Dairy intolerances are very common. People can be intolerant to dairy in different ways. Most people are intolerant to lactose in dairy, but some people are intolerant to proteins in dairy.
What`s the difference?
Lactose intolerance is when a person’s body cannot break down lactose properly. Symptoms often include bloating, flatulence, and diarrhoea.Lactose is a type of sugar found only in milk. It is also present in dairy products and products made from milk, including cheese and ice cream.
Lactose cannot become absorbed by the body unless is gets changed into more simple sugars called glucose and galactose. This change happens when the lactose passes through the stomach into the upper part of the gut and comes into contact with an enzyme called lactase.
If a person has lactose intolerance, their digestive system produces too little of an enzyme known as lactase. Lactase is needed to break down lactose.
Lactose intolerance is different from a milk allergy. In a milk allergy, the body reacts to milk proteins, not milk sugar. A milk allergy can result in severe symptoms, including anaphylaxis, whereas an intolerance can be uncomfortable, but it isn`t life-threatening. An estimated 68% of people, world-wide have trouble digesting lactose.
Some people are intolerant to a protein in dairy, rather than Lactose. This is called an a1 milk protein intolerance but it is far less common.
People with lactose intolerance experience symptoms after eating or drinking milk or dairy products that contain lactose. Symptoms can range from mild discomfort to a severe reaction. This depends on how much lactase a person’s body produces and how much lactose they consumed. Most people with lactose intolerance can eat some amount of lactose without experiencing symptoms. Each person has a different tolerance level.
Symptoms of lactose intolerance can include:
abdominal pain and cramping
The person may have a sudden urge to pass a bowel movement 30 minutes to 2 hours after consuming lactose.
If you think that you may be lactose intolerant, you could keep a food diary that you record what you have eaten alongside your symptoms, to help you understand if it is the cause of your digestive trouble. There are tests that can be done to determine whether you are lactose intolerant also.
To avoid symptoms, a person with lactose intolerance may need to avoid milk, milk products such as ice cream, and other processed foods that contain milk powder and whey. To avoid symptoms, a person with a lactose intolerance should check food labels carefully, as some foods may contain hidden lactose.
Dairy foods to avoid
Milk (from animals)
Butter and ghee
This is just a small list of dairy items, you should do more research about foods to avoid and always read the labels.
Non-dairy foods containing lactose
Salad dressings and mayonnaise
Some ready meals
Batter e.g. around fish fingers
Margarine, low fat spreads and vegetable spreads
Certain breakfast cereals
Cheese flavoured crisps
Types of bread and pastries
Some processed meats, such as sliced ham
Look out for lactic acid (sometimes shown on product labels as E270)
There are many other foods that contain dairy products so always check the label.
Here is a list of names that are used instead of milk that you may come across in the ingredients.
Other animals milk
Other animal milks (and products made from them) are now widely available. Some people with lactose intolerance can consume small quantities of goat, sheep or buffalo milk, cheese, yoghurts etc, without symptoms. This is down to these alternative milk sources containing less lactose.