Lactose Intolerance

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What is Lactose Intolerance?

Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest a sugar called lactose. Lactose is found in milk and dairy products. Normally when a person eats something containing lactose, an enzyme in the small intestine called lactase breaks down the lactose. When lactose is not properly broken down it can cause gas, bloating, stomach cramps, nausea, and diarrhea. These symptoms usually occur within 30 minutes to 2 hours after eating lactose. The symptoms vary; depend on how much dairy or milk-containing foods is eaten, and how little lactase a person’s body produces.

How common is Lactose Intolerance?

Lactose intolerance is fairly common. It can occur at any age and in children of any ethnic background. It is rare to have lactose intolerance from birth. As children reach age 3-6, their bodies naturally make less of the enzyme lactase. Lactose intolerance becomes more common after the age of 5.

Who develops Lactose Intolerance?

A person may be or may become less intolerant to lactose for a variety of reasons:

  • Ethnic background – People of Asian, African, Native American, and Hispanic background are more likely to develop lactose intolerance at a young age.
  • Problems with the Digestive Tract – People with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, celiac disease, or Crohn’s disease have reduced levels of lactase enzyme.
  • Medications – Certain antibiotics can trigger temporary lactose intolerance by interfering with the intestines ability to produce the lactase enzyme.
  • Age – As people get older, their bodies usually stop producing the lactase enzyme, and some people will naturally become lactose intolerant over time.

Tips for Treating Lactose Intolerance

  • Children and infants with lactase deficiency should not consume lactose-containing formulas or foods until they are able to tolerate lactose digestion.
  • Most older children and adults do not have to avoid lactose completely, but people differ in the amounts and types of foods they can handle. People can also tolerate more lactose by having smaller amounts of it at one time. The level of dietary control needed with lactose intolerance depends on how much lactose a person’s body can handle.
  • People who react to very small amounts of lactose or have trouble limiting their intake of foods that contain it, a lactase enzyme is available without a prescription to help people digest those foods. The lactase enzyme is available in tablet or liquid form.
  • Eat a variety of dairy-free foods that are rich in calcium, such as broccoli, beans, tofu, or fortified soymilk. Hard cheeses such as Parmesan and cheddar have no or low levels of lactose.
  • There are some lactose-free containing products such as cheese, milk, and ice cream at your local grocery store.
  • Yogurts that contain active cultures are easier to digest.
  • If your child is placed on a lactose-restricted diet, it is important to replace calcium, vitamin D, and riboflavin in the diet.
  • When lactose is eaten, consume other non-lactose foods at the same meal to slow digestion and decrease symptoms.
  • Learn to read food labels. Lactose is added to some boxed, canned, frozen, and prepared foods like bread, cereal, lunchmeats, salad dressings, cake and cookie mixes, and coffee creamers.

Avoid the Following Ingredients:

Butter, some caramel coloring,, casein, caseinates, cheese, cream, cottage cheese, curds, custard, ghee, half & half, lactalbumin, lactoferrin, lactulose, processed lunch meats, margarine, milk (in any form), nisin, nougat, pudding, recaldent, rennet casein, sour cream, whey, and yogurt

Strawberry Smoothie

½ cup vanilla soy yogurt
½ cup strawberries
2 ice cubes
2 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Blend all ingredients in blender until smooth.
  2. Serve and enjoy!

Italian Vegetable Casserole

1 zucchini sliced
1 yellow squash sliced
½ red bell pepper chopped
2 tomatoes chopped
¼ cup fat free Italian dressing
2 cups brown rice
¼ cup soy parmesan cheese Non-stick cooking spray

  1. Spray baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Mix vegetables and dressing together in the baking dish.
  3. Cook vegetables in microwave for 10 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
  5. Serve over brown rice.