The human body has the ability to breakdown the wide variety of foods we eat each day. Our digestive system uses mechanical mixing in the stomach and a variety of enzymes to break down the food and liberate vitamins, minerals, proteins and amino acids, carbohydrates, and fats that are absorbed through the intestinal wall. For most people, the body produces sufficient quantities of digestive enzymes to carry out efficient digestion. However, some people are not able to produce enough lactase enzyme- the enzyme that is responsible for breaking down the carbohydrate (sugar) lactose. The two sugars that make up lactose – glucose and galactose – are not split; they pass father down the digestive tract and cause, bloating, excessive gas production, nausea, and diarrhoea.
People with lactose intolerance (also called lactase deficiency) usually find out by trial and error what foods they need to avoid. In many cases, all dairy products are taken out of the diet, but this may not be necessary. Although fresh processed cows’ milk contains 5-8% lactose, there is now lactase pre-digested milk on the market. Instead of relying on lactase in the digestive tract, manufacturers have added lactase enzyme to the milk. The lactose is broken down to glucose and galactose which can be digested. The rest of the milk is unchanged and the only difference between lactase treated milk and untreated milk is that the treated milk tastes sweeter. Some other milk products are well tolerated by people with lactase deficiency because some, or all, of the naturally occurring lactose is broken down during processing.
- Safe Milk Products for Lactose Intolerant Individuals
- Lactase treated milk
- Natural yoghurt, preferably one with live culture
- Aged, fermented cheeses
- Dry cottage cheese
- Cultured sour cream
- Cultured buttermilk
- Cultured butter