Many Americans suffer from lactose intolerance.
Lactose is the milk sugar in milk and dairy products. Lactose intolerance occurs when
your body does not have enough of the enzyme to digest, or breakdown, this milk sugar.
If you’re lactose intolerant, you may experience painful stomach cramps, gas, or diarrhea when
you eat or drink dairy products. Many people completely remove dairy products
from their diet to avoid these symptoms. Dairy products, especially low-fat and non-fat milk,
yogurt, and cheeses are an important part of a balanced diet. They provide you with calcium, vitamin D,
magnesium, potassium, and protein which are important and essential nutrients for bone
health. They also reduce your risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, and improving weight
management. Here are a few tips to help you enjoy your favorite dairy products: 1) Consume dairy with other foods. When you eat or drink your milk or dairy products
with other foods it helps to digest more slowly and decrease symptoms. 2) Try small amounts at a time. Your body can adapt and become more efficient
at digesting lactose. Start with one bite or one small amount of milk or dairy with
food (depending on how sensitive you are). Slowly, increase the amount and frequency
you consume until you can tolerate an entire serving without symptoms. 3) Try foods that contain dairy before drinking
milk. Yogurt or cheeses are generally tolerated
better than milk. They have other food components which slows down digestion to improve symptoms. 4) Try lactose-free and lactose-reduced milk
and dairy products. Many of these products contain lactase, the
enzyme your body is missing, to digest the lactose. If your lactose intolerance is more severe,
you may benefit from lactase enzyme pills. First, meet with your doctor and registered
dietitian to discuss the best way to incorporate dairy into your lifestyle.