Lactose Intolerance is more common than you think. In the United States alone, around 30 to 50 million people are lactose intolerant. In other words, their bodies cannot easily digest lactose, which is a type of natural sugar in milk and dairy products.
When a lactose intolerant person consumes milk or dairy prodmucts, lactose would move through the large intestine without being digested thoroughly. When that happens, the person would experience discomfort including stomach pain, gas and bloating. Some people are more lactose intolerant than others, meaning while others can digest small amounts of milk products, others cannot take in milk or milk products completely.
Lactose intolerance isn't really a big issue except that milk is the main source of calcium, and that calcium deficiency could lead to a host of health problems, primarily involving the bones. With that said, it is quite obvious that the biggest challenge for lactose intolerant people is to get enough calcium without experiencing discomfort brought about by milk consumption. Here are some ways to cope with this condition.
Limit Intake of Milk
The first sensible thing to do would be to limit the amount of milk and dairy products in your diet. So planning your diet is a must. Keep in mind that many people can only take in about 10g of lactose everyday. An example of this would be a full glass of milk. All types of milk (whether low-fat, non-fat or whole milk) contain the same amount of lactose.
Milk products on the other hand, contain different amounts. For example, Swiss and cheddar cheese have lesser lactose than other dairy products. To determine if a certain dairy product would cause problem or not, try eating a small amount first and observe if symptoms would appear before proceeding to eating more of it.
Drink Milk with Other Foods
Another way to cope with lactose intolerance is to drink milk while you eat other foods that are not dairy. For example, combining milk and cereal would mean fewer symptoms than if you just consume milk on its own.
Consume Dairy in Small Amounts
Instead of a one-time big-time milk drinking spree, spread it throughout the day. If you are lactose intolerant, you would experience less symptoms if you consume small frequent amounts of milk and dairy products than if you would gorge down a full glass of milk or eat a whole bar of cheese during breakfast.
Go For Products with Reduced Lactose
If you go around the supermarket, you'll find many milk products that contain less amount of lactose. These products can help relieve symptoms. But you need to consult your doctor first since reduced lactose products can raise blood sugar levels, and therefore they are not recommended for people with diabetes.
While milk is the primary source of calcium, it is not the only source. You can get calcium from nondairy foods like broccoli, collards, kale, okra, turnip greens, almonds, sardines, tuna, salmon, and calcium-fortified products like cereals, juices, soymilk, tofu and soybeans. Make sure that you get sufficient vitamin D through oily fish, egg yolks and supplements to help the body absorb calcium.