What can I do to avoid or relieve symptoms of lactose intolerance?
Symptoms of lactose intolerance include bloating, flatulence, abdominal pain, cramps and diarrhea.
Although you may have to cut down on your intake of fresh milk, dairy foods such as cheese, yoghurt and fermented products such as buttermilk and maas contain less lactose and can be eaten without causing gastrointestinal discomfort. These foods are fermented by lactic acid bacteria, thus converting some of the lactose to lactic acid. It is also possible to use a cup of fresh milk per day without it causing discomfort. If small amounts of dairy are used at a time, or milk is taken with a meal, it will cause less discomfort than when a large amount of milk is taken on its own. It is possible to improve your tolerance of lactose containing foods by gradually increasing your intake of lactose – in this way you can improve the ability of the bacteria in your gut to break down lactose. Although more expensive, lactose free milk is also available. This milk has many more health benefits than other beverages such as soy milk. Pills that contain lactase enzymes are also available and can be taken with milk to improve digestion.
If you have confirmed lactose intolerance, it would be wise to avoid non-fermented dairy products. Should this not be possible, ensure that you get sufficient good quality probiotic bacteria supplements and include digestive enzyme supplements in a high dairy meal.
For further reading please visit our page on Lactose Intolerance.