Your Guide to Living with Lactose Intolerance

For more information on diagnosing, treating, and living with lactose intolerance, call Illinois Gastroenterology Group at 84

Do you feel uncomfortable after you consume dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and ice cream? You may be one of the 30 million to 50 million Americans who are affected by lactose intolerance. 

Lactase is an enzyme produced in your intestine that helps you break down and digest lactose, which is sugar found in dairy products. When your body doesn’t produce enough lactase to break down lactose, the lactose products build up in your system and result in symptoms such as gassiness, bloating, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

Lactose intolerance affects everyone differently. Some people can digest a small amount of lactose while others can’t digest any. Your first step to living with lactose intolerance is to figure out your tolerance level for lactose products. Other tips for managing your lactose intolerance include:

Cutting down on lactose

Regardless of the amount of dairy your body can tolerate, you will most likely have to cut down on what you consume. Try consuming small quantities such as half a glass of milk instead of a full glass so your body has a better chance of digesting it. 

Taking your lactose with food

Save your milk or dairy food consumption for mealtime. Pairing your lactose products with foods helps slow down the digestive system, resulting in fewer problems and symptoms.

Diversifying your dairy

Not all dairy products are created equal. Some people tend to tolerate some products but not others. Try yogurt and hard cheeses such as cheddar and Swiss since they tend to be low in lactose.

Trying lactose-free products

Who says you need to give up dairy products entirely? Lactose-free and reduced-lactose products such as lactose-free milk are usually found in the dairy section of your supermarket.

Stocking up on lactose enzyme tablets

Lactose enzyme products help your body break down lactose and reduce symptoms of lactose intolerance. Take the tablets as directed, right before eating.

Getting enough calcium

While dairy products are chock-full of calcium, you can still get what your body needs of this important nutrient from other foods. Broccoli, canned sardines, oranges, pinto beans, and spinach are all rich in calcium. Lactose-free milk and other products are not free of calcium, so you’ll be getting your fix from those products as well. 

Being aware of sneaky lactose

There are many products that you wouldn’t expect to contain lactose, but they do. Bread, processed foods, soups, and non-dairy creamers may contain lactose, so beware.

For more information on diagnosing, treating, and living with lactose intolerance, call Illinois Gastroenterology Group at 847-888-1300, or request an appointment online using the convenient scheduling feature. You can also send the team a message here on the website.

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