Look around you – at least two of your friends are dealing with lactose intolerance, according to a recent study of over 1,000 people by the team at Al Ain Farms. Founded in 1981, the country’s first dairy company recently set out to understand the struggles and needs of those with this (surprisingly common) condition that results in the body’s inability to digest lactose, the naturally occurring sugar in regularly produced milk. As for what they discovered? A whopping one-third of UAE residents are on the lookout for more lactose-free options, especially as most people discover they are lactose intolerant in their early 20s.
For the uninitiated, there’s no cure for lactose intolerance and it can negatively impact one’s day-to-day life in a myriad of ways – lactose-intolerant people have to think carefully about where they eat out, as well as choosing what to eat and drink at home. This is because of the often debilitating symptoms such as stomach rumbling, a bloated stomach, or stomach cramps that develop from consuming dairy, with women more likely to suffer than men.
Furthermore, the likes of irritability, headaches, brain fog, fatigue, anxiety, and low self-esteem are also correlated with food intolerances. What’s more, 31% of those surveyed are having to spend more money on lactose-free alternatives that aren’t always readily available. And because transparency is no longer an option – it’s a must – better labelling is called for. 39% of people aged 16 to 24, 56% of people aged 35 to 44, and 57% of people over the age 55 believe lactose information should be more abundant on product packaging. Many people also want more guidance from healthcare professionals and education around the issue.
Subsequently, moving to a lactose-free diet improves one’s quality of life (read: better sleep, a better digestive system, less bloating, and more energy). “Studies show food intolerances may affect almost any system in the body,” says Nardeen Turjman, a Clinical Psychologist at the German Neuroscience Center, referencing the two-way communication system between the digestive tract and the brain.
“Individuals with food intolerances commonly report its effect on mood, thoughts, and energy levels. If not treated and managed properly, it will most likely result in lower physical functioning and play a role in one’s social limitations and daily activities, like isolation,” she explains. “This is due to the chronic immune responses and inflammation to food intolerances, which can have a negative effect on the brain as it will damage the blood–brain barrier, its own structural barrier, which may lead to mental health and well-being challenges.”
Elsewhere, Saja ElMasri, a registered dietician at Novomed observes, “The number of people who have intolerances is getting higher and higher. We recommend our patients shift to lactose-free milks and cheese or alternatives. As lactose intolerance is becoming so common, having lactose-free options is very important so that consumers can have options and still maintain good gut health.”
Enter: the Lacto Free Dairy range by Al Ain Farms. Spanning fresh milk (1L), long-life milk (1L), fresh yoghurt (400g), and laban (400g) – all full fat – the new range boasts the same great taste as the regular range, reflecting the company’s belief that lactose-intolerant consumers shouldn’t have to compromise on taste.
“At Al Ain Farms, we’re proud to have supplied the UAE with fresh products, made locally with love for over 40 years,” says Hassan Safi, CEO of Al Ain Farms. “Our new Lacto Free Dairy range champions our mission to make the great taste of dairy available to all consumers, without compromise. That’s why our new lactose-free recipes have been tried and tested to ensure the superior taste and quality standards we are known for.”