March 5, 2012 —
REGION -- You are dreaming of delicious ice cream sundaes, a cold glass of milk and then the nightmare hits: the nausea, cramps, bloating and diarrhea! If you are one of the thirty to fifty million Americans who suffer from lactose intolerance you know what this feels like. Lactose intolerance, a food sensitivity, is the body’s inability to produce the enzyme lactase, which breaks down lactose. Lactose is sugar that is found naturally in milk. Most lactose deficiencies appear late-adolescence or adulthood. However, it can be evident in younger children.
If you are lactose intolerant you can still enjoy dairy products. Here are a few helpful suggestions offered by the National Dairy Council. Drinking smaller amounts of milk with solid foods can help slow the digestive process thus helping the body to handle the lactose better. Thinking you can’t have cheese? Try Cheddar, Colby, Swiss and Parmesan. Most cheeses contain small amounts of lactose but these aged hard cheeses are easy to digest and have less lactose than other cheeses. A few other delicious options: yogurts with live and active cultures that help the body with lactose digestion and many find chocolate milk easier to digest than white milk. White and chocolate milks contain the same nutrients. There are also a variety of lactose- free (100% lactose reduced) and lactose- reduced (about 70% less lactose) products available in the dairy case.