The Gut Stuff reader:
I had a genetic test done which shows I am lactose intolerant. Should I never eat dairy milk foods again?
Sounds like your test showed you have gene variant CC of the MCM6 gene. This means you are unlikely to produce much of the enzyme lactase (type of chemical scissors) to break down and digest the sugar called lactose.
If you aren’t producing much lactase because of your genes, it can mean you suffer bloating, foul-smelling wind, and loose stools about two hours after eating dairy. The classic example I hear in clinic, is when someone gets those symptoms two hours after drinking a big latte.
However, many people who have this gene variant CAN eat and digest lactose well, and happily enjoy cheese, yoghurt and some animal milks. But here is the but. You need to have a healthy microbiome in order to digest dairy properly. How do you get a healthy microbiome with the right bacteria to help break down lactose in the absence of lactase? You need to eat foods which contain lactobacilli. This type of bacteria helps digest lactose.
Where do you find lactobacilli? In artisan produced cheeses, yoghurts, and kefir. Not the rubber yoghurts and cheeses – the highly-processed ones usually on the bottom shelf of supermarket shelves, with bright packaging at eye level to catch the attention of young children. You need fermented kefir, and live yoghurts, and unpasteurised cheeses such as Roquefort, Gruyere, and some Manchegas (ask at the deli counter precisely which cheeses have not been pasteurised. They are often down one end of the fridge as pregnant women need to avoid these so they are usually clearly separated or labelled as unpasteurised).
So the take home message is, if you enjoy dairy it’s important to source the right types to nourish your microbiome which in turn will help you to enjoy dairy in your diet in the absence of being able to produce the enzyme lactose.
You can find our more about why cheese is magical and full of live bacteria in this vid:
No advice in this column is designed to override any by your medical doctor and should not be relied on as a substitute for specialist dietary advice. If you have any concerns about your health, visit your general practitioner, or medical consultant.
Do you want to ask a nutritionist a question about your gut issues? You can do that HERE!