FACT | Did you know that up to 60% of Africans are lactose intolerant?


One glass of milk and an hour or so later, you experience bloating, gas, diarrhoea and cramps? It could be sign of lactose (milk sugar) intolerance. Lactose intolerance is very different from a milk allergy.

Up to 60% of Africans are lactose intolerance1. This means that in varying degree you could experience one or all of the signs above. The reason; most people of African and Asian decent stop making lactase (an enzyme that breaks down lactose) and digesting milk becomes a challenge. Milk has 16 nutrients important for growing girls and adult women. It has protein, Vitamin A, D, B vitamins (helps with bone health, growth & red blood cells), Calcium, Folate (red blood cell formation), Zinc (growth, bone health) & Selenium (immune system).

Research has shown that people who drank milk were more successful with weight loss2. Avoiding milk is not the answer. If you are lactose intolerant, taking in small amounts at a time helps to minimize gas and bloating. There are many different types of milk that are lactose free and easy to digest. It is not as easy to get all your calcium and other nutrients from other sources other than dairy products. It takes careful planning.  Milk is more than a simple beverage. It is necessary for good health.

See below a comprehensive list of various milk options:

3%, 2%, 1% & skim cow milk: 16 nutrients, NOT lactose free.

Evaporated & Powdered milk: 16 nutrients, NOT lactose free.

Condensed milk: NOT a healthy dairy choice because of the sugar content. NOT lactose free.

Soy milk: Compared to other non- milk beverages soy has the best protein. Excellent source of calcium, B 12 and Vit D. Lactose free!

Almond milk: Low in protein but good sources of calcium, Vit D, Vit E, lower in calories a nutty with taste to it. Lactose free!

Coconut milk: Fortified with Vit B12, fairly low in calories, low in protein. Lactose free!

Hemp milk: Rich in Omega fatty acids (healthy fats, good for the heart and brain), calcium content varies with brand, fair amount of protein & calcium, great source of iron. Lactose free!

Goat milk: If enriched will be similar nutrients found in regular milk. NOT lactose free.

Rice milk: Good source of calcium & Vit D in fortified products. Low protein and starchy compared to the other types of non -dairy beverage. Lactose free!

Kadam (fermented milk): Similar nutrients to cow’s milk because it is made from cow’s milk. NOT lactose free.

Sour butter milk: Similar nutrients to cow’s milk because it is made from cow’s milk. NOT lactose free.


  1. Lang, S. S. (2005, June 1). Lactose intolerance seems linked to ancestral struggles with harsh climate and cattle diseases, Cornel study finds. Cornel Chronicles. Retrieved from http://news.cornell.edu/stories/2005/06/lactose-intolerance-linked-ancestral-struggles-climate-diseases
  2. The Milky Way. (2011, Jan). Diabetes Forecast. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.myaccess.library.utoronto.ca/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA245953793&v=2.1&u=utoronto_main&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w


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