Lactose Intolerance Doesn’t Mean Dairy Is Off The Menu
While a great number of us do our very best to consume the recommended three servings of dairy every day, including milk, cheese, and yogurt, there are some people who believe that they are lactose intolerant and that they must avoid contact with any and all dairy foods. Contrary to popular belief, those who are lactose intolerant or showing symptoms of lactose intolerance do not have to miss out on the great taste and health benefits of low-fat and fat-free dairy foods!
In addition to American Heart Month, February is National Lactose Intolerance Awareness month, which makes it a great time to uncover the truths about this often misunderstood condition. Lactose intolerance affects the body’s ability to digest lactose – a natural sugar mainly found in dairy foods. The good news is that lactose intolerance is not an all-or-nothing condition.
Lactose intolerance is best described as the gastrointestinal symptoms that may be experienced following intake of lactose (the natural sugar found in milk) in amounts greater than the body’s ability to digest and absorb lactose. Self-diagnosis of lactose intolerance is not recommended as it can lead to unnecessary dietary restrictions, added expenses, and a variety of nutritional shortcomings.
The goal for managing lactose intolerance is to remain symptom-free while meeting nutrient needs, especially for calcium, a nutrient often limited in many people’s diets. Management strategies should be individualized and periodically reevaluated. For those who are sensitive to lactose, here are a few tips that can help make dairy consumption a more enjoyable and regular part of your meal plans:
Drink milk with food.
Aged cheese like Cheddar and Swiss are low in lactose.
Introduce dairy slowly. Gradually increase the amount you consume every day.
Reduce it. Enjoy lactose-free milk and milk products.
Yogurt with live and active cultures helps digest lactose.
Dairy foods are not only delicious, they are loaded with key vitamins and minerals – including protein, calcium, potassium and vitamins A, D and B12 – which can help maintain a healthy diet. Do your body a favor and get the three recommended servings daily.