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The Hidden Dangers of Lactose-Free Milk

Mar 12, 2008
Lactose is present in all animal milks. Goat's milk, for example, usually has 5 to 10% more lactose than cow's milk. It used to be thought that only a minority of people suffered from lactose intolerance, but the latest research dispels this myth. The reality is that virtually all people are lactose intolerant - it's just a matter of degree.

With lactose intolerance the body is unable to digest lactose properly, causing varying degrees of nausea, cramps, bloating, gas, and diarrhea, which begin about 30 minutes to 2 hours after milk consumption.

The severity of symptoms varies depending on the amount of lactose each individual consumes or can tolerate. Lactose intolerance usually develops over time, getting worse as you get older, with men and women suffering equally.

When lactose (the main sugar in milk) is consumed it is broken down by lactase bacteria into glucose and galactose. But if you don't have enough lactase (most people don't) you won't be able to break down the lactose and that's when you suffer lactose intolerance.

Most human babies have enough lactase to breakdown and use the lactose in human milk. But within one or two years of life the baby gradually loses the capacity to produce lactase and cope with lactose.

In the USA, for instance, over 50 million people are thought to be lactose-intolerant by the medical profession. The condition is more widespread in certain ethnic and racial populations. As many as 90 percent of Asian-Americans, and 75 percent of African-Americans and American-Indians are said to be lactose-intolerant. It is least common among persons of northern European descent.

But even people who do not think they are lactose intolerant do in fact suffer from the condition whenever animal milk is consumed. However, the effects for some people may be so mild as to be hardly noticeable. Slight feelings of indigestion or bloating will usually be associated with a poor or rushed meal rather than with lactose intolerance.

There is plenty of research showing how lactose in milk causes human illness (too many studies to quote here). But a quick search on Internet will reveal the research on this subject.

The dietary guidelines given by the US authorities (for people wanting to avoid lactose intolerance) is to recommend they eat other calcium-containing foods like broccoli, fish and calcium fortified juices. This is poor advice because what people really want is information on milk alternatives.

Clearly, you can use 'lactose free' milk. In the USA, for example, you can buy 'Lactaid' which is sold as lactose free. But lactose-free milks are generally not so widely available; also they tend to be more expensive.

However, by far the biggest drawback is that virtually all lactose-free milk is ultra-pasteurized (also known as 'Long Life' or UHT milk). Just about all the research is showing that UHT milk is significantly worse for health compared to regular pasteurized milk. For example, there is overwhelming evidence showing that UHT milk may be the biggest dietary cause of a variety of brain diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Huntingdon's and others.

What is the best way to avoid lactose in milk you may wonder? A simple solution is to switch to milk made from seeds, nuts, or soybeans. Non-dairy milks offer a great variety of delicious flavours and they are full of healthy nutrients.
About the Author
For more information please see Make Your Own Milk - The word's best milk-making recipes. See also Organic Milk Myth - Why organic and UHT milk are much worse for health than regular milk.
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