Lactose and lactose intolerance FAQs

Coca Cola(TM) and Pepsi(TM) contain added lactose

This is incorrect. Neither Diet Coke, Coke Zero, nor the normal Coca Cola product contains any lactose in their product. Coke (as well as all other diet soft drinks) is sweetened with artificial sweeteners. E951 (aspartame) and E952 (sodium cyclamate) are problematic as they can cause problems for sensitive people (mostly diarrhoea), and are not suitable for people suffering from phenylketonuria. Apart from that, some of the substances in these drinks can spark off allergies. They do not play any part in lactose intolerance, however. (In the USA many soft drinks contain added sugars such as High-Fructose-Corn-Syrup instead of normal sugar. This means that these drinks are not suitable for people who are affected by fructose malabsorption.)

Lactose intolerance causes depression

At the moment there is no proof or counterproof for this claim. However, around 75% of those who are affected by lactose intolerance also have fructose malabsorption. The latter can be the cause of depression if it remains untreated.

If you have lactose intolerance, then you can't have any dairy products at all

This is incorrect. Not every milk product has enough lactose in it to cause discomfort. There are also lactase supplements, with the help of which you can even eat a whole cream tart.

If you have lactose intolerance then you will get osteoporosis

There are several research projects regarding this. Apparently it really is more likely that people affected by lactose intolerance alone will suffer from osteoporosis. People who have a second intolerance, e.g. fructose malabsorption, are just as likely to suffer from osteoporosis as are those who are not affected by any food intolerance.  It is advisable to use alternative sources of calcium and to go for a preventative medical check-up!

Asians can't tolerate milk

Around 87-98% of the Asian population have primary lactose intolerance. This can be reversible and is variable depending on cultural and social background (1).

Instead of cow's milk you can drink sheep's milk or goat's milk

This is wrong. The amount of lactose is about the same in all these types of milk.

Lactose intolerance can disappear again

This is partly correct. It depends on the type of lactose intolerance a person has. The secondary type, which can be caused by antibiotics damaging the intestinal system, can often be reversible. If a person has the primary type, which is down to a genetic mutation, then there is no cure.

Is chinese food dairy free / lactose-free?

Most chinese dishes are dairy free unless you're having a dessert or a cream sauce. The chances are high that you'll get a dairy free meal! Ask the cook anyways!

Sources include:
NMI-Portal (Michael Zechmann)
Ledochowski M., Bair H., Fuchs D., "Lactoseintoleranz",  J Ernährungsmed 2003; 5(1): 7–14.


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The information provided on the Food Intolerance Network website is no substitute for a visit to a registered dietician, nutritionist or a doctor. The information that you will find here may not be used as a substitute for professional advice and treatment by a medical professional or approved and registered dieticians. The content of the Food Intolerance Network website may not be used as a basis or means for any form of self-diagnosis.

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