Do You Know The Difference Between Dairy-Free and Lactose-free? Find Out Here

Lactose and dairy are two different things that are often assumed to be the same. Find the difference between lactose-free and dairy-free here.

Chanchal Sengar
Written by: Chanchal SengarUpdated at: Nov 06, 2020 21:12 IST
Do You Know The Difference Between Dairy-Free and Lactose-free? Find Out Here

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Can you tell what is lactose and what is dairy? This is indeed a confusing question as both of these are misunderstood to be the same. Most people don’t even know that these two are different let alone find the difference in their allergies. Until and unless someone has one of these allergies, it is not easy to understand why the terms ‘lactose-free’ and ‘dairy-free’ are poles apart. 

Lactose-Free vs. Dairy-Free

These two are totally different. If a product is dairy-free then it is not necessarily lactose-free and vice-versa. Those who are planning to follow a lactose-free or dairy-free diet, you need to first understand the basic concept which is the difference between lactose and dairy. This helps in finding the right product if you go out to purchase from the supermarket.

Without confusing more, let us make the concept more clear.


  • Lactose- It is a part of dairy as lactose is the sugar molecule that is found in dairy. Glucose and galactose are its components. Lactose-free means that the product does have dairy but lactose is removed from it.
  • Dairy- It is a food group that includes milk, yogurt, curd, cottage cheese or paneer, cheese, etc. These are called dairy food items. Thus, a dairy product may or may not contain lactose.

In other words, lactose is a component of dairy. Lactose-free means that the lactose component is removed from that item. On the other hand, dairy-free means that no dairy item is used in manufacturing that product. Instead, nuts or plants are used. 

Also Read: Beware! Consumption Of These Dairy Products Could Be Dangerous

Lactose intolerance Vs. Dairy allergy

lactose allergy

Here comes the tricky part. Lactose intolerance or lactose allergy and dairy allergy. If you have understood the basics mentioned until now, it will be easier for you to interpret the difference between the two.

If someone is lactose-intolerant, he must be given lactose-free foods that may include dairy products that do not have lactose content in it. Whereas, if a person has a dairy allergy, they should stay away from dairy products including lactose. In a nutshell, a lactose-free diet can help in the case of lactose intolerance only. It won’t work for dairy allergy.

What causes lactose intolerance?

There are many people who are lactose-intolerant but they don’t know about it. They experience nausea, vomiting, dizziness, etc. after having lactose. This allergy is caused when someone is deficient in lactase enzyme. If these people consume lactose, they feel bloated, gassy and nauseous.

Also Read: Natural Gluten-Free Foods That You Can Add In Your Daily Diet

lactose intolerance

What causes dairy allergy?

Dairy allergy is caused due to casein protein that is found in dairy products. People who are allergic to dairy experience rashes, physical symptoms, stomach discomfort, etc. The body of the allergic person regards casein protein as foreign particle and therefore reacts when it enters the body. This allergy ranges from mild to severe where the person may even suffer from respiratory system disorder.

Thus, you must choose dairy-free and lactose-free products wisely depending upon your condition. Those with a healthy body need not worry about any of these. Whereas, allergic people need to be cautious about what they are eating. If you suffer bloating, gas or vomiting after consuming dairy, see a doctor find if you are allergic to it or not.

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