What is lactose intolerance.
What is lactose?
Lactose is a sugar found in milk. It needs to be broken down into its constituent sugars of glucose and galactose
Lactose intolerance is when a person does not have the right enzymes to digest milk. It is particularly common in people from the far east. As babies we all have the ability to digest lactose but as we grow older some people lose the ability.
In fact the default for adults is to be lactose intolerant and it's mainly people with European descent that seem to have kept the ability to digest lactose into adult life.
The effect of lactose intolerance
The effect of lactose intolerance depends on the individual. Some people may be able to have milk in their tea without seeing any ill effects. Others experience discomfort after having any milk.
When someone has lactose intolerance they can experience a range of problems with their digestive system. However the symptoms can also stem from other conditions and it may be sensible to seek a doctor's advice before coming to the conclusion that the intolerance exists, as milk and dairy products can play an important part of a western diet
Intolerance or allergy?
An allergic response is when the body's immune system reacts to a specific substance . Lactose intolerance is not a response of this type and should not be confused with those conditions such as allergies to nuts and bee stings etc that can cause a potentially fatal anaphylactic shock.
Milk must be listed as an allergen on product labels. However true milk allergy is extremely rare and should not be confused with lactose intolerance..
Sugar free sweets and Lactose
Most sugar free sweets (as are sugared sweets) are safe to be eaten by lactose intolerant as they do not contain milk. The classes of sweets to be wary of are mainly anything with toffee and butters in the name and chocolate centred sweets which may well contain milk chocolate.
True plain dark Chocolate is fine for those who are lactose intolerant but milk chocolate should be avoided. You should treat with caution any dark chocolate with added flavours or extra bits and read the label carefully.
To help you, I have made a list of all the sweets we sell that are, according to their manufacturers, lactose free. Unfortunately sweets like Werthers Butter Candies and Toffees are not on the list!.