The Lactose Intolerance Clearinghouse Has Moved.

My old website can be found at I am no longer updating the site, so there will be dead links. The static information provided by me is still sound.

For quick offline reference, you can purchase Planet Lactose: The Best of the Blog as an ebook on or or or a whole lot of other places that Smashwords is suppose to distribute the book to. Almost 100,000 words on LI, allergies, milk products, milk-free products, and the genetics of intolerance, along with large helpings of the weirdness that is the Net.

I suffer the universal malady of spam and adbots, so I moderate comments here. That may mean you'll see a long lag before I remember to check the site and approve them. Despite the gap, you'll always get your say. I read every single one, and every legitimate one gets posted.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Goat Milk. Will the Ignorance Ever Stop?

Goat milk dairy products will contain almost exactly the same amount of lactose as cow's milk dairy products. It's true that goat's milk contains a different collection of proteins, which means that a small minority of those with cow's milk protein allergies can safely drink goat's milk. But that's simply mot the case for those of us with lactose intolerance. You can have as much or as little goat's milk dairy as you have cow's milk dairy ... or sheep's milk or camel's milk or horse's milk or whatever other kind of milkable animal product you can find in a store.

Why do so many people think otherwise? I cannot imagine. I haven't a clue to where this meme started. It's everywhere and I can't kill it.

Here are this month's goat heads.

Fainting Goat Gelato's array of rich flavors will make you swoon

For the lactose-intolerant, there's goat's milk gelato

Goatherds thrive on milk of their stock
Goat’s milk is perfect for those who are lactose intolerant.

Bermuda gets its first taste of goat's milk
Also, if you are lactose intolerant, it is a much better chose [sic] than cows' milk - I'm living proof.

Goat’s yogurt cheesecake topped with fresh figs and raw honey
A delicious cheesecake made with goat’s yogurt is lactose-free, light yet decadent and indulgent, yet not regrettable.

Why do you Eat ?(2)
If you want to take milk, take goat milk as cow milk is difficult for humans to digest; which is why so many people become lactose intolerant.

Don't forget sheep, either.

Foods That Can Save Your Life
Saitta says when it comes to dairy, cheese made from the milk of goats and sheep is natural and easily digestible. With no cow’s milk protein, it doesn’t create lactose-intolerance problems.

Farmhouse cheesemaker defies the recession

Initially the milk from his herd of Friesland sheep was sold for drinking, capitalising on the fact that sheep's milk is good for people with lactose intolerance and protein allergies.

Please, Please, Please, Please, Please. Is anybody out there getting it right?

Yes. There is a ray of hope.

Go for goat milk. An article in Tampa Bay's, syndicated from the Sacramento Bee. A quiz on goat's milk.
3. Goat milk contains significantly less lactose than cow milk

True or false, readers? True or false.
ANSWERS: 3: false (cow: 4.7 percent; goat: 4.1 percent)

Yes, the author nailed it. Goat milk, at best, has on average 12% less lactose than cow's milk. Lactose is normally expressed in grams. An 8 ounce glass of milk weighs 227 grams. 4.7% of that is 10.7 grams. 4.1% is 9.3 grams. A reduction, but certainly not a serious or meaningful one. That reduction is the best you can hope for. Because both cow's milk and goat's milk are blends of the milk from different animals whose feeds change their lactose content over the course of the year, that variation is probably an extreme. Harold Eddleman, Ph. D., on Goatworld, gives the lactose content of cow's milk as 4.8% and goat's milk as 4.7%, making the difference negligible.

Goat milk is not fine or good or perfect or a better choice than cow's milk for those with lactose intolerance. It is an urban myth. Or possibly a deliberate lie introduced into the brains of goat milk enthusiasts who repeat it without understand that it is a lie. Percentages don't lie as easily as newspaper articles. They proclaim that the difference is slight to invisible. There's no use even separating the goats from the sheep. They're all in the same hole. Milk from milkable animals is all just lactose-filled milk. If you can drink one you can drink the others. If can't, avoid them all.

Science is wonderfully simple at times, isn't it?

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Cheesewench said...

I was taught that the proteins in sheep and goat milk were easier for people who claim to be lactose intolerant. Speaking from a molecular level, is this true?

Steve Carper said...

It's not true. It's absolute nonsense.

Lactose intolerance is the inability to manufacture the lactase enzyme. Period. It affects no other aspect of the body and there are no differences between those who are LI and who are not LI in regard to any other segment of nutrition or digestion.

Anonymous said...

15% of goat milk fat are the acids caproic, caprylic, capric. Caprylic acid is a strong antifungal / antibacterial, so perhaps that small amount is the reason some can tolerate more goat milk than cow milk.

Rachel said...

I have also read about the mostly similar nature of goat and cow milk, lactose-wise. But I'm lactose intolerant, and while a small amount of any cow milk product (cheese, yogurt, anything) is enough to make me miserable, I can eat goat milk products all day without symptoms. Is it psychosomatic, because I expect that one milk product will make me sick while the other won't? Maybe.
But maybe people keep spreading this "myth" about goats milk because they personally find that it gives them less symptoms than cows milk. The digestive system and its various allergies and intolerances are very complicated, and it seems a bit arrogant to assume that we understand them fully. If something really is working for an intolerant/allergic/insensitive individual, it seems smarter to accept that rather than deny its possibility based on our current understanding of the intolerance/allergy/sensitivity.
Yes, maybe some people will try goat milk and then get sick from it. And then they won't try it again.

Cath said...

Goat's milk is more easily assimilated due to the lack of alpha S1 casein protein.....not lactose. It has higher levels of many vitamins & elements including selenium.

Anonymous said...

Could it be that most people who think they are "lactose intolerant" are really "cow's milk intolerant"? After all, what is the diagnosis for lactose intolerance that a doctor will give you? "Try not drinking milk for two weeks, and if you feel better, that means you are lactose intolerant."
There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that lactose-Intolerators do better on goat's and sheeps' milk, and that often taking a lactase pill does nothing to stop the symptoms (myself included). I frequently hear that the pills are useless.
Also as a previous commenter suggested, the casein in cow's milk could be more difficult to digest, especially with an intestine already inflammed by excessive lactose intake.

sara abro said...

In research around better nutrition, goats milk is alkaline in the syste$m vs cows milk which is acidic. I as an allergy sufferer have found goats milk the perfect alternative. I am not lactose intolerant. I do get allergy from soy milk and rice milk is high GI and often is sweetened. I try eat lots of alkaline food and have a special water machine that alkalizes my water. I have found this to have reduced my alergies dramatically. Everyone is different.

Anonymous said...

Great response, through and through, Rachel.

Anonymous said...

Can horse milk be given to goats?

Anonymous said...

this is an article from the national institute of health, the authority on current findings... It says Goat's milk may be an alternative to regular milk. I know I used to get very ill as a kid on regular milk... I have tried goat cheese and it doesn't bother me.. have yet to try to milk, ill let you know!

Sascha Joy said...

I have experienced severe gastro-intestinal problems from cows milk since weaning, and every single time I have more than an equivalent 1/2 cup of cows milk I am really ill. I was raised on goats milk, which is quite frankly foul and never got used to, and so for the past 25 years (I'm 30) I have sought to find dairy I can enjoy. I have never had any problem with goat or sheep milk (or derivatives) and new 'lactose free' cows milk products (cheese, yoghurt, ice cream) are fine too- even in large quantities (28yr old discovers they can eat ice cream for first time ever- gorging ensued lol) so I am most definitely convinced that cows lactose is the problem. Why else would I pay $40/kg for cheese? Yes they all contain lactose, but empirically cows sugars must be different to goat and sheep or I would be experiencing the same symptoms?

eLi The GirL said...

Lactose is the same in goat and cow milk but there are MANY other differences that often make goat's milk much easier to digest than cow's milk for lactose intolerant people. So maybe a better question is WHY do people who are lactose intolerant do better with Goat's milk?-- this article goes through all the details include size of the protein and fat molecules that contribute to better digestion of goat's milk. It's not the placebo effect or a made up really is easier on your tum :-)

Anonymous said...

Goat milk contains anti-essential fatty acids that reduce gas and indigestion associated with lactose. The placebo effect is probably also playing a huge role in the recent trend.

Diana Hammock said...

Well said Rachel...I found the author to be a bit condescending in his approach. I agree with you 100%. Is the author a physician?

Steve Carper said...

I find it hilarious that my comments pages seem equally divided between people asking how can I know anything if I'm not a doctor and people berating me for taking the medical establishment's side against quackery.

There is no difference between goat's milk and sheep's milk and cow's milk for people who are just lactose intolerant. If people do notice an improvement then it is overwhelmingly likely that other factors instead of or in addition to lactose intolerance are involved. These include - but are not limited to - a milk protein allergy, variations in protein and fat digestibility, triggers for intestinal problems like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or even sheer psychological factors.

Whatever the reason, it has nothing to do with lactose or lactose intolerance per se.

And I don't condescend to publishing flagrant ignorance and falsehoods masquerading as facts. I flat-out hate it.

Neal Tucker said...

Have there been any studies ever done as to whether or not this is actually what's taking place in the human body?

Anonymous said...

The author's ignorance of being condescending, even in the statement of not being condescending makes their credibility for providing a balanced and objective view as limited as their own opinion.
Comes across that if you have a different opinion you must be ignorant with no room for discussion - which is 'hilarious' apparently... And not condescending either.

Anonymous said...

I'm lactose intolerant and goat's milk affects me exactly the same as cow's milk. I suspect those who find it easier to digest may have an issue with the protein, rather than the sugar. I think some doctors use LI as a blanket diagnosis for anything to do with milk and some people self diagnose LI for the same reason. And also too many people, including doctors also forget that intolerance and allergy are not the same thing.