Can You Eat Any Type Of Cheese If You're Lactose Intolerant?

Lactose is a type of sugar found in milk and cheeses. When you are lactose intolerant, your body does not digest the sugar properly. Hopkins Medicine explains that this kind of intolerance occurs as the result of your small intestine not producing an enzyme called lactase, which is necessary for breaking down lactose. 

There are two forms of lactose intolerance: primary and secondary. With primary lactose intolerance, people are born producing lactase, but as they age and consume less milk, their bodies produce less lactase, ultimately resulting in an intolerance. Secondary lactose intolerance occurs when something, such as an infection or injury, causes the small intestine to stop producing as much lactase (via Mayo Clinic).

When your body doesn't make lactase as a result of being lactose intolerant, it could result in abdominal pain, nausea, bloating, gas, and diarrhea after consuming products made with milk, including cheese (via Hopkins Medicine). Having a lactose intolerance makes it difficult for people who love to eat cheese, but the good news is that there are some cheeses that you may be able to tolerate.

Some cheeses are easier to digest than others

Not all cheeses are created equal when it comes to their lactose content. Hard cheeses, such as cheddar and Swiss, have smaller amounts of lactose, and you may be able to tolerate them more easily than other cheeses (via Mayo Clinic). WebMD reports that Parmesan cheese has no lactose, and should be well-tolerated among people with lactose intolerance. There are also dairy-free cheeses on the market that do not contain lactose. Many of these products are made with coconut oil or cashews, per the BBC.

To help deal with lactose intolerance, you could try adding over-the-counter products that contain lactase to your diet to help your body digest lactose. Generally, you would take the product before eating cheese. However, the Mayo Clinic reports that these products don't provide relief for everyone with lactose intolerance. You might also want to add probiotics to your diet, as they help keep your digestive system healthy — and, as a result, may help your intestines digest lactose.