Apr 11, 2011

Lactose Intolerance: Dairy-Free

Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose. Lactose is a type of sugar found in milk and other dairy products.

Lactose intolerance happens when the small intestine does not make enough of the enzyme lactase. Enzymes help the body absorb foods. Not having enough lactase is called lactase deficiency.

Often occur 30 minutes to 2 hours after you eat or drink milk products, and are often relieved by not eating or drinking milk products. Large doses of milk products may cause worse symptoms. And there is no known way to prevent lactose intolerance. Symptoms include:
 What to do about it:
1. Decreasing or removing milk products from the diet usually improves the symptoms.
Most people with low lactase levels can drink 2 - 4 ounces of milk at one time (up to one-half cup) without having symptoms, especially when eaten with other non-dairy foods. Larger (more than 8 oz.) servings may cause problems for people with lactase deficiency.

These milk products may be easier to digest:
  • Buttermilk and cheeses (these have less lactose than milk)
  • Fermented milk products, such as yogurt
  • Goat's milk (but drink it with meals, and make sure it is supplemented with essential amino acids and vitamins if you give it to children)
  • Ice cream, milkshakes, and aged or hard cheeses
  • Lactose-free milk and milk products
  • Lactase-treated cow's milk for older children and adults
  • Soy formulas for infants younger than 2 years
  • Soy or rice milk for toddlers
2. Eat a good balance of foods during your meal, with plenty of vegetables and fruits. Ex: when eating lasagna, add lots of spinach, etc.

3. Add lactase enzymes to regular milk or take these enzymes in capsule or chewable tablet form.

Caution:Not having milk in the diet can lead to a shortage of calcium, vitamin D, riboflavin, and protein.
Find new ways to get calcium into your diet (you need 1,200 - 1,500 mg of calcium each day):
Make sure you're still getting your calcium.

Yogurt made with active and live bacterial cultures is a good source of calcium for many people with lactose intolerance. When this type of yogurt enters the intestine, the bacterial cultures convert lactose to lactic acid, so the yogurt may be well-tolerated due to a lower lactose content than yogurt without live cultures. Frozen yogurt does not contain bacterial cultures, so it may not be well-tolerated.
Some products are fortified with calcium, but here is a list of naturally nigher calcium sources that are non-dairy:
Non-milk Products Calcium Content
Rhubarb, frozen, cooked, 1 cup 348 mg
Sardines, with bone, 3 oz. 325 mg
Spinach, frozen, cooked, 1 cup 291 mg
Salmon, canned, with bone, 3 oz. 181 mg
Soy milk, unfortified, 1 cup 61 mg
Orange, 1 medium 52 mg
Broccoli, raw, 1 cup 41 mg
Pinto beans, cooked, 1/2 cup 40 mg
Lettuce greens, 1 cup 20 mg
Tuna, white, canned, 3 oz. 12 mg

Calcium is absorbed and used in the body only when enough vitamin D is present. Some people with lactose intolerance may not be getting enough vitamin D. Vitamin D comes from food sources such as eggs, liver, and vitamin D-fortified milk and yogurt. Regular exposure to sunlight also helps the body naturally absorb vitamin D.

What other products contain lactose?

Milk and milk products are often added to processed foods—foods that have been altered to prolong their shelf life. People with lactose intolerance should be aware of the many food products that may contain even small amounts of lactose, such as
  • bread and other baked goods
  • waffles, pancakes, biscuits, cookies, and mixes to make them
  • processed breakfast foods such as doughnuts, frozen waffles and pancakes, toaster pastries, and sweet rolls
  • processed breakfast cereals
  • instant potatoes, soups, and breakfast drinks
  • potato chips, corn chips, and other processed snacks
  • processed meats, such as bacon, sausage, hot dogs, and lunch meats
  • margarine
  • salad dressings
  • liquid and powdered milk-based meal replacements
  • protein powders and bars
  • candies
  • non-dairy liquid and powdered coffee creamers
  • non-dairy whipped toppings
Checking the ingredients on food labels is helpful in finding possible sources of lactose in food products. If any of the following words are listed on a food label, the product contains lactose:
  • milk
  • lactose
  • whey
  • curds
  • milk by-products
  • dry milk solids
  • non-fat dry milk powder
A Note about Yogurt!
I make my own yogurt, and I've noticed that some brands I can eat without problems, but others I can't. For example: No to Greek God's yogurt, but yes to Mountain Land. Here's why...

Eating probiotic food (which contains beneficial bacteria for digesting) or taking a supplement, the probiotic will adhere to the intestinal lining and digest the lactose, thereby easing the symptoms for lactose intolerant people. But, there are only certain strains of probiotics that work for lactose intolerance (which I didn't know).

If you're buying yogurt to reduce symptoms of lactose intolerance, it is these two classic "starters" - Streptococcus themophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus - that you're looking for rather than all the fancy bacteria with their trademarked names. You'll find these two in many yogurts - just ensure that it is live and active.

**Overall, I've basically realized that eating more natural, unprocessed and raw is the answer. (as it seems to be for many health problems out there! ) Sheesh

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