Most Human Beings Are Lactose Intolerant: Here’s Why

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milk kidLactose intolerance is when the body does not produce enough lactase to break down lactose, a sugar found in milk and many other milk derived dairy products.

The enzyme responsible for breaking down lactose is lactase, an enzyme found on the wall of the intestines. Lactase breaks down lactose (the sugar found in milk) into galactose and glucose. The activity of lactase becomes reduced after breastfeeding, at that point the body no longer needs as much lactase. Not to mention a human mothers milk is much different from the milk of a cow.

The reduction of lactase activity after infancy is a genetically programmed event. Approximately 75 % of Earths population is lactose intolerant for a reason, because it’s perfectly natural.

The statistics vary from race to race and country to country but overall they show an abnormal amount of individuals who qualify. In some Asian countries, 90 percent of the population is lactose intolerant.

Interestingly, we are the only species on the planet that drinks milk from another species. Since lactase’s only function is the digestion of lactose in milk, most mammal species experience a dramatic reduction in the activity of the enzyme after weaning. Lactase persistence in humans has evolved as an adaptation to the consumption of non-human milk and dairy products consumed beyond infancy. Our diet has changed a lot, and as a result some of our genes have adapted, but it’s not an easy process. This is why most humans are lactose intolerant.

Every other species weans and then never drinks milk again for the rest of their lives, and because of that they don’t have an enzyme to break down the sugar in milk. But during human evolution, some humans experienced a mutation in the LTC gene, the lactase gene, these mutations allow us to process lactose as adults. With over 75 percent of humans on the planet unable to properly process it, it is evidence enough that we are not doing what is natural and in accordance with our bodies.

Our natural state is to be lactose intolerant. Undigested lactose in the small intestine acts like an osmotic agent, causing water and electrolytes to be pulled into the intestines, which results in diarrhea, bloating and gassiness. The body struggles and compensates, as well as protects itself by developing coping methods for our unnatural habits.

Lactase enzyme, found in the cells lining the small intestine of mammals, cleaves lactose, a disaccharide, into the constituent monosaccharides, galactose and glucose, which are readily absorbed by the intestine. The amount of lactase activity decreases substantially after weaning in mammals, as lactose is no more a major part of their diet. This condition in humans is referred to as lactase non-persistence (LNP) or adult-type hypolactasia or primary lactose mal-digestion (LM). In several human societies all over the world, lactose is a part of the diet of adults due to the prevalence of dairy products and fresh milk in diet; this has been the case ever since human societies had domesticated cattle. A genetic mutation seems to have occurred in one (or more) such society (ies) resulting in lactase activity persisting in the cells lining the intestine even in adult stage. This condition is referred to as lactase persistence (LP). This mutation, due to its selective advantage, had spread extensively in such cattle rearing societies; this is the generally accepted explanation for Northern European societies having a large proportion (up to 90%) of the population being LP. Human genome sequencing studies done since 2001 have led to uncovering the molecular basis of this mutation. A single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) at the position 13910 nucleotide upstream to the gene coding for lactase (LCT; located on chromosome 2) appears to determine the LP/LNP status of most populations studied. The nucleotide C at this position (which is the ancestral condition as determined by comparison with primate genome sequence data) corresponds to the LNP status whereas the nucleotide T at this position (which is a mutation) corresponds to the LP status. LP allele is dominant over LNP. This relationship between the SNP at -13910 upstream of LCT and LP/LNP has been verified for several populations including East Asia, East Europe etc and holds good nearly universally with the exception of some small pockets of indigenous populations in African Continent and Arabian peninsula. Studies carried out (to be published) in the Indian population by scientists at Biotools Technologies Pvt Ltd., and a Govt. Medical Research Laboratory show that the SNP at -13910 upstream of LCT does determine LP/LNP status in Indian population as well. (1)

A huge increase in milk alternative products like rice milk, almond milk and coconut milk are popping up in grocery stores and convenience stores everywhere. It may be long before the truth about milk becomes more common knowledge and consumption and production weans off.

You can view more of our articles on mile and dairy products below:“milk-does-a-body-good”/


Sources: (1)

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  1. Frank

    not 75% of the world’s population are lactose intolerant, as you say it, but have a decrease in lactase activity. lactose intolerant are only 33% of the world’s population. you can check that here: (the very source you included in the article).

  2. PassingReader

    just wanted to say that we aren’t the only species to consume ànother species milk, I have witnessed puppies drinking from cats along with her kittens and vice versa cats milking from a dog both willingly with the mother animals knowledge. I have also seen adolescent cats attempt to milk from a cat, however most times if the mother cat sees the other cat pushing aside her kittens to get his mouth on a teat its usually followed by a smack to the face but I have seen the same cats come in when momma cat was not watching (lying with her head back and eyes closed and let the other cat go ahead when she doesn’t know of its presence. I never had any goats or anything but I would assume that younger dogs could come in and milk a goat in much the same fashion.
    Having been witness to this multiple times it seems that a group of mothering animals will mother babies of another species willingfully. I would assume that this is not just limited to dogs and cats.

    • Well that’s because they’re still babies! only babies have the ability to digest milk.

    • Rachel P

      That’s true, however those are exceptions not the rule. Typically that only occurs if the babies have been abandoned. And only as babies. Adult animals don’t seek out another species just for their milk as humans do. Sure they’d more than likely drink it if a human provides it, but in the wild they would never approach nursing mothers repeatedly just to drink their milk.

  3. Arti Sert

    We are the dominant race in this planet and feed on other creatures, as they do as well. We have been milking animals for thousands of years.

  4. Evi Kath

    the percentage is so high because the population is higher in regions where lactose intolerance is more prevalent. If a person has the enzyme to break down lactose, there is no reason why he or she can not drink milk. This is absolutely not “evidence” of an unnatural occurrence. Adaptions are natural.

    • I can only comment from personal level, my first pint of raw guernsey milk, my hayfever was cured! I felt better, I was stronger at the gym

    • Indeed, lactose tolerance into adulthood evolved in some populations because it increased reproductive success. It’s no less a “natural” state than lactose intolerance.

  5. Pasteurized milk I believe is the bigger issue. If we were all drink RAW milk and kefir then I believe that we would not have this problem

    I know that regular milk would cause me health problems but when I tried RAW milk I stopped having problems. Then I started drinking kefir and feel much better.

    • the fact remains that a cow makes milk for her baby and it’s cruel and immoral to use her to take her would be unthinkable to do the same to a is wrong and you do not need it.

      • Milk Drinker

        You are completely out of touch with the way the world works.

        • Lee

          Nope I think you are. Female cows must be pregnant to make milk. They are raped by humans to force them to lactate. Humans inseminate them artificially over and over and over again until the poor cow gets sick and dies. In the mean time, they also force them to eat corn.. CORN! This is so not what cows eat naturally. Its like if you were forced to eat only grass. They’re digestive systems don’t work well with corn and soy, so they need lots of meds to keep them alive at least. Anyway, cows make milk for their calves not humans.

      • P

        Cows are bread for their milk production, they overproduce milk by a considerable margin. Without milk consumption the cost of rearing the beast would have to be recouped soley through the meat stripped from the animal. A rise in the price of meat would see that cattle were far less desirable as livestock. Similarly if both milk and beef were no longer eaten, and this is true generally for all farmed animals, then they would no longer be farmed and would simply become either exrinct outright or otherwise an endangered species. Human relationships with farm animals are mutually beneficial, we see to their care, security from predators, their environment and their reproduction. We take what we need from them in return. But as I’ve said without that need, it is they and not us that would become endangered.

  6. Ethan

    “Animal cholesterol is the number one cause of heart disease” are you nuts? where did you get this blatantly incorrect idea from? You need to learn about healthy fats. This wouldn’t be a problem if collective evolution writers actually cited sources properly rather than just putting a bunch of webpage links at the end of your article without actually referencing them.

  7. Vernon

    It is science and research that has claimed for sure that most humans and most animals including cats and dogs are Lactose intolerant. It seems that humans will drink themselves a glass of milk and give their animals milk as well. You are causing animal cruelty if you do. You are causing them harm internally. Yes there is proof. Instead of commenting on your bullshit, look up the science and read about it. It seems you disagree with this because you are addicted to cheese. We all are addicted to cheese. But stop your own bullshit. My own son was diagnosed no lactose intolerant, but severely allergic to it that causes anaphylactic shock to the body with a single drop of it. I did mu research 10 years ago through books when internet was still in its stages and before wiki. Even every Doctor will state a known fact. Most humans are either allergic to it,, or intolerant to a certain degree. Some humans can withstand it more than other that shows no symptoms. So all of you dont know anything. Because known of you had to go through what i did with my son.

    • Luke

      You don’t know what your talking about, it’s probably the vaccines regarding your son, look into the harm of vaccines, I stand my ground on raw milk its got so many benefits and its not bad for you, so snap out of it

      • I agree with Luke. If you go into anaphylactic shock from one drop of milk, them the problem lies in some very severe disturbance in the body. I will not claim that (raw) milk shall be beneficial for all humans, but intolerance to that extent does not seem very natural to me.

  8. Luke

    Nonsense, maybe people are lactose intolerant because they drink pasteurised milk which does not have lactase in it because its zapped out due pasteurising the milk. If you drink RAW MILK I can assure you will not be lactose intolerant…and another note it cured my hay fever over night bang gone!

    • Steve S

      Yes, Luke, exactly. What a shockingly ignorant article posing as info. There is plenty of lactase in natural nonpasturized milk. It’s the only kind of milk my body tolerates, indeed, thrives on.

    • Exactly! And there is the point that even the organically farmed raw cows milk is not the really natural stuff. The milk production of the cows is kept high and the balance of the substances changes. But nevertheless, it is the raw milk that makes the difference.
      I make my own yoghurt from organic raw milk. At 42ºC, for 24 hours, ALL lactose is converted by lactic acid fermentation. This is good stuff! Lactose-“intolerant” people can eat it without any problems.

      A big part of the nomadic people in the coldest parts of the world thrive with symbiotic lifestyles with animals.

      CE is walking on thin ice with these type of “scientific” posts. Once there was mainstream-science. Then there was new-age science that questioned mainstream (for good reasons). But now there is a new wave of scientific minded people that incorporate a whole lot more aspects in a holistic matter.

      I believe that in the end, people on earth will not consume anymore animal products, unless it is gained from truly symbiotic lifestyles. The amount of milk (meat, leather etc.) that is produced and/or consumed cannot be maintained or sustained. But to label these things as INTRINSICALLY wrong/bad/negative/unnatural/abnormal is simply not the whole story.

  9. Amir D.


    This article smacks of bigotry.

    Only 11% of the world is left-handed. Is that abnormal or unnatural?

  10. claire

    What a croc. A large portion of the Chinese population are lactose intolerant due to genetics and they make up a large percentage of the worlds population. My son is lactose intolerant …he couldn’t even have breast milk..which is supposed to b the most natural milk for humans I was on a low dairy diet too! It is just his body cannot process the sugars in dairy products and was more likely as my husband has problems with the same products. Yet my daughter is fine. If we believe all this we would be ill eating nothing but vegetables and missing alot of vitamins…hence why vegans are so pale and tired all the time. I believe all food has its place including dairy.

    • There is a small group of people that actually understand how to eat (mostly) vegan. They are not pale.

  11. Tim Gonzales

    Yeah I think you are right. We should eliminate animal fats from our diets and replace them with soybean oils and other plant oils. Because omega 6 overload is really great for us and theres so many new studies proving that saturated fat is way worse than genetically modified seed oils. But only if you have your head in the sand and ignore all actual data. Oh and I agree that drinking another animals milk is so much more unnatural than killing it and eating its liver. Obviously human history has never included food sources that may cause an emotional reaction to the uninitiated. Man, wouldn’t it be weird if someone wrote articles that were based on actual intelligible information?

  12. ASDAS

    I cant even describe how stupid the person is that wrote this.
    He is talking about something that is 12% milk from unhealthy cows that live like in hell and they add milk powder to the milk product too and what not, no wonder most humans have a reaction to it…..
    I drink 100% natural milk from a grass fed cow and feel great.

  13. I truly believe a product engineered by universe is for its own purpose..and Animal milk is for animals for sure, – simple logic… I drink chai and coffee with milk…But science says animal fat is dangerous and damages the lining of the arteries.

  14. I don’t think your argument is very sound. Being able to break down lactose could only really be seen as an advantage. I think your argument would be better suited against (dairy) if you brought up other things that may be present in milk… such as hormones. In addition, the inability to “naturally” produce an enzyme or other function isn’t really an indicator of anything. Human’s are one of the only species unable to synthesize endogenous Vitamin C — yet it is an important part human metabolism. So what is the reasoning then? We need to consume exogenous Vitamin C, manufactured from other species, to properly function.

  15. Maureen Hurly

    But why do you want to drink cows milk anyway? It is a very unatural thing to do if you think about it. Cows milk, whether from factory farmed or grass fed cows or whatever kind of cows, is only intended for cows’ babies – the calves – not for humans! It results in calves being removed from their mothers (tremendous anguish to the calf and the cow) and little boy calves being turned into veal. But you must know all that already if you have read John Robbins’ books.

    • 1, It tastes good, 2. a whole food, 3. easy nutritious snack, 4. No pots and pans to clean up, 5. Great for on the go or to mix in smoothies

  16. Thomas Mikkelsen

    This article does not rely the facts entirely correct, though it is correct that 75% of the worlds grown population has some degree of lactose intolerance. It is wrong to state that 75% are lactose intolerant without the qualification of the degree of lactose intolerance. Only about 30% of worlds grown population gets severely sick from dairy products, the rest can drink milk and eat cheese without being too bothered by it.

    Personally I stopped drinking milk when I was 15, as I didn’t feel the urge to drink it anymore and to me the taste is not that great, but I still eat cheese and use dairy products for cooking.

  17. Sandra Mackens

    Look, I am not lactose intolerant and have never been. I have been drinking milk all my life and in fact not drinking milk gives me a problem. I personally think that there is no such intolerance but that the quality of milk has gone down and so is more indigestable by humans. If you consider what the cows are being fed, it is no wonder that the milk is giving us problems. I drink bio milk and have never had these problems. I know people that do have a problem with milk but not 75% of the people I know. More like 30%.

  18. David

    The genetics of lactase preservation in Indo-European population is factual, the presumption that because it came about by a mutation automatically makes this bad, not what “nature intended” and milk in adulthood is toxic is pseudoscience drivel. Developing larger brains was a progression of mutations which occured as we evolved from ape common ancestors – but no one argues larger brains is unnatural, bad for us and should be “undone” (true the association of our brain size to our ability to endanger other animal species is compelling). Sticking to food, we can have a larger brain, largely because what we do is wholely “unnatural”, namely we cook and so release more nutrients from food than eating raw achieves and that’s both for meat and vegetables. That we nolonger rely on uncooked fruit & vegetables is attested to by the altered structure of our bowels (which came about through mutations). If having dairy products in adult diet is so toxic, then the last 10,000 history of European development is a falsehood.

    Now my critique does not mean of course that the proportion of dairy in European diet might not have changed in recent decades, and that might be an issue. Likewise, mea culpa, our (western medicine’s) arogance of not recognising lactose intolerance might occur in our midst (rather than for other “not-us” societies). But 25% of the world’s population has pre-historically, historically and currently does very well with some dairy in their diet, getting ready supply of calories, protein, fats and calcium in the process.

  19. Viktor

    What a load of bullshit. It is not like milk has been around for the past decade, milk has been part of human lives for centuries. Lactose intolerance comes from the way cows are “raised” and what they are fed. As someone below mentioned – grass fed cows are the best “option”. But seriously, disregarding milk in schools and so on is utter crap – children need calcium (which one cup of milk provides 30% of daily dose), it is the number 1 source of vitamin D and provides lots of protein. So all of you fools, who don’t have anything better to do with their lives, stop lying to people with such nonsense that milk is bad.

    • Are you aware that calcium from milk is not absorbed by the human body. It is simply not in the right form. See, the element calcium is a hazardous metal, but that is not what is present in the body. The ion Ca_2+ is a totally different chemical entity with different features. And there are many other molecules or minerals that “contain” calcium. “Contain” is a very dangerous word here.
      There are a lot of reasons why you could drink milk, but calcium is not one of them.

      Let me pitch a related example on the gas Fluorine (the element F). Fluoride, (the anion F-) has a totally different set of properties. Some people try to make you think it is good for teeth, but it is not. Fluoride is what you have, if you dissolve a mineral “containing” Fluorine in, for example, water. They put it in your drinking water, toothpaste, you know the story… You can find it everywhere (even Wikipedia), it is very poisonous.
      Fluorite (with a T), on the other hand, is a mineral that is NOT dissolvable in water, and the only “fluoride containing” mineral that is not poisonous.

  20. JP

    Milk and honey are mentioned in the Bible as being good….. “That thou mayst enter into the land that floweth with milk and honey”……….milk has been around a long time….untainted, fresh, grass fed milk has healing properties.

    “then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them. And he stood by them under the tree while they ate—“Genesis 18:8

    • Andrea

      JP, you are a person who brings God and the Bible into every discussion? Please! And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat. — Leviticus 26:16

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