molds that fit these invaders...[these molds] also fit our own cells. What does all of this have to do with what we eat? It so happens that the antigens that trick our bodies into attacking our own cells may be in food. During the process of digestions, for example, some proteins slip into our bloodstream from the intestine without being fully broken down into their amino acid parts. The remnants of undigested proteins are treated as foreign invaders by our immune system, which sets about making molds to destroy them and sets into motion the self-destructive autoimmune process. One of the foods that supply many of the foreign proteins that mimic our own body’s protein is cow’s milk”
The China Study, 2006 T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. and Thomas M. Campbell, MD
It seems finitely elementary when you take a step back from what we have been raised on as the “norm” of nutrition. Imagine for a moment that you have a picture on a piece of paper. On one side of the page there is a cartoon drawing of a baby calf and directly under it there is a drawing of a giggling little baby, a human baby. On the opposite side of the page, you see a drawing of a mommy cow and a drawing of a human female of child-bearing age, a human mommy. If you showed this paper to a 5 year old and asked them to draw a line to which baby “goes to” which food source, which way do you think the lines would go? If you were asked to do the same, how many of you would actually choose the mommy cow over the human mommy as a food source for the human baby? Even if the Food Sources were drawings of a Female Cow and a Red Apple, the chances are slim that those lines would be connecting the human child with the mother cow. It makes perfect sense to me. But alas, we are all products of the environments in which we are raised, and let’s face it… we, as American at least, were raised thinking that Cow’s milk does our bodies good.
The scary truth is that this reality is more like fiction. We don’t need cow’s milk to sustain our health. Evidence is showing quite the contrary. All of those vitamins and nutrients you feel like you would miss out on if you stopped eating dairy – they can ALL be found in other food sources, other HEALTHY food sources.
Out with the old, in with the gold:
Alternatives for MILK: There are fantastic milk alternatives, many very readily available now. Try any variety, and change it up! Opt for the ‘unsweetened’ varieties to minimize your sugar intake, and sweeten it if you need to with a natural sweetener, like stevia. Almond Milk, Hemp Milk, Coconut Milk, Rice Milk, Hazelnut Milk – there are many delicious and nutritious choices.
Alternatives for CHEESE: Try Daiya cheese shreds; or if you are allergic or sensitive to corn, try the Rice VEGAN blocks or singles by Galaxy Foods. The Daiya shreds are excellent on pizzas or for quesadillas. You can get a better “melted” consistency to your cheese if you heat the shreds or singles in a sauce pan with a little bit of milk and a tiny bit of oil until it is a creamy consistency, then pour it over your casseroles, pizzas, etc.
Alternative to RANCH: Veganaise Grapseed oil, enough milk to reach desired consistency, and your own belnd of seasonings make a fantastic alterative to the American dip and dressing staple, Ranch.
Alternative to CREAM: MimiCreme is a great brand which uses nut blends, like hazelnut, to make creams that are fantastic for cooking.
Alternative to WHIPPED CREAM: Soyatoo Rice Whip! A-ma-zing! This product is a blessing wearing no disguise! (Read the directions carefully on the can.) Whip up a quick and healthy hot chocolate with some coconut milk, chocolate stevia drops, cocoa powder, and a squirt of Soyatoo RiceWhip to top it off! Yum.
The verdict: Farewell, old Bessie, and I hope that your retirement is udderly delightful!
As always, feel free to comment if you have any Dairy-rific recipes that youwould be heartbroken to live without. I will be more than happy to suggest alternatives, or write you an entirely new recipe to get you as close to your dream dish as I can with ingredients that are healthful not harmful. I except any challenge.