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Living with Lactose Intolerance | April 1, 2009

Do you get a stomach ache every time you drink milk? Symptoms such as gas, bloating, stomach cramps, and diarrhea could be signs that you have lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance is quite common and occurs when someone can’t digest the sugar in milk or other dairy foods. Several ethnic groups such as African Americans, American Indians, and Asian Americans have a higher incidence. Lactase is the enzyme that breaks down lactose, the milk sugar, into simpler sugars so it can be digested. When you don’t have enough lactase in your small intestines, you can’t digest the lactose in dairy foods very well, if at all. This is called lactose Intolerance.

If you are one of the many people suffering from lactose intolerance, here’s a bit of good news. You can still enjoy the delicious taste and nutrient-rich content of milk products. Recent research confirms that some people with lactose intolerance can drink one, or even two, glasses of milk in small portions over the course of a day without symptoms. There are also lactase pills and drops that allow those with serious lactose intolerance to fully enjoy all milk products. So, check out the tips below and starting boosting your calcium intake today!

Ways to enjoy dairy products when you are lactose intolerant.
  • Pair up—drink a small amount of milk with your meals 
  • Chill out—Ice cream and frozen yogurt contain less lactose 
  • Older means better—When it comes to cheese, age rules. Ripened cheese like Swiss and cheddar contain little, if any lactose. 
  • Get cultured-choose yogurts that say “live or active cultures”, because they break down lactose in the digestive tract. 
  • Add lactase—take lactase tablets before consuming foods with lactose or add lactase drops to your milk 
  • Become a lactose detective—read labels for these hidden sources of lactose: milk solids, butter, buttermilk, lactose, malted milk, sour or sweet cream, margarine, whey, whey protein concentrate and cheese.
And don’t forget to go to the pros—contact your physician for a definite diagnosis and a dietitian for diet recommendations, you may need a calcium supplement!