The lactose-free diet is a common eating pattern that eliminates or restricts lactose, a type of sugar in milk.
Although most people are aware that milk and dairy products typically contain lactose, there are many other hidden sources of this sugar in the food supply.
In fact, many baked goods, candies, cake mixes, and cold cuts contain lactose as well.
Who should follow a lactose-free diet
Lactose is a type of simple sugar found naturally in milk and milk products. It’s typically broken down by lactase, an enzyme in the small intestine.
However, many people are unable to produce lactase, which results in an inability to digest the lactose in milk.
In fact, it’s estimated that approximately 65% of the world’s population is lactose intolerant, meaning that they’re unable to digest lactose.
For those with lactose intolerance, consuming products that contain lactose can trigger adverse side effects like stomach pain, bloating, and diarrhea.
Fortunately, following a lactose-free diet can minimize symptoms for those with this condition.
Some people may also adopt a lactose-free diet to decrease their consumption of milk products, which they may desire to do for personal, religious, or health reasons, as well as environmental or ethical concerns.
Others may choose to eliminate lactose as part of a dairy-free diet, which is recommended for those with an allergy to the proteins in milk, including casein or whey.
If you have one of these conditions, a lactose-free diet will help control your symptoms. If you suspect you have one of these conditions, talk with your health care provider before making any diet changes.