Can You Eat Dairy if You're Lactose Intolerant?

By Sara Butler

People who are lactose intolerant avoid dairy, otherwise bad things can happen to their gastrointestinal system, things that are quite unpleasant! But just because you have found you don’t tolerate lactose well doesn’t mean you have to give up all dairy forever and ever. There are some dairy foods that are naturally low in lactose that you may want to try to add back into your diet.

Why Are People Lactose Intolerant?

Lactose intolerance is a digestive condition that is estimated to impact 75 percent of the worldwide population. So, if you suffer from this problem, then you have a lot of company.

When you don’t have enough of an enzyme called lactase, then you can’t break down the sugar in milk – the lactose. Without this enzyme, the lactose passes through your gastrointestinal tract undigested, causing symptoms such as pain, bloating, nausea, gas, and diarrhea. It’s no wonder that people who are lactose intolerant learn to avoid dairy!

The thing is that not all dairy contains enough lactose to cause symptoms for people who have found they are intolerant. It’s widely accepted that people who are lactose intolerant can tolerate up to 12 grams of lactose at a time without symptoms! So, the key is to eat less than 12 grams of lactose at a time, it seems.

Foods Low in Lactose

So, what are some foods that are naturally low in lactose that you might be able to comfortably tolerate? You could try:

  • Butter – Butter is mostly made up of butter fat. The liquid milk is separated from it as it's being made, and that liquid is what contains most of the lactose. A 3.5 ounce serving of butter has just 0.1 grams of lactose.
  • Hard cheese – Cheese is made by separating the curd from the whey, and the whey is where most of the lactose is. Lactose amounts differ by type of cheese, but cheese that has been aged longer usually has less lactose in it. For example, 3.5 ounces of cheddar cheese has just trace amounts of lactose.
  • Heavy cream – Cream is produced by skimming the fat off the top of the milk. Heavy cream has almost no sugar, which means that its lactose level is very low. Just a half ounce of heavy cream has 0.5 grams of lactose.


If you're lactose intolerant, that doesn't mean dairy is off limits! Keep your lactose low and you should be golden!

To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic.

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