Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Easing lactose intolerance with lactase

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Lactase enzyme It’s been about a year since I discovered I was lactose intolerant (or at least, worked out why I was frequently bloated and having to go to the toilet more often than most people). Since then we’ve switched most of the dairy-based food we eat home with lactose or dairy-free alternatives. This has meant that we now buy a lot of our groceries online from Ocado, as their selection of such products is much better than the other supermarkets in our area. Ocado is a little expensive, but unlike our local Tesco, they sell a variety of flavours of Swedish Glace, a soya alternative to ice cream.

That’s all great when I’m at home, but not so good when I’m out and about. Whilst most coffee shops will make a drink with soya milk instead of cow’s milk (and Starbucks now do it at no extra cost, yay), good luck trying to order a dessert at most restaurants that doesn’t come with cream or ice cream. I’m particularly looking at you, TGI Friday’s.

For instances like this, I have a couple of bottle of lactase enzyme capsules – one for each bag that I take out with me. Lactase is the enzyme that breaks down lactose in your digestive system, and sufferers of lactose intolerance cannot naturally produce enough of it. These capsules therefore top up your lactase, so that you can digest foods containing lactose. One taken just before a meal should mean you can eat normally.

I say ‘should’. I’ve been using the pictured capsules for a couple of months now, and they work most of the time. However, despite having one just before a big ice cream in Dublin, I still felt awful the following day.Whilst the label suggests taking one at a time, maybe I should have taken two on that occasion.

Lately I’ve been taking these lactase capsules before any meal that hasn’t been prepared at home – in restaurants, or with takeaway food – regardless of whether it looks like it contains milk, cream, yoghurt or cheese, as you sometimes can’t be sure.

The lactase capsules are not cheap though, with a bottle of 60 capsules costing a little over £10 from Holland and Barrett. Thankfully they do have regular sales and at the moment they’re buy one, get a second for half price. Holland and Barrett sell a number of products of questionable effectiveness, but these capsules do seem to work in my case. And no, I’m not being paid to make this recommendation.

It is nice to be able to have a bit more freedom when eating out, without having to worry about how you’ll feel the following day.

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