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Lactose-Free Milk: Pros and Cons

Gone are the days when you only had to choose between two percent and skim milk to pour over your breakfast cereal. Food manufacturers have even created lactose-free milk to cater to the growing number of people who experience lactose intolerance.

What is lactose-free milk? 

But what is lactose-free milk? Is it healthy for you? What are the benefits of lactose-free milk? Are there any drawbacks to drinking it? Can you make lactose-free milk at home?

Lactose is a sugar found in dairy milk. A certain amount occurs naturally in cow’s milk. It can also be found, in smaller traces, in goat’s milk and sheep’s milk. To put it simply, lactose free-milk is milk without lactose. 

How lactose-free milk is made

Lactose-free milk can be a bit of a misnomer because in some cases, lactose isn’t actually removed from the milk. Instead, manufacturers add an enzyme called lactase during processing. Once ingested, it helps your digestive system break down the lactose. You can buy lactose-free whole milk, skim milk, cream, and other varieties.

The above method is the most common way of producing lactose-free milk. Other methods include removing lactose by passing the milk over lactase, or mechanically separating lactose from milk. The more complicated the manufacturing process, the more expensive the product will be for the consumer.

If you want to learn how to make lactose-free milk at home, for a fraction of the cost, then you’re in luck. Even though the commercial process for removing lactose is factory-dependent and requires special machinery, you can achieve the same results by using a lactase supplement. 

Lactase enzyme supplements are available in liquid or capsule form from most health food stores. Add the required amount by following the directions on the label, then wait approximately 24 hours. Your lactose-free milk will be ready to go!

Benefits of lactose-free milk 

Now that you know what lactose-free milk is, you might be wondering if it’s good for you. There are some reported benefits to drinking it, compared to regular milk. 

  • Lactose in milk is often what causes you to feel bloated, gassy, or nauseous after eating dairy products. In some cases, switching to lactose-free options can help alleviate those symptoms of indigestion.
  • Lactose-free milk has the same nutrient profile as regular cow’s milk, so you still get the same vitamins, minerals, calcium, and protein, without the discomfort.
  • Studies have found that a diet which includes low-fat dairy products may lower your blood pressure and decrease your chances of developing type 2 diabetes.

A balanced diet keeps you healthy and reduces the likelihood of overeating. Be sure to incorporate lots of fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the day, and limit your consumption of processed foods.

Disadvantages of lactose-free milk 

Despite its benefits, there are also a few negatives to drinking lactose-free milk. Lactose is a natural sugar, so manufacturers may add sweeteners to certain lactose-free products to replace it. However, this step is usually unnecessary since lactase breaks down the sugars in lactose, resulting in an overall sweeter taste.

Always check the nutritional label and ingredient list when shopping for lactose-free milk. Consuming food and drinks with added sugars may lead to sugar cravings which are harmful to your health.

Doctors always recommend a balanced diet which includes as few refined foods as possible. But technically, both lactose-free milk and regular milk are considered processed foods because they’re treated with heat and chemicals to make them safe for consumption. In fact, lactose-free milk sometimes requires more extensive processing than regular milk.  

It’s also important to note that eating processed foods, including lactose-free products, while on your period could aggravate your bloating symptoms.

Many of the disadvantages of drinking lactose-free milk are the same as with regular milk. New research is linking dairy products to cases of cancer and heart disease. So whenever possible, it’s best to make water your drink of choice to stay healthy and hydrated.

Is lactose-free the same as dairy-free? 

Lactose-free milk is still made from cow’s milk, so it is not the same as dairy-free milk. If you have a dairy allergy, do not eat any type of dairy, including those labeled “lactose-free.”

There’s a wide array of dairy-free alternatives on the market these days. Plant-based milk is typically made from vegetables, grains, or legumes. Non-dairy options like almond milk, soy milk, oat milk, flax milk, coconut milk, and rice milk can now be found at most grocery stores.

However, if you simply love the taste of dairy milk and are lactose-intolerant, then lactose-free options are a great alternative. Be sure to check out Flo for more health, diet, and lifestyle tips that will help you to become a better you!









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