Do you get bloating and stomach pain after drinking a milkshake? Or have you had mucus or a stuffy nose after eating that piece of cheese or cake? You may be lactose or dairy intolerant and it’s more common than you think. Many people put these common symptoms down as normal and everyone gets them at times or annoying but they haven’t looked into the cause. Or maybe they went to the doctor and the doctor did a check-up but didn’t find any illness or cause. In this article I’m going to explain what is dairy and lactose intolerance, what’s the difference, what are the symptoms and solutions to feeling well again.
What is lactose?
Lactose is the sugar found in all kinds of milk.
What causes lactose intolerance?
Our bodies use an enzyme called lactase to digest lactose. If one doesn’t have enough lactase then the body can’t break down the lactose, causing symptoms.
What are the symptoms?
After eating or drinking dairy products or other foods that contain dairy products, you may experience symptoms including gas, bloating, diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, nausea, blocked nose and sinus, mucus or headaches.
Where is lactose found?
Lactose is found in all dairy products, although some contain more lactose than others, for example, milk is high in lactose whereas cheese and butter is low in it. Some people find they can tolerate cheese but not milk. It’s important to read labels because lactose can be hidden in many products like bread, chips and meat products. It can be added under different names too like whey, curds, milk solids etc.
Do I have to eliminate all dairy products?
Not necessarily. People have different tolerance levels. Some people can have a small amount of lactose in dairy products and others can’t have any. I have found that I can drink raw milk without any symptoms, however, I can’t tolerate much-processed dairy products. Research shows that the pasteurisation and homogenisation of dairy products make it harder to digest, kills the good probiotics, omega 3 fatty acids and damages some of the calcium. The funny thing is, I tolerate organic dairy better than non-organic. Possibly the use of chemicals on the cows like medications, vaccines and drenches affects me when I consume the milk.
What’s the difference between lactose intolerance and dairy allergy?
Dairy allergy involves an allergic reaction to the casein in milk. The reaction can occur in minutes or up to several days. Symptoms can include hives, eczema, vomiting, diarrhoea, wheezing and asthma. It is less common than lactose intolerance but can be quite serious and dairy products must be avoided. It is important to get a reliable diagnosis from a practitioner.
What are the alternatives to dairy?
There are alternatives including almond, rice and oat milk and many dairy-free recipes including on this website www.healthyshelly.com. Some lactose intolerant people can tolerate goat and sheep milk products. Research shows soy isn’t healthy so I avoid soy products. You can get more calcium in your diet through eating bone broth, leafy green vegetables, kelp, almond butter, sardines, carrot juice and certain forms of calcium supplements.