Definition, Diagnosis and Diet
Lactose intolerance often is misunderstood. Lactose intolerance is commonly confused with a milk allergy and often a condition that is self-diagnosed. This may cause people to unnecessarily eliminate dairy from their diet and miss
out on its key nutrients. We want to break down the truth about lactose intolerance.
Lactose is the natural sugar found in milk. Lactose intolerance is defined as a gastrointestinal disturbance following the consumption of an amount of lactose greater than can be digested and absorbed by the body. It is not a milk allergy. Symptoms of lactose intolerance range from mild to severe, and occur about 30 minutes to two hours after eating or drinking foods containing lactose. These symptoms include nausea, cramps, bloating, gas and diarrhea.
Diagnosis of lactose intolerance is difficult based on symptoms alone because other conditions, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Celiac disease, cause similar symptoms. If you suspect lactose intolerance, it is best to be tested.
Even if you are lactose intolerant, this doesn’t mean you need to abstain from dairy foods. Luckily, there are a host of solutions to keep dairy foods in the diet, so you still receive the associated health benefits and enjoy their great taste. These products range from lactose-free milk, which is real milk with the lactose removed and, even, lactose-free ice cream!
Enjoy this Rice Pudding with Praline Topping for a lactose free treat.
Strategies to Enjoy Dairy Foods
Levels of lactose intolerance vary. Some foods are more easily tolerated by the body and would be a good choice for many individuals.
We suggest these tips to gradually bring dairy back into the diet:
- Sip It. Start with a small amount of milk daily and increase slowly over several days or weeks to tolerance.
- Stir It. Mix milk with other foods, such as smoothies, soups or sauces, or pair it with meals. This helps give your body more time to digest it.
- Slice It. Top sandwiches or crackers with natural cheeses such as Cheddar, Colby, Monterey Jack, Mozzarella and Swiss. These cheeses are low in lactose.
- Shred It. Shred your favorite natural cheese onto soups, pastas and salads. It’s an easy way to incorporate a serving of dairy that is low in lactose.
- Spoon It. Enjoy easy-to-digest yogurt. The live and active cultures in yogurt help to digest lactose.