The taste of cheese can be quite addictive. But being lactose intolerant can make you miss on the nutrients and also the taste of cheese. There are a lot of nutrients in cheese you may miss due to the intolerance. Do you know there are cheeses which are low in lactose especially for you?
‘Around 4 billion people worldwide are affected by lactose intolerance’
What exactly is lactose intolerance you might ask? Lactose intolerance is a condition where the body cannot easily digest lactose. Lactose is a type of sugar which is found in nearly all milk products, such as milk, cheese, cream, yoghurt, quark, milk chocolate, dairy ice-cream etc. An enzyme called lactase is necessary for digestion of lactose. In the small intestine, lactose is split into glucose and galactose, with the aid of lactase and subsequently incorporated in the metabolic process.
People who are lactose intolerant have a low amount of lactase in their body. Thus, if they consume any milk product, the lactose reaches their large intestine in it unchanged form i.e. it is not broken down into glucose and galactose. Every person who has lactose intolerance do not show the same symptoms. Some people cannot digest any milk products; whereas others can consume milk products but in a small amount. Some may face the problems of diarrhoea, stomach cramps, bloated feeling, vomiting, headaches after consumption of lactose. Thus, the first thing is to know which type of lactose intolerant you are. Lactose intolerance is common in adults compared to children. The main challenge for lactose intolerant people is to learn how to gain more and more calcium and healthy bones from products other than the dairy products.
What Cheese Can You Opt For?
The core ingredient used in making cheese is milk. Some cheeses can make you feel swollen and uncomfortable or can also cause some serious health issues. And thus it is difficult, for the lactose intolerant people to consume cheese. But there are some kinds of cheese which do not affect as much as the others do.
There is certain evidence that aged cheeses are low in lactose levels. This theory is based on the fact that a particular set of bacteria is introduced into milk to make cheese- Lactobacillus. This bacteria converts lactose into lactic acid, which is easily digestible by humans. The longer the bacteria gets time to react with lactose, the lower is the amount of lactose in the cheese. So, we can say that older cheese has lower levels of lactose. The lactose levels can dip low enough for the lactose intolerant people to consume the cheese.
Generally firm or hard cheeses are low on lactose levels. This is because while making these cheeses the liquid is totally drained off. This liquid is whey and most of the lactose is lost in the whey. Thus aged and firm cheeses like cheddar, parmesan, swiss, Gouda can be consumed by lactose intolerant people. Thus, harder the cheese, lesser the moisture i.e. whey and thus lesser the lactose.
The easiest way to decide on which cheese to consume is by checking the nutrition charts on the products. As mentioned earlier, lactose is the sugar found in milk. Thus always read the amount of sugar content in cheese before buying it. Example, if the cheese contains zero percent of sugar, then the lactose content is around half a gram per ounce. Also, remember that fresh cheeses contain more lactose compared to the aged ones. Thus never consume fresh and soft cheeses like feta, ricotta, etc.
There it is! The bottom line is that the lactose intolerance varies from person to person. Try starting by consuming a small amount of hard, aged cheeses at first. Get all the nutrients and stay healthy. There always are products meant for lactose intolerant people.
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