Does Butter Have Lactose & is it Safe for Lactose Intolerant People?

A deficiency of enzyme lactase in your intestine leads to lactose intolerance. Lactase is responsible for the digestion of lactose (milk sugar) into simple sugars known as glucose and galactose. Lactose intolerant people are unable to process milk and dairy products.

Does Butter Have Lactose & is it Safe for Lactose Intolerant People?

Does Butter Have Lactose & is it Safe for Lactose Intolerant People?

Butter is a dairy product made from cows, buffalo’s or sheep’s milk. It is produced by churning of cream/milk till the fat separates from the liquid. This butter is made up of approximately 80% fat, 15-17% water and only 0.5-1% carbohydrates and proteins. Therefore it is better tolerated by lactose intolerant people. If consumed in small amounts it does not provide you with any vitamins and minerals. It is high in fat and contains only trace amounts of proteins and carbohydrates.

Butter is often allowed to be consumed in dairy free diets because it does not cause any symptoms of lactose intolerance in most people. Some people who have milk allergy mostly react to the proteins, which are found in milk (casein or paracasein) whereas those who are lactose intolerant are unable to digest the carbohydrate in milk that is lactose. People with irritable bowel disease are also sometimes intolerant to lactose and these two conditions seem to be inter-related. Therefore, it is best to avoid it in case of inflammatory bowel disease to prevent exaggeration of symptoms. But in case of milk allergy even small amounts of protein can lead to allergic reaction therefore it should not be consumed.

Butter contains trace amount of lactose making it easy to consume by lactose intolerant people. One cup of butter contains about 0.1 grams of lactose and people who are intolerant to lactose can consume about 12 grams of lactose at one time without the occurrence of symptoms. So butter mostly is safe to consume by lactose intolerant people. In very rare cases, people who are highly sensitive will experience symptoms of lactose intolerance.

Dairy Products Low in Lactose

Other than butter, there are other dairy products, which are low in lactose content and considerably safer to consume on dairy free diets. They are yogurt, kefir, lactose free milk and hard cheese.

Yogurt contains less amount of lactose as compared to milk and is easily digested as compared to other dairy products. It is mostly tolerated because the bacteria present in yogurt digest the lactose present in it and reduce symptoms of lactose intolerance. Yogurt containing probiotics is a much healthier option for lactose intolerant people because probiotics will feed on lactose (milk sugar) and break it down into simple sugars.

Hard cheese products such as cheddar, parmesan and Swiss cheese are also well tolerated because they have been preserved for a long time and the enzymes in the cheese cause breakdown of lactose over the years. This is the reason the harder cheese does not taste sweet because the lactose has been digested by the enzymes.

  • Buttermilk also contains bacteria, which digests the lactose and therefore can be consumed by the lactose intolerant people.
  • Kefir is also light on stomach because it is predigested by the fermentation process making it easier to digest.
  • Other food substitutes for lactose intolerant people are lactose free milk, soy milk, which is plant based made from soy beans.
  • Almond milk is another substitute, which can be consumed by lactose intolerant people.

Treatment of Lactose Intolerance

Since it is not possible to cure lactose intolerance as there is no treatment for it, the symptoms can only be managed by making lifestyle changes. The best option includes avoiding dairy and milk products. If you crave dairy foods you can take the lactase enzyme before in hand readily available in the market. These enzymes breakdown lactose and reduce the incidence of unpleasant symptoms of lactose intolerance. Alternative products can be consumed safely, which have preferably less lactose and does not cause symptoms of gastrointestinal discomfort.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 29, 2018

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