Lactose is a component of milk normally found, to some degree, in all dairy products. People who are lactose-intolerant are not able to digest this naturally-occurring sugar. For many people it is especially problematic when consumed as part of a liquid dairy product, such as milk, and may be better tolerated in yogurt and cheese. For lactose-sensitive people who like milk shakes but are unable to drink them, lactose-free shakes that can be used as a substitute.
When a person is unable to digest lactose, it is normally because he or she doesn’t produce the enzyme necessary to break it down. Instead, the undigested lactose goes into the intestine and causes a variety of problems including diarrhea, flatulence and cramping. Someone who has this problem must get the benefits of milk from other foods. The calcium can be provided by foods like broccoli, almonds, spinach and tofu. If a person who is lactose-intolerant misses being able to eat certain kinds of foods, such as milk shakes, those foods can be replaced with other products like lactose-free shakes.
These shakes can either be made at home or purchased ready-made. When making dairy-free drinks at home, substitutes such as almond or soy milk can be used to provide a similar taste, look and texture. Flavoring can be added by either blending in fruit or using concentrated flavorings made for baking, and the shake can be sweetened with sugar, honey or artificial sweeteners. Including bananas or a dairy-free ice cream substitute thickens lactose-free shakes without usually causing digestive problems and can be used to create a dessert shake with a minimum of effort.
Commercially-made lactose-free shakes are convenient to use as meal substitutes, on-the-go snacks and as nutritional supplements. These are manufactured by various companies in a range of flavors and are canned so that they have a long shelf life. They tend to be more expensive than dairy-based shakes, but are an option for people who cannot tolerate dairy.
When children show signs of being lactose intolerant, parents may mix up lactose-free shakes for them to help ensure that their kids are consuming enough calcium. While these children may not be able to drink milk when they are younger, many of them outgrow this phase and can have dairy re-introduced to their diets as they get older. It is best to consult a qualified allergist before taking this step, to avoid causing the child digestive distress and discomfort.