No Need to Cry Over Spilled Lactose
Love dairy, but have trouble digesting it?
It could be one of two problems:
- Lactose intolerance is a difficulty digesting the lactose (natural sugar) in milk.You need an enzyme called lactase to digest lactose, but some people’s bodies don’t produce enough lactase. Often, our bodies produce less lactase as we age – that’s why some people who had no trouble drinking milk as kids have problems when they drink it as adults. Luckily, there are ways to enjoy dairy even if you have lactose intolerance!
- A milk allergy is different. It’s when your immune system overreacts to the protein in milk. If you have a true milk allergy, you should avoid dairy.
Talk to a doctor to find out for sure what condition you’re dealing with.
You Still Need Those Dairy Nutrients
Nutrition experts say you should keep dairy in your diet even if you have lactose intolerance – avoiding it can lead to deficiencies in calcium and other important nutrients, which can lead to all kinds of chronic diseases.
Try These Tricks
There are several ways people with lactose intolerance enjoy dairy without the discomfort. But every body is different – find the one that’s right for you.
- Try lactose-free milk. It’s real milk, just without the lactose.
- Start with a small amount of regular milk daily and increase it slowly over several days or weeks to find out how much milk you can comfortably digest.
- Mix milk with other foods, such as soups and cereal; blend it with fruit; or drink it with meals. Solid foods help slow digestion and give your body more time to digest the lactose.
- Try natural cheeses, such as cheddar, Colby Jack, Monterey Jack, mozzarella and Swiss, which are low in lactose.
- Choose yogurt with live and active cultures. The cultures help your body digest lactose.