The Best Lactose Intolerant Diet

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Experts now believe that lactose intolerant people don’t need to avoid all dairy products. Here’s how to obtain the nutrition you need without the symptoms.

“Got milk?” presumably means “No way!” to a lactose intolerant person.

Lactose intolerance occurs when the body cannot digest lactose, a natural sugar found in dairy products and milk.

It’s so frequent that 25 to 50 million Americans forgo all milk.

Lactose intolerance causes unpleasant symptoms like diarrhea, nausea, bloating, and gas.

Adults have more lactose intolerance than children because their bodies generate less lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose.

Previously, persons with the illness were advised to avoid all dairy products. Experts now advise including cheese, yogurt, and milk in your lactose-intolerance diet and treatment.

Dairy products are high in calcium and vitamin D, both necessary for strong bones. Vitamin D also aids with calcium absorption. If you don’t get enough calcium and vitamin D from other sources, you may develop osteoporosis, a disorder that weakens bones and causes fractures.

Read Before You Banish All Dairy

Lactose intolerance is not the same as milk allergy, which affects a significantly smaller percentage of the population.

Experts say many lactose intolerant persons can tolerate low doses of lactose. The American Academy of Pediatrics has long advised parents of children with mild lactose intolerance to keep certain dairy products in their diet, especially cheese and yogurt. Recent research shows that lactose intolerant children and adults can build tolerance by consuming modest amounts of milk, which changes gut bacteria and makes lactose simpler to digest.

The quantity of lactose you can handle is frequently decided by trial and error, but practically everyone has to limit dairy proteins to avoid the humiliating symptoms of diarrhea, stomach cramps, and gas.

These tips can help you regulate your dairy intake:

Divide and rule.

Divide your lactose intake into 4- to 8-ounce portions and spread them throughout the day.

Make it a meal. Solid meal delays stomach emptying and allows lactase to break down lactose. Have a little glass of milk with your big lunch.

Prepare before eating. Lactase pills are available over-the-counter. This should help most lactose intolerance symptoms, says gastroenterologist Paul Choi, MD, director of the Los Angeles Endoscopy Center and a member of the American Gastroenterological Association. You can also drink lactose-fortified milk like Lactaid.

Get yoghurt. Live and active cultures yogurt is low in lactose and may not cause issues. Yogurt’s bacterial cultures predigest lactose, making it appropriate for many lactose intolerant persons.

Calcium-Rich, Dairy-Free Foods Some people may still need to minimize or avoid dairy products to manage lactose intolerance symptoms. A low-dairy diet for lactose intolerance is a delicate balance. Less dairy protein means more dairy-free foods rich in calcium and other minerals. All adults need 1,000 mg of calcium per day, with women needing 1,200 mg after menopause.

Top picks:

  • Spinach
  • Boneless salmon or sardines
  • Orange juice with calcium
  • Broccoli n
  • canned tuna
  • Soymilk with calcium
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Almonds

Still Ache? Lactose Hidden Sources

Watch for foods including breads, baked products, processed cereals, instant potatoes, soups, creamy sauces, non-kosher lunch meats, salad dressings, pancake and biscuit mixes, and powdered meal replacements that contain concealed lactose. Don’t be fooled by “non-dairy”. Dairy proteins and lactose can be found in “non-dairy” goods like coffee creamer and whipped topping.

Because lactose can be found in unexpected places, check labels carefully to avoid these ingredients:

  • Whey
  • Casein
  • Curds
  • Dairy waste
  • Dairy solids

Your diligence shouldn’t stop there: “Some drugs and supplements contain lactose and may need to be avoided,” adds Dr. Choi. Lactose is in antacids and anti-gas medications.

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