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Lactose and Sheep Milk

By Diane Marks

The amount of lactose in sheep’s milk is about the same amount that’s in cow’s milk. Cow’s milk contains 5 g of lactose per 100 g, while sheep’s milk contains 4.8 g of lactose per 100 g. The minor difference between the two milks doesn’t make much difference when it comes to people who are lactose intolerant. If you’re lactose intolerant and you want to drink sheep’s milk, you should talk with your doctor about using a lactase supplement.

Lactose and Lactase

Sheep's milk contains lactose, a complex sugar found in all dairy. Lactose needs to be broken down in order for the body to properly absorb it. Lactase is the enzyme needed to break down lactose into galactose and glucose. If your digestive system doesn’t produce enough lactase, the lactose will remain in its complex state and go undigested until it reaches your colon. Your colon contains large amounts of bacteria that will attempt to digest the sugar. This interaction causes common lactose intolerance symptoms.

Identifying Symptoms

If you drink sheep’s milk and notice common lactose intolerance symptoms, you should stop drinking the milk until you can talk with your doctor. Common symptoms that occur within the first two hours after you drink sheep’s milk are bloating, gas, diarrhea, stomach pain, abdominal cramping, floating stools and foul-smelling stool. If you develop symptoms that are not related to the digestive system, you may be experiencing an allergic reaction. An allergic reaction is a serious condition that needs to be evaluated by your physician.

Removing Lactose

If you want to consume dairy products that contain sheep’s milk but you’re lactose intolerant, you can prevent symptoms by taking a lactase supplement, which can be purchased at a pharmacy. When taken as directed, lactase supplements will prevent most symptoms of lactose intolerance. Some sheep’s milk products may contain less lactose, such as sheep’s milk yogurt or certain cheeses. If you continue to experience symptoms while taking the lactase supplement, talk with your doctor.

Consideration

Lactose intolerance is commonly confused with a milk allergy. An allergic reaction that develops from drinking sheep’s milk is not caused by your digestive system but rather is a malfunction in your immune system. Your doctor may perform allergy tests to determine the cause of your symptoms when you consume sheep’s milk products.

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