You may have heard people talk about being “lactose intolerant” and wondered what they mean . People who are lactose intolerant have trouble digesting the sugar in milk, which is called lactose . When they eat or drink milk products they may experience some pretty unpleasant symptoms like excess gas, stomach cramps and diarrhea . Lactose intolerance seems to be an inherited trait, however some people can develop it temporarily when sick . It affects people to varying degrees .Some can tolerate a glass of milk a day; others can only eat cheese, while others have to avoid even the smallest amount of lactose . If you suspect you have a lactose intolerance, see your doctor for a diagnosis . It may be a lactose intolerance or there may be another reason for your abdominal discomfort that should be checked out .
- The main concern with lactose intolerance is that someone who avoids milk products is at risk of having a diet deficient in calcium . If you are lactose intolerant you may still be able to consume milk products in certain quantities and here’s how:
- Tips to Improve Your Tolerance
- Hard cheeses and yogurt are generally better tolerated than milk because they have less lactose . Buy yogurt with active cultures (bacteria) because it has the least amount of lactose . And hard cheeses are virtually lactose-free .
- Consume milk and yogurt in smaller quantities, about 1⁄2 cup (125 mL) at a time . If this works for you, gradually increase and monitor your reaction .
- Consume milk products with a meal or snack . This slows down the digestion and improves tolerance .
- Increase milk products in the diet gradually . Your body may adjust to a larger amount of lactose over time .
- Buy lactose-reduced milk or yogurt, which is almost lactose- free .
- Lactase tablets or drops, which breakdown the lactose for you, are available to add to milk or take with milk products .
- If none of the above work, soy milk that has been fortified .with calcium is available to boost your calcium intake.