Earlier today I saw a commercial that I found to be quite deceiving. The commercial was for Lactaid milk and it stated that if you are sensitive to milk, Lactaid is a great alternative for those with a milk sensitivity. While Lactaid can be helpful for those that cannot tolerate milk, it is quite inaccurate to say it as they did. In the practice, we have so many patients that come to the office saying they can’t tolerate milk and thus they drink lactaid , however more than half of those patients do not feel any better. This is quite common and I would like to offer an explanation of why that is the case.
Milk contains a special sugar called lactose as well as proteins called whey and casein. If someone does not produce an enzyme lactase to digest the lactose in the milk, they are considered lactose intolerant and therefore would need to take lactase enzymes or drink milk with no lactose (Lactaid) to be able to tolerate it. While lactose intolerance is quite prevalent, it affects only a small portion of the people that have health issues related to milk and milk products.
The bigger portion of the population has what is called a milk sensitivity which is quite different than an intolerance or the inability to digest the lactose. Milk sensitivity is when a person has a reaction to another protein in the milk, often the casein and/or whey which is very common. Unfortunately in those cases, lactaid milk would not be helpful because it still contains both of those proteins. Milk sensitivity can arise from many underlying reasons including, genetics, stress, dysbiosis and leaky gut (see more on this here). In those cases all milk including Lactaid would have to be avoided and milk alternatives such as coconut milk may be a better solution. I wanted to clarify this because it is unfortunate that so many people are drinking Lactaid and are frustrated they are not feeling better and do not realize that a sensitivity is quite different than a lactose intolerance.