Are you lactose intolerant?

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This article was published 02/06/2020 (849 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Lactose intolerance is common in many people but that does not mean that you have to avoid all dairy products.

Lactose intolerance is very individualized. Milk contains a natural sugar called lactose. If you have an intolerance it is because you are not producing enough of the enzyme lactase to digest the lactose.

Common symptoms of lactose intolerance can include bloating, cramping, gas, diarrhea and nausea. However, these symptoms can also be caused by other foods, medications or medical issues such as celiac disease.

Dreamstime.com There are many degrees of lactose intolerance. If you suspect you may be lactose intolerant, keep a food journal, gauge your reactions, and consult your docter as well as a reigistered dietitian.

In most cases, completely avoiding all dairy is not even necessary. The first step is to monitor your degree of tolerance. Keeping a food journal helps to accomplish this. Write down what you eat, the portion size and what your symptoms are. Introduce small amounts of dairy and keep track of your reactions.

Products such as hard cheeses contain little lactose and are well tolerated by most. Additionally, yogurt has probiotics that help with gut health and most with a lactase deficiency do well with it.
If you like to consume milk, try small amounts of it to gauge your tolerance. If you find that you develop negative reactions even with small amounts of dairy, there are plenty of lactose-free products to choose from to ensure that you are meeting your calcium and vitamin D requirements.

Moreover, you can always take a lactase tablet before meals to liberalize your diet.

On average, one cup of milk provides 300 milligrams of calcium and 103 IU of vitamin D. Those over 50 years of age should have 1,200 milligrams calcium a day and 800 to 2000 IU of vitamin D a day.

It is important to note that lactose intolerance is not an allergy. Over the years, I have had many patients confuse the two, stating they have a milk allergy when in fact they have lactose intolerance or just a dislike of milk or milk products in general.

Milk allergies are rare in older adults and usually only develop in very young children. A milk allergy is an allergy to the milk protein casein which is found in many products. It requires specialized nutrition planning, as many foods are limited on this diet. In most cases, children will outgrow a milk allergy.

Trial and error is a good course to try to manage lactose intolerance. If your intolerance is severe, you should seek the help of a registered dietitian.

Lisa Lagasse is a registered dietitian and community correspondent for Charleswood. Email her at Charleswoodres@gmail.com

Lisa Lagasse

Lisa Lagasse
Charleswood community correspondent

Lisa Lagasse is a registered dietitian and community correspondent for Charleswood. Email her at Charleswoodres@gmail.com or find her on Twitter: @LisaRD42324393

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