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Lactose is the name of the sugar naturally present in milk and various dairy products. It is composed of glucose and galactose, two sugars used by our body as a source of energy. Some people, especially adults, have trouble digesting lactose. This maldigestion “is due to the physiological reduction in the activity of lactase, the enzyme which splits lactose into glucose and galactose (…). Lactose maldigestion appears after weaning, when lactase activity begins to decrease naturally” says the World Gastroenterology Organization. This intolerance leads to bloating, flatulence, abdominal pain and diarrhea. But despite this intolerance, is it necessary to remove all dairy products from your diet?

People with lactose intolerance tend to avoid all dairy products. But this is not necessary according to Pascalle Stijger, nutritionist interviewed by the Dutch site Gezondheidsnet. This is because dairy products contain many good nutrients, such as calcium and vitamins. Their consumption reduces the risk of colon cancer and type 2 diabetes. To avoid getting sick, the specialist advises “to examine the amount of lactose you can consume without causing symptoms. The exact rate varies from person to person. It’s best to determine the “right” amount of dairy for you step by step, with the help of a dietitian.

Despite your lactose intolerance, it is possible to consume yogurt. In fact, the latter are often better tolerated. “In fermented dairy products, such as yogurt and buttermilk, some of the lactose has been transformed into lactic acid. This process is called fermentation. Fermented dairy products therefore contain less lactose than, for example, milk and custard,” explains the nutrition expert.

If you cannot tolerate any dairy products, it is advisable to opt for lactose-free alternatives. This is the case for soy drinks or yogurts enriched with calcium, vitamin B2 and B12.


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