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Food Detective - FAQs: Milk Reactivity

If cow’s milk comes up positive, does that mean that I am lactose intolerant?
No. Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose, the major sugar found in milk. It is caused by a shortage of the enzyme lactase, which is produced by the cells that line the small intestine.

What is lactose intolerance?
Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose, the major sugar found in milk. It is caused by a shortage of the enzyme lactase, which is produced by the cells that line the small intestine. Lactose is a disaccharide, which means that it is composed of two other sugars bound together. In order for lactose to be absorbed, it must be split into those two smaller sugars by lactase.  Lactase activity is high in babies and declines as the amount of milk in the diet decreases. Some people may have very low lactase levels but not have any symptoms. The reason for this is unknown. A lactose tolerance test, a hydrogen breath test, or a stool acidity test is required for a clinical diagnosis.

What are the symptoms of lactose intolerance?
If the levels of the lactase enzyme are low or absent, then splitting of lactose does not occur and fermentation occurs by bacteria in the large intestine, producing symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloated stomach, stomach rumbling, increased wind and diarrhoea.

What alternatives are there to cow’s milk?
There are many alternatives to cow’s milk - please consult the CNS Dietary Support Guide (provided in the Food Detective™ box).

What about my calcium levels if I cut out cow’s milk and dairy completely?
Please consult the CNS Dietary Support Guide (provided in the Food Detective™ box). It is interesting to note that foods such as whitebait, almonds, soya flour, brazil nuts and spinach contain more calcium per 100mg than whole milk.  If you are worried about your calcium levels, please consult a nutritionist for further advice.

What are the main proteins in milk?
The total protein component of milk is composed of numerous specific proteins. The primary group of milk proteins are the caseins. All other proteins found in milk are grouped together under the name of whey proteins. The major whey proteins in cow milk are beta-lactoglobulin and alpha-lactalbumin.