Ask the experts: Lactose intolerance

Q: "I'm lactose intolerant. Will I have to avoid dairy for life?"

(Name not supplied)

A: Being lactose intolerant means you are unable to digest lactose, the sugar which occurs naturally in milk and is digested with the help of an enzyme called lactase. Some people will always be lactose intolerant as their body doesn't make any lactase enzyme at all. Other people have a temporary issue with lactose digestion when their body has a problem producing lactase for a short period of time, eg. after a bout of gastroenteritis.

The solution to lactose intolerance is to minimise lactose in the diet. If you think your intolerance is temporary, you can try re-introducing more dairy into the diet and keeping a diary of your symptoms. If all is well, you can safely eat dairy products again.

First published: Dec 2008

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