Being the first food of all mammals after the initial dose of colostrum, milk is a powerhouse of nutrition and because it doesn’t take any time to prepare, it can be a valuable time and money saving food in today’s busy world, that is, if you can digest it.
It’s important that people understand the science behind lactose intolerance, which shows that even those who have trouble digesting lactose can still reap the health benefits, as well as the money and time saving benefits of milk, without discomfort.
Personally I am not lactose intolerant, and have been drinking milk and raw milk from grass-fed dairy for years now and I feel fantastic. I think the taste of raw milk is about a million times more pleasant than cooked (pasteurized) milk, and I like the fact that no animal has to die in order for me to be nourished.
Let’s take a look at some studies that have been published on milk digestion and what it means for those who are lactose intolerant.
The Lactose Intolerant can Tolerate A Small Amount of Lactose
1. This study from 1993 investigated 25 African-American’s who were lactose maldigesters or lactose intolerant and gave them gradually increasing amounts of lactose over time to determine the maximum dose of lactose they could tolerate. The results showed that “the majority of African-American young adults who claim intolerance to moderate amounts of milk can ultimately adapt and tolerate 12 g lactose in milk (the equivalent of 8 oz of full-lactose milk) with minimal or no discomfort if milk is ingested in gradually increasing amounts.”
2. A 1996 study examined tolerance to small amounts of lactose in lactose maldigesters and concluded that ” the gastrointestinal symptoms in most lactose maldigesters are not induced by lactose when small amounts (0.5-7.0 g) of lactose are included in the diet,” and therefore the people in this study who were sensitive to lactose could drink a cup of milk at a time without experiencing symptoms.
The second study above found that lactose maldigesters can consume up to 7 grams without symptoms, and the first study found that by gradually increasing lactose consumption over time, one can adapt to be able to consume 9 grams – the equivalent of a full (8oz) glass of milk – without symptoms.
Cheese Has Less Lactose than Milk
One beautiful dairy product that is even easier to consume than small amounts of milk for lactose maldigesters is cheese. To understand which cheeses have the least amount of lactose, just look at the nutrition label. Since lactose is a sugar, the less sugar/carbohydrate content on the label for the cheese, the less lactose is contained within it.
The following types of cheeses contain only trace amounts of lactose and can be digested by many people with lactose intolerance:
- Aged Cheddar
Why do they have less lactose? During the process of making cheese, most of the lactose is drained off with the liquid whey, and the small amount that remains is converted to lactic acid through the process of fermentation while it ages.
Goat Milk and Donkey Milk
There are two other options for those who have difficulty digesting milk and are seeking an alternative. Due to the smaller fat molecules in both goats milk and donkey milk, as well as the difference in protein structure (less casein), both of these milks are an easier-to-digest food. A study conducted in India in 2010 examined goats milk as an alternative to cow’s milk in 38 children for a 5 month period. The results were amazing!
[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]”The children on goat milk surpassed those on cow milk in weight gain, height, skeletal mineralization, and blood serum contents of Vitamin A, calcium, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and hemoglobin.”[/quote]
The researchers involved with the study concluded that “treatment with goat milk produced positive results in 93% of the children and was recommended as a valuable aid in child nutrition because of less allergenicity and better digestibility than cow milk”.