Everything That Rumbles Is Not Lactose Intolerance
Style Magazine Newswire | 6/22/2018, 12:02 p.m.
Lactose intolerance is often a misunderstood condition. Lactose intolerance occurs when you have a lower level of the enzyme lactase, which is needed to digest milk sugar. Many African-Americans are avoiding dairy, particularly milk because they think they are lactose intolerant.
Symptoms of lactose intolerance include bloating, diarrhea, gas, nausea, pain in your abdomen, stomach “growling” or rumbling sounds and vomiting. However, while gas, bloating or abdominal discomfort can be uncomfortable and disruptive to a person’s lifestyle, it is difficult to confirm lactose intolerance based on digestive discomfort alone. In fact, if you have diabetes, your gastrointestinal disturbance may not be caused by lactose intolerance.
National data on people with diabetes and digestive disease indicate that people with diabetes are more likely than the general U.S. population to report gastrointestinal conditions, including ulcers, diverticulitis, symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, and gallstones.
It’s important to identify the actual source of discomfort because dairy avoidance could negatively impact your health. For example, the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Scientific Report says, that “consumption of dairy foods provides numerous health benefits including lower risk of diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and obesity,”—disease states that affect African Americans in disproportionate numbers. Furthermore, The National Medical Association, the nation’s oldest and largest organization of African-American physicians, recommends that African Americans consume 3-4 servings of low-fat dairy per day.
Many people who say they have trouble digesting milk have actually never been diagnosed as lactose intolerant by a health professional. If you are experiencing gastrointestinal problems, you should see your healthcare provider who can determine the source of your discomfort. The good news is that if you are diagnosed with lactose intolerance, there are ways to enjoy dairy and its’ health benefits without the suffering.
Try these DAIRY strategies to help get your 3–4 recommended servings daily.
Drink milk and eat cheese and yogurt with meals, keeping in mind that up to a cup of milk may be well tolerated. Begin with a small portion and slowly increase the serving size. For example, add a small amount of low-fat milk to your coffee or hot chocolate. Add low-fat milk to your scrambled eggs or make grits with low-fat milk instead of water. Wrap beans and low-fat cheese in a tortilla for lunch; add a little-shredded cheese to your salad.
Aged cheeses such as Swiss, Colby or cheddar are low lactose and may be better tolerated. Queso fresco, fresh Mexican cheese with virtually no lactose, is a culturally specific cheese that may be well tolerated. When milk is made into cheese, most of the lactose is removed. Add low-fat cheddar to your favorite cornbread recipe or serve rice and beans with Colby.
Introduce dairy slowly. Start with small amounts of dairy foods. Drink milk with meals instead of on an empty stomach. Solid foods slow digestion and allow your body more time to digest the lactose, which helps prevent symptoms.
Reduce it. Consider lactose-reduced dairy products, such as
lactose-free milk and lactose-free cottage cheese. Look for lactose-free or lactose-reduced milk in the dairy case. It tastes the same as regular milk. Or “spike” your milk with a few lactase enzyme drops that are available in most drug stores. That will reduce the lactose in the milk.
Yogurt is semi-solid, contains live and active cultures, and on average has less lactose per serving than milk, all of which may make it easier to digest for those with lactose intolerance. Cultured dairy products, such as yogurt with live active cultures, contain “friendly” bacteria that help digest lactose. Incorporate non-fat yogurt into a refreshing mango and banana smoothie for a great-tasting way to start the day
Finally, don’t forget to explore the dairy aisle in the supermarket. There are many varieties of milk, cheese, and yogurt including dairy-free options made from fortified soy milk. These options can also help you meet your dairy requirements.