Understanding lactose intolerance
New Zealand’s favourite wellbeing expert answers readers’ questions about their health.
Question: If I’m lactose intolerant, can I eat goat and sheep milk products? Thanks, Susanne.
Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest a sugar called lactose that is found in milk and dairy products. Normally when a person eats something containing lactose, an enzyme in the small intestine called lactase breaks down lactose into simpler sugar forms called glucose and galactose. These simple sugars are then absorbed into the bloodstream and turned into energy – fuel for our bodies to use.
People with lactose intolerance do not produce enough of the lactase enzyme to break down lactose. Instead, undigested lactose remain intact in the gut and begins to ferment via bacterial action on the sugars, causing gas, bloating, stomach cramps and diarrhoea.
Sheep’s milk products may be better tolerated by those who are lactose intolerant because of a slightly higher fat content – the higher the fat content, the lower the lactose levels. For example, butter has virtually no lactose while trim milk contains more lactose than full-fat milk. However, there are a number of products that are lactose free or you can use a number of delicious products that use coconut milk as a base – as coconut doesn’t contain lactose. Depending on your level of intolerance, this may be a better option.
Be aware that some people believe they have lactose intolerance when it may be one (or numerous) of the proteins in the milk that the person can’t digest properly. If it is the latter scenario, then an individual may experience better gut function when no products derived from an udder are consumed. An experienced health professional can guide you with this. Question: I’ve been reading a lot about the health benefits of turmeric. I like the taste of it so can you please explain if it is beneficial and also howI can use it? Thank you, Violet.
Known for its bright orange colour and potent antiinflammatory effects, turmeric has long been used in cooking and as herbal medicine. Curcumin, the pigment that gives turmeric its orange colour, is also the Email your questions for Dr Libby to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note, only a selection of questions can be answered.
chemical responsible for the antiinflammatory effects.
Clinical studies have shown turmeric to be effective in helping people with cystic fibrosis, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease. Curcumin is a natural antioxidant, meaning turmeric also helps protect against free radical damage and helps the liver do its critical detoxification work.
Try adding fresh or dried turmeric to juices, curries, stirfries or rice pilaf, or mix up a warming drink (better in winter) made from nut milk, cinnamon, turmeric and a dash of pure maple syrup.
Dr Libby is a nutritional biochemist, best-selling author and speaker. The advice contained in this column is not intended to be a substitute for direct, personalised advice from a health professional. Her latest book,
is available from all good bookstores and from drlibby.com
Sheep’s milk products may be better tolerated by those who are lactose intolerant.