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by Russell Eaton

Lactose is present in all kinds of animal milks. Goat milk, for example, has about 5 to 10% more lactose than cow’s milk. In the past it was thought that only a minority of people suffered from lactose intolerance, but the latest research is dispelling this myth. The reality is that virtually all people are lactose intolerant – it’s just a matter of degree.

Lactose intolerance affects the body by causing varying degrees of nausea, bloating, cramps, gas, and diarrhea, which begin between 30 minutes and 2 hours after milk consumption. This happens because the body is unable to breakdown the lactose properly,

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.

Lactose is the main sugar in milk. When it is consumed it gets broken down by lactase bacteria into glucose and galactose. But if, like most people, you don’t have enough lactase you will not be able to break the lactose down and this then causes the symptoms of lactose intolerance.

Human babies are born with enough lactase to digest the lactose in human milk. But gradually, as the baby is weaned, it loses the capacity to breakdown and digest 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.

Even those who do not think they are prone to lactose intolerant will suffer from the condition whenever dairy or goat milk is consumed. But the effects for such people may be mild and hardly noticeable. Typically, slight feelings of indigestion or bloating will be associated with a rushed meal or poor food, rather than with lactose intolerance.

There are dozens of studies showing how lactose in dairy milk causes human illness (too many to quote here). A quick search on Internet will reveal lots of studies into the subject.

Typical government advice for people wanting to avoid lactose in milk is to say they should eat other calcium-rich foods such as fortified juices, fish and broccoli. But this doesn’t help much because what most people need is information on alternative kinds of milk.

You can, of course, buy ‘lactose reduced’ or ‘lactose free’ milk. For example in the USA you can buy ‘Lactaid’ which is lactose free. The drawback is that lactose-free milks are generally not so widely available, and tend to be more expensive.

But the biggest drawback is that lactose-free milk is usually ultra-pasteurized (also known as UHT or ‘Long Life’ milk). This is a major drawback because all the research is showing that UHT milk is much worse for health compared to regular pasteurized milk. For example, the research is showing that UHT milk may be the biggest dietary cause of a variety of serous brain diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Huntingdon’s and others.

What then is the best way to avoid lactose in milk? There is a simple solution: switch to milk made from nuts, seeds, or soybeans. These non-dairy milks offer a wonderful variety of delicious flavours and they are full of healthy nutrients.

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