Because of spam, I personally moderate all comments left on my blog. However, because of health issues, I will not be able to do so in the future.

If you have a personal question about LI or any related topic you can send me an email at I will try to respond.

Otherwise, this blog is now a legacy site, meaning that I am not updating it any longer. The basic information about LI is still sound. However, product information and weblinks may be out of date.

In addition, my old website, Planet Lactose, has been taken down because of the age of the information. Unfortunately, that means links to the site on this blog will no longer work.

For quick offline reference, you can purchase Planet Lactose: The Best of the Blog as an ebook on or 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.

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.

Cheshire 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!

Unknown 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.

Unknown 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.

Unknown 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.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the author on this - ignorance on this subject is astounding. I also don't think they are being condescending; the science is clear and all other speculation on why someone can drink goats milk but not cows milk is irrelevant when talking about lactose intolerance.

Lactose is lactose, there is no such thing as "goats lactose" or "cows lactose", it is not a subjective description. If you are truly lactose intolerant, any milk coming from any LACTATing mammal can cause you symptoms of LACTOSE intolerance.

If you can drink goat milk with no problems, CONGRATULATIONS! You are not lactose intolerant.

If you can drink goats milk but have problems with cows milk, you likely have a sensitivity or allergy to something else in cows milk, likely a protein. However considering there are literally hundreds of compounds in cows milk, it could be any of many things that don't agree with any particular individual.

To the believers in "alkaline foods" being better for you than "acidic foods", I can tell you that "theory" is complete speculation and total garbage - it's a scam and has been debunked countless times by actual science. The blood is always alkaline, no matter what you eat. If it's not, I'm sorry to say you have a disease and will die if left unchecked. In addition, ALL proteins are "acidic" according to the alkaline food theory - and if you don't eat protein you will also die. I'm sorry for your loss.

Many actual scientific and peer-reviewed studies have been written about this. Stanford University did a study of the PH of cow, goat and human milk. The results report that goats milk on average has a PH of 6.5, cows is slightly less acidic at PH 6.5 to 6.74 - and human milk 6.86 and 7.46. Meaning that if you believe that less acidic foods are better for you then you should steer clear of goats milk altogether.***

JUST TO BE CLEAR, this was known back in 1920, nearly 100 years ago they knew conclusively the truth about cow vs goats milk! Yet because anyone with a monkey for brains who can mash their paws on a keyboard connected to the internet can come up with their own half-baked ideas on virtually any topic, people are confused and misinformed on reality.

As for cheese: there is some confusion on why people can eat some milk products but not others; some fermented milks (ie cheese/yogurt/kafir) change the proteins fats and sugars in the milk making them more digestible for some people, depending on their sensitivity. Every cheese and yogurt are made using different bacteria that work in a slightly different way, hence different tolerances to different products.

I for example cannot drink a drop of milk, any type of milk - however if I make yogurt from scratch at home, and let it ferment for 24-30 hours, I can consume it without issues. This is because the bacteria which turn milk in yogurt consume nearly all of the lactose and turn it into sugars that I can digest. (Store bought yogurt is quick fermented for economic reasons and usually still contains too much lactose for me, but some people LI intolerant individuals are able to tolerate better).

Finally - no, I am not a doctor. But since this is the internet, let's just say I am - and perhaps then you will believe me without question, and also give me an excuse to be condescending. To those people who need better proof of things and don't want to take my word for truth, congratulations, there is hope for humanity. As a tip - if you are using google to research matters of science - try adding the words "scholarly article" to the end of your search - it will filter (some of) the monkeys who mash on their keyboards.

***(If you care to read actual scientific research about milk PH, the paper is called:
ION CONCENTRATION, WITH COMPARISONS TO THAT OF COW’S AND HUMAN MILK." and was published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.)

Theresaaiza said...

My thoughts exactly. I have always thought I am L.I. Small amounts don't hurt me. Had a lactose free cow's milk and still got bloated in an instant. Had whey protein powder in my shake and bam, diarrhea the next day. Tried goat fetta and was symptom free. Maybe people are just different. Maybe i am not L.I and just protein sensitive. Cause peas make me bloat too. Soy gives me gas.

Unknown said...

Human milk contains lactose and is A2.
Goats A2.
Cows A1/A2
Jersey Cows only A2.
Drinking A2 your body wont have a problem.
You can find organic jersey milk. IVYHOME
Or drink Goats.
3 children -2x lactose free 1x A2 milk only plus me lactose free
= All drinking fresh unpasteurized unhomogenesised goats milk or pasteurized (A2) and/or unhomogenised organic A2 jersey cow milk
WE Have no problem WHATSOEVER.
If we did we'd be all having diarrhoea within a day. After 2 weeks nothing..

Adrien said...

First, let me applaud the author for getting some important facts out there. Lactose is lactose, and it's almost as prevalent in goat milk as it is in cow milk.

Now, please add me to the list of people who experience digestive distress when consuming cow milk, but for whom the same symptoms are greatly reduced (negligible) when drinking goat milk. Moreover, my issues appear to be lactose specific, as supplemental lactase cures what ails me.

Finally--and Steve, I'm talking to you here--let me just suggest that tone matters. I believe that it's possible to be broadly informed, open minded, and still a critical thinker. Yes, we have to be discerning when scouring the internet for answers--there's a lot of contradictory information, bias, and BS out there--but in your zeal I believe that you are spreading misinformation, just like those goat milk zealots, and as you well know, contributing to the spread of disinformation, however well intentioned, is just plain evil. So, hey dude, consider the possibility that you don't have all the answers. ~Adrien

Nancy said...

All jersey cows are not a2. Look at a breeding catalog You have to breed for a2

Anonymous said...

An intestinal issue made me lactose intolerant (good times) and so now, my body reacts the same way to lactose, whether it comes from cows, goats, or sheep. I have to run to the bathroom and/or get stomach cramps and nausea. I'd be fascinated to find out why other people can ingest one and not the other because for me, it is not the case.

Unknown said...

I’m lactose intolerant and also sensitive to dairy protein (acne). I’ve been using lactose free products and decided to go dairy free - my skin cleared up completely.

After reading about the protein difference between goat a2 and most cows a1 I decided to give goat milk a try. Yep there’s definitely lactose in there suffered badly. Tried the yogurt as slightly less - yep more reactions. Ridiculously hard goats cheese - so far so good.

Skin wise. Acne now returning. 😖