You ask, we answer Q&A on lactose intolerance

Can you eat dairy if you are lactose intolerant?

Can I eat dairy with lactose intolerance? - YINI

What is lactose?

Lactose is a natural sugar found in milk and other dairy products. It can be broken down by the enzyme lactase in the small intestine into glucose and galactose, two simpler sugars that are readily absorbed into the bloodstream.

What is lactose maldigestion ? Lactose intolerance ?

After weaning, we produce less lactase and our ability to digest lactose declines. It is known as lactose maldigestion. Undigested lactose reaching the colon is broken down by the gut microbiota, resulting in the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) and gases. In most people, this maldigestion produces no noticeable symptoms (1,2,3).

When lactose maldigestion gives rise to symptoms such as bloating, cramps, diarrhea and flatulence, this is called lactose intolerance (4).

Lactose intolerance: Should I avoid dairy products ?

The majority of adults and adolescents with diagnosed lactose intolerance can tolerate up to 12 g of lactose with few or no symptoms, preferably in small amounts across the day, during or at the end of a meal (1).

Dairy products vary in the amount of lactose they contain (5):

  • Some cheeses contains low or no lactose (cheddar, provolone, mozzarella, Grana padano, camembert, etc.).
  • A reduced level of lactose is found in yogurt containing two active bacterial cultures that produce lactase which breaks down some of the lactose in yogurt. The bacteria survive their passage through the gut and the bacterial lactase helps further with digestion of lactose in the small intestine. Unlike milk, yogurt’s semi-solid state benefits lactose digestion by slowing transit through the gut (6).


(1) Suchy FJ, Brannon PM, Carpenter TO, et al. NIH Consensus Development Conference Statement: lactose intolerance and health. NIH Consens State Sci Statements 2010;27:1–27.
(2) EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA). Scientific Opinion on lactose thresholds in lactose intolerance and galactosaemia. ESFA Journal 2010a;8:1777.
(3) Lukito W, Malik SG, Surono IS, et al. From ‘lactose intolerance’ to ‘lactose nutrition’. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2015;24(Suppl 1):S1–8.
(4) Wilt TJ, Shaukat A, Shamliyan T, et al. Lactose intolerance and health. Evid Rep Technol Assess (Full Rep) 2010;(192):1–410.
(5) Rozenberg S, Body JJ, Bruyère O, et al. Effects of dairy products consumption on health: Benefits and beliefs; Calcif Tissue Int 2016;98:1–17.
(6) Savaiano DA. Lactose digestion from yogurt: mechanism and relevance. Am J Clin Nutr 2014;99(5 Suppl): 1251S–5S.

Pin It on Pinterest