Are you following a low FODMAP diet and excluding cheese because it has lactose in it? Well fear not, there are actually a variety of low lactose cheeses that you can enjoy! If you love cheese, read on to find out which cheeses to include in your next cheese platter. But first, let’s discuss the basics of lactose.
What is lactose?
Lactose is the sugar (often referred to as milk sugar) that is naturally found in dairy products such as milk, cheese and yoghurt. Lactose is a type of monosaccharide, which makes it a FODMAP. To be able to digest lactose, an enzyme (or protein) called lactase is needed. People who do not have enough lactase in their gut have difficulty digesting the sugar lactose. This can cause IBS symptoms such as diarrhoea, excessive wind, vomiting and bloating.
Is lactose in all cheese and dairy products?
The good news is that although lactose is naturally occurring in all dairy products, there are only small amounts in most cheeses. This is because of the ageing/fermentation process where lactose is broken down into lactic acid. Great news for the lactose intolerant cheese lovers, this fermentation process lowers the amount of lactose in the cheese.
Other dairy products such as yoghurt also undergo some fermentation during production and therefore may be lower in lactose. However, milk is not fermented, so it remains high in lactose. If you are lactose intolerant, or find that you don’t tolerate normal yoghurt, it may be best to stick to a lactose free option. If you prefer a plant based milk you can try a calcium-fortified soy milk (made from soy protein, not soy beans) or almond milk as an alternative. Keep in mind that many individuals with lactose intolerance may still be able to tolerate a small amount of lactose, such as a cup of milk, per day – so identifying your tolerance threshold is important.
Low FODMAP cheese guide:
You can now breathe a sigh of relief knowing that some of your favourite cheeses can still be enjoyed on a low FODMAP diet. Below is a list of low, moderate and high lactose cheeses. Depending on the amount of lactose in the cheese, the low FODMAP serving size differs.
In general, the harder or more fermented cheeses tend to be lower in lactose. The softer cheeses that are not aged tend to be higher in lactose and therefore should be enjoyed in smaller amounts.
|Low lactose cheeses|
|Moderate lactose cheeses|
(40g serve – 2tbs/2 slices)
|High lactose cheeses (20g serve – 1 tbs/1 slice)|
It is important to keep in mind, even low lactose cheeses need to be consumed in mindful amounts. In large amounts there may still be enough lactose to cause IBS symptoms, or the high fat content may also trigger IBS symptoms. The lactase enzyme is also available for purchase from the chemist. This can help you to enjoy your favourite dairy products without unwanted side-effects. Just make sure to take it before consuming the dairy products.
Image sourced from @Pinterest
Start feeling better now! By signing up to The FODMAP Challenge you will receive meal plans, recipe ideas, and regular support with other resources, to make this as easy for you as possible.