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Diet and nutrition: Digesting lactose and intolerance issues

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Milk is an important daily product to consume and provides many benefits to all who drink it. Not everyone is able to drink milk because they either suffer from symptoms or have been diagnosed as being lactose intolerant.

Being lactose intolerant means that your body cannot digest foods that include lactose. Lactose is the sugar that is found in milk, daily products and other foods that are made with milk.

If you are diagnosed with lactose intolerance you don’t have to worry because it isn’t a serious condition or illness. You do have to be concerned with what you eat and limit the foods that include it since your body no longer can digest it properly.

The reason a person cannot digest lactose is because you system for some reason no longer has enough lactase enzymes. The lactase enzymes break down lactose and are done so in the small intestine. When someone has the inability to digest lactose it can cause gas, stomach cramps, diarrhea, bloating or swelling of the stomach. These symptoms are common with other illnesses as well but usually happen immediately after eating foods with lactose.

If you think you may be lactose intolerant cut back on the foods that contain lactose. If you feel better not eating those food types you know that they are affecting you health and well being. It is a wise idea to check with your physician first before making any radical changes to your diet and lifestyle just in case your systems are a result of another illness or condition.

Your physician will be able to test you for lactose intolerance. He or she may have you drink a sweet drink and perform a breath test. There is also a blood test that can be done which will provide him with information if you can or can’t digest lactose. Another test can be done by testing your stool. This test also tells if your system is digesting lactose or not.

Foods that are made with milk and contain lactose which should be avoided:

  • Ice cream
  • Ice milk
  • Sherbet
  • Cream
  • Butter
  • Some cheeses
  • Cottage cheese
  • Yogurt

Some prepared foods that contain lactose are:

  • Bread
  • Cereal
  • Lunch meats
  • Salad dressings
  • Cake mixes
  • Cookies
  • Pancakes
  • Biscuits
  • Frozen dinners

Food labels with these words listed are certain to contain lactose:

  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Cream
  • Dried milk
  • Lactose
  • Milk
  • Milk solids
  • Powdered milk
  • Whey

People who are lactose intolerant are losing out on the amount of calcium they are consuming as well. Speak with your physician to see if he recommends a calcium supplement. You can also eat other foods that are rich in calcium to make up for the amount you aren’t getting by avoiding lactose foods.

Foods high in calcium:

  • Canned salmon
  • Sardines
  • Collard greens
  • Turnip greens
  • Broccoli
  • Tofu

Some individuals that are lactose intolerant can consume small portions of lactose foods but are unable to drink milk. Avoiding milk, which is the one food product that contains the most lactose and should be limited or avoided altogether.

There are caplets, drops and lactose-reduced milk products that you can use and take. They can be found in your neighborhood grocery store or at the over-the-counter section of the pharmacy counter. Always check first with your physician before taking any medication.

Be aware of the signs and make the healthy choices to avoid the symptoms of lactose!

© 2014 Beverly Mucha / All Rights Reserved

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