Published: 04/23/2013 - Updated: 10/25/2018
Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest large quantities of milk and its derivatives.
In order to ingest milk and dairy products rich in lactose, the body needs an intestinal enzyme called lactase. If the enzyme levels are low in the body, milk sugar won’t be digested and settles on the walls of the intestines, causing unpleasant symptoms such as inflammation, nausea, cramping, gas, and diarrhea. These symptoms occur about 30 minutes to 2 hours after ingesting the product with lactose, and its severity depends on the amount of lactose each individual can tolerate.
Some causes of lactose intolerance are well known, ranging from digestive diseases, injuries to the small intestine which prevents the production of lactase. It can occur with other diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, malabsorption syndrome or recent viral infection.
There are different degrees of lactose intolerance, if you want to know your level, start with small amounts of foods that contain lactose. Aged cheeses for example, have less amount of lactose than other dairy if you tolerate well, try a yogurt in moderation.
Depending on your level of lactose intolerance, you can consume some amounts of dairy or not, if you tolerate a little milk, then try dividing the amount of milk you drink a day, i.e. instead of taking a two glasses at once, try the same amount in small doses.
Often hot foods containing milk may be better tolerated than cold.
Never take milk alone! Pair it with a solid food and decrease the speed at which the milk passes through the digestive tract to intestinal absorption.
A product of enzymes can help digest milk, in effect helps to unfold the lactase, so milk becomes more digestible, and you can find these products at the drugstore or health food stores.
Beware of hidden lactose
Many products may contain lactose, even in small quantities. Among these are the bread and other baked goods, processed cereals, potatoes, soups and instant drinks. Also hidden in sausages, sweets, margarine, mixes, cookies, mousse, prepared coffee, etc.
Some medications may also contain lactose, especially those that relieve heartburn and gas. You should read the labels of the products you consume, and pay attention to those that contain ingredients such as whey, curds, caseinate, lactoglobulin, and dairy.
In today's market, there are many options that can be used to replace milk. Dairy milks that are free of lactose, perhaps the most famous is soy milk.
However, other vegetable milks are made from nuts, such as almonds, hazelnuts, chestnuts and walnuts, and are a good supply of vitamins, healthy fats, and especially calcium. The sesame or sesame milk is an excellent source of calcium.
There are also plant milks that are prepared from cereals like wheat, oats, and rice. They can be used in a variety of recipes and even preparing derivatives, such as yogurt or cheese (tofu).
Sources of calcium
While dairy is the representative group as a source of calcium, there are other sources, such as the aforementioned nuts, and soybeans. You can also get calcium from fish eating bones, such as sardines.
The seeds, like sesame or chia are rich in calcium.