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Lactose intolerance: information and tips for the right diet

Around 20 per cent of the Swiss population are lactose intolerant. But this does not mean that people affected have to do without dairy products. The numerous lactose-free alternatives in the Coop range do not contain lactose thanks to special production processes.

Table with various dairy products such as milk and cheese.

What is lactose intolerance?

Lactose intolerance is the term used when the body is unable to process lactose. Lactose intolerance is caused by the body's inability to produce the enzyme lactase, or when it cannot produce sufficient quantities of it. Normally, this enzyme is responsible for breaking down lactose so that it can be absorbed by the intestines.
If this enzyme is not present, lactose cannot be absorbed and remains undigested as it enters the colon. This results in abdominal cramps, bloating and diarrhoea. If you notice signs of lactose intolerance after consuming dairy products, you should arrange to see your doctor to do a breath test.

Diet for people with lactose intolerance

Being lactose intolerant does not mean you need to avoid milk and dairy products entirely, as dairy products are among the main sources of calcium. Calcium is essential for the body, especially for bone formation and muscles.
Four glasses of plant-based, lactose-free milk, with hazelnuts, oats, a coconut and almonds in front of each.
Coop has a variety of lactose-free products in its range which do not contain lactose thanks to special processes. In addition, there are plenty of plant-based alternatives to milk and dairy products, such as rice and oat milk, or soya products, which are naturally lactose-free.

Lactose-free products

Good to know: not all dairy products cause symptoms

If you are diagnosed with lactose intolerance, this does not mean you need to avoid all dairy products. This is because not all dairy products contain lactose: extra hard cheeses and hard cheeses are naturally lactose-free. The lactose is completely broken down during the maturation process. Butter and soft cheese also contain only small amounts of lactose and are generally well tolerated.
Yoghurt and fermented milk are also on the list of foods that can usually still be consumed in the case of lactose intolerance. These are better tolerated than unfermented dairy products, as the lactic acid bacteria break down some of the lactose present. This means that they do not cause the typical symptoms of lactose intolerance such as bloating and abdominal pain.

Test what you can tolerate

Most people affected by lactose intolerance still manage to tolerate smaller amounts of lactose. This is because they usually still produce a certain amount of the enzyme lactase. As such, products that only contain small amounts of lactose are tolerated with no problems. It is therefore worth testing your individual limits so that you do not unnecessarily restrict your diet.