A dairy free diet contains absolutely no dairy products; no milk, butter, cheese, cream or yogurt. People who follow a dairy free diet may include: lactose-intolerant individuals, individuals with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ovo vegetarians, fruitarians or vegans.
Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest significant amounts of lactose, the major sugar found in milk. Lactose intolerance is caused by a shortage of the enzyme lactase, which is produced by the cells that line the small intestine. Lactase breaks down milk sugar into two simpler forms of sugar called glucose and galactose, which are then absorbed into the bloodstream. People may confuse lactose intolerance with cow's milk intolerance because the symptoms are often the same. However, lactose intolerance and cow's milk intolerance are not related. Being intolerant to cow's milk is an allergic reaction triggered by the immune system. Lactose intolerance is a problem caused by the digestive system.
Lacto vegetarians do not eat meat or eggs but do consume dairy products. Most vegetarians in India and those in the classical Mediterranean lands, such as Pythagoreans, are or were lacto vegetarian. Ovo vegetarians do not eat meat or dairy products but do eat eggs. Fruitarians eat a diet that consists of only raw fruit and seeds and other plant matter that can be gathered without harming the plant, and thus follow a dairy free diet. Vegans avoid eating or using any animal products, including eggs and dairy.
Egg free diets are often combined with a dairy free diet, particularly in the case of vegans or individuals allergic to both milk and eggs. Dairy free diets are becoming more popular with the increase in lactose-intolerance awareness, vegetarianism and new studies suggesting negative effects of dairy. Those following a dairy free diet are advised to make sure they get enough calcium, protein and vitamins from other food sources.
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