Lactose Intolerance

No tolerance for it?

Lactose is the natural sugar found in dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt, cream and butter.  The amount of lactose tolerated is individualized, causing some people to be more sensitive to it than others. It’s a matter of testing tolerance by consuming small amounts of various lactose-containing foods and monitor for symptoms.  Lactose intolerance differs from a lactose allergy. With an allergy, all lactose needs to be removed from the diet. Depending on the severity, lactose can result in serious life threatening symptoms.


Lactase is the enzyme that breaks down lactose in the gut. Lactose intolerance occurs when the body has low levels or an absence of this enzyme. Symptoms of a lactose intolerance or allergy include cramping, loose stool, bloating, vomiting.

A few tips on avoiding lactose:

  • Often, small frequent amounts of lactose foods/beverages are better tolerated than a large amount in one sitting.
  • Pair up lactose foods/beverages with a meal; it may increase your tolerance.
  • Yogurt and cheese are low in lactose and are often tolerated.
  • Alternative beverages: soy milk, rice milk, almond milk contain little to no lactose. Low lactose milk (ie. Lacteeze) is also available where the lactose is already broken down.
  • Lactase enzyme pills are available at the pharmacy. Take these prior to eating.

Watch for hidden lactose. Some processed foods can contain lactose such as breads, biscuits, cakes, dressing, soups, etc. Check the ingredient list for any of the following words : milk, milk solids, lactose whey, milk powder, cheese flavors, sweet or sour cream, curds, buttermilk, and malted milk.