April 20th, 2010
06:07 PM ET

Many who think they’re lactose intolerant aren’t, panel says

By Trisha Henry
CNN Medical Producer

30 to 50 million Americans fear they are lactose intolerant. But are they?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/04/20/art.milk.comstock.jpg caption="According to a new report, many people who think they're lactose intolerant may not be"]Most people have some degree of difficulty digesting dairy, experts believe. One recent report suggested that the symptom trigger was not simply consuming dairy, but specifically the amount and the form.

The symptoms of lactose intolerance - diarrhea, abdominal pain, gas and/or bloating - occur after drinking or eating milk products. While most babies are born with enough of a specific enzyme in the small intestine to digest milk, this decreases and levels off as we mature into adults. You shouldn't have more symptoms at 60 than at 15, assuming your diet stays the same, says Dr. Marshall A. Wolf, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

A 14-member panel, organized by the National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Program, looked at more than 35 studies. The experts were surprised to learn that many people avoid drinking milk in fear of getting sick when their stomachs could most likely handle more than they think. People are self-diagnosing based on previous symptoms or their family and ethnic backgrounds without actually getting a diagnosis from a doctor, the panel concluded. The bottom line: People who think they are lactose intolerant need to consider whether they are getting enough nutrients before cutting milk from their diet. The panel also found that limiting consumption of dairy foods containing lactose can leave many people without the necessary amount of calcium and vitamin D important for bone growth, and can lead to osteoporosis and other adverse health outcomes.

"Many people, having observed symptoms of lactose intolerance, assume they are allergic to milk and therefore avoid it completely,” said Wolf, a member of the panel. “But it turns out, it's not an allergy, it's a quantitative problem. Even those without the necessary enzyme can digest small amounts” of dairy.

However he does say that there is still a lot to learn on this topic. "Theoretically, if you replace the nutrients you get in milk with other food sources, you probably would end up neutral but we don't know that."

The report suggests that lactose intolerant consumers should not be afraid to start incorporating more dairy into their diet. One tip, the experts say, is to drink milk at different times throughout the day rather than all at once. Also, eat or drink dairy products with other foods. The report also recommends yogurt and cheese as a better alternative to milk.

Visit the Consensus Development Program http://consensus.nih.gov/ to read more about the report.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.

soundoff (250 Responses)
  1. Mik

    I don't digest milk at all either and was thinkig one day... how many animals, after they are weaned, drink milk.... NONE was the answer I came up with... I believe (and obviously I'm not a doctor) that if animals only need it as babies, I believe we only need it as babies as well and that is WHY the enzyme that breaks up dairy products is strong when you are a baby and deteriorates when you get older.

    Just quit drinking milk if it bothers you and take calcium pills if you have lack of calcium problems.

    I will have beer instead of milk please!

    April 21, 2010 at 13:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Joanne

      I agree. I have done extensive research and have tons of experience in this area. I started having digestive issues 27 years ago . None of the doctors knew what the heck was wrong with me. I was diagnosed with a spastic colon and a bleeding ulcer(that was never a diagnosis from testing just symptoms). One day I heard about lactose intolerance and stopped drinking milk and like magic all of my digestive issues diapered. I have since received a ND degree. Milk is for baby cows. There is no real need for us to drink it. The article above claiming that milk is necessary for calcium consumption is absolutely ridiculous and a result of the marking efforts of the Milk does a body good adds from years ago. Even the doctors believe that milk is necessary for calcium (I need to add here that nutrition isn't required of doctors in medical school. Few medical schools offer it and only about 6% of med students even take one class ~if you find one who has keep them) Almond milk and carrot juice have way more calcium. I raised both of my children on them and my daughter is 5"10 and my son is 6"2. Their cousins, who have taller parents than my husband and I are all much shorter than their parents. Stop feeding your kids milk and take away the sodas that rob calcium from the bones and stunt a child from growing. Feed them lots of veggies, veggie juice, sprouted grains, almond milk proteins and they will grow strong and healthy. As far as dairy is concerned there are certain cheeses that do not have lactose in them. Mozzarella, cottage cheese, and yogurt do not have lactose in them and will be fine for lactose intolerant people. I am one and I do fine with them.

      August 28, 2014 at 23:16 | Report abuse |
    • Lisa

      Im glad others know about this too. This is definitely a biased article in the interest of the dairy businesses trying to boost sales with false information. Dairy products should not be a main source for calcium and other important nutrients, and this is why we have diabetes, heart diseases, obesity and many other health related issues because of the misconceptions society has.

      Calcium and protein are found in many foods. vegetables are actually very high in protein and calcium, and do not accompany the unwanted health risks that come with high-fat products such as milk. Not to mention we are more likely to suffer from over consumption of protein in North America rather than underconsumption.

      February 7, 2015 at 15:59 | Report abuse |
    • beachman86

      I agree.. seems odd to me that humans are the only animals who drink milk past puberty. And its not even from our OWN SPECIES! Am I the only one who thinks this is strange??

      September 20, 2016 at 04:31 | Report abuse |
    • DystopianDeer

      Your research is seriously lacking, incorrect, and massively biased to the point of stupidity. Cows, along with several other mammals, will deink well into adulthood. Either from another lactating animal or from themselves.

      June 27, 2018 at 11:27 | Report abuse |
  2. Jah is Love

    It's not worth the agony of the diarrhea, bloating, stomach cramps and nauseau to find out if it's really lactose intolerance or something else. I take calcium pills and drink lactose free products. When, once in a while, I take the plunge and eat products containing lactose, I suffer for at least a week. So if I am not lactose intolerant, excactly what is wrong with me?

    April 21, 2010 at 14:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Adrian

      Agreed. It might be Casein, but it's not worth the pain of trial and error anymore-

      June 13, 2015 at 09:42 | Report abuse |
  3. Greg

    I have rather severe lactose intolerance. No milk, no ice cream. Yet a small cup of yogurt or a slice of cheese is OK. I read that those microorganisms involved in making both yogurt and cheese actually eat lactose, so yogurt has 50% less lactose than milk, and the older cheese the less lactose it has. The aged hard cheese like Parmesan or Groyer has almost no lactose. Still my best bet is soy milk and rice milk. Also seems like as I'm getting older my lactose intolerance becomes worse. When I was young, I could eat ice cream and small glass of milk was still OK. No more.

    I tried "lactose-free" milk and it was fine. It tasted a bit sweeter than the regular milk (I guess in a process of getting rid of lactose, it gets converted into sugar). I haven't tried lactaid.

    April 21, 2010 at 14:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. SMinSF

    To all of those here who are disparaging the fat & cholesterol content of milk, non-fat (formerly known as skim) milk has zero fat, and less than 5 mg of cholesterol in 8 oz. which is negligible.

    Most U.S. dairies, even the large ones, have now stopped their use of rGBH hormones due to consumer demand and subsequent pressure from retailers. Fantastic! So chances are your local store-brand milk is rGBH-free now anyway. Check the label.

    April 21, 2010 at 15:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Chris

    What many people seem to be missing from this article is that they have found that the quantity of dairy being consumed at one time appears to be a problem and that through this, it is likely that many people have misdiagnosed themselves as lactose intolerant. This is not to imply that there are not those people who truly cannot tolerate any amount of lactose, but instead that for many of the people thinking they are lactose intolerant is may just be a problem of how much they are consuming. So while many of the methods people have talked about using to verify they are lactose intolerant are good methods, they did not however test varying quantities consumed.

    April 21, 2010 at 15:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. R

    It's already been said, but – of course many people develop an intolerance as they get older. We are meant to drink our mother's milk as babies and no time afterwards. A cow's milk is meant to do the same thing...for a baby cow. It is completely unnatural for us to drink, yet people wonder why they have a hard time ingesting something that is not only not for adults, but not even for our species. Please.

    It's amazing that the dairy industry has warped so many people's minds into believing that milk is some magical health food that we can not survive without. It's not even meant for us!

    Nobody is truly "intolerant" of it – that would be saying that some people are inherently designed to tolerate the milk of another species, which is ridiculous. You're simply doing something unnatural to your body and paying the price for it.

    April 21, 2010 at 15:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rayca

      I don't drink my mother's milk. Never did, for that matter. So I drink cow's milk. Who says we aren't "meant to." We're meant to eat/drink whatever we find nutritious for ourselves. There are plenty of cultures that have the enzyme lactase and can eat/drink milk products just fine. Cultures didn't acquire that ability because we weren't "meant to.." So check your cultural history for what foods you should be eating and drinking for yourself. Not the rest of us.

      September 15, 2014 at 16:42 | Report abuse |
  7. sally sue

    I'm 28 and I never had a problem with milk until about 6 months ago. Now if I drink a certain amount, I get sick. I am able to monitor it pretty well myself, I know what my limit is. I drink about a half gallon of 2% milk a week in cereal and other foods. Unfortunately I can no longer wolf down a whole chocolate milkshake like I used to. I did read somewhere though that it's pretty common for people to acquire a mild lactose intolerance in their late twenties or early thirties.

    April 21, 2010 at 15:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. zephyrwinds

    I cannot eat ice cream or drink milk without severe problems.. I can eat yogurt and cheese because of the difference in the enzymes in it.
    I can't imagine why anyone would want to drink milk. High fat, high chlorestrol, causes mucus to form in the body and the rest of the world thinks it is only good for calves. I agree and am glad to leave it alone.

    April 21, 2010 at 15:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. poobeansmom

    One night about 16 years ago I started feeling extremely ill after eating Italian food, one of my favorite meals. I actually had to leave the restaurant mid-dessert, hunched over and in terrible pain. After some time, the pain went away. I had quite a few more of these reactions to food, but never understood what was causing it. Fearful of some awful disease, I went to a gastroenterologist who, after hearing what I had eaten and the symptoms thereafter, immediately said "lactose intolerance" and sent me for testing. I had never heard of this condition and was appalled, because I love milk and drank copious amounts of it as a kid, with absolutely no problem. Then in my early 40's completely out of the blue I developed it. At the time there were few if any lactose free products and I found it to be very difficult to handle. If we went out to eat I had to ask a million questions about what went into every dish. It was a big pain in the neck. I started to read labels and found that practically everything has something in it relating to dairy products, even medications.My doctor said to try the pills that deal with the lactose, but for some reason these never helped, no matter how many I took. Why I can eat lactose free food but the pills don't help is a mystery to me. I'm not a big ice cream eater but sometimes get a yen and always have Lactaid ice cream in the freezer. It's absolutely delish and there's no difference in taste whatsoever. I tried to avoid all dairy at all times because the few minutes of enjoyment are forgotten in the aftermath of severe cramping, diarrhea etc. Even though I've read that there are cheeses that are naturally lactose free I really try to stay away from them, although I would love to eat them. I try to look at this condition in a positive way because ice cream and cheese and sour cream and whipped cream all have high contents of cholesterol. If I wasn't lactose intolerant I'd be eating the real thing and my cholesterol would be even higher than it is now. We're lucky that today there are so many products that are lactose free. Not to say that my tongue doesn't hang out when I see a gorgeous piece of cheesecake, but there are worse things in the world than going without cheesecake. I'm grateful for what I can eat. I've found wonderful recipes and recently made a key lime pie to die for using Tofutti. I kid you not – it was as good as any "real" key lime pie I ate years ago. It may not kill us, but it's not an easy condition to have and most of all it's definitely a REAL condition. The article says we, the lactose intolerant, should start incorporating more dairy into our diets. That's not the most helpful thing to say to people who can't get out of the bathroom after they've eaten dairy

    April 21, 2010 at 15:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tabitha

      This article is clearly written by someone who is not lactose intolerant as they have no understanding or empathy. Who in their right mind would start to incorporate milk in they're diet to... satisfy the people who made this study? Ridiculous absolute biggest waste of time trying to further understand my condition by reading this terrible stupid article.

      September 22, 2012 at 23:48 | Report abuse |
  10. leavelaw

    Ever since my 1/2 Asian daughter was an infant, she's had problems with dairy. We don't have much dairy in the house anyway and over time we "forgot" about it. My other two children are okay with dairy. At around 10 years, she complained about terrible stomach aches. I finally took her to a doctor who told me to cut out dairy. We did, and she has not complained since. She can have ice cream, and an occasional slice of cheese (with a sandwich) now and then. Enriched soymilk helps with her calcium.

    April 21, 2010 at 15:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Alan Hernandez

    I bet this was sponsored by the national dairy farmers of america. It's a myth that milk is a good source of calcium because it contains so much sodium and fat that it actually uses up more calcium from your body to digest it than it puts in. Better sources are spinach and other leafy green veggies.

    April 21, 2010 at 16:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Rita

    It's what they are putting in the milk and feeding the cows.

    April 21, 2010 at 16:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. JR

    The part that they need to cover and they did not is the challenges that we have when we try to eat out. It is almost impossible to go to a new city/town for visit and find a restaurant dish with no milk or butter in it. It is even harder if you are for some reason limited by only fast foods. Try to order a hamburger with no cheese and they will prepare it wrong 50% of the time. It has gotten to the point that there are some coastal towns that I do not visit anymore and I carry my own food when I travel for business. With regards to ordering food with no dairy, it is extremely hard to be on a dinner meeting with a customer and having to give explicit instruction to the waiter on no dairy only to have the salad be served with cheese on it. Given the high percentage of population with this condition the restaurants and fast food should make it easy to identify and order no-dairy food.

    I also agree with a previous post. Eating dairy by mistake does not create an inconvenience; it is a severe health hazard. It locks me in the bathroom for several hours and it leaves me dehydrated and exhausted. The effects in my quality of life are significantly worse than the effects of alcohol use. This is ironic as we make it easy to order food and drinks with no alcohol, yet is hard to order food with no dairy.

    April 21, 2010 at 16:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. cynthia

    This article was obviously written by someone with no personal knowledge of lactose intolerance. It can come on very strongly later in life to the point that even eating hidden milk, i.e., bread made with milk or bullion with milk in it, can cause violent problems that require being very close to a bathroom. I think some better research of people with these issues would have done a better service to those of us suffering. To the sufferers...it is possible to tolerate some yogurts and swiss cheese (which helps a lot with keeping calcium/vitamin D levels okay). There is something about the process of making all swiss cheese that deletes the lactose, which I have found to be true. It is rumored that low sugar levels in hard cheeses will have less lactose also, but I have not found this to be as true. Also, probiotics help to put your system back in order...it does not help tolerate lactose but it does help get you to a normal state.

    April 21, 2010 at 16:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Kay Em

    I am Asian and believe it or not, I have a different kind of lactose
    intolerance. As soon as I ingest any dairy product, even in miniscule
    amounts, I get severely constipated. I can have lactose free milk as
    much as I want without any problem!
    I hope there is someone else who can relate to this and may be has found
    a solution. I f so please let me know

    April 21, 2010 at 17:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Shae

      I think I'm the same way. After eating nearly Any dairy product I don't run to the bathroom, but I get extremely bloated, my stomach hurts, and I can't really eat for the next four days because it practically refuses to leave my body! now if i eat a load of chocolate chip cookies then that's a whole 'nother story, because then I have symptoms of the flu and am stuck in bed for 24hrs at the least. Lactose Intolerance is Real and has Real consequences, so I'm completely confused by the author of this encouraging us to incorporate More dairy into our diets. I think i'll pass.

      August 3, 2015 at 16:37 | Report abuse |
    • Roy

      I'm completely lactose intolerant. Can't even do cheese, and fought such a hard battle in my forties that I won't even touch the stuff with lactase added. I would miss a day or two of work as I was that sick and then it would be a few days on top of that still feeling it.

      Trust me, the dairy ain't worth it.

      The vegans have come to our rescue though. Almond milk is pretty good and the coconut ice cream is just like the real thing.

      I also managed to lose unfermented soy, corn, and peanuts as well, so I'm eating much healthier perforce.

      Call it a weird luck, but I'm healthy, not even remotely fat, no high blood pressure, yada, yada, so Being lactose intolerant has been a boon.

      December 20, 2017 at 13:17 | Report abuse |
  16. David

    Stephen's comment (excerpted below) is quite dangerous:

    "The answer to lactose intolerance? Consume raw dairy. Eliminate the consumption of any pasteurized dairy product that is devoid of all enzyme..."

    Pasteurization has prevented a large number of food borne bacterial and parasitic diseases. In addition, he seems to confuse the absence of lipase in milk after Pasteurization with the problem of lactose intolerance– absence or reduction in human lactase, an enzyme which helps with the digestion of the milk sugar lactose.

    April 21, 2010 at 17:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Aaron

    I'm 1/4 Native American and if I have any form of dairy, everyone has to suffer.

    It took me freakin YEARS to figure out what the hell was wrong. I went to doctors, I had a colonoscopy, I thought it was nerves but the whole time, it was those delicous shakes, Thai ice teas and wonderful Mexican cheesy dishes. I work out, I'm healthy, thought I ate healthy but couldn't understand why after a cup of coffee (with cream) my stomach would bloat out leaving me looking like a pregnant chihuahua.

    I also have a terrible problem with hard liquour like vodka or gin. My body seems to break it down into sugar the following day or so it's just as catastrophic. My triglycerides soar high and leave me in a similar condition to the lactose intolerence effect without the bloating but just unpleasant to be in my company.

    I'm the nicest guy, work in a professional atmosphere, but I have literally been fired from jobs for my problem. Needless to say, it's pyschologically terrifying, but I have to place that in my past.

    I use to tell myself, "Oh, I can eat anything!" Now I'm fortunate to know know my dietary restrictions.

    April 21, 2010 at 17:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Caitica

      Same here (sort of). If I ingest even the smallest amount of dairy, I and everyone around me have to suffer the consequences.

      I've even tried the hard cheeses and Greek yogurt, which supposedly have far less lactose, and they only caused a bit less pain. Less pain is still pain.

      Leafy greens contain more calcium than milk, so it's been really easy to cut dairy out without health consequences. I have to check labels for whey, caesin, and dry milk product. I've changed what I rely on. Unsweetened plain almond milk, plant-based protein powders, coconut ice cream (which is better anyway), occasionally vegan cheese, but it's not the same and I try to avoid processed replacement products.

      The hardest part comes at parties. People bring dairy-laden foods and then I either have to be annoying and ask what's in everything, or I stick to plain veggies & fruit and everyone asks why I'm not eating. Always bring something you can eat- that's what I've learned.

      February 8, 2015 at 13:23 | Report abuse |
  18. MO

    It sure sounds to me like the people who wrote up the article (and perhaps the study, who knows?) were sponsored or influenced in some way by a dairy lobbying group. The chief concern here seems to be to talk people into incorporating dairy, no matter how small, into their diets.

    There are so many problems with this article. First of all, it's almost impossible to NOT be exposed to dairy in daily life – it's in all sorts of sauces, random food products that are not explicitly dairy, it's even in some meds. Usually people who are lactose intolerant just have to grin and bear it, and hope the consequences are not so bad, especially if you are someplace with nothing else to eat.

    Then there's the mixing together of lactose intolerance and milk allergies. I'm no doctor but I was always told those were separate things – I can consume dairy, but it gives me such discomfort during the digestion process that I feel compelled to avoid it (or my friends end up avoiding me!). I tolerate it when I have to, but it's not pretty. Contrast that to someone I know who is allergic to milk – she has a histamine reaction and becomes violently ill. Another friend is allergic to cheese and needs to be hospitalized if it is accidentally ingested.

    Finally, the idea that one cannot get proper nutrition (or calcium) without having dairy is just BOGUS - some vegetables are better, with more calcium and of course no fat.

    April 21, 2010 at 17:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Roslyn

      Eating a chinese diet, or any diets that aren't western or commercially prepared will help.

      Western diets generally contain a lot of dairy and incorporate it in many products.

      Chinese diets, as far as my experience goes, don't have many dairy products like cheese, milk, butter, yogurt or ice-cream.
      A typical meal would be something like:
      a. bowl of rice
      b. bowl of soup (winter melon, tomato, carrot etc)
      c. steamed fish, some soy sauce, oil, spring onions
      c. plate of boiled vegetables (spinach, bok choi etc)
      d. Side dish like steamed tofu and salted fish or steamed ribs with black beans
      e. cut fruit (apples, pears etc) for dessert.

      May 11, 2014 at 10:49 | Report abuse |
  19. Billy Sr.

    Billy Jr. and all the rest of you that are ANTI-DOCTORS,
    You do realize this is one study done by a small panel and that their "bottom line" was this "People who think they are lactose intolerant need to consider whether they are getting enough nutrients before cutting milk from their diet." Yes, osteoporosis is a more serious condition than lactose intolerance. If you have found ways to supplement calcium, Vit. D, and other essential minerals then great. If you experience digestion problems and decide to completely cut out milk, perhaps try smaller servings periodically throughout the day. That is the point of the article.
    And the idea that "doctors want you to run to them every time you sneeze...," yes, family physicians in America are currently having a very difficult time finding a patient base... young medical students are jumping at the opportunity of working insane hours due to the extremely high demand and getting paid less to pay off insane school debts. Believe or not, doctors do not choose who schedules appointments to see them.

    April 21, 2010 at 17:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • wine insiders

      Fantastic post! This often drives us to keep taking actions that will stimulate our happy chemicals in our brains. I know the admin of this website is really working a lot. I am not an expert however, it looks to me like this data would be really valuable if it were given to the experts who understood what to do with it. How many people could possibly believe in that sort of thing?


      December 19, 2018 at 18:21 | Report abuse |
  20. Wendy

    The medical community really needs to wake up. This is so simple.

    I can see by the other posts that we lactose-intolerant people are soooo tired of this obvious lack of understanding of something so basic. There are so many problems with this article. It does not address the fact that the lactose is not in the fat...although it sort of skirts the issue by saying which "form" of dairy. Yes, form does matter but only because of the amount of fat, or if the dairy has been processed/strained such as in Greek Yogurt. Greek Yogurt tastes like sour cream because the lactose (sugar) has been removed or greatly reduced. Regular Yogurt is not the same, and not all regular yogurts are the same. I am so tired of hearing to just "eat yogurt" instead of milk. Skim milk, with 0% fat will just about kill me. Butter (which is mostly fat) in small amts is tolerable. Just about anything in large quantities could give you digestion problems so "amount" is not really an appropriate – or scientific – reason.

    AND – What amount? And amount of what – food? Lactose? There is no test to determine how much lactose you can tolerate, and there are no labels on food with the amount of lactose in any given product. Also, many processed foods have various hidden forms of dairy in there so it's not always obvious how much lactose is in anything. So saying that "amount" is relevant is IRRELEVANT without all that information.

    Also, lactose intolerance has nothing to do with the time of the day you ingest it unless maybe it could be somewhat helped by other things you eat. There are so many factors and they are not even addressed, at least not in this article.

    I am lucky that I can tolerate Lactaid. The enzyme pills do not work at all, however. I would consider trying raw organic milk.

    And back to others' comments – I would like to see better ways of getting calcium (besides the enormous list of greens which are impractical to store, clean, eat) than cow's milk. I mean REALLY? Cow's milk (or any animal milk) is the only answer?

    Thanks to all the other commenters – really appreciate it.

    April 21, 2010 at 17:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. discovery88

    I have suffered for years with massive diarrhea that just would not stop unless I took Immodium or abstained totally from milk products. By chance, I saw Ganeden Digestive Advantage for Lactose Intolerance at a CVS and tried it. It works, it is just that simple.That was back in 2005; I still take it and have seldom any symptoms, unless I eat huge amounts of whipped cream or some yoghurt products. One tablet every morning does wonders.

    April 21, 2010 at 18:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Angie in North Dakota

    Lactose is also used as a preservative and found in most processed foods (hot dogs, lunch meats, some cereals, as well as dairy products). I used to end up in the ER after returning from weekend camping trips, not knowing the usual "camping fare" contains extremely high levels of lactic acid!

    It is nice to know lactose intolerance is being looked at in the medical field. I take at least one lactose pill everyday and was told by my doctor I should feel lucky since many people with other digestive conditions have nothing to try! The cost can add up, and boy is it awful when you unknowingly run out of the pills!

    April 21, 2010 at 18:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Joel

    Let's not forget about casein (milk protein), which can actually cause more damage than lactose. Just search on casein's effects on autism. If you want to give your gut a chance to digest what it is capable of, try going GFCF (gluten free, casein free) and see the difference. Problem is, GFCF products, Lactaid products, digestive enzymes, probiotic (yoghurt, Kefir, etc) will all help, but will cost you. And that's what it comes down to these days. Nobody really cares what you eat, as long as the industry thrives and makes its money. And when the resources run low due to overpopulation and overindulgence, then the GMO products start ramping up and pick up where the dairy products left off killing your gut. Phew!

    April 21, 2010 at 18:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. erica

    A couple years ago, I finally discovered I was both lactose intolerant and allergic to dairy. After a few angry frustrating months of changing my diet, I amazingly began to feel "lighter" and had more energy and less illness. The more I read about dairy, the less I think we are meant to have it as a major part of our diet – if at all. I don't miss it now and I think I am healthier. (I am of Polish/Irish/English heritage)

    April 21, 2010 at 18:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. I'm with Stupid

    Starting in my early 20s, I found that I could not drink milk. Then something magical happened: I stopped eating wheat and now I can drink milk again. The fact of the matter is, the same cells that produce lactase can be destroyed by the immune system when the wheat protein is detected in the small intestine.

    April 21, 2010 at 19:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • I'm not with stupid

      Honestly you're an idiot.

      August 7, 2014 at 14:48 | Report abuse |
  26. Tom

    For most of my life I believed that I had lactose intolerance, until I discovered that the problem was actually the gums that are added to so many dairy foods. Once I began avoiding these foods, my symptoms disappeared. The use of these gums seems to be increasing and you should always read labels, even on foods that have not been a problem: formulas frequently change when companies are bought out.

    April 21, 2010 at 22:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Chris

    They need to go back to school. I self-diagnosed myself many years ago and I know 100% that I am lactose intolerant. But I love dairy products and continue to consume them with the help of lactaid tablets which work great!

    If I eat a slice of pizza without a lactaid pill I hemorrhage blood with my diarrhea with painful bowel movements for hours.

    This article is irresponsible. People need to be educated that they most likely DO have a lactose intolerance. Many people have digestive issues and don't realize the source of the problem. I didn't realize it for about 10 years until I did some research and found out the cause.

    April 21, 2010 at 23:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Robin

    Though people often claim that humans aren't meant to consume cow's milk, humans have included ruminants milk for thousands of years. Consumption of milk greatly increased the survival rate as it gave stone age humans a steady source of food. It is no more unnatural than humans eating meat, fish, berries or roots.

    April 22, 2010 at 00:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. pearl

    The dairy industry likes to conduct these slanted studies, as well as their "Got Milk?" campaign, to plant seeds of doubt in people who worry they'll become malnourished if they drop milk. I grew up conditioned to think of milk as a staple in my refrigerator, but no more. Adults can get their necessary nutrients, including calcium, without consuming cow's milk. For some people, yogurt can still be consumned with no problems.

    I cut milk out of my diet about one year ago and felt an almost immediate difference. No more bloat, digestive disturbances, and my acne cleared up as well. I am healthy, practicing martial arts at age 41. The exericse, and balanced diet, is what will keep my bones strong. Milk is overrated.

    April 22, 2010 at 02:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. alice

    I think there is more just not properly understood yet. I found i can drink organic milk with no problem. I also found after we sold our home and started drinking different water both my and my teen's "lactose intolerance" improved and we can eat cheese pizza again. I bet there is some sort of exposure element involved since Lactaid always helped, that replenishes normal gut flora that must be getting depleted somehow. Shouldn't have been happening in my teen otherwise.

    April 22, 2010 at 10:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. coleen

    One thing the article does not mention is that an intolerance is not the same as an allergy. An allergy usually has to do with some of the proteins found in cow's milk, like casein. That's why some people, like me, still cannot drink lactose free milk products.

    I remember when I was young being told to drink my milk, I'd water it down so I wouldn't get as congested. Fat free milk was the only thing I could drink in my 20s somehow that seemed to help. Over time, I couldn't even do that but there have been exceptions: when I was pregnant with my second child I could eat all the ice cream I wanted! That was sweet since I had not eaten it in years!

    Right now I avoid milk and soft cheeses as well as other foods I am definitely allergic too (like nuts). Hard cheeses I can deal with in small quantities and I will suffer through a pizza from time to time.

    But I tried goat cheese and that didn't bother me at all. Although I'm not ready to try goat milk, I guess the lesson is that there are alternatives.

    April 22, 2010 at 13:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Benita

    I personally know that one glass of milk will cause stomach pain so why torture myself? I think this article is just trying to get people to consume more dairy for the dairy farmers of the US. I think it's so interesting how new studies always come out on the benefits of unpopular food.

    April 24, 2010 at 02:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Emily

    As was stated before, there are dairy alternatives. Rice milk, soy milk, almond milk, etc. You can get these fortified with calcium and vitamin D to your heart's content.

    I have never liked the taste of regular milk - it always left a bad aftertaste to me, and I got in trouble as a child in school for not liking milk. But I could still eat cheese, butter, ice cream, etc. Nowadays I drink alternative milk products.

    Please author of this article, don't make it sound like it's cow's milk or nothing. There are healthy alternatives.

    April 27, 2010 at 07:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Che Joubert

      Rice, soy and almond are woefully deficient in protein. Soy is abrasive to the digestive tract, has always been considered a poverty food, and contains a very limited spectrum of amino acids (protein building blocks.) These substances are not milk, and have no similarity to milk, other than having a milky cast in a glass. Humans need between 50 -80 grams a day on average of protein. Some humans need much more. Try counting them from the food you eat, you will see the average person who does not drink milk or use milk products get less than half of what they need each day.. You will simply start digesting your own muscles and organs if you do not get enough protein until you start getting sick, like all malnourished people.

      February 10, 2014 at 15:51 | Report abuse |
  34. SisterHyde

    Cow's milk is for calves. Dog milk is for puppies. Milk is for babies. So they can grow. Are you a baby? Do you want to be a 2000 pound steer? No? Then don't drink milk.

    April 29, 2010 at 20:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • G.L.

      LMAO! That was a great comment, SisterHyde!

      July 12, 2013 at 17:57 | Report abuse |
    • Che Joubert

      Milk is a mainstay of diets worldwide throughout life. You are sadly misinformed if you think it's only for babies. 23andme, the gene company, says in its online information that only about 5% or less of the world's population doesn't have the trait for digesting milk. Milk is the mainstay food for many rural populations from Africa to Scandinavia, to India, and of course has always been the most popular food in the British Isles. Only recently have I noticed that commercial lactose aid companies are stating a much higher percent of lactose intolerance. Actually, the inability to digest milk is a symptom of general malnutrition, and people who cannot drink milk usually if not always can be found to have overall digestive problems, especially with protein.

      February 10, 2014 at 15:45 | Report abuse |
  35. Dan Donovan

    Shouldn't there be some sort of disclaimer on this article I mean

    "The report suggests that lactose intolerant consumers should not be afraid to start incorporating more dairy into their diet."

    I mean is Trisha Henry qualified to be giving medical advise?

    May 3, 2010 at 15:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Eli Ally

    i also have lactose intolerance that is why i always avoid dairy products.,;:

    May 20, 2010 at 23:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Brandon Scott

    well we do have some lactose intolerance in our family and we just cut out on dairy products. '.;

    July 25, 2010 at 14:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Wrench Set

    i was born with lactose intolerance and i can't eat cheese without having an upset stomach *.`

    December 14, 2010 at 13:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Shanell Macgillivray

    In some countries, especially those with small numbers of animals being milked, as well as harvesting the milk from an animal, the dairy may also process the milk into butter, cheese and yogurt, for example. This is a traditional method of producing specialist milk products, especially in Europe.,,

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    April 25, 2013 at 23:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Laurence Radmall

    Food industry applications, both of pure lactose and lactose-containing dairy by-products, have markedly increased since the 1960s. For example, its bland flavor has lent to its use as a carrier and stabiliser of aromas and pharmaceutical products. Lactose is not added directly to many foods, because it is not sweet and its solubility is less than other sugars commonly used in food. Infant formula is a notable exception, where the addition of lactose is necessary to match the composition of human milk..^"`

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    May 24, 2013 at 08:41 | Report abuse | Reply
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  41. joey c

    sponsored by the national dairy association

    July 4, 2013 at 02:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Darcy

    That's all well and good coming from someone who clearly doesn't sound like they've had to deal with the symptoms of being lactose intolerant. When you have to go about your daily business just randomly adding lactose products to your diet is not constructive, unless you're adept at living your life from the toilet!

    July 13, 2013 at 02:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. seattletony

    I've had lactose intolerance since my 20's (now late 70's). It got really bad for years but I was able to avoid lactose, use lactaid pills, and got by. Yogurt was ok, hard cheeses ok, soy products ok. And interestingly enough the richer the dairy (creamier) the less lactose it contains. So I was able to tolerate really good ice cream but not the usual commercial brands. I always had my lactaid pills with me when traveling.

    Now I find that I can tolerate more lactose and it's wonderful to enjoy ice cream and Alfredo sauces again! I can't find any articles that state that the intolerance improves with age, only those that say it worsens. But our metabolism certainly changes as we age so who knows?

    Lastly, as others have pointed out, intolerance is not an allergy. An allergy can be so severe that minute amounts of ingestion can cause serious reactions including asthma and anaphylaxis. Folks who have severe reactions to anything should always carry antihistamines (rapid acting, like liquid form or chewable) and even epinephrine.

    This is a great forum. Keep up the good work.


    July 31, 2013 at 14:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Arletta

    I agree with the person who said that they believe that adults don't tend to have enough of the enzyme because milk is meant for babies (human and animal). But, I would like to add that I started getting sick from milk when I was very young and went to where I could only eat yogurt and butter made by certain companies, then moved past that point. The thing is, I do remember, one time, when I was a kid, going to a farm and drinking truly fresh cows milk from a cow that was not part of a large herd, so it was not subjected to that factory-specific mentality that is worried about keeping a product "healthy" but it was a loved cow, who was not force fed antiibotics, and I did not get sick from its milk.

    I can also eat real feta cheese (feta is not really a process, as it has legally become, but, traditionally, feta cheese is made from one specific kind of goat, and the milk is from the male goat) with no problem whatsoever.

    I cannot eat or drink anything made from any other kind of milk, not even if it is for people with lactose intolerance. So, yes, it may be true that people can eat a little bit of cheese, but, not a lot; or, it may be true that they can eat it with proper enzyme supplements and not without them. But, it is also true that some people have other problems, and the total picture needs to be considered.

    When I take digestive supplements, I just get sick from cheese or milk or butter faster than usual. I get sick form milk components, now, such as are in non-dairy creamer, .. but, I also found out that it may be due, mostly, to a lack of stomach acid. That is still open for exploration. I have a thyroid problem and many people with thyroid problems, digestive issues, etc. actually have too little stomach acid.

    Just things for people to think about.

    August 24, 2013 at 20:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Sam

    I too thought I was lactose intolerant but it was only milk that would cause vomiting and diarrhea , bloating and severe cramps and extreme gas. So I stopped drinking it all together. And of course ive always bought the inexpensive milk at the grocery store because milk is all the same right? Wrong !!Wasn't until I purchased a name brand milk and tried it and I'm now drinking milk like I did when i was a kid and have no harsh side effects !!

    November 11, 2013 at 10:29 | Report abuse | Reply
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  46. Che Joubert

    I signed up with 23andme, and in looking at the traits section I was told that I was not lactose intolerant, and that only around 5% or less of the world's population was lactose intolerant. Now I see online, that commercial lactose digestion aid companies are saying that huge numbers of people are lactose intolerant – up to 80%. This is astonishing. The inability to digest milk is usually accompanied by the inability to digest many highly nutritional foods, such as meat, as well.

    Milk is not just for infants. Many rural people, including many African tribes, depend heavily on milk throughout the course of life. Many farm animals and pets have traditionally been fed milk, as everyone who has seen a cat lick up milk, or a pig drink it out of a trough, can testify. In my childhood in the south, whole, unsweetened milk was given to all children in school, to boost the health of poor children and maintain the health of all children throughout their long day away from home. To my knowledge there was no inability to digest milk, no friends of mine were 'allergic' or any other such nonsense.

    February 10, 2014 at 15:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kidding me right

      I call bs on this guy. Pretty sure he's with those head people who have the gall to say COWS milk is good for you.

      August 5, 2014 at 20:39 | Report abuse |
  47. JayBee

    I can eat bowl after bowl of ice cream and be fine, but one cup of milk or yogurt and Im suffering for the next few days. Cheese is fine. I can't eat some thingsvthat require milk like stroganoff hamburger helper, which is my favorite. It all started when I was 15, and we had 4 packs of these fusion yogurt smoothie things and I ate them all in like an hour, they were so good I couldn't control myself, and the rest of the week was rough for my stomach, I'm now 20 and its only gotten worse. If I ever get to the point where I can't eat sour cream or ice cream it'll just be too damn bad.

    August 21, 2014 at 03:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. shane

    “Theoretically, if you replace the nutrients you get in milk with other food sources, you probably would end up neutral but we don’t know that.”

    Just wow...as if milk contains some molecule or atom we haven't discovered yet lol. Of course if you ingest the SAME nutrients through another food source you will have the same result. A calcium atom is a calcium atom. It's not theoretical it's chemical law meaning we know this.

    October 6, 2014 at 00:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Tat'iana

    I am 14 and whenever I eat nachos or ceral my stomach hurts and i usually get a bowl movement. But my question is why did this just start happening? Can u just become lactose? I use to be able to eat ceral and nachos when i was younger but ever since I turned 14 I cant. Also its kind of strange because at school I can drink the cafeteria milk with no problem.

    October 26, 2014 at 23:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Anonymus

    Lactose intolerence and dairy allergies are two entirely different issues.
    My dairy allergies means I get asthma, hearing loss, fevers, vomiting, acne, bloating, sore throats, stomach pain, and more from eating cow's milk. I eat goat yogert and goat cheese instead, but NO cow's milk. Spent most of my childhood sickly with inhalers, 3 sets of ear tubes, frequent vomiting, and bad acne. All disappeared when cow's milk was cut out. NEVER AGAIN.

    November 5, 2014 at 10:56 | Report abuse | Reply
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