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N Engl J Med. 1984 Jan 5;310(1):1-3.

Yogurt--an autodigesting source of lactose.


Large quantities of yogurt are consumed by some lactase-deficient population groups. We used breath hydrogen measurements to determine whether lactase-deficient subjects absorbed lactose in yogurt better than lactose in milk. Ingestion of 18 g of lactose in yogurt resulted in only about one third as much hydrogen excretion as a similar load of lactose in milk or water, indicating a much better absorption of lactose in yogurt. Ingestion of yogurt also resulted in fewer reports of diarrhea or flatulence than did a similar quantity of lactose ingested in milk or a water solution. The enhanced absorption of lactose in yogurt appeared to result from the intraintestinal digestion of lactose by lactase released from the yogurt organisms. This autodigesting feature makes yogurt a well-tolerated source of milk for lactase-deficient persons and may explain the widespread consumption of yogurt by lactase-deficient population groups.

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