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Yay, I Can Drink Milk Again!

posted Sep 18, 2016, 9:31 PM by Kanika G   [ updated Sep 18, 2016, 9:31 PM ]

In my late teens, I stopped drinking milk. I did not like hot milk and that was the way it had always been served to me. I loved ice cream and ate that. But I wouldn't even take milk in my tea.

Then one day I suddenly discovered that I liked cold milk. I particularly enjoyed it with cereal. A variety of Kellog's cereals had just become available then and I indulged in milk and cereal for a few days. But those days I also has a lot of acidity gas and even some nausea. At first I did not connect it with drinking milk. It never occurred to me that milk could be problematic. But eventually I noticed that these problems occurred only when I drank milk, so I stopped. Unfortunately, by now I realized I really liked cold milk in the form of milk shakes as well as with cereal but I could no longer have it. Being deprived made me crave it even more.

I cursed the days I avoided milk. When I moved to Pullman in the US, for grad school, I heard of lactose intolerance and thought that might have been my problem. I lamented not being able to drink milk any more. I tried Soy Milk, and while many swear by it, it just wasn't as satisfying.

Although I could eat milk based desserts occasionally, if I indulged too much they made me sick. When I moved to Albuquerque for my postdoc, I discovered lactose free milk. I wondered if this was indeed the solution to my problems. I tried it out worried that I would still have the same reaction of indigestion, acidity and a bloated feeling, but none of those problems occurred. I consumed lactose free milk day after day in desserts, with cereal, in porridge and coffee. I was so thrilled I could drink milk again.

In 2011, when I was pregnant with my oldest, we moved to India. I was suffering prolonged morning sickness and wasn't keen on milk then. But once the baby was born, my diet was back to normal. I felt like drinking milk again. I was doubtful about finding lactose free milk in India. I searched through the shelves of super markets. I felt hopeful when I saw Soy Milk on the shelves. I thought that right there I should find lactose free milk. But no such luck. Lactose free milk was not available in India.

I decided to give regular milk a try again but that was no good. My digestive system still reacted badly to milk. Over the years, I have looked in vain for lactose free milk. Then to my great surprise I found a few 200 ml tetra packs of clearly labelled lactose free milk by Amul at a super market. I could not believe my eyes. Was this real, or was I hallucinating? It was like a dream come true. Yay! I can drink milk again. I have been drinking this milk for the last two weeks, almost everyday and am happy to report no problems.

According to the Amul website:

Enzyme Lactase is added to ultra heat treated milk at very high precision so that the natural lactose present in milk is broken down in to glucose and galacatose. This milk is packed aseptically to give Amul Lactose Free Milk. Hence Amul Lactose Free Milk is the same milk we consume but devoid of lactose.

Soy Milk on the contrary, is not milk at all but a soy extract. I am looking forward to many milk based desserts like kheer, milkshakes, cold coffee and milky popsicles, that I can now indulge in without worrying.

Lactose intolerance is developed by all mammalian species post weaning. However ever since humans started drinking milk of goats and cows, some have developed a tolerance for lactose due to natural selection of appropriate gene mutations facilitating it.

In countries where milk is widely consumed the percentage of people suffering lactose intolerance is relatively low while in some other countries it is as high as 90%. Globally lactase non-persistence (or lactose intolerance) is more common than lactase persistence (ability to digest lactose). In India too the percentage of lactose intolerance varies geographically.

Lactose intolerance occurs in degrees and those in whom the condition is mild can consume some milk products like cheese, butter and ice cream with relatively low lactose content. Thankfully I could still eat these.

Given that lactose intolerance is prevalent in India, it is nice to see that lactose free milk is finally available. I am a happy camper.

If your child is lactose intolerant this might be a good option for them.