Written by Chloe Thurston
Most people are born with the ability to digest lactose (the major carbohydrate which is found in milk). However, 75% of the population lose this ability, whilst others can continue throughout adulthood (Mattar et al, 2012).
Lactose is a disaccharide that is abundant in milk and is the essential source of nourishment for newborns. Once inside the intestine it is hydrolysed into glucose and galactose by the enzyme lactase. However, in some groups of individuals there is a reduction of lactase activity (Misselwitz et al, 2013).
To diagnose lactose intolerance, an elimination diet is used followed by a lactose intolerance test. This means that the person needs to avoid dairy for a certain period of time and then consume a certain amount of lactose again. The test measures the blood sugar levels before and several times after drinking a lactose solution to find out whether the body is breaking it down or not. Another test that can be done is the breath test. This is to measure the amount of hydrogen contained in your breath, which is normally higher in those with lactose intolerance (Marton et al, 2012).
If a child or an adult has to avoid cow’s milk, then you need to be aware that it may still be present in foods such as:
✗ Milk powder
✗ All types of cheese
✗ Ice cream
Food labels that list any of the ingredients below also contain some cow’s milk:
✗ Hydrolysed casein
✗ Skimmed milk
✗ Skimmed milk powder
✗ Milk solids
✗ Non-fat milk
✗ Milk sugar solids
The following are examples of processed foods, which may contain milk:
✗ Baby foods
✗ Processed meats e.g. sausage
✗ Instant mashed potato
✗ Sauces and Gravy
✗ Baked goods
✗ Pancakes and batters
✗ Ready made meals
✗ Pudding and custard
✗ Cake, biscuits and crackers
Benefits of Almond Milk
#1 Lactose free – made from almonds and not cows milk
#2 Lower in calories compared to regular milk (60 compared to 122 calories per cup)
#3 Antibiotic and hormone free
#4 No cholesterol or saturated fat to help with heart health
#5 Good source of calcium
#6 Contains 50% of the recommended vitamin E
#7 Low in carbohydrates
#8 Has 1g of fibre per serving to help with digestion
#9 Suitable for vegetarians
Remember to check the labels first!
If you or your child is allergic to cows milk, it is likely that the same effect will occur with both sheep and goat’s milk. Your body is still going to recognise the milk proteins and react the same way towards them. Milk intolerance is common and some of those who are intolerant to cows milk may still be tolerant to goats’ milk or sheep’s milk, due to factors other than milk proteins. You should always check with a medical advisor before hand.
✓ Soya milk available in supermarkets are unsuitable for children under 12 months
✓ In children over 12 months, soya can be used during weaning. This includes being a drink or put into recipes. (Allergy UK, 2016)