Subscribe to our Newsletter:
Healthy Diet Plans >>  Protein >>  Casein

Casein Foods And Benefits Of Casein Protein

Drink a glass of milk and its there. Eat a chunk of cheese and its there. Have some McDonald’s fries and there it is again. What is it? Casein.

A phosphoprotein found in milk and cheese, casein is a large part of an average diet, although people are rarely aware of its presence. However for people with food allergies, autism, or cancer casein is an ever-present concern.

Casein protein, because of its chemical make-up, is not susceptible to being denatured. This means it will not break down or lose structure due to heat or acid. For this reason Casein products are used in some non-dairy foods to help maintain the consistency or structure in the food. Casein foods are virtually everywhere. Most children are raised with milk and cheese as a basic dietary staple and develop a dependency on casein very early in life.

Weight lifters sometimes use casein protein powder as a source of amino acids because of the slow digestion rate. Casein is high in glutamine which is the primary amino acid in muscles and body tissue. It helps build lean muscle tissue and is a large part of a protein nutrition based diet.

While most adults are able to digest casein with no problems, studies have shown some adults and children, particularly children with autism are unable to digest casein protein properly which leads it to act as an opiate in the person’s system and hamper brain development. Many studies on autism recommend a casein-free diet to help with behavior and response issues including eye-contact, attention span development, aggression and mood swings. Parents are encouraged to use a physician’s guidance in beginning a casein-free diet for their child because of the body’s dependence on the protein.

Choosing Casein Free Diets

Eating a casein-free diet is not an easy task. Casein is not only found in milk and cheese but also in non-dairy products such as soy cheeses, and cereals. Keeping your child from things like cereal, ice-cream and pizza can be difficult. McDonald’s uses a casein-based product in their french fries. There are books and diet plans available for people who want a casein free diet that offer lists of foods with casein protein and casein free substitutes.

Research has also been conducted on possible links between casein and cancer. Studies done on breast and colon cancer reveal the presence of milk and casein-high diets can affect cancer because the protein can feed cancer cells and stimulate tumor growth. Many of these studies are still under review and a definite link between casein protein and cancer has yet to be fully established. Casein has also been shown to take away positive effects of tea in fighting cardiovascular disease. Once someone puts milk in their tea the molecules are no longer able to help the arteries relax.

Researchers and nutritionists continue to offer words of caution in regard to casein protein but also remind us that a healthy diet exists in a balance of things. No person eats casein as the only dietary protein and is unlikely to incur the effects of studies where high levels of casein are introduced. While many studies suggest plant proteins are far superior to animal proteins like casein, a diet made of wise choices is the best choice. Awareness of casein and its presence in dairy products is the first step to understanding how best to regulate your eating habits.


Casein like whey is a protein that is one of the components of milk. Proteins are used as the basic raw material by the body for the production of tissues and muscles. Proteins are a significant food group for human beings and are very important in the development of the individual’s body. Children are usually fed with plenty of protein as they grow older and larger. Casein is present naturally in milk and is therefore a part of many dairy products. Casein may also be present in the food because of its capabilities as a binding agent. One should note that casein may be present in foods that are labeled as milk or lactose free. Many individuals suffer from lactose intolerance and therefore opt for these foods. However, casein protein may still be present in the food which could trigger off a casein allergy. Casein protein is the most abundant protein found in milk. Up to 80 % of the protein content of milk is made up of casein.

An allergy is the abnormal response of the human immune system. The human immune system is designed to fight off known and unknown foreign objects that are considered to be a threat to the human body. This line of defense helps to protect the body from various diseases and infections. The immune system functions by attacking the area that is exposed to the substance that is found to be offensive. An allergic reaction occurs when the body responds in an aggressive fashion to the presence of a substance that triggers off the response. The substance is known as an allergen. The allergen itself may not be harmful to the body. However, the reaction of the body is what causes harm to the body. An allergic response is often out of control and may lead to a medical emergency situation. Allergy sufferers are usually prepared with some sort of anti-histamine medication that helps them survive an attack if they are far away from an emergency medical center.

There are many people in the world who are allergic to casein instead of milk. The common practice in this situation is to blame the illness on milk because milk allergies are known and are common. Casein allergies are relatively unknown although the number of casein allergy sufferers is quite high. Individuals ignore the presence of casein in milk and blame their condition on lactose intolerance when it is actually casein intolerance. A casein protein allergy can cause small irritation to the individual and may, in rare cases, cause some serious health issues to the individual. Casein allergies produce symptoms of itchy skin which may cause hives. Eczema is also possible among individuals who are suffering from a casein allergy. The misdiagnosis of the condition as lactose intolerance becomes evident when other casein based products cause similar symptoms in the individual. Children are more susceptible to casein allergies. One can diagnose a casein allergy by noting the ingredients of all foods consumed over a period of time and establishing a link between allergic responses and casein protein in the food. Certain foods that are lactose free may still have casein within them as this protein may be used for the purpose of binding. Certain types of cheeses contain casein protein and these will trigger off allergies in individuals who are suffering from a casein allergy in the first place. This may be quite confusing to the individual as he or she will usually suspect that there is a lactose allergy problem rather than a casein allergy problem.

One of the unnerving casein protein side effects is the apparent link between casein protein foods and cancer. Laboratory research suggests that cancer is one of the casein protein dangers. However, the exact mechanism of the problem is relatively unknown at this point. Furthermore, studies have also linked this problem to a non vegetarian diet along with casein consumption.

Individuals suffering from a casein allergy must follow a casein free diet. This will help them avoid the unpleasant problem of dealing with the allergy as it spreads across the body. Casein allergies can cause a runny nose as well as the other symptoms mentioned above. This is particularly uncomfortable and may make it difficult for an individual to eat without such problems. One should therefore be aware of the foods that contain casein protein and avoid these foods. It should be noted that casein allergy sufferers are also responsive to casein when it is used in an industrial form. Casein is used in certain paint products including nail paints or nail polishes. The vapors that rise from these products can cause the individual with a casein allergy to respond poorly and to suffer from an attack of the allergy.

When one compares casein protein vs whey protein, it can be noted that whey protein is absorbed much faster into the body. Because of the processing that takes place during milk packaging, casein is in a form that is digested slowly. This means that the proteins will be gradually released into the blood stream rather than rapidly released as would be the case with whey proteins. Whey protein stimulates the process of protein synthesis. Casein protein slows the process of protein break down. Instead of therefore comparing whey vs casein, one may be advised to consider whey and casein as partners in the process. When these two are consumed together, the individual will likely experience a greater benefit.

Considering all the confusion and information about casein, one can take a safe route and avoid foods where casein is an additive. Foods that contain casein as a natural product can still be consumed as long as one does not suffer from casein intolerance. Processed foods are, in any case, less than healthy for the body. Individuals who consume a healthy diet that is full of vitamins and minerals tend to experience better health and may be less susceptible to allergies as well. A balanced diet is also regarded as protection against diseases and other medical conditions.

Submitted on January 16, 2014