Ladies, here’s why you shouldn’t automatically assume you are lactose intolerant

Experts have an urgent warning for women who think they’re lactose intolerant and have stopped eating dairy. New research from

Experts have an urgent warning for women who think they’re lactose intolerant and have stopped eating dairy.

New research from Roy Morgan shows women are three to four times more likely to report being lactose intolerant than men across all age groups, however it is not clear whether all of the 15,000 people surveyed did in fact have clinically diagnosed lactose intolerance, leading to experts to issue a warning to women who believe they are without being tested.

A common response to self-perceived lactose intolerance is to exclude dairy from the diet immediately at the first sign of a perceived issue such as diarrhoea or bloating.

Aloysa Hourigan, senior nutritionist at Nutrition Australia, has advised people against doing this, telling The New Daily cutting out dairy can lead to other chronic health problems, including osteoporosis, diabetes and hypertension.

“If you start avoiding all dairy foods and don’t substitute with foods with similar protein and calcium value, then you could be missing out on some key nutrients,” she said.

“If you don’t get enough calcium then there is a risk to your bone health and other metabolic processes. Protein is essential for muscle repair, enzyme and hormone production and a range of other body functions”.

And even if you do have a lactose intolerance, you do not necessarily need to avoid dairy altogether. A lactose intolerant adult can still tolerate 5-7 grams of lactose per day.

“Lactose is not present in high amounts in all dairy foods,” Ms Hourigan said. “Hard cheeses have negligible lactose but still provide a good source of calcium and protein”.

“You could potentially get the nutrients in milk from other food sources – however, not always in the same balance – so this is why it is a good idea to seek the advice of an accredited practising dietitian or other appropriately qualified health professional”.

Professor Maximilian de Courten, Director of the Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Management at Victoria University said the symptoms of lactose intolerance can actually mean something else entirely.

“One condition which has very similar symptoms (to lactose intolerance) is Irritable Bowel Syndrome,” he said.

Anyone who thinks they are lactose intolerant should get confirmation from their doctor and an action plan, before swearing off dairy permanently.


Tell us: do you have a lactose intolerance? Has this been proven? How do you keep your lactose levels up?

  1. ivnever drank milk, and density test on bones showed strong bones. good hard work, gives you strong bones.

    • My mum is almost 88 years young, never drinks milk or eats cream, has been a hard worker breastfed five children and also has never eaten anything that flies, walks or swims (her words). She blows all of the theories out of the water my wonder mum knits and crochets hundreds of things for the Red Cross charity, drives herself to bingo twice weekly and still goes on bus trips etc etc.

    • It has more than often to do with genetics than how hard you work. My mother, grandmother, sister and myself have oesteo. Especially my mum and gran worked hard (no modern cons those days) and still got it. We all drink milk, get plenty of vit D and still have oesteoporosis. My thoughts are that we were at the end of the line when those genes for strong bones were given out.

  2. I drank milk and love dairy products but have osteo. I’m not lactose intolerant and I have done everything like take caltrate for years. Still ended up with bad bones.

    • So did I. I was really annoyed when I was diagnosed as I had looked after my bones or so I thought.

    • How is your vitamin D? You need it for the bones to absorb the calcium. And I do think Oesteoporosis has more to do with genetics than anything. I too have lots of dairy, am on a vitamin D supplement and have the pre oesto and keep breaking bones (as my mother and grandmother did)

  3. I am lactose intolerant so i drink soy milk have lactose free cheese its not a nice thing to have but i have to live with it like alot of other ppl….. the ppl who say oh u can stillhave fat milk dont know what its like if i have ordinary milk it can be very embarrassing that is all i will say…

  4. I have two daughters who suffer from Galactossemia & are on a complete lactose free diet but as a result of doctors not diagnosing it until my second daughter was born my eldest because of drinking cows milk finished up with an enlarged liver & spleen & went blind due to cataracts in her eyes & underwent several eye operations to restore her sight & were under the care of RCH for many years your article frustrated me

    • Oh, Dianne, how worrying for you, and your daughters. I do hope they are able to live a healthy life.

    • Thank you for you concern there have been many ups & downs over the years but they don’t complain even when two years ago my eldest under went surgery for a brain tumour all things considered she’s doing reasonably well again thank you 👍

  5. My mum 82 yr never drunk milk,8 kids breast feed each till full term?not a health problem of any sort.milk is for calf and a huge inflammatory product,knock dairy ALL out
    It’s hard as I love dairy everything ,but very lactose intolerant & my son at 36 yr also😂 Almond milk& in chocolate yummy,gives one hope 😀😀😀😀

  6. Goat milk is more digestible for humans & could be worth a try.

  7. No need to forgo dairy there is lactose free milk Zymil which is very tasty.

    • Zymil does a cream as ell which is also excellent . Up here in Nth Qld we can buy Misty Mountain Farms lactose free Jersey milk which is like old fashioned real milk where the cream rises to the top: the best!!!

  8. I am lactose intolerant (yes clinically diagnosed) It was a devastating diagnosis for me as I love dairy products. However, what the article didn’t say was that there are a couple of companies making lactose free dairy products. Butter, cream, cheese, and milk are available (there may also be ice cream and yoghurt but I haven’t seen them). So there is no need for anyone to give up dairy at all, they have only to change to lactose free.

    • Absolutely Felicity. Lactose free (cows) milk been readily available for many years. Also, most coffee shops have lactose free (Zymil, Liddells) options these days. Further, and as you point out, there are plenty of other lactose free dairy products on the market as well.

    • I used lactose free products for years, now can’t tolerate even these. I’ve had to go completely dairy free. As for having just ‘a little’ I don’t think so.

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