Dear Home Ec 101:
Why is it lactose intolerant people can eat yogurt but not drink milk?
Gassy in Gettysburg
Lactose is a sugar present in milk. To digest this, humans must have the enzyme lactase present in their system. People who are lactose intolerant can generally consume some lactose, the problem lies in the amount they can tolerate. Many adults are intolerant to some degree.
Without lactase, the sugars ferment in the gut creating gas and other unpleasant symptoms. Thankfully, lactose intolerance is uncomfortable rather than dangerous. Lactic acid bacteria live in your digestive tract and thrive on lactose. Some people have higher levels of this bactera than others. Those with high levels of these good bacteria typically do not report symptoms of lactose intolerance.
Yogurt contains L. acidophilus, a lactic acid bacteria. Not only does the bacteria present in the yogurt reduce the amount of lactose present in the dairy product itself, it adds to the population of good bacteria in an individual’s digestive tract. Now, the second benefit is only possible if the yogurt contains live cultures. Dead cultures would do nothing more than pass on through.