I love a good slice of cheese, but sometimes my tummy doesn't agree with me. I'm not alone; apparently, 65 percent of the human population has a reduced ability to digest lactose after infancy. Groups of people tend to be lactose intolerant, including people of East Asia descent and myself, a descent of Ashkenazi Jews. Descending from Eastern and Central Europe, studies have shown that 60-80% of Ashkenazi Jews have some sort of lactose intolerance. We are not alone, and thankfully, there is a wide range of lactose-free cheese at our disposal.
What is Lactose?
Found in most dairy products, lactose is the natural sugar produced in milk. Our bodies use an enzyme called lactase to break down that sugar so we can absorb it. But some people don't produce enough lactase to break it down in the small intestine. Instead, the sugars go straight to the colon where it ferments with normal bacteria and causes side effects such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea. Aged cheeses such as parmesan tend to be easier on the tummy while soft cheeses such as cottage cheese, cream cheese, and ricotta, tend to spell out trouble. If you feel like you might be lactose-intolerant you can speak to a dietitian to help you figure out which dairy products to avoid.
This Lactose-Free Cheese Happens to Be Dairy-Free
The best way to cut out lactose is to cut out milk products completely. 10-20 years ago this would have been an impossible task, however, the amount of vegan and dairy-free cheese on the market is overwhelming.
Bel-Brands, which sells The Laughing Cow®, other USA favorites include Boursin®, Babybel®, recently announced Nurishh, a plant-based cheese that is naturally lactose-free.
Available in Cheddar, Mozzarella, and Provolone, the types of cheese are packaged in shreds or slices and are perfect for topping pizzas, burgers, and everything in-between. Nurishh will be available at select retailers and via Amazon Fresh in April 2021, with nationwide in-store availability
Other Lactose-Free or Low-Lactose Cheeses
Don't want to cut out dairy completely? Hard cheeses such as cheddar cheese, Swiss, and gouda, are a little easier on your body than a cheese spread or fresh cheese.