People who suffer uncomfortable symptoms of lactose intolerance learn to avoid dairy products. There is no cure for lactose intolerance, but it can be managed to reduce the unpleasant symptoms. There are food strategies can help.
Food strategies to reduce symptoms of lactose intolerance:
- Reduce the amount of lactose per serving rather than avoiding it. Some studies show that people with lactose intolerance can eat at least 12 grams of lactose (equivalent to 1 cup of milk) with minor or no symptoms. Taken with other foods, some people can tolerate up to 18 grams.
- Think hard cheese. Hard cheeses, such as most cheddars, Parmigiano-Reggiano and Romano do not have lactose since their lactose is changed into lactic acid as the cheese ages.
- Check yogurts with active cultures. Yogurts with active cultures are much less likely to cause problems, but check the labels. Yogurts or any foods that list “added milk solids” or “whey” can contain significant amounts of lactose.
- Try plant-based milks. Soy, rice, and almond and other nut milks are completely lactose-free, and can be both a good source of calcium (if they are supplemented with calcium) and these can be a healthy choice for people trying to reduce cholesterol.
- Mix high-lactose foods with non-lactose foods. By combining non-lactose foods with dairy, the lactose-rich food may pass more slowly through the intestines and have a better chance to be digested properly.
- Build up intestinal tolerance. Although the lactase enzyme is not increased by the amount of lactose consumed, some studies show that regular consumption of lactose may increase tolerability in both adults and kids.
- Shop for lactose-free milk. Milk that has been treated with lactase is widely available and often well tolerated by people with lactose intolerance. Unfortunately, such products are more costly than untreated milk.
A recent study published by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that individuals with self-perceived lactose intolerance may not be getting sufficient calcium in their diet making them more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes and high blood pressure.