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 July 21, 2003
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Fermented Milk for Lactose Intolerance?
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(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- A new study shows drinking fermented milk can reduce symptoms of lactose intolerance in some people. The ingredient kefir, found in the milk, contains an enzyme that allows for lactose digestion.

Researchers asked 15 lactose intolerant patients to eat five different foods. They each consumed 2 percent milk, plain kefir, raspberry-flavored kefir, plain yogurt, and raspberry-flavored yogurt. After eating each food, the participants recorded their symptoms and were given a series of hydrogen breath tests.

Results of the study show the participants had little or no symptoms of lactose intolerance after eating both the kefir and yogurt products. Breath hydrogen levels were significantly lower when patients consumed plain and flavored kefir. Drinking kefir also reduced flatulence by about 50 percent.

Previous studies have shown eating yogurt improves lactose digestion, but researchers say kefir may be a better alternative. Steven Hertzler, Ph.D., from Ohio State University, says, "Both kefir and yogurt improve lactose digestion simply because some of the bacterial cells release their enzymes and digest the lactose. However, kefir has additional microorganisms that may be able to colonize and benefit further."

To create kefir, clusters of starchy carbohydrates that contain healthy bacteria are added to ferment in milk. The starches are eventually filtered out, but live cultures remain. Milk containing kefir is slightly more expensive. Kefir has the consistency of liquid yogurt.

This article was reported by Ivanhoe.com, who offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, go to: http://www.ivanhoe.com/newsalert/.

SOURCE: Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 2003;103:582-587

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