What is Lactose Powder?
Lactose is a disaccharide sugar derived from a chemical reaction between galactose and glucose. A physician first isolated lactose in 1633, but it wouldn’t receive the designation until 1843. Some confusion existed around the name, as a chemist proposed the term lactose for the monosaccharide galactose in 1856. Another chemist renamed the simple sugar galactose in 1860 and transferred the name lactose back to its original compound. Its name derives from the Latin word for milk, lac, with the addition of the suffix given to sugars, -ose.
Lactose Powder Uses
Lactose Powder as a Sugar Substitute
Milk is a rich lactose source, with lactose accounting for 2-8% of its total mass. However, it only exists in the milk produced by humans and other mammals. It has 20-40% of the sweetness of sucrose and a glycemic index range of 45-65 compared to 100-138 for glucose. Its relatively low glycemic index makes it a better sweetener option for individuals trying to balance their blood sugars.
Lactose Powder in Foods and Beverages
It’s an important energy source for infants and is a component of infant formula. It also has many applications in the food and beverage industry. It’s a common ingredient in many baked goods as it’s easy to flavor or color. Food processors add it to numerous other food and beverage products to regulate sweetness, including ice creams, coffee creamers, chocolate, condensed milk, and so on. Most yeasts can’t ferment lactose, making it useful for brewing some beers. Instead of breaking down, the lactose remains in the finished beer. Brewers use lactose as a sweetener when making brown beers, stouts, milk stouts, and cream stouts.
Lactose Powder and Weight Loss
Lactose may support weight loss efforts through a few mechanisms. Lactose technically has the same caloric value as other carbohydrates (4kcal/g). However, the small intestines don’t always fully digest lactose, meaning its absorbed caloric value can be as low as 2kcal/g. The undigested lactose acts similar to other dietary fibers and may reduce an individual’s caloric intake by increasing feelings of fullness and satiety. Lactose may help reduce appetite as well. The combination of fewer absorbed calories, better satiety, and less hunger may help individuals reduce their caloric intake for weight loss.
Lactose Powder for Gut and Oral Health
Lactose may support other areas of health. It has prebiotic properties, and many prebiotic products use lactose substrates to promote gut health. Lactose also enhances calcium and magnesium absorption. Lactose isn’t as harsh on teeth compared to other sugars and doesn’t promote cavity formation. It’s not a suitable base for dental plaque to form, and oral bacteria can’t ferment it rapidly.
Potential Lactose Powder Side Effects
Most individuals can use lactose powder without significant side effects, as it’s a naturally occurring component of milk. However, individuals with lactose intolerance should not consume lactose powder. These individuals lack the lactase enzyme necessary to break lactose down into its monosaccharides. Colon bacteria feed on the lactose and produce excessive amounts of gas, leading to bloating, flatulence, and diarrhea. These side effects do not damage the gastrointestinal tract, but they are usually sufficiently uncomfortable enough to warrant avoiding lactose in individuals with an intolerance to it.
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