Can People With Lactose Intolerance Eat Butter?
Unless you’re severely lactose intolerant, using butter in moderation should not cause lactose-intolerant symptoms. Butter contains less than half a gram of lactose in a teaspoon, compared to 12 grams in 8 oz. of whole milk. Because butter contains lactose, you should discuss the amount you plan to use in your diet with your doctor beforehand. If you develop more severe symptoms after eating butter, you may have a milk allergy. Consult your doctor for a proper diagnosis.
Lactose is a complex sugar found primarily in cow’s milk. This sugar is too complex to be absorbed into the body, so an enzyme is needed to break it down into glucose and galactose. If your body doesn’t produce enough lactase, the required enzyme, the complex sugar will remain in your gut and will be broken down by bacteria, which can cause inflammation and irritation in the intestines. Lactose intolerance commonly appears during adolescence and is fairly common among adults.
Signs and Symptoms
Most symptoms from lactose intolerance form within 30 minutes after ingesting dairy products. Signs and symptoms can vary in severity based on your extent of intolerance. Common symptoms include gas, bloating, abdominal cramping, diarrhea and nausea. If you develop blood or mucus in your stool, you need to see your doctor as this may be a sign of a more severe condition.
Everyone has a different level of intolerance toward lactose. If you’re severely intolerant, the smallest amount of lactose can cause extreme symptoms, but if you are mildly or moderately intolerant, a small amount may not cause any symptoms. Butter is typically used in small portions, such as a teaspoon or two, and it should not cause any symptoms if you’re moderately lactose intolerant. Some products that contain larger amounts of butter, such as cookies, cream sauces and sautéed vegetables, may trigger symptoms. Let your doctor determine how much butter you should have in your diet.
If you develop other symptoms, you may be allergic to milk. A milk allergy is commonly confused with lactose intolerance because it can cause similar digestive issues, but a milk allergy will cause symptoms to develop in other areas of the body. This may include asthma, sinus congestion, skin reactions and facial swelling. If you develop these conditions, call your doctor.
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