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What are Some Remedies for Lactose Intolerance?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 09 November 2016
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Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest most milk products, because the body lacks enough of the enzyme lactase, which helps to break down lactose, a milk sugar. Since milk really does “do a body good” in most cases, finding ways to help offset lactose intolerance are desirable. You miss out on excellent and nutritious food when dairy is lacking in your diet.

Note that lactose intolerance is not truly milk allergy. Milk allergy is very severe, much like allergies to peanuts or shellfish. People who have a true allergy to milk are in danger of going into anaphylactic shock if not treated immediately with epinephrine after an exposure. Lactose intolerance means that within an hour or two after consuming milk, you may suffer mild to severe stomach problems including diarrhea, flatulence, stomach pain and constipation. The remedies mentioned here are for lactose intolerance but should not be used by people with a milk allergy, which is very rare.

First off, if you’ve recently had the stomach flu, you can develop temporary intolerance of lactose. Some stomach bugs deplete your natural supply of lactase, resulting in inability to digest lactose for a period of time. If you’ve always been able to consume dairy products before and very suddenly find you can’t, you may once again be able to digest milk in a couple of months.

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The standard suggestion for lactose intolerance is to use a lactase product taken along with milk products. You can buy lactase enzymes in pill or powdered form, and some dairy is supplemented with lactase for easier digestibility. Further, most people with lactose intolerance can digest partially digested milk products that contain live bacterial cultures. Yogurt is often easy to eat provided it contains live cultures since these deplete the amount of lactose in milk, and do the work of digesting it for you.

If you have only minor tummy troubles when you eat or drink dairy, you may be able to tolerate small amounts of milk without lactase supplementation. It can help if the dairy you eat or drink is accompanied by other foods. For instance, don’t just down a glass of milk and expect to be unaffected. Try half a glass with some toast or crackers instead. You might consider drinking chocolate milk instead of plain milk, since the cocoa in milk tends to assist in digestion.

Milk with higher fat content is more easily digested. Stick to whole milk as opposed to skim or low fat milk when you can. The fat content between whole milk and reduced fat types is actually not significant, though the dairy industry would like you to believe differently. If you’re not consuming a lot of milk, a glass of whole milk probably won’t have an extreme effect on your diet.

When you’re looking for cheese, make sure to choose hard cheeses instead of soft ones. Cream cheese, brie and the like contain more lactose and are likely to cause greater lactose intolerance. Consider cheeses like cheddar or swiss instead, or even tofu cheese.

If these remedies fail to work, the growing number of milk alternatives can help you survive lactose free. Consider soy or rice milk, and even ice cream, rather than milk from cows. Do be aware, particularly if you have true milk allergies, that many products contain either lactose or milk and should be avoided. Read labels carefully, and especially consult your pharmacist prior to taking any prescription or over the counter medications. About 20% of them contain lactose and may create serious problems for the person with milk allergies, and stomach problems for the lactose intolerant person.

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RoyalSpyder
Post 3

Whether it's a dairy allergy or lactose intolerance, one simple solution is to take a dairy "allergy" pill. It lasts for quite a while, and it fights against your inability to digest lactose. My friend has had an intolerance all his life, and this was the perfect solution. Unfortunately though, one has to be taken every day. If it's not, he won't be able to digest anything dairy related.

Chmander
Post 2

My sister has a minor lactose intolerance, although if she consumes a lot of dairy at a time, it can be really severe. Last month, she was at the Cheesecake Factory, and after eating a large piece of Cheesecake, she became bloated, was tired for the rest of the night, and even had a severe headache.

Viranty
Post 1

I can imagine that it's very frustrating to have lactose intolerance. There are many foods which have traces of dairy in them, big and small. One wrong move can cause you to have an reaction. On the other hand, it's nothing compared to having a dairy allergy, which I never even heard of until I read this. Maybe it's because having a dairy allergy is a lot less common, while having lactose intolerance isn't

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