The Effect of Lactose to Our Body



Lactose is one of the large sugar molecules and is made up of two minor molecules: glucose and galactose. Lactose is found virtually in milk and dairy products such as mammals’ milk (cow, goat, etc.), yoghurt, cheese, and ice-cream. Lactose, where it is used for most mixes of baked goods, can also be an ingredient in foods and beverages. You can read labels to understand whether or not the product includes lactose. If the product label contains:

  •    Milk, cheese or yoghurt,
  •  Milk solids or milk powder,
  •   Malted milk,
  •   Cream,
  •   Buttermilk,
  •   Curds
  •  Lactose
  •   Whey


This product is a product containing lactose. On the other hand, the products that contain lactate, lactalbumin, lactic acid, and casein do not contain lactose.

 Every day more than 6 billion people consume milk and dairy products, and this number is increasing day by day all over the world. Milk and dairy products are essential sources of energy, proteins, fats, and nutrients in the human diet. There are a considerable number of studies show that the lactose, which is the primary sugar of milk and dairy products, has a significant promoting effect on the absorption of essential minerals. Ziegler and Fomon performed one of these studies, and this study was about the nutritional diet of babies. Two diet programs, nearly identical in composition except for carbohydrate, were applied. One contained only lactose and the other contained sucrose and corn starch hydrolysate. As a result of this study, in the diet, including lactose as a carbohydrate, net absorption and net retention of calcium were significantly more than the diet program, including sucrose and corn starch hydrolysate. Besides, absorptions of magnesium and manganese were also considerably enhanced by lactose.


 Lactose can cause some disturbing symptoms in our body. These kinds of signs are observed as a result of some conditions. One of these conditions is the lactose maldigestion, and the other is the lactose intolerance. It is important to keep in mind that lactose intolerance and lactose maldigestion are not diseases but conditions. Lactose maldigestion is the difficulty to digest lactose, and also it concerns most people, about 70-75% of the world population. Lactose maldigestion appears after mothers stop breastfeeding their babies. As a result of this situation, the activity of lactase, which is an enzyme to break lactose into glucose and galactose, begins to decline. For most people, lactose maldigestion causes little or even no symptoms. On the other hand, lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose. Lactose intolerance results in abdominal pain and intestinal discomforts such as bloating, diarrhoea, and gas. These signs are not unique for lactose intolerance. They can be related to psychological factors, such as stress and emotional trauma, or intestinal dysfunctions occurring, for instance, during infection or malnutrition. Because of this reason, individuals who suspect that they have lactose intolerance can learn whether they have lactose intolerance by having the ad hoc hydrogen breath test in hospitals. People who are suffered from lactose intolerance and lactose maldigestion avoid milk and dairy products. However, all medical organizations recommend that lactose maldigestion and intolerants should adapt their diet instead of avoiding. Instead of consuming fresh milk, affected individuals can eat certain dairy products such as cheese or yoghurt without discomfort. These foods are made using fermentation processes that break down much of the lactose in milk. In this way, affected people feel less pain.


Moreover, there is another study about the effects of lactose to our body. Sarika Snell, a dermatologist in Washington DC, claims that whey protein, found explicitly in skim milk, is pro-inflammatory and can lead to inflammation which can manifest as acne and rosacea. Besides the whey protein, skim milk leads to problem-causing hormones that can deform our skin. She recommends that boosting in our skin once we remove dairy from our diet and allow our body to detox from it. 





Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. Milk and milk products, [Internet].       [cited 30 October, 2020]. Available from: products/products/en/.

Managing lactose intolerance. (2019, September 07). Retrieved October 03, 2020, from

Misselwitz B, Pohl D, Fruhauf H, Fried M, Vavricka SR, Fox M. Lactose malabsorption and    intolerance: pathogenesis, diagnosis and treatment. United European Gastroenterol J 2013;1:151-9.

Sims, M. (2018). Here's what happens to your skin when you cut out dairy, according to dermatologists. INSIDER. Retrieved November 01, 2020, from

Szilagyi A. Adult lactose digestion status and effects on disease. Can J Gastroenterol Hepatol         2015;29:149-56.

 Ugidos-Rodríguez S, Cruz Matallana-González M, Cortes Sánchez-Mata M. Lactose        malabsorption and intolerance: a review. Food Funct. 2018;9:4056–68.

 Ziegler EE, Fomon SJ. Lactose enhances mineral absorption in infancy. J Pediatr       Gastroenterol Nutr. 1983 May;2(2):288-94. PMID: 6875753.