If you’re one of the estimated 65% of people who have lactose intolerance, you know that dairy can be a tricky food group to navigate.
Many myths and misconceptions abound about lactose intolerance, making it difficult to separate fact from fiction.
In this blog post, we will dispel the top 10 myths about lactose intolerance and give you the facts you need to make informed decisions about your diet. Please read on to learn more.
Myth: Lactose Intolerance Means You’re Allergic to Milk
Fact: While some people can be allergic to milk proteins, lactose intolerance has nothing to do with allergies. Lactose intolerance is caused by the body’s inability to properly digest the sugar in dairy products (lactose) and results in digestive symptoms like bloating, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea when consuming dairy.
Myth: All Dairy Products Contain Lactose
Fact: Not all dairy products contain lactose—in fact, some are actually low or even completely free of it! Products like aged cheeses, cream cheese, butter, and ghee are naturally lower in lactose than other types of dairy products such as cow’s milk, yogurt, and ice cream. Try this lactose free cheese next time you’re craving dairy.
Myth: Lactose Intolerance is Permanent
Fact: Contrary to what some believe, lactose intolerance is not a permanent condition. Instead, it is possible for your body to develop tolerance over time if you are able to slowly introduce dairy into your diet in small amounts and increase the amount gradually.
Myth: You Need to Avoid All Dairy Products
Fact: While there are some people who need to completely eliminate dairy from their diets due to severe symptoms of lactose intolerance, this isn’t necessarily true for everyone. Depending on how sensitive your body is, you may be able to tolerate certain types of dairy products or small amounts of dairy without any problems.
Myth: Lactose Intolerance is the Same as Being Vegan
Fact: While there are some similarities between being lactose intolerant and vegan, these two dietary choices are not the same. Vegans abstain from all animal products (including dairy) for ethical reasons, while people with lactose intolerance simply have difficulty digesting lactose and need to limit their consumption of dairy-based foods.
Myth: You Need a Special Diet if You’re Lactose Intolerant
Fact: While it is important to pay attention to how different foods affect your body when you have lactose intolerance, there is no special diet that needs to be followed. Instead, it is helpful to focus on eating a balanced and nutrient-rich diet that doesn’t include dairy products or foods high in lactose.
Myth: Lactose Intolerance is Dangerous
Fact: Contrary to popular belief, lactose intolerance is not dangerous and does not cause any serious health issues. In fact, most people with this condition lead healthy lives when they follow a diet that works for them.
Myth: Dairy Alternatives are Unhealthy
Fact: Not all dairy alternatives are unhealthy—in fact, many can be very nutritious! Soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, and other plant-based milks are often fortified with essential vitamins and minerals like calcium and vitamin D, making them a great way to get the nutrition you need while avoiding lactose.
Myth: You Don’t Need to Worry About Lactose Intolerance if You’re Not Symptomatic
Fact: Even if you are not experiencing any severe symptoms of lactose intolerance, it is still important to be mindful of how much dairy you are consuming. Eating too much dairy can lead to discomfort and digestive issues over time, so it’s best to limit your intake if possible.
Myth: Eating Dairy Will Cure Lactose Intolerance
Fact: No amount of dairy will “cure” lactose intolerance—in fact, eating too much dairy can make the condition worse. For those with severe symptoms, the only way to relieve them is to completely avoid dairy products and opt for lactose-free alternatives instead.