An allergy is an overreaction of the immune system. It is usually a reaction to something from the environment – dust or pollen – or food. In an allergic reaction, your body launches an attack against the foreign ‘invader’ perceived to be a threat. This results in a range of symptoms including sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, skin irritation, wheezing and so on. These reactions are typical of classic allergies: asthma, eczema, hay fever and skin rash. The most severe type of reaction (anaphylactic shock) may involve difficulty in breathing, a drop in blood pressure and ultimately heart failure and death.

Cow’s milk allergy affects two to three per cent of babies and young children in the UK (BDA, 2021). Symptoms include a runny nose, coughing, blocked ears, excessive mucus in the airways, itchy eyes, rash, vomiting or bloating. More serious symptoms include blood in stools, stomach pain, colic, diarrhoea, eczema or asthma. Children who have cow’s milk allergy are more likely to suffer from asthma than others (Jansen et al., 2018). They may not have other allergic symptoms and may even ‘grow out’ of cow’s milk allergy but continue to suffer from asthma. Avoiding milk and dairy products can certainly help improve their health.



BDA. 2021. Milk allergy: Food Fact Sheet. Available from: [Accessed 20 December 2021]

Jansen PR, Petrus NCM, Venema A et al. 2018. Higher Polygenetic Predisposition for Asthma in Cow’s Milk Allergic Children. Nutrients. 10 (11) 1582.

How to change your diet

Going dairy-free is not just a healthy choice, it’s also an ethical and sustainable one. If you’re used to meals based around meat and dairy, the idea of a plant-based diet may be daunting but we’re here to help make it super easy!

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All about dairy

Find all the above and more in Viva!’s ground-breaking resources:

An eye-opening guide Why You Don’t Need Dairy– presenting information on health, animals and the environment in an easy-to-read format.

A practical guide on how to cut dairy out of your diet and all you need to know to live a healthy and delicious dairy-free life: Everyone’s Going Dairy-Free

If you want to know more about dairy and your health and explore what scientific studies have to say, see the in-depth report White Lies


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