Did you know that if you are lactose intolerant, one of the worst things you can do is to stop consuming lactose in all forms. Lactose intolerance is caused by a deficiency in an enzyme, lactase, that is produced in cells lining the small intestine. If you stop taking in any lactose, your body will stop producing lactase. This will make digesting all dairy comfortably very difficult, if not impossible.
Most people who are considered lactose intolerant can tolerate eating some dairy products such as yogurt and some cheeses. Some may not be truly deficient in lactase but may simply be allergic to cow’s milk, and may find relief by switching to goat’s milk. Avoiding all dairy may put you at risk for having low levels of vitamin D and calcium. Eating dark leafy greens such as kale and spinach and soft-boned fish such as salmons and sardines can help replace calcium lost by avoiding milk products.
Like those that suffer from gluten intolerance understand, lactose (milk products) are hidden in many processed foods such as frozen waffles, breakfast cereals and chips. If you intend to avoid all lactose, you may be getting more than you think from sources you wouldn’t suspect. Becoming an expert at label reading is a necessity if you are highly sensitive.
Lactose intolerance is most prevalent among adults, and has a higher prevalence in African American, Latino, Native American and Asian populations. Children who have a lactase deficiency often do not experience symptoms until they reach adulthood. Symptoms can include nausea, abdominal pain, bloating, gas and diarrhea.
An elimination diet, where all dairy is eliminated, and then dairy products are added back one at a time may help you understand which foods are causing the most problems in your diet. Over-the-counter lactase enzyme drops or tablets help many people enjoy dairy without worry. Understanding the cause of the problem and making the necessary dietary changes can help you manage your lactose intolerance well.