Lactose Intolerance – How to Get the Nutrients You Need
If you think you might be lactose intolerant, you should discuss your symptoms with a physician. Many of the common signs, such as abdominal pain and bloating, intestinal rumbling, gas, diarrhea, and nausea, can be caused by other medical conditions. These include irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, diverticulitis, ulcerative colitis, and celiac disease. However, if you feel ill every time you consume a dairy product, such as milk or ice cream, you may be lactose intolerant.
After confirming a diagnosis of lactose intolerance, a physician can help you find the best ways to manage your symptoms. In general, this will involve avoiding lactose while still ensuring that you will get the nutrients you need. For instance, your physician may suggest:
- Limiting the amount of milk in your diet – Many people with lactose intolerance are able to have about 10 grams of lactose each day (approximately one glass of fat-free, low-fat, or whole milk). Different milk products, such as cheese, can contain different amounts of lactose. If you are in doubt, you can try a small amount and watch for symptoms before you have more.
- Combining milk products with other foods – It is sometimes possible to prevent or reduce symptoms by consuming milk products with other foods, such as milk and cereal.
- Spreading your consumption of milk products throughout the day – Some people are able to manage their symptoms by consuming small amounts of lactose-containing products throughout the day instead of all at once.
- Choosing nondairy foods that contain calcium – For many people, milk products are an important source of calcium, which is essential to bone health. Some good alternatives include broccoli, kale, collard greens, canned tuna, almonds, calcium-fortified juices, and calcium-fortified soy products.
- Getting a little sun – Milk products also contain vitamin D, which the body needs to absorb calcium. A small amount of daily sun exposure can provide sufficient vitamin D. You can also look for vitamin D-fortified juices and soy milk, as well as eat salmon, egg yolks, and liver.
- Eating yogurt – Yogurt that has live and active cultures may help your body digest lactose.
- Using dietary supplements – Lactase products, which are available in many forms, may help you digest lactose. You might try a few options to see which works best for you.
It’s also important to note that many prepared foods contain lactose. Some examples include breads, baked goods, breakfast cereals, instant breakfast drinks, instant potatoes, soups, pancake mixes, biscuit mixes, margarines, salad dressings, cookies, candies, milk chocolate, and other snacks. Always read labels to look for lactose content, which may be indicated by other names, such as dry milk solids, whey, curds, milk by-products, and nonfat dry milk powder.
If you would like to consult with a doctor about lactose intolerance, please feel free to contact or visit South Tampa Immediate Care. No appointments are necessary at our walk-in clinic, where you will be seen by a doctor who is experienced in diagnosing and treating a variety of common health conditions.