ASTHMA & ALLERGIC RHINITIS
Mucus is essential in our bodies, but during an infection (such as a cold), an asthma attack or allergic rhinitis (e.g. hay fever), mucus production increases and becomes irritating. Apart from cow’s milk protein allergy, which is uncommon, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that dairy intake increases mucus production.
In some types of alternative medicine, people with bronchial asthma, a chronic inflammatory disease of the lower respiratory tract, are advised not to eat so-called mucus-forming foods, especially all kinds of dairy products. According to different investigations the consumption of milk does not seem to exacerbate the symptoms of asthma and a relationship between milk consumption and the occurrence of asthma cannot be established. However, there are a few cases documented in which people with a cow’s milk allergy presented with asthma-like symptoms.
Rhinitis symptoms such as a runny or itchy nose can occur in individuals with a cows’ milk protein allergy. However, cow’s milk allergy affects < 3 % of infants (with most outgrowing the allergy by the age of 3-5 years). The majority of allergic rhinitis cases are related to airborne allergens e.g. dust mites, animal dander and pollen.
Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition, which can vary from mild to severe. The causes are not fully understood but genetics, immune function and environmental irritants can all play a role. When considering the effect of diet on eczema, it must be borne in mind that the basic problem in this condition is a defect in the skin barrier function. Unnecessary dietary manipulation, which is not based on a proper diagnosis, can be nutritionally harmful, particularly for young children.
Acne is a condition which usually presents during puberty and can be caused by fluctuations in hormones resulting in the overproduction of oily secretions by glands. Due to the complex nature of acne which can be influenced by genetics, skin type and hormones, a simple explanation of acne being ‘caused by’ any single food is unlikely. While some observational studies may have suggested a link between dairy and an increased risk of acne, clinical studies are still lacking. Up to date, there is no research to show that dietary intake causes acne. There is no sufficient evidence to recommend changes to the intake of dairy products for the management of acne. In fact, milk is a source of a number of nutrients that have established roles in normal skin health, such as vitamin B2 and iodine.