All you want to know about lactose intolerance

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Data gathered by Al Ain Farms shows a high demand for lactose-free options in the UAE. A study of more than 1,000 people across the UAE also revealed that people are being diagnosed as lactose intolerant relatively early on in their lives – and want more options available in hospitality venues and supermarkets.

People with a lactose intolerance are unable to digest lactose – the naturally occurring sugar in regularly produced milk. There’s no cure for lactose intolerance. It can negatively impact daily life in a whole host of ways – lactose-intolerant people have to think carefully about where they eat out, as well as choosing what to eat and drink at home.

Saja ElMasri, a registered dietician at Novomed, said: “The number of people who have intolerances is getting higher and higher. We recommend our patients shift to lactose-free milks and cheese or alternatives. As lactose intolerance is becoming so common, having lactose free options is very important so that consumers can have options and still maintain good gut health.”

Nardeen Turjman, Clinical Psychologist at the German Neuroscience Center, added: “Studies show food intolerances may affect almost any system in the body. Individuals with food intolerances commonly report its effect on mood, thoughts, and energy levels. If not treated and managed properly, it will most likely result in lower physical functioning and play a role in one’s social limitations and daily activities (i.e. isolation).”

Al Ain Farms understands that people with lactose intolerance should still be able to enjoy the taste of delicious milk and live life to the fullest. The new Al Ain Farms Lacto Free Dairy range has the same great taste as the regular range – because consumers shouldn’t have to compromise on taste. The range includes fresh milk, long life milk, fresh yoghurt, and laban – all full fat.

As part of the launch of the Lacto Free Dairy range, Al Ain Farms wanted to know what life is really like being lactose intolerant. The brand commissioned research to  understand the lactose intolerance.

Nearly half of young people with lactose-intolerant symptoms worry about eating with friends and family

Many people are lactose intolerant – and the symptoms can be debilitating. The most reported symptoms included stomach rumbling (25%) a bloated stomach (23%) or stomach cramps (22%) – with women more likely to experience this than men (28% vs 20% respectively).

The worry about consuming dairy products has an impact on daily life, with 45% of 25 to 34-year-olds in particular having concerns about enjoying meals with friends and family. What’s more, 31% are having to spend more money on lactose-free alternatives – which aren’t always readily available.

Most people discover they are lactose intolerant in their early twenties

Lactose intolerance isn’t always something that shows up in childhood. Many respondents discovered they were lactose intolerant as young adults, around the age of 23.

In the survey, 15% of people realised they were lactose intolerant after 2-3 weeks of experiencing symptoms, 13% after one week, and 13% after 2-3 months. On average, women found out earlier than men (22 years old vs 24 years old respectively).

The survey found that on the whole, the younger people are, the more quickly they are diagnosed after initially experiencing symptoms. Older people often took longer to realise – on average over four months after first noticing their symptoms.

Nearly half of people sleep better after changing to a lactose-free diet

It can be difficult to live with any allergy or intolerance. Identifying lactose intolerance and making changes to diet has a vast improvement on quality of life for many people.

Almost half of people (42%) reported they had better sleep, and a better digestive system, after switching their diet. Men reported sleeping better than women (45% vs 37% respectively) while women reported feeling less bloated than men (42% vs 28% respectively).

One-third of people think food brands don’t cater well enough for lactose intolerance

Many people know at least one person who is lactose intolerant. It can affect their lives in a variety of ways, including where they are able to dine out.

Almost one-third of people (32%) think food brands don’t cater well enough for lactose intolerance – suggesting high demand for more options at supermarkets and convenience stores.

There is also a demand for better labelling – 39% of 16 to 24-year-olds, 57% of over 55s, and 56% of 35 to 44-year-olds believe lactose information should be more abundant on product packaging. Many people also want more guidance from healthcare professionals (45%) and education (38%) around the issue.

Lactose-free milk is in demand

When asked which lactose-free alternatives they prefer, the most popular was almond milk (42%) closely followed by lactose-free dairy milk (36%). Men were much more likely to select camel milk than women (23% vs 14% respectively).

Nearly half (41%) of respondents said they would drink lactose-free milk if they had more information about the benefits – and it was clearly labelled. Women in particular (46%) want it in retail settings, such as supermarkets and other shops.

Al Ain Farms’ new Lacto Free Dairy range

Al Ain Farms are leading the way in lactose free options in the UAE. The new Lacto Free range has been created with the growing lacto-free community in mind, with the same great taste as the original range but without the lactose.

Al Ain Farms’ Lacto Free range includes four products:

  • Full Fat Fresh Milk 1L
  • Full Fat Long life Milk 1L
  • Full Fat Fresh Yoghurt 400gr
  • Full Fat Laban 400gr

Hassan Safi, Al Ain Farms CEO, said: “At Al Ain Farms, we’re proud to have supplied the UAE with fresh products, made locally with love for over 40 years. Our new Lacto Free Dairy range champions our mission to make the great taste of dairy available to all consumers, without compromise. That’s why our new lactose-free recipes have been tried and tested to ensure the superior taste and quality standards we are known for.”

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