The Consumer Education Project of Milk SA

Do I have to exclude all dairy products if I am lactose intolerant?

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No, most people with lactose intolerance do not need to completely exclude dairy from their diet. In fact, intake of some lactose is advised to promote tolerance. Small amounts of full-cream milk, milk mixed with food, and fermented products such as yoghurt, amasi and cheese are normally well tolerated.

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No, most people with lactose intolerance do not need to completely exclude dairy from their diet. In fact, intake of some lactose is advised to promote tolerance. Depending on the type and level of tolerance, most people can consume at least some lactose – typically up to 12 g of lactose in a single dose per day. A 250 ml glass of milk contains approximately 12 g lactose, while the amount in yoghurt and cheese is considerably less (7.3 g in 200 ml plain full-cream yoghurt and 0.1 g in 40 g of Cheddar cheese). Full-cream milk is better tolerated than low-fat or fat-free milk and by mixing milk with other foods you can improve your digestion of lactose. Lactase supplements (the enzyme that digests lactose) are also available from pharmacies and health stores and can assist with lactose digestion if taken at the correct time. In addition, there are a number of lactose-free products available commercially.

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