Lactose Intolerance: Prevalence, Symptoms, Treatment

Lactase Deficiency, Dairy Intolerance, Milk Product Intolerance

Lactose intolerance is defined as "the inability to digest the milk sugar lactose" - due to a deficiency of the enzyme lactase.  Prevalence of Lactose Intolerance is 75% - or three in four people. In certain ethnic groups it's even higher: up to 90% of African Americans and 80% in some Europeans^. Most sufferers are unaware - leaving them vulnerable to illnesses like malabsorption and depression.

*Swagerty DL Lactose Intolerance Am Fam Physician. 2002 May 1;65(9):1845-1851.

^Vesa et al. Lactose intolerance J Am Coll Nutr April 2000 vol. 19 no. suppl 2 165S-175S  Lactose intolerance in Europe


Video: lactose intolerance - why now?


Lactose Intolerance - Prevalence, Symptoms, Treatment

What is the prevalence of Lactose Intolerance?

Prevalence of Lactose Intolerance

Lactose Intolerance: The US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) states that 75% of the world’s population has Lactose Intolerance. That is, three quarters of all people have difficulty digesting lactose. In certain ethnic groups it is even higher:

  • Lactose intolerance affects 3 in 4 of all people
  • Lactose intolerance affects more than 90% of African Americans
  • In addition - Lactose intolerance affects ~ 80 - 90% of people of Chinese descent

Common symptoms like Stomach Bloating and Flatulence and Diarrhea and Irritable Bowel Syndrome are caused by lactose intolerance. Therefore milk and milk products are not suitable foods for the majority of people.


What are the symptoms of Lactose Intolerance?

Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance

There can be many symptoms of Lactose Intolerance. They include:


The symptoms of Lactose intolerance are overlap with symptoms of Fructose intolerance and Gluten (Wheat) intolerance.


How do you test for Lactose Intolerance?

Testing for Lactose Intolerance

Lactose Intolerance: At your doctor you can get clinical tests like the Hydrogen breath test - or stool acidity tests. However most clinical tests for food intolerance are not always easy to interpret - and frequently give misleading results. And the hydrogen breath test is amongst the least reliable.

However when you use the proven Journal Method it's easy to pinpoint Lactose Intolerance. This is the most accurate way to find any food intolerance.

Comments For Lactose Intolerance: Generally if you have chronic (long term) symptoms - say like diarrhea every day - then Lactose is a suspect, along with Fructose and Gluten.

Why do I have Lactose Intolerance?

What Causes Lactose Intolerance?

Lactose Intolerance - like all food intolerance - is genetic.  You got it from your parents, grandparents and other ancestors - it’s in your genes!

If your cultural heritage is Northern European (eg. Scandinavian or Netherlands) your chance of being Lactose Intolerant is only 25%. If not - then generally you have a 75% chance of having Lactose Intolerance*.

Note: Because Lactose Intolerance is genetic - if you have children - then you have already passed on those genes to your sons and daughters. So make sure you alert your children possibility. Being well informed allows them to make good choices for their health.

If you ignore your symptoms - Lactose Intolerance can lead to chronic disease: anaemia, osteoporosis and others. But when you observe your intolerance with the right diet you prevent those diseases.

the symptoms of Lactose intolerance disappear with a Dairy-free diet. But it's not a good idea to change your diet without getting proof of your intolerance. 

What is the treatment for Lactose Intolerance?

How do you treat Lactose Intolerance?

How to treat Lactose Intolerance: The simple strategy for Lactose Intolerance is to remove Lactose from your diet. The simplest solution is to switch to a Dairy-free diet (which is also Lactose-Free). Track your symptoms as you switch foods using the Journal Method.

The symptoms for Lactose intolerance can be the same as those for Fructose intolerance and Wheat Sensitivity and Gluten Sensitivity - so they often get mixed up.

Lactase enzyme additives: Some people take an enzyme preparation before eating dairy products. These products provide the enzyme your body does not have for digesting Lactose. So to eat dairy products you must take the lactase before every meal. However because lactose intolerance often goes together with casein allergy (milk protein sensitivity) - the ingestion of milk in any form causes adverse reactions.

Is there a cure for Lactose Intolerance?

What is the cure for Lactose Intolerance?

Lactose Intolerance is not a 'disease' - so it does not need to be 'cured'. It is people eating foods they cannot fully digest. Like other food intolerances - it is genetic- like having curly hair, blue eyes or freckles. We cannot change our genes. But we can choose to eat appropriate foods which we can easily digest.

People with Lactose Intolerance get sick because the human body is simply not equipped to process milk after weaning. Even the cow's calf - which does have the right biological equipment to process cow's milk loses the ability to do so upon weaning.

Other mammalian milk: Lactose intolerance also applies to other mammalian milks like goat milk, sheep's milk, buffalo milk etc.

Solution for Lactose Intolerance: The symptoms and illnesses caused by Lactose intolerance disappear on a Dairy-free diet. You could try a dairy-free diet and see if you get better.




All foodintol® information is based on research from peer-reviewed medical journals