Millions of people are affected by Lactose Intolerance; the symptoms that arise can be very uncomfortable and often even hindering to everyday life. Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose. Lactose is a type of sugar found in milk and other dairy products. Approximately 30 million American adults have some amount of lactose intolerance by age 20.
Symptoms often occur 30 minutes to 2 hours after you eat or drink milk products. Symptoms include: abdominal bloating and cramping, diarrhea, gas, and nausea.
1. Identifying Foods with Lactose
It is frequently difficult to find prepared foods that do not contain lactose in some variety. When grocery shopping, it is a good practice to read the ingredient labels. If you notice ingredients that read – made with: milk, milk Ingredients, whey, cream, cheese, butter, etc., you may want to avoid these products or consume them in moderation. However, whey contains a high concentration of lactose; therefore, you may want to avoid whey entirely.
Items to avoid that may contain Lactose are:
- White Breads (loaves, rolls, and specialty breads)
- Salad Dressings, Dips and Spreads
- Lunch Meats
- Hot Dogs
- Egg Substitutes and Powdered Eggs
- Ice Cream and Sherbet
- Pudding and Custards
- Cakes, Cake Mixes, and Pies
- Caramel, Toffee and Butterscotch
- Milk Chocolate
- Cream soups
2. Substitutes and Solutions
There are numerous Lactose-Free milk options available. Generally they tend to be a bit more expensive such and include items such as soy milk, rice based milk or almond milk. However, all three are easy to digest and make a great alternative, especially for those who eat cereal in the morning.
For the cheese lovers out there, there are several brands of real cheese that is naturally lactose free, and best of all, still has a great cheese taste. Cabot, for example, produces many cheeses that contain zero (0) grams of lactose per serving, including Cheddar, Light Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack, and Muenster.
For chocolate lovers, dark chocolate is a healthy substitute to the common chocolates on the market. Dark chocolate (in moderate consumption) has gained significant popularity due to its health and wellness benefits. Plus, it can help satisfy a chocolate craving and has very little to no lactose it in.
Lactase enzymes are available over-the-counter in different forms such as liquid drops, pills and chewable tablets. These provide additional enzymes to help the digestion of lactose. Depending on the foods consumed, and the severity of the person’s lactose intolerance, determines how well these medications work. For many, these somewhat affordable medications are a must-have item, and allows those with minor to moderate lactose intolerance enjoy the foods they love.
3. Build up natural bacteria to assist with digestion
Yogurt, with active bacteria cultures, will make digestion easier. The bacterial strain commonly used in yogurt can produce lactase enzymes. Therefore, people with lactose intolerance or intestinal infections can usually tolerate yogurt with active cultures.
By reading ingredients prior to consumption, altering your dietand accepting the need to change your lifestyle, you can eventually live a normal life enjoying many of the same foods as those around you.