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Why You Don’t Have to Avoid Dairy If You’re Lactose Intolerant

Being lactose intolerant doesn’t mean you have to give up milk, yogurt, and cheese; learn 8 tips to help combat lactose intolerance.

By
Sanaz Majd, MD,
March 17, 2011

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What Else Can Mimic Lactose Intolerance?

Before you declare yourself lactose intolerant, you need to know that not all gas and bloating is a result of lactose intolerance.  There are various other gas-producing foods, such as broccoli, beans, wheat, and other vegetables--so it’s important to make sure that what you really have is intolerance to dairy and not some other type of food. 

A food/symptom journal can help with this; if you get bloated a lot you should keep a log of the types of foods you eat (and at what time) and the symptoms you experience.  Over time, you will notice a pattern, and voila! You’ve caught your gas-producing culprits right in their tracks. 

Additionally, other medical conditions can produce diarrhea and abdominal pain. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and celiac disease are just some examples.  So if you’re experiencing these symptoms, a visit to the doctor would be a good idea to make sure it’s not anything more serious.

Does This Mean You Should Stop Drinking Milk?

So if it turns out that you are, in fact, lactose intolerant, does that mean you should stop drinking milk? No!  Milk and dairy products are very important for good bone and teeth health and are an important part of a healthy diet.  Those who don’t consume enough may have a higher risk of fractures and osteoporosis later on in life.  In general, adults younger than 50 require at least 1000mg of calcium daily and those over 50 require 1200mg. 

In addition, dairy products are a good source of vitamin D, A, and B12, in addition to protein, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc and other nutrients.  Even though you can supplement by taking vitamins, it is really not as good as the real thing.  There’s nothing better than the natural combination of these nutrients packaged together in milk, and it’s best to try to consume them in their natural form whenever possible.

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