Lactose intolerance symptoms can be quite unpleasant, but
luckily can be very easily managed. Even though it seems as though lactose
intolerance is very common, only about 12% of adults struggle with digesting
dairy foods because of lactose intolerance. Most people with lactose
intolerance can still consume dairy products but may have to limit the total
amount and the frequency of when they enjoy them.
It is important to point out that lactose intolerance is not
the same as a milk allergy. A milk allergy is an immune response to milk protein
and can be very serious. Lactose intolerance, however, leads to difficulty
digesting milk sugar, known as lactose, leading to digestive issues.
Lactose is a natural sugar found in dairy products which is
broken down by the lactase enzyme in the digestive tract. When someone has an
insufficient amount of the lactase enzyme, lactose is not fully broken down and
the sugars are left to be fermented in the colon by “healthy” gut bacteria.
This fermentation is what leads to the discomfort of such lactose intolerance symptoms as bloating,
gas, diarrhea, cramps, and possibly nausea. It can take anywhere between 15
minutes to several hours for someone with lactose intolerance to develop
Dairy foods contain many nutrients important for our health
including calcium, protein, vitamin D, vitamin A, riboflavin, magnesium,
phosphorus, and potassium. If you or a loved one suffers from lactose
intolerance, read on to learn some tips to help better manage your symptoms and
still reap the nutritional benefits of dairy foods.
Try consuming smaller portions of dairy foods
throughout the day. Most people with lactose intolerance can tolerate a small
amount of lactose per day.
Don’t give up dairy foods completely. Instead,
choose foods that contain lower amounts of lactose per servings.
Regular Milk = 12 grams
Regular Yogurt = 11-17 grams
Goat’s Milk = 9 grams
Ice Cream = 6-7 grams
Greek Yogurt = 2-4 grams
Cottage Cheese = 2-3 grams
Processed Cheese = 2-3 grams
Sour Cream = <0.5 grams
Hard cheese, such as Swiss or cheddar = 0.3-1 grams
Lactaid Milk = 0 grams
Choosing Lactaid milk, hard
cheeses, Greek yogurt, and cottage cheese are simple ways to lower your lactose
intake while still including dairy in your diet.
Consume lactose-containing foods during meals
with other foods. Enjoying a glass of milk or other dairy food with other solid
foods slows down the release of lactose into the small intestine making it
easier to digest.
Probiotics from live and active cultures in
yogurt, kefir, and buttermilk help to break down lactose and make these foods
more tolerable for people with lactose intolerance.
Experiment with dairy alternatives. There are
many cow’s milk alternatives such as almond, cashew, coconut, soy, and pea
protein milk. Remember, many of these are not the same nutritionally as cow’s
milk, most nut milks have very little protein, calories, and are void of
vitamins unless they are added to the milk. If you are looking to replace cow’s
milk with a milk alternative, soy milk and pea protein milk compares most
similarly with dairy milk. Remember, most people can tolerate small amounts of
lactose but dairy alternatives are an option for those who are very sensitive
or choose to avoid cow’s milk altogether.
It’s important to remember that lactose intolerance is not
an all-or-nothing condition. Finding ways to manage your symptoms while still
enjoying your favorite dairy foods can help you get adequate nutrition and feel