The Consumer Education Project of Milk SA

Dairy Allergies and Lactose Intolerance

Dairy allergies and lactose intolerance

The terms ‘lactose intolerance’ and ‘cow’s milk allergy’ are often used interchangeably and are generally misunderstood by the general public. This leads to misconceptions and frequent self-misdiagnosis, which result in milk and dairy unnecessarily being excluded from the diet. The review differentiates between cow’s milk allergy and lactose intolerance, briefly explains the physiological basis for each and puts the true incidences of these conditions in context. In the case of true cow’s milk allergy, milk and dairy intake should be avoided. However, in the case of lactose intolerance, which affects a fairly large proportion of the world population, simple dietary adaptations may be sufficient to manage the condition effectively. As milk and other dairy products are nutrient dense and have an important role in health, dietary exclusion of dairy should be implemented only at the advice of a medical practitioner when true cow’s milk allergy has been diagnosed.

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