Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose, the sugar found in milk, broken down by the enzyme lactase. The intolerance may constitute a problem with digesting lactose, casein (protein component of dairy), lipids or may be an actual dairy allergy.
Most people can tolerate small amounts of dairy. Research has shown that the majority of people with low levels of lactase can consume up to two cups of milk a day if consumed with food at meal times. In addition, other dairy foods such as butter (contains small amounts of lactose), cheese (virtually no lactose), and yogurt (generally well digested due to its natural bacteria cultures) can still be consumed in moderation by people who are lactose intolerant.
Evidence indicates upwards of 75% of the world's population have difficulty digesting dairy; in other words, are to some extent lactose intolerant. A small portion (less than 3%) is also estimated to be allergic to casein. Correct diagnosis is essential to ensure a person's diet is nutritionally sound and is not depleted or deficient in essential nutrients.
Causes of Lactose Intolerance
- Congenital – Gene defects are the main cause.
- Gastroenteritis – Inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract can strip the intestines of lactase for a few weeks.
- Parasitic infection – Can also temporarily reduce lactase levels.
- Iron deficiency – Can interfere with lactose digestion and absorption.
Dairy sensitivity is responsible for GI (gastro-intestinal) symptoms in millions of people, much more common in recent years with thousands of processed foods containing dairy derivatives. Dairy intolerance increases with age, thus symptoms do generally worsen.
Symptoms vary between individuals:
- Digestive discomfort – Irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhoea, constipation, digestive discomfort, nausea.
- Infertility (both male and female).
- Lowered immunity.
- Excessive mucous production – nasal, ear wax, chest phlegm.
- Serious health risks may arise is left untreated, such as:
- Chronic dehydration
Consuming a variety of products, dairy and dairy-alternative, is healthy for anyone, lactose intolerant or not. Here are some examples of non-cows milk products:
- Butter - Nut butter, dips, tahini, avocado.
- Liquid milk - Almond, soy, oat or rice milks.
- Yoghurt - Goat or sheep derived
- White Cheese - Goat or sheep derived
At Brioche we purchase soy products that are free from genetic modification and use whole soybeans that are free from added sugar, malt and other additives. We often cook with organic soymilk, almond milk and rice milk because they're cholesterol and lactose free.
In western society today it is easy for people to replace dairy with soy products. It is important to remember however that not all soy products are created with equal nutrition. Over-consumption of soy products can lead to health problems developing with this food group as well. The trick to healthy eating is variety, ensuring to rotate between food groups when possible.
Organic Dairy Products
At Brioche we only use quality organic dairy products. Organic dairy farms are vastly different to conventional dairy farms.
Conventional dairy farms tend to utilise unnatural and intensive methods to feed and manage cows, pushing them into production levels beyond their natural capacity. High levels of protein in feed to stimulate rapid growth or milk production, routine use of antibiotics and intensive housing can each cause stress to the animals and cause health breakdowns.
On an organic dairy farm there are:
- No genetically modified organisms in the feed.
- No cases of BSE (mad-cow disease) ever found in an organic born and raised dairy cow.
- No uses of antibiotics unless cows are ill and other treatments are not achieving results.
- No uses of artificial insecticides, herbicides or fungicides on pastures where organic cows graze.
- No uses of solvents to produce cattle feed.
- No housings of organic dairy cows all year round.
- No housings of organic calves in single pens where they cannot see or touch other cows.
For more information, please visit: http://www.lactose.com.au/info/what+is+lactose+intolerance/