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Lactose and Lactose Intolerance

GRECO Feta

What is lactose?

The milk sugar lactose originates from the carbohydrates family, as a two-fold sugar (disaccharide) it composes of glucose and galactose. Our body can only take in sugar in a split form for further metabolic processes. The digestion enzyme lactase takes care of the splitting process in the small intestines. As a simple sugar (monosaccharide) the glucose and galactose can pass through the intestinal wall and reach the circulation system. Body cells pick up the sugar from the circulation system and translate it into energy. For the body lactose is an energy supplier such as all other carbohydrates. Furthermore, lactose supports the absorption of calcium within the body. The mineral calcium is not only an essential element for bones and teeth but is also needed in processes such as blood clotting, transmission of stimuli and the distributions of hormones and enzymes.

Today, lactose is not only an element within many natural dairy products like yoghurt, cheese or cream, but also present in convenience products for example ready-to-eat sauce, deep-frozen pizza, baking mixtures or medication. Especially due to its tastelessness and food technology characteristics, lactose is used as a softening agent, binding agent or carrier substance within the food and pharmaceutical industry.

What is lactose intolerance?

Lactose intolerance is also called milk sugar intolerance. The intolerance is caused by a lack of lactase. Lactase is the enzyme which divides glucose and galactose. The lactose gets into the large intestines and are decomposed by microorganism. Fatty acid and gas is formed, which are responsible for the lactose intolerance’s symptoms. Symptoms include bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea-like complaints, also stomach cramps are common complaints. Intestinal complaints can damage the immune system chronically, therefore an early treatment is recommended.

Lactose in sheep and goat cheese.

It’s a misbelief that sheep and goat dairy products are generally lactose free. With sheep and goat cheese it depends, on the matureness, the same counts for cow milk products. A usual feta cheese has around 0,5 to 0,7 g lactose per 100 g. People with a less pronounced lactose intolerance already tolerate this product. But this product cannot be called lactose free. We however produce a “real” lactose free feta cheese. This has a lactose percentage of 0,1 g / 100 g and can also be eaten by those with strong pronounced lactose intolerance.

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