If you drink protein powder, chances are, it’s made of whey protein. As the most common source of protein for supplements, whey wears the crown for protein powders. However, what people don’t know is that whey protein has a brother, casein protein. Casein is more of a little, neglected brother of whey, unfortunately. Regardless, casein is still a strong protein in its own way, whether it’s popular or not. However, even if it does lay low, its side effects should not go unmentioned. Today, we’re discussing casein protein allergy, whether it’s severe as whey’s or on a whole different level. Let’s begin!
What Is An Allergy?
This should be worth clearing up before jumping in any further into this article about allergies. What exactly is an allergy? Well, anything allergy-related has to do mainly with your immune system. Your immune system is the host defense system in organisms to protect against diseases. It reacts towards foreign substances that enter our body. Through the use of white blood cells and antibodies, they combat disease.
Something that tends to cause an immune system reaction in the form of allergies is called an allergen. There exist many allergens out there, they come in many shapes and forms. There exist food allergens, drug allergens, seasonal allergens, and even animal allergens. In our case, the casein protein would fall into the food allergen category.
An allergic reaction occurs when our immune system overreacts to a foreign substance, allergen, causing different reactions throughout your body. If you suffer from allergic reactions, you know what some of these reactions consist of. Here’s a shortlist of common allergic reaction symptoms people experience…
- Watery Eyes
- Itchy Eyes
- Runny Nose
These are common symptoms that tend to not really be all that dangerous, just quite annoying at times. However, there is another category of allergic reactions that are not to be played with; these are called anaphylaxis reactions. These bunch of symptoms can prove fatal to a person experiencing one in less than 15 minutes. Here’s a list of some anaphylaxis symptoms…
- Tightness in the Throat
- Wheezing/Shortness of Breath
- Tingling in hands/feet
These are severe overreactions from your immune system that is desperately trying to get rid of the foreign substance. An epinephrine pen, or EpiPen, is used to calm your immune system, which is used immediately to suppress the reaction. If you are prone to anaphylaxis symptoms, keeping an EpiPen near is vital to your health. I have an article I wrote here that talks more in-depth about allergic reactions and protein powders if you’d like to check it out.
Casein Protein Allergies
Casein is very similar to its brother, whey protein. It makes sense since they come from the same source, or should I say, mom, milk. In the process of making cheese, whey and casein are produced as byproducts. Whey is in a liquid form, while casein is in a curdle, solid-state. It’s important to note that they come from milk, meaning they contain lactose.
Milk/lactose is one of the most popular allergens there exists out there. It’s important not to confuse allergies to milk with lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance is a digestive problem rather than an allergic reaction. It has zero to do with the immune system, just how lactose is broken down in your stomach. The side effects may come out as similar, but their sources are much different.
The easiest way to tell the difference between the two is the timing of the symptoms. In most with allergies to milk, they will experience the side effects soon after consuming it. With lactose intolerance, the digestion must occur first before any side effects can happen. Even coming in contact with milk can trigger an allergic reaction.
Casein protein is just as bad as an allergen as whey protein or milk. Meaning, you’ll get a lot of the same symptoms I mentioned in the section above. Not to mention, lactose is an allergen that may cause anaphylaxis symptoms in some people. If this is you, you must stay away from drinking milk in general. Studies have shown that even soy milk can cause allergic reactions, so no milk product is safe.
Casein Protein Alternatives
If you’re allergic to casein protein, it doesn’t mean that it’s the end of the world for you. There are many alternatives for protein out there that it makes casein, and whey for that matter, meager. As long as the protein you choose does not contain milk/dairy, you’re in the clear. Here is a list of foods that can give you protein that isn’t from milk.
- Vegan Protein Supplements
That’s quite a long list if you ask me, plenty for anybody, allergic to milk or not. I’d also like to point out that protein powders are still not off the list for people with milk allergies. There exists milk or dairy-less protein powders for people with this issue. They’re typically made from plant-based protein sources, like peas, brown rice, or even hemp.
They have their flaws, but also most definitely their benefits. On my site, I have plenty of vegan protein powders reviews that really analyze why people should use them. I also have an article that explains the critical differences between vegan protein and dairy protein powder, link to that here.
In conclusion, what is a casein protein allergy? An allergy to casein is a response from your immune system trying desperately to remove it from the body. The reactions range from annoying symptoms to possibly deadly side effects. The best choice for someone who’s allergic to casein is to stay away from milk products as far as possible and choose a different protein. There are plenty of options to choose from, including steak, chicken, fish, and even peanuts. Protein supplements are another great option, just make sure it’s vegan and contains absolutely no traces of milk.
Got any questions? Leave them down below, along with any comments you may have!