Is cheese a good breakfast meal?

Medic explains why a surprising number of people shouldn't eat yogurt for breakfast

There aren't many foods that are so divided about as there are with cow's milk. For some, the animal product is firmly integrated into the menu, while others like fitness model Pamela Reif prefer to use plant-based alternatives, while others suffer from lactose intolerance.

The majority of the world's population is lactose intolerant

The fact that 75 percent of all people around the world cannot digest lactose from food in the intestines proves that the latter is not that unusual. The reason for this is a deficiency in the enzyme lactase - actually a completely normal process that occurs when breast milk is withdrawn in childhood.

But what if the typical symptoms of lactose intolerance such as stomach pain, nausea, flatulence and diarrhea only occur in the morning after consuming milk and yoghurt? Quite a few people suffer from unpleasant consequences such as abdominal pain after consuming cow's milk products on an empty stomach, while latte macchiato, cocoa and corn flakes with milk can be digested completely normally during the day. For many a clear sign that this cannot be a lactose intolerance.

In Germany, too, many people suffer from intolerance

As general practitioner Thomas Weiss explains in an interview with Business Insider, this thinking is precisely wrong. Because lactose intolerance is also widespread in Germany. Around 15 percent of all adults in our country are affected, but in other countries it is far more.

The reason for this is as follows: In southern countries, the sun promotes the formation of vitamin D in the skin. In the far north - in countries where the sun only shines for a few hours in some seasons - less vitamin D is absorbed through the skin. Nevertheless, the inhabitants of Sweden and Norway do not have a shortage. Vitamin D occurs naturally in breast milk and therefore also in cow's milk. “This traditionally gave people an advantage who could tolerate milk in adulthood. This is why Scandinavians can now tolerate around 97 percent of milk, ”explains Weiss.

In southern countries like Thailand the whole thing looks different. As Weiss explains, the body does not benefit from the intake of dairy products of animal origin - so most people there suffer from an intolerance.

Numerous gradations in the tolerance of milk are available

As the general practitioner reports, it is important to differentiate here. So there is not only complete tolerance and intolerance, but also numerous gradations. While some people react with severe symptoms even to small amounts of lactose and even to chocolate and ice cream, many do not even know anything about their intolerance - since they only consume small amounts of lactose and not even on an empty stomach.

As Weiss explains, symptoms of lactose intolerance appear when the "influx speed is particularly fast". So if you drink a glass of milk on an empty stomach, you can quickly flood in large amounts of lactose. Abdominal pain and diarrhea are often the result. It is not only important whether you have eaten something before, but also how much lactose you consume. While cheese is naturally lactose-free or contains little lactose and therefore does not cause any problems for most people, the situation is different with pure cow's milk.

Fat helps digest lactose

But if you are afraid of having to do without cappuccino and muesli in the morning, you don't need to worry. In addition to a variety of lactose-free products and lactase tablets, there are other tricks on how you can digest lactose better. If you only have a slight intolerance, i.e. can tolerate milk without any problems in the course of the afternoon, according to Weiss, it often helps to use fatty products.

"Fat slows down digestion," says the doctor and therefore advises you to "drink your cappuccino as fat as possible, so if possible use milk with a fat content of 3.8 percent". Weiss also explains that digestibility is improved if you eat something fatty before your cappuccino or yoghurt, such as cheese bread. This also reduces the flow speed and you may tolerate lactose as well as in the afternoon.

The older, the worse the lactose tolerance

All in all, however, it doesn't hurt to look for herbal alternatives. As Weiss explains, from the age of three, at least in southern countries, the tolerance to lactose decreases continuously - when a child is no longer dependent on breast milk and gets enough vitamin D from the sun. "The older, the lower the tolerance to lactose," says Weiss. But don't panic: With the vegan diet trend, there are numerous plant-based alternatives on the market.