Are you one of every 10 adults who report having lactose intolerance? Do you wonder why you used to be able to drink milk, but may have lactose intolerance now? It can be a challenge without the right information and tailored solutions to manage it. The good news is… there are options to help you!
So, let’s start with some basics. Lactose intolerance is a sensitivity to lactose, which is the natural sugar in milk. Virtually all infants are born with the ability to digest lactose, because the body makes lactase which helps digest it; however, as some people reach their pre-teen and teen years the ability to handle lactose decreases and usually peaks during this time frame. The ability to continue to digest lactose in adulthood is a genetic trait. Limited lactose digestion can cause digestive discomfort if too much lactose is consumed at once.
There’s a lot of misinformation out there. The most important thing to know is that lactose intolerance is an individual condition. People often tolerate varying amounts of lactose, with many managing up to 12 grams of lactose at a time (the amount in an 8-ounce serving of milk) with no or minor symptoms. One size does not fit all, so it is important to figure out what works best for you, so you can enjoy your favorite dairy foods and the health benefits that come with them! Try these tips to tailor your plan:
Try It: Opt for lactose-free milk – it is real milk just without the lactose
Slice It/Shred it: Top sandwiches, crackers, salads, etc., with natural cheeses which contain minimal amounts of lactose such as Cheddar, Colby, Monterey Jack, mozzarella or Swiss
Spoon It: Try yogurt (plain, flavored or Greek) with live and active cultures that help digest lactose
Sip It: Start with small amounts of milk and increase it slowly over several days or weeks to find the amount that works for you
Stir It: Mix milk with other foods to help slow digestion
You can find out more about lactose in dairy foods from this helpful food chart, too!
If you haven’t been diagnosed
with lactose intolerance by your doctor, it is important to do so, since its symptoms can be similar to other conditions.