Milky Ways

While I react to every type of pollen and weed out there, food allergies have never been an issue for me. That, however, isn’t true for many of my students and for people in general. The most common reaction I hear about is the one to milk. Nearly 30 percent of the world’s population exhibit lactose intolerance. Today, however, a parent taught me and a coworker what that really means.

Apparently, lactose intolerance happens when one’s body does not contain enough or any of the enzyme lactase, needed to break down the naturally occurring sugar in milk called lactose. Manufacturers produce lactose-free milk by chemically adding lactase to break down the milk sugar into two simpler compounds – galactose and glucose, which are easier to digest. While lactose-free milk may taste sweeter, it’s nutritionally similar to milk and the change in sugariness stems from the glucose and galactose binding better with your taste buds as opposed to lactose.

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