It’s ice cream season! Would you like to heal your dairy allergy? I did! It’s not going to be something that works for everyone, but I was surprised at how quickly I was able to eliminate my dairy allergy by healing my gut.
When we started the Gut and Psychology Syndrome Diet (GAPS), I knew we were a GAPS family, but I was primarily doing the diet for my daughter with autism. Because she was only 3, I felt like I should do the diet right alongside her to make sure I felt okay on the diet and I could relate to what she was going through as she went from eating a gluten free diet to the GAPS Intro and then full GAPS.
In snatches of internet research while she slept and I was nursing the baby (our early afternoon routine), I had learned that not only did GAPS help autism and other neurological conditions, but it also healed the gut to help digestive issues and with that healing it could potentially reverse food allergies. That’s pretty cool, I thought.
My dairy allergy history
I had been allergic to dairy protein my whole life, it caused chronic sinus infections which I was treated many many times for with antibiotics when I was a child. It wasn’t until I became a vegan as a teen, and then stopped being a vegan a few months later that I found the connection- without dairy I didn’t get sinus infections, with dairy I would get slammed with one in a few days.
Re-introducing dairy also gave me hives, itchy raised bumps on the skin.
This shows how important an elimination diet is! Some people would think that ‘going vegan’ gave me a dairy allergy, but re-framing the perspective gave me the information that I needed. I had always had an underlying dairy allergy!
For the next decade I just avoided dairy for the most part, I’d give in to an urge for real ice cream or pizza with goopy cheese every once in a while, get a painful sinus infection, and then avoid dairy again for the next few months.
GAPS Intro Reversed (or healed) my dairy allergy in 6 weeks.
We started GAPS intro on November first as described in my GAPS intro guide. We progressed quickly, working our way through the intro in 4 weeks and then went to full GAPS. My daughter got stuck on reacting to raw fruit and veggies, but I was able to progress through the intro in just 4 weeks.
I was taking the probiotic Biokult at the time too, as Dr. Natasha recommends- adults working up from just 1/10th of one capsule up to taking 10 capsules a day. Now, because of what I know about die off and not wanting to stress your body with more than it can easily detoxify, I don’t really recommend that most people take a high powered probiotic supplement at the same time they are doing intro. But at the time, I thought it was kind of cool that I could feel the illness caused by bad bugs leaving my body, so I plowed through GAPS Intro and upping Biokult all within 30 days. (being honest!).
I was planning on staying on full GAPS with my daughter, but mid December (6 weeks after starting intro) a friend ordered pizza, and, well, it looked and smelled REALLY good. So I ate a piece. (I do not recommend transitioning off GAPS in this way- see a more sensible approach here)
The pizza after 6 weeks of very clean eating on GAPS gave me digestive upset, as my body wasn’t used to gluten (or junk) at all. But the cheese on it did not give me hives or a sinus infection! Amazing! After my initial binge on pizza, I went back to eating dairy free full GAPS with my daughter for meals, but after she went to bed I started eating more and more dairy, first just a small slice of cheese, then a whole glass of raw milk, and by the next week I saw that I was just fine eating as much dairy as I wanted!
It’s been 2-1/2 years since I did 6 weeks on the GAPS intro, and I still can enjoy as much dairy as I wish, and haven’t had a sinus infection or outbreak of hives since!
Allergies: Protein vs Lactose
There are two different kinds of sensitivities to dairy, some people are sensitive to the lactose in dairy and do well with yogurt and cheese, which has had most of the lactose (milk sugar) used up in the culturing of the product, but they do not do well with fluid milk or ice cream.
Others are sensitive to the protein in dairy (casein), it’s found in high quantities in cheese, yogurt, and fluid milk.
Butter contains a very small amount of casein and lactose, but many people can handle it because the amounts are so small. Ghee is clarified butter, which has had the casein and lactose removed, and is appropriate for all but the very very sensitive. People are generally not sensitive to milk fat, which is the only thing that remains after clarifying butter.
A Note for Others
Just because I healed my dairy allergy in just a few weeks doesn’t mean that everyone will be able to, but it is encouraging that there is hope, right? I didn’t attempt to introduce GAPS legal dairy to my daughter until she had been on GAPS for over 6 months (and she did fine with it too) just because I was scared of losing the progress we had made on GAPS and she had been sensitive to dairy as a baby and toddler as well, as had my son.
I’ve had readers report success with GAPS healing egg and nut allergies as well, have you healed an allergy with GAPS?
Why is the GAPS Intro Diet more helpful than, say,a gluten free or paleo diet?
How are autism and food allergies related?
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Cara – would you break out in hives if milk touched your skin? We are finding this with out youngest, the first one with food allergies in our family.
My son did that! When I went to introduce him to dairy (cottage cheese) around 9 months old, everywhere it touched his skin he broke out. I didn’t notice any adverse tummy issues from it. I then purchased some raw milk and just rubbed a little on his cheek and that area also broke out. So I didn’t try any dairy with him until 15 months, and I introduced kefir and it caused no reaction. I went on to also introduce raw milk and cheese and he did not react to those either. He’s now almost 2 and does have some chicken-skin like texture on his upper arms, so I’m wondering if it’s a mild dairy issue. We might do GAPS for a little while to see if it helps.
Good luck with your babe.
The chicken skin on the upper arms is a sign of omega fatty acid deficiency… My daughter has that when she’s not taking cod liver oil…
I didn’t break out from it touching my skin.
I did heal the dairy on Gaps after a couple of months. Then at about eight months into the diet the allergy came back again. So now I still don’t eat it. Butter is ok for me though. It’s very sad.
Three years ago, my husband discovered through an elimination diet that he had severe gluten intolerance (I suspect Celiac) and intolerances to egg and dairy. For the primary cook in the house, it would be REALLY nice if we could bring just one of those back!
I had a quick question – did you start with fermented dairy on intro, or did you hold off on all dairy for those 6 weeks?
Hi Cara! First, I want to thank you for what you do! I am getting ready to start GAPS with my son and your guide has taken a lot of the stress out of planning. Second, I just want to make sure I am understanding. Should I not use the BioKult? Just during the intro or not at all??
Hi Cara–I’m thinking about starting the GAPS Intro with my 2+ yr old son, who has many, many food allergies. I’m wondering, if he is allergic to eggs and coconut, do we avoid these altogether on the Intro diet? Is there some point at which I should try to introduce them (he’s been off them since around 6 mos)? I’m concerned about having enough nutrient dense food options for him on this diet. Thanks for your help!
You could try eggs when they’re introduced on intro, coconut isn’t on intro anyway :)
Was your allergy casein or lactose related? I was tested and am sensitive to casein but can have whey (no reaction to whey) It didn’t mention lactose however. Is one intolerance easier to ameliorate than the other? I also have been doing the FODMAPS diet as I had SIBO. I seem to be OK with certain cheeses and yogurts in small amounts but I never drink straight up milk. I can tolerate butter, ghee, cream (if there are no additives and in small quantities) Any suggestions? Thanks!
It was casein, but I believe that there is quite a bit of casein in whey.
Hi, thank you so much for investing your time and energy to provide all this info. to help others. AMAZING!!! I am wondering if you lost slot of weight on the intro diet??. It doesn’t look like much to eat. I am breastfeeding so cant do intro right now, but curious for the future.
The Gaps diet calls for adding whey in the first weeks. Did you eat whey before you were 6 weeks into the diet? Or were you completely off all milk products for that 6 weeks?
I did skip dairy for a while since I knew I was sensitive to it, so I didn’t do whey in the first 6weeks
hi cara, i am completely allergic to milk and egg so is it worth still trying the GAPS diet but with avoiding milk and egg.
Yes! You may find this helpful https://healthhomeandhappiness.com/gaps-faq-i-cant-eat-eggs-i-cant-eat-nuts-can-i-still-do-gaps.html
That’s good stuff! Finally, a cure for dairy allergy! While reading your page, I was amazed and thought that there’s no cure for this and just have to live with soy for the rest of your life. I guess this is an amazing breakthrough!
I was so interested in reading this! I have casein issues with dairy, histamine intolerance and fructose malabsorbtion (that one since a child) as reacted to wheat, apples but never knew! Thankfully was diagnosed via breath test. Your post gave me hope that I may once again have milk! Even lactose free gave me a runny nose and scratchy throat. I am on stage 5 of the gaps diet, can’t have fermented foods and have had to remove nut bread and pancake due to my throat swelling and still having a histamine reaction to nuts. Hopefully in the next few weeks things will get better. My daughter is pregnant and I think she may have mild FM, or at least a milk allergy as she was two months premature. She wants to do the gaps diet but perhaps not right now while in the early stages of pregnancy but could she do a full/mild gaps transition by adding even one bone broth a day and that would be ok for the baby? I thought it may be a good thing but we wanted to be super sure. Any suggestions would be awesome. So pleased you and your daughter had such amazing results on GAPS, well done! :)
May I ask, Debie what the histimine reaction nuts does to you? I have a delayed (12-16 hr) reaction of my ear lobes, and face ( not including lips) swelling and then a rash which takes about 6 weeks to heal. I’ve been told by an allergist that it’s eczema … I’m not aware of eczema causing edema so was just curious what your reaction is. Thanks!
When allergies are bothering my ears, throat, or head I use lemon, lavender and peppermint essential oils. I put 2 drops of each in about 2 tablespoons of water. Swish it around in my mouth then swallow. It really works. The brand of oils to research is Doterra it is the only brand that is CPTG (certified pure therapeutic grade). It is independently tested and can be taken internally. It is also a must have partner for gaps, because you really don’t want any antibiotic. I personally have had MRSA and had to take antibiotics, but it came back in a few weeks, then used oils and it killed it. I have never had it since.
On this page, the What is GAPS diet? link does not work:
This caught my eye as my son suffers from a life threatening allergy to dairy. I’ve never heard of anyone with a true allergy (immune response) who can eat dairy with only a sinus infection as a reaction. If that is the case, you are very lucky that it was so mild. Maybe that’s the reason why a diet, like GAPS, worked for you? My son could have an anaphylaxis reaction to just a trace amount of dairy, so I would be surprised if a diet could eliminate it for him. However, I’ll have to do more research because you never know. Thanks for the information.