It sounds dangerous, or at least uncomfortable, but I have a friend who thinks drinking milk daily will help cure him of lactose intolerance. Are there any studies that indicate that prolonged exposure can acclimate the body to processing lactose? If so, please describe how that is possible.

  • I have found no studies that indicate such an approach is possible. Drinking milk does nothing to stimulate the body into producing lactase. May 1, 2015 at 16:25
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    @SeanDuggan It's not as simple as that. The pro-biotic crowd has been touting forever how perhaps the lack of diversity in our diary diet may be contributing to the failed lactase production — that consuming more fermented milk products (or even raw milk) might help our "gut recover" so that lactase production can resume and alleviate symptoms of lactose intolerance. So it's at least plausible that an increased consumption in dairy might be part of that process. If somone cannot flesh that out as an answer, I'll see if I can find better references. May 1, 2015 at 17:43
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    @RobertCartaino: I have found similar claims, but none of them have been bold enough to state there is an effect once the probiotics are eliminated from the system. Probably wise given that's verging into a medical effect, and they've already been slammed by proof that probiotics have a negligible temporary effect. May 1, 2015 at 18:04

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Very generally speaking I would say it depends on the cause of the intolerance - if it is a primary intolerance (i. e. genetic problem with lactase persistence deficiency, the enzyme for digesting lactose) no additional exposure will cause a change in genetics. Another genetic form of lactose intolerance prevents forming of lactase enzymes.

Secondary intolerance is acquired, i. e. not genetic in origin. Acquiring it usually is accompanied by some sort of intestinal inflammation and is thought to be reversible.

Some more details on this can be found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lactose_intolerance#Causes

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