Lactose and Your Body
Dairy is an important part of a healthy diet. It’s a good source of calcium, protein, and vitamins A and D. Better yet, you love it. But sometimes, dairy doesn’t seem to love you. What is it about dairy that gives some people discomfort? What’s the difference between lactose and lactase besides one letter in their names? The list of questions goes on.
Not to worry. We have the answers to your most pressing questions here—and the most important information to help you understand the health benefits of dairy.
Maybe you’ve heard of it, but might not know that it’s a sugar that’s mainly found in dairy products.
It may sound mysterious, but it’s really not. Lactose is just a sugar found in milk and milk products. When you digest lactose, it’s broken down into two simpler (but just as mysterious-sounding) sugars, galactose and glucose.
Foods with lactose
Many processed foods include milk products, so it makes sense to read food labels carefully. If you are severely lactose intolerant, ask your doctor or pharmacist about lactose that may be in prescription and over-the-counter drugs. The most common high-lactose foods include:
- Milk and milk based beverages
- Ice cream
- Soft and processed cheeses
- Puddings and custards
- Cream soups and cream sauces
Other foods that may contain lactose in smaller quantities include:
- Baked goods
- Milk chocolate
- Salad dressings and sauces
- Instant oatmeal and cereal bars
- Instant mashed potatoes, soups, rice and noodle mixes
- Lunch meats
- Mixes for pancakes, biscuits and cookies
Lactose content list
Food and Beverages Lactose (g) Serving Size Milk: whole, low-fat, skim 9-12 1 cup Buttermilk 9-12 1 cup Goat milk 9 1 cup Fat free dry milk 12 1/3 cup Half and half 1 2 tbsp Light cream 1 2 tbsp Whipped Cream <1 2 tbsp Sour cream 1 2 tbsp Condensed milk, whole 4 2 tbsp Evaporated milk 3 2 tbsp Butter, margarine Trace 1 tbsp Yogurt, low-fat 5 1 cup Cottage Cheese 2-3 1/2 cup Ice cream 6-9 1/2 cup Sherbert 2 1/2 cup Cheese: American, swiss, blue 1-2 1 oz. Cheese: Cheddar, Parmesan 1-2 1 oz. Cream cheese 1-2 1 oz.
This natural digestive enzyme specializes in helping your body digest lactose, the sugar in dairy.
You can consider lactase the counterpart to lactose. It’s a digestive enzyme that breaks lactose down into two simpler sugars called galactose and glucose.
People with a lactase deficiency don't make enough lactase enzyme in the small intestine to digest lactose, resulting in lactose intolerance. The most common symptoms are diarrhea, bloating and gas.
The most efficient way to evaluate this condition is through the Dairy Digestion Test, or specific tests at your doctor's office.
Lactose can be the cause of sensitivity to dairy, but it can be managed easily.
You may have heard of lactose intolerance, but you might not know what it really is. In a few seconds you will. Lactose intolerance is characterized by the symptoms that occur when your body does not make enough of a digestive enzyme called lactase to digest a sugar called lactose, which is found mainly in milk and other dairy products.
Normally, our body produces lactase, which breaks down lactose into two simple sugars, glucose and galactose. These two sugars can then be absorbed into the bloodstream. People whose bodies don’t make enough lactase can’t fully digest lactose, causing mild to uncomfortable side effects.
Some people have a higher chance of being lactose intolerant, including people of Hispanic, African-American, Asian and Jewish descent. It also affects adults more than children, since the body produces less lactase enzyme as people age.
What are the symptoms of lactose intolerance?
Common signs and symptoms of lactose intolerance include:
- Abdominal pain
The symptoms can be mild or severe depending on the amount of lactose consumed and the degree of lactase deficiency. Some people who produce small amounts of lactase may be able to tolerate small servings of foods containing lactose. Symptoms can appear anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours after eating these foods.
How is lactose intolerance diagnosed?
It’s not always easy to diagnose lactose intolerance through symptoms alone. Many of the symptoms are the same as those of other conditions. The best way to confirm the condition is through specific tests at your doctor’s office. And if you don’t have lactose intolerance, testing can point to other conditions that may be causing discomfort.
The most common self-diagnosis test is the Dairy Digestion Test. If it indicates you may be lactose intolerant, you should confirm the diagnosis with your doctor.
How is lactose intolerance treated?
There's no cure for lactose intolerance, but it is easily managed.
The best methods are to:
- Be aware of what foods contain lactose. Note that some dairy foods are better tolerated than others, such as yogurt and other fermented dairy products, and hard, aged cheeses.
- Observe the amount of lactose you eat.
- Use LACTAID® Brand Products to prevent dairy discomfort.
The LACTAID® Difference
We introduced the first lactose free milk. And we´re still the brand you can trust to enjoy
the dairy you love without a second thought.
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