Lactose Intolerance

The Dish logo

less than 5% of the British population is lactose intolerant. More common is an intolerance to the A1 beta-casein protein found in cow’s milk, which causes similar symptoms to lactose intolerance.”

The Sunday Times
Dr Anton Emmanuel portrait

1 in 4 of us believe we’re lactose intolerant and most of us who believe that, aren’t actually lactose intolerant.”

Dr Emmanuel, Independent Gastroenterologist at University College London

Bloating, cramps, stomach rumbling – it’s enough to put anyone off a cuppa. But living with lactose intolerance might be easier than you thought.

Simply put, lactose intolerance is when your body doesn’t produce enough lactase enzyme to break down the lactose sugar naturally found in milk. Because the sugar can’t be broken down and digested, it sits in your gut causing all sorts of trouble.


There are currently two schools of thought on how best to avoid these symptoms.

Prevent the symptoms

Surprisingly, some foods can inhibit your body’s ability to produce the lactase enzyme. Avoid them to give your body the chance to digest lactose naturally.

There have been two human studies to test the effect of different proteins (A1 and A2) found in cows’ milk. The most recent focused on participants with a milk sensitivity, half of whom were clinically confirmed as having lactose intolerance [1]

Nutritional journal

Unlike when the participants drank regular cows’ milk, all of them were able to drink a2 Milk™ that’s naturally free from the A1 protein, without experiencing symptoms of gastric discomfort even though it contains lactose. It seems that the A1 protein in regular cows’ milk can reduce the body’s ability to produce lactase and therefore triggers symptoms similar to those of lactose intolerance.

Isn't it time your stomach found the one?

The solution for many people could be simple; choose a milk that is naturally free from the A1 protein like a2 Milk™. There’s no compromise on taste or nutrition and many people can get back to enjoying that cuppa. Don’t forget that when making any dietary changes you should speak to your doctor first.

a2 Milk™

Manage the symptoms

Choose products with artificially added lactase enzymes so the lactose is already digested for you.

Removing lactose from milk is not really a practical solution. Usually lactase enzymes are added into regular milk to break down the lactose found in milk. This makes it more suitable for lactose intolerance sufferers.

How do they do it?
Usually, lactase is extracted from yeasts (such as Kluyveromyces) and moulds (such as Aspergillus Niger and Oryzae) that are grown in large vats. The lactase is slowly mixed with regular milk enabling it to break down the lactose into glucose and galactose which your body can absorb directly into the blood stream. This is why people often comment that lactose free milks taste sweetened and a little more like long-life milk. The lactase enzyme is then de-activated when the milk is pasteurised.

colony of mould

Many dairy products are lactose free or contain less lactose without additional processing. For example, the natural bacteria in yoghurt pre-digest the lactose and hard cheeses such as cheddar which have been aged.

There are several tests for lactose intolerance (such as a hydrogen breath test) but these tests can be unreliable. In fact, many doctors don’t even offer this and instead might suggest an elimination diet to work out milk intolerance issues. However, as cows’ milk is a vital source of many key nutrients in the diet (such as calcium, iodine and B-vitamins) especially in children, if you have any concerns about your symptoms, before ditching dairy or making any dietary changes make sure you speak to your doctor.

If you have been medically diagnosed with any milk intolerance, seek advice from your doctor before use.

Ask an independent expert

See the difference it’s made to lactose intolerance sufferers

More about the research study

Sun Jianqin-icon

Professor Sun Jianqin, the lead researcher says:

“These are breakthrough findings for those who believe they suffer from lactose intolerance, and I am one of them. It suggests that milk that only contains the A2 type protein has a natural affinity with the human body and digestion.

If you’re a Health Care Professional and require more information on the details of the study, please visit our HCP page.

The new research makes the press

Kirsty portrait

“a2 Milk has turned my life around. I thought I was lactose intolerant but I’m not!”


[1] 23 of 45 study participants demonstrated lactase deficiency by urinary galactose (U-Gal) test with corresponding symptoms of lactose intolerance measured

*In a poll of 155 Netmums members, 85% would recommend a2 Milk™ to a friend.

Back to top