Lactose intolerance is a condition in which one experiences gas, bloating, abdominal cramps or diarrhea after consuming milk and milk products. It is caused by the body’s inability to digest lactose, a naturally occurring sugar in milk. A medical test is needed for diagnosis. It affects about 12% of the U.S. population.
Lactose intolerance poses two main problems.
First, the digestive discomfort associated with milk consumption makes people sick.
Second, people suffering from lactose intolerance tend to avoid consumption of milk to prevent the associated illness. This action puts them at a health disadvantage because milk contains nutrients necessary for health and eliminating it from the diet deprives the body of its’ health benefits. For example, calcium and vitamin D for bone health, potassium for maintaining a healthy blood pressure, and other nutrients.
Tips to ensure an adequate diet while lactose intolerant are:
Choose lower fat options (low fat or fat-free) of lactose-free or lactose-reduced milk.
Choose non-dairy options like calcium-fortified soy, rice, or almond milk
Choose calcium-fortified orange juice
Remember, if you are lactose intolerant:
Non-dairy creamers cannot replace milk; they may contain lactose.
Nonfat dry milk cannot replace milk because it contains lactose; only the fat has been removed.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture