What actually is Lactose-Free milk?

January 2019

What actually is Lactose-Free milk? 

Did you know that lactose intolerance affects around 75% of the world’s population?

And perhaps now you are asking, what is lactose?

This is a great question! So let’s look into Lactose and Lactose intolerance, and also give you a run down on what this ‘Lactose-free milk’ is.


Lactose is a type of sugar found in milk products, eg. Cow’s milk, goat’s milk, breast milk, yoghurt, ice cream, and cheese to name some key sources.


It is a disaccharide, meaning it comprises of two molecules of sugar joined together, these sugar molecules being glucose and galactose.


Most individuals are born with the ability to digest lactose, however, with age some of the population loses this ability, resulting in lactose intolerance.


Lactose intolerance is where an individual doesn’t make enough of the enzyme lactase, which is needed to digest lactose by breaking up those two molecules (glucose & galactose). Once this enzyme breaks down these sugars, they can be absorbed into the bloodstream and used by the body.

If, however, there is not enough lactase enzyme, the lactose moves into the gut undigested and can cause uncomfortable digestive symptoms, such as bloating, cramps, and diarrhea.


People with lactose intolerance may experience variable levels of tolerance to lactose, but often even a small glass of milk can trigger these unwanted digestive symptoms.


Lactose-Free Milk:

A great alternative has been made so individuals with lactose intolerance can avoid/reduce these unpleasant symptoms.


Lactose-Free milk is made by adding the enzyme lactase into regular cow’s milk, resulting in the break down of lactose in the product, rather than relying on the body’s lactase (or lack of).


The resulting lactose-free milk has nearly the same taste, texture, and nutrients (protein, calcium, phosphorus, vitB12, & riboflavin) as regular cow’s milk, and you can get it in full fat, low fat or no fat varieties.


The great thing is with it being so similar; it can be a replacement for regular milk in recipes.


The only thing that is slightly different is that lactose-free milk has a slightly sweeter taste, due to the break down of a complex sugar (lactose) into simple sugars (glucose & galactose), which our taste buds perceive as sweeter.

Thus, the nutritional profile doesn’t change, however if choosing to swap in lactose-free milk into a recipe instead of regular cow’s milk, keep in mind that it may taste sweeter.


Lactose-Free milk is still a dairy product.

Something to note is that this is great alternative for those with lactose intolerance, however for those individuals who have a dairy allergy, this product can still cause an allergic reaction, thus would not be suitable for these circumstances.


If you have a lactose or dairy intolerance and are wanting further assistance with how to manage it/ what foods or drinks you can have, give us a call of 9431 4337 to book an appointment with one of our Dietitians who would love to assist you.

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