Lactose & Intolerance

Lactose, commonly found in milk, is a combination of galactose and glucose. Known as the sugar in milk (not to be confused with the sugar you add), lactose provides a substantial amount of the calories found in milk. When a baby is born, they have a higher concentration of lactase, the enzyme required to digest lactose. As the baby grows, the amount of lactase reduces significantly so much so that by adolescence, only about thirty percent of the world’s population retains the ability to digest lactose. Some races, in fact, are completely lactose intolerant. At least the way your body was designed, it appears we were meant to drink milk only in our formative years.

If you still continue to drink milk, your intestines may retain some of the lactose due to intolerance. The lactose then attracts water which can cause bloating, abdominal pain and diarrhea. If you are used to eating complex meals you might not even be able to identify the source of the discomfort. Avoiding anything made from milk is not simple since milk shows up in a surprising number of things including sauces, butter, cheese and many drinks.

Many products are made from milk such as cheese and kefir. The process of fermentation reduces the lactose because the bacteria used for fermentation consumes the lactose. People who are intolerant can frequently eat fermented milk products. There are mixed views on milk and milk products. The science is clear that only certain types of milk are suitable for human consumption. Some studies have also linked milk to cancer. Yet, milk has significant quantities of calcium and Vitamin D, which is essential for the human body. Therefore many nutritionists do not recommend that you eliminate milk from your diet. Unless you are completely intolerant of course. If you do drink milk, remember it already comes with plenty of natural sugar, you don’t really need to add anything to sweeten it.


Ritesh is a born again health enthusiast and holds a Certificate in Physiology from Harvard Medical School and a Certificate in Nutrition from Tufts University.