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Guidelines For Lactose Intolerance

What is Lactose Intolerance?

Lactose is found in Milk and Milk products. It is a natural sugar component of dairy products. Lactose can be broken down into simple sugars such as glucose and galactase.

Lactose intolerance is classified as the inability to digest lactose due to the lack of the enzyme, lactase in the body.

There can be varying degrees of lactose intolerance. For example, some patients are able to tolerate a small volume of milk i.e. 125ml-250ml/day.

If one has lactose intolerance they may experience the following symptoms after eating or drinking milk or milk products:

  • diarrhoea
  • flatulence
  • bloating
  • nausea
  • abdominal cramps and pain
Guidelines to Reduce these Symptoms:

1. Read the labels carefully!!! Any products containing milk, milk solids, lactose, powdered milk and whey should be avoided.

2. Cow’s milk may be replaced with Soya milk. Coffee creamers (Ellis Brown, Cremora) and cream replacements (Orley Whip) may also be used but are not recommended due to their high fat content.

3. There are also lactose free milk products available such as EasyGest made by Parmalat. EasyGest is pre-treated with the enzyme lactase to convert the lactose into sugars such as glucose and galactase which are digested easier.

4. Cheese spreads should be avoided as they contain large amounts of lactose.
However certain cheeses are often well tolerated as they only contain a small proportion of Lactose.
Such cheeses include: Cheddar, Gouda, Feta, Mozzarella, Brie, Camembert, Edam, Cream cheese and Cottage cheese.


5. Avoid adding milk or milk products in the preparation of food i.e milk, yoghurt, yogi-sip, maas, cheese, buttermilk and milkshakes or milk shake powders.

6. Some products may contain Lactose e.g bread, processed cereals and pre-prepared flour and pancake mixtures. READ THE LABELS!

7. If you are not able to tolerate any milk or milk products, it is important to include other good sources of Calcium into your diet or to take a calcium supplement.


good sources of calcium are dark green leafy vegetables, sardines, salmon and the bones of fish such as pilchards.

By Melissa Pyle, BSc. in Dietetics, Registered Dietician (SA)

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