Asking whether you can have cheese if you are allergic is much more complicated than it seems at first. That is because it is different depending on what your allergy is actually to. Some people think they are allergic to cheese but actually end up having lactose intolerance, a milk allergy, or something else. In these cases, you will still be able to enjoy cheese as long as you know which ones to choose.
Eating Cheese With A Cheese Allergy
In the vast majority of cases, people who have an allergic reaction to cheese are actually allergic to the milk within it or a general dairy allergy. Keep in mind that most dairy allergies will disappear by age three so your doctor will need to confirm whether this is actually an allergy. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include itchy skin, a runny nose, hives, wheezing, diarrhea, vomiting, and more.
The good news for those with a true cheese allergy is that you can probably still eat some types of cheese. The allergy is your body reacting to a protein in the milk within the cheese and it releases histamines which lead to symptoms. Sometimes, the allergic reaction is actually because of histamines found naturally in aged cheese. If this is the case, you will probably be able to eat fresh cheese, but need to avoid aged ones like parmesan, cheddar, Roquefort, Brie, and gruyere. You will, however, want to consult your doctor before doing so to make sure it’s safe.
Eating Cheese With Lactose Intolerance
As mentioned earlier, some people who think they are allergic to cheese are actually lactose intolerant. These people won’t have an enzyme that breaks down lactose, which is a sugar found in dairy and milk products. This means that they can’t properly digest cheese or other dairy-based products. It isn’t life-threatening but can lead to severe discomfort, including diarrhea, gas, cramps, and nausea. Those with lactose intolerance will actually be able to eat some cheeses with minimal to no discomfort; they just have to choose wisely. As a general rule of thumb, fresh cheese will have more lactose than aged cheese. That is because as cheese ages, the majority of lactose drains off along with the whey. Only a little bit is left and this becomes lactic acid during aging. If aging doesn’t occur, less of the remaining lactose becomes lactic acid. As a general rule of thumb, those who are lactose intolerant should avoid fresh cheese but can enjoy aged cheese and the more aged, the better.