How to Deal With Lactose Intolerance

Are you lactose intolerant, but still want to eat dairy? You can, if you proceed cautiously.

Steps

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    First, make sure you really are lactose intolerant. If you have bloating, cramps, gas, diarrhea, or noise in your digestive system in conjunction with consumption of dairy products, you might be lactose intolerant. These symptoms can indicate other conditions, too, so if you think you might be lactose intolerant, talk to your doctor.
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    Know what lactose intolerance is. Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose (a sugar in milk) due to a failure to produce sufficient amounts of the enzyme lactase. The undigested sugar remains in the digestive system, and the bacteria there produce gases as a by-product of the fermentation of it.
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    Recognize that lactose intolerance is not uncommon. In fact, the ability to digest lactose as an adult is a genetic mutation that is absent in entire populations.
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    Keep a food diary. Write down everything you eat and with it any symptoms or other effects you notice. It will help you and your doctor to see patterns.
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    Try eliminating dairy from your diet for a few days or even a couple of weeks and see if your symptoms clear up.
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    See your doctor and get tested. The symptoms of lactose intolerance can look like various other conditions, so make sure it is really lactose intolerance.
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    Don't believe those who tell you that because you are lactose intolerant, you cannot eat dairy. You can, but you need to be careful.
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    Limit the amount of dairy products you consume. Learn how much dairy you can have without trouble.
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    Substitute dairy alternatives in your diet, such as soy or rice milk.
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    Read the labels, even on products you might not expect to contain milk. Many products use lactose, milk, or whey in their ingredients.
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    Find out whether you can eat yogurt. It may contain less lactose than many other milk products, so many people tolerate it better than other dairy. Live bacteria in yogurt also 'give up' their lactase enzyme when they die, which helps with digestion of lactose in the tub and in your gut.
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    It may be possible to acclimate or "grow out of" lactose intolerance to some extent. Start small, and try taking just a little bit more milk each day.
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    Try a lactase enzyme-enriched milk.
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    Try a lactase enzyme pill when eating dairy products.

Tips

  • Lactose intolerance cannot be cured, but the symptoms can be controlled.
  • Many hard yellow cheeses contain almost no lactose. The longer it has been aged, the less lactose it contains. Stay away from fresh cheeses like ricotta and cottage cheese.
  • Be conscientious about taking your medicine if you will be eating dairy.
  • Experiment carefully and, with the advice of your doctor, find out what works best for you.
  • Look out especially for 'sweet whey powder' or 'whey powder' in processed products.
  • The enzyme lactase is used in ice-cream production to stop the lactose from crystallizing as the milk freezes, which would give the ice-cream a grainy texture. Therefore most ice-creams should be easily tolerated.

Warnings

  • See your doctor for a test to make sure that your symptoms are really due to lactose intolerance and not some other condition.
  • Ask a doctor before taking any medications.
  • Be certain that you are getting sufficient calcium, whether or not it is from a dairy source.

Article Info

Categories: Allergies and Immunization