If you suffer from lactose intolerance, you are far from alone. Approximately 75% of the world’s population lose their tolerance to lactose after they have been weaned off their mother’s milk. With so many people across the globe unable to process dairy you’re left to wonder: why do we eat so much of the stuff?
Why Do We Eat So Much Lactose?
The answer appears to be a mix of habit and a lack of knowledge around lactose intolerance. Even the name lactose intolerance isn’t completely appropriate. In certain scientific circles, lactose intolerance has been renamed lactase deficient which is a more appropriate description.
Lactase enzymes are present in 99.9% of infants to break down the mother’s milk. These enzymes break down lactose into glucose and galactose which your body is capable of digesting. Without them, your body isn’t able to digest lactose properly.
The inability to break down lactose can cause gastrointestinal damage; which leads to bloating, gas and diarrhea. Lactose intolerance is generally only diagnosed for people with severe and/or consistent issues. However, there is evidence to suggest that many of us suffer from the condition without realizing.
It is easy to pass off mild symptoms as a part of your regular digestive routine because our consumption of dairy is so consistent, and has been our whole lives, that we know no different. Past infancy, dairy has little nutritional value and the nutrients it does have can easily be found in healthier alternatives. However, not all dairy products were created equal…
Lactose Content Per 100g of Dairy Products
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- Whey: 39-75g
- Milk powder: 36-52g
- Coffee creamer: 35-55g
- Condensed milk: 10-16g
- Full fat or low-fat milk: 4-5g
Whey tops the list of dairy products to avoid. A by-product of cheese making, whey has been turned into protein powder for bodybuilders. Even anecdotal evidence from people who use it tells you that it isn’t great for their digestion – many bodybuilders suffer from diarrhea as a result of consuming whey. The top five also reveals that full-fat and low-fat milk are equally potent for those lacking the lactase enzyme.
- Mozzarella cheese: 1-3g
- Butter: 0.5-1g
- Feta cheese: 0.5g
- Parmesan cheese: 0.1-1g
- Ghee: 0-0.1g
The lighter cheeses and surprisingly butter make up four of the spaces on this list, but they pose a risk for those with lactose intolerance (or lactase deficiency). However, at the very bottom of the list is the lesser known and lesser consumed ghee. Ghee is an Indian butter used in cooking and many people who are unable to process dairy are able to consume it unless they have a particularly delicate sensitivity.
5 Dairy Alternatives
1. Replace Cheese With Nutritional Yeast
For many of us, grating or sprinkling cheese on top of a meal is the savory equivalent to the cherry on top of the cake. Nutritional yeast may not sound like it would have the same delicious outcome but it does. It has a strong flavor so don’t sprinkle too much on top. You can also integrate it into recipes to replace cheese permanently.
2/3. Replace Milk With Coconut milk or Soy Milk
The milk alternative business has really taken off in the past five years. It is now simple to walk into any supermarket and find a healthier option. If you drink low-fat milk choose soy as an alternative. It is low in fat and has a similar consistency as low-fat milk. If you’re like your milk full fat and creamy, then coconut milk is a tasty option. It has a lower fat content than whole milk but maintains the thicker texture that goes fantastic with hot chocolate.
4/5. Replace Butter With Dairy Free Margarine or Fruit Purees
If you’re looking for an alternative for spreading on sandwiches or toast then there are easily available dairy free margarine alternatives to be found. For baking, you can use fruit purees to line the pan. Blended apples, prunes, and bananas work best, by giving your recipes a healthy boost alongside some additional sweetness.
In western culture, dairy products have been a mainstay in our diet for a long time. Unfortunately, this has led to all manner of digestive issues and illnesses in both adults and children. Whether you are lactose intolerant or just looking to improve your health then try the alternatives in this article, I can assure you that your stomach will thank you for it!
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