top of page

Milk & Lactose intolerance

Lactose intolerance

Lactose is a dimeric sugar, in other words a sugar made by the joining of two other sugars together (Glucose and galactose). Lactose intolerance arises as a result of the partial or complete absence of the enzyme lactase which usually breaks the sugar into it’s two constituent sugars so that they can then be absorbed. Some people lack the enzyme altogether whilst others simply lack enough to be able to tolerate large volumes of milk. The absence of this enzyme, which commonly occurs following gut infections and in individuals who inherit or acquire a deficiency of it. If the patient with such a deficiency then consumes milk containing lactose they may develop bloating, colicky abdominal pain and diarrhoea. This may be as a result of fermentation of the sugar in the colon by the bacteria that inhabit this space. Whilst some individuals may be able to induce the production of lactase (the deficient enzyme) by gradually increasing their milk intake as tolerated, other individuals will always remain relatively lactase deficient.


Milk Intolerance (non-lactose)

Other forms of milk intolerance unrelated to lactose may present with similar symptoms. There are numerous proteins (and some fat too!) within milk and it is quite possible for people to be intolerant to these rather than to the lactose. One such protein is A1 protein. In short cows produce milk containing either A1 or A2 protein. Some people are intolerant of A1 protein. Some companies have now developed herds which only contain cows producing milk containing the A2 protein on the grounds that patients intolerant of A1 protein will be able to tolerate this milk.

bottom of page