By Nicole Dynan

What is lactose?

Lactose is a sugar that occurs naturally in all animal milks (including cows, goat and sheep). Lactose intolerant people have low levels of lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose. Most people who are lactase-deficient however, still produce a small amount of this enzyme and do not need to remove lactose completely from their diet.

How much lactose can most people tolerate?

Most people with lactose malabsorption can handle up to 4 grams of lactose per serve of food without experiencing any problems.

Cheese such as cheddar, edam, parmesan, feta, gouda, blue vein, bocconcini, mozzarella and swiss contain on average 0.1grams of lactose per 30g serve (approximately 1 slice) and are generally well tolerated.

Lactose Free Products

If you are lactose intolerant, there are now a large range of lactose free products on the market to help you retain dairy as part of your diet, including milk and yoghurt.  In regards to cheese, you may choose to experiment with small amounts of low lactose cheeses and restrict them based on your own sensitivity, before deciding to purchase tailor-made products if they are not required.

Ref: Food Intolerance Management Plan. Shepherd, S. & Gibson, 2011.