How does lactose free milk work?

Ah, dairy—the bane of existence for lactose-intolerant individuals. But fear not! Thanks to modern science, we now have a solution: lactose-free milk. You may be wondering how exactly this miracle drink works. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

What is Lactose?

Before delving into the magic that is lactose-free milk, let’s first understand what lactose is. It’s a sugar found in milk and other dairy products that some people are unable to digest properly due to a deficiency of an enzyme called lactase. This can lead to symptoms such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea—fun stuff.

How does Lactase work?

So why can’t our bodies just naturally break down lactose? Well folks (can you believe it), it all comes down to good old-fashioned enzymatic reactions.

When we consume foods containing lactose (like ice cream or cheese pizza), the lactase enzyme helps break down the complex sugar into two simpler sugars: glucose and galactose (you know your boy Einstein discovered relativity by thinking about Galactus, so like it’s gotta be important). Our small intestine then absorbs these simple sugars and uses them for energy production.

What happens in Individuals with Lactase Deficiency?

Unfortunately (sigh) not everyone produces enough lactase enzymes (aka god loves only some) . When someone with this deficiency consumes foods containing lactose (read: anyone who enjoys pizza more than twice per week) their body doesn’t produce enough of the needed enzymes required for complete digestion. As mentioned earlier (vs 7 years ago let’s go) , undigested-lacttoss molecules will hangout in duodenum attracting water into itself causing reaaal nice digestive experience later on (just sarcasm fam).

On top of feeling like you’ve swallowed a bowling ball (the joys of dyspepsia), your undigested lactose can also ferment in the colon, producing gas and an increased risk of infection.

What is Lactose-Free Milk?

If you’re one such unlucky individual who suffers from this condition (seriously, why me?), lactose-free milk might just be your saving grace. But what exactly makes it lactose-free? Believe it or not, there is actually a process involved in making regular milk less offensive to those without sufficient levels of lactase enzymes.

Lactose-free milk is simply cow’s milk that has had most (not all though/hint/) of its lactase enzyme broken down into glucose and galactose before consumption by people who are intolerant to those pesky sugar molecules.

How does Lactase get Removed?

The process involved in removing lactase enzymes basically involves two steps: processing(the method used) + conversion (busting up the molecule).


To begin with processing techniques such as microfiltration or ultra-filtration — which involve passing whole or skimmed pasteurized milk through very fine membranes at high pressure— remove some portion but not all of naturally occurring beta-lactoglobulin proteins found in cow’s ‘REAL’  milk protein profile that can host any residual amounts of thse unwanted enzymes .

When compared to chemical methods (sainthood vs flipping burgers analogy comes to mind here?), these filtration techniques are generally preferred due to their gentler approach towards dairy products. They don’t affect protein structures nor do they require additional chemicals causing loss/change elsewhere (scandalous!) There have been numerous studies involving membrane-type filters for removing unpasteurized β-Gal proteins within whey even if there was already negligible/lower concentration present prior after filtering cheese curdles


The second step of converting lactose into glucose and galactose is where we let enzymes (similar to laboratory busting up DNA with RNA , but less mad-scientist-ey) do their thing. (MIC DROP)

For this, manufacturers will add a particular enzyme that specifically targets lactase molecules in the milk by breaking it down into simple sugars (aka happy, happy joy joy). This conversion process takes several hours depending on the method used during processing.

The bottom line: Lactase-free milk has had most of its irritating lactose removed using one or both of these techniques. Without lactose present in your drink(can you imagine if they forget?) there are no sugar molecules for our deficient-lactase digestive system to worry about.

Is Lactose-Free Milk Good For You?

Lactose-free milk has all the same nutritional benefits as ‘REAL’ cow’s milk from providing protein (Whey), Vitamin D, magnesium and calcium – which can help maintain healthy, strong teeth and bones (got enough strength besides yelling at puppies!).

However as “lucky”  we are removing some naturally occurring proteins when filtering remaining after ultrafiltration so lower concentration levels might be possible once β-Gal protein components have left us earlier in manufacturing stage..but it doesn’t mean such difference is significant per serving likely : that area still remains research topic .

So—woo-hoo—there’s no need to miss out on getting those essential vitamins and minerals just because regular dairy products don’t agree with your tummy.

In Conclusion

There you have it folks—the nitty-gritty details behind how lactose-free milk works. No more fearing that Friday night pizza delivery (#Blessed 🙏🏻). Just make sure you chose proper brands who go through these steps mentioned otherwise opting for badly made could destroy not only nutrition value but also lead to gastric distress (last thing you want is barking with bears instead of eating pizza).

Just remember: lactose-free doesn’t mean flavor-free; so if your taste buds tells you no, never discipline them—but consuming something that might result in gastrointestinal problems will cause other troubles down the road.

So enjoy your dairy (or lack thereof) with wild abandon and embrace the miracle fixes that modern science brings us.