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Living with Lactose Intolerance: What You Need to Know

  • Lactose intolerant is basically a situation wherein the body is not able to easily digest lactose which is a commonly found natural sugar in milk and many other dairy products. When this lactose moves through the large intestine or the colon without getting digested properly it can lead to the individual experiencing uncomfortable symptoms. Few individuals suffering from lactose intolerance are not able to digest any of the milk products whereas few others are not able to consume small amounts of milk items. This is seen as a common scenario in adults hence it becomes a challenge for such individuals to identify what to eat or what can be avoided to get rid of the discomfort feeling.
  • Causes: When the small intestines are not able to make enough of lactose in the body which is an enzyme that is basically held responsible for digesting the lactose in the foods then the body most likely starts to develop intolerance towards lactose. This issue normally runs in families and the symptoms would start to develop mostly during the adults or teenage years. At times the small intestine is known to stop making the lactose after a short duration of illness such as flu or as a lifelong illness such as fibrosis. At times the small intestine stops to prepare lactose post a surgery.
  • Symptoms: The symptoms which an individual suffering from lactose intolerance would experience are, bloating of the stomach, gas, feeling like throwing up, cases of diarrhea, cramps or pain and a rumbling or gurgling sound from the belly. Many a times the symptoms turn out to be mild and in certain cases it can turn out to be severe based on how much lactose the body makes. These symptoms are known to start 30 minutes and can go up to two hours’ post eating or drinking milk or any of the milk items.
  • Treatment: Currently there is no cure for lactose intolerance but the symptoms experienced by the individual can be treated by firstly limiting or avoiding the intake of milk or any dairy products. One can also look for substituting soy milk instead of milk. They can also go in for dietary supplements such as the lactose items which help in digesting the lactose. As time passes, most of the individuals get to known their body better hence would take precautions to avoid any such scenario.
  • Tolerance test: For checking if the symptoms are caused due to lactose intolerance it would be ideal to carry out a tolerance test wherein you can try to drink at least two glass of skimmed milk on an empty stomach. If after consuming this milk you would experience a certain kind of laxative effect such as feeling of excessive gas in the stomach for the next two to four hours, then there are chances that the individual must be suffering from lactose intolerance.
  • Ensure to maintain the calcium intake: For those individuals who rely on milk for their daily calcium intake and now due to lactose intolerance you are unable to get this daily dose of lactose then try to consider some other food items wherein you can supplement your diet along with some other calcium rich food which can include broccoli or spinach. Also go in for canned tuna, sardines or salmon, calcium fortified cereals and juices, almonds and calcium fortified soy milk, soybeans or tofu.
  • Instead of completely relying on milk alone to ease the symptoms of lactose intolerance it would be ideal to take it along with some other food item instead. It is also important to increase the intake of yogurt since during the fermentation process which is carried out also depends completely on the organisms which generate lactose. To get the maximum benefit 4t out of yogurt go in for the one which is fat free and should be consumed on a regular basis.
  • One can also go in for buttermilk since it is pretty much tolerable and the reason is because it contains less amount of lactose in every one cup serving than the otherwise fat free milk. It is important to ensure that the daily calcium intake is not missed due to avoiding of milk or any of its products. Your doctor would be the best guide in identifying and providing guidance.