Lactose intolerant, yet craving dairy

Donovan GRANT

Monday, May 14, 2018

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DEAR DONOVAN, I am lactose intolerant , but I am stubborn in terms of being disciplined to avoid dairy. Can you help me with a fun diet that includes foods close to milk?

Lactose intolerance is a condition in which some people have decreased ability to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk products. These people may vary in the amount of lactose they can tolerate before symptoms of lactose intolerance develop. These symptoms may include abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhoea, gas, vomiting and nausea. The symptoms will show up half an hour to two hours after drinking milk or consuming milk products.

It is generally believed that lactose intolerance is genetically linked. However, other factors such as age, diet and stress can contribute to the condition. It should, however, be noted that lactose intolerance is usually not harmful, but it can be uncomfortable as well as embarrassing.

There is no cure for lactose intolerance, but it can be effectively managed by watching how much milk or milk products are consumed daily. Most people who are lactose intolerant can digest small or even moderate amounts of lactose. In your case, I see where even though you are lactose intolerant you do not want to go too far from milk.

Firstly, I would suggest that you get an idea of how much lactose you can tolerate before you start getting symptoms. You might be able to drink a half cup of milk without any problems, while a whole cup might cause you some problems. So, as much as possible, be disciplined if you want to take that route. In addition, it is also possible to add some organic fermented dairy to your diet. Fermented dairy products improve the digestion of the lactose present in the milk. These include yoghurt and kefir.

Kefir is similar to yoghurt but thinner and drinkable. In addition, kefir contains high levels of thiamine, B12 and vitamin K. Yoghurt and kefir with live active cultures normally do not produce symptoms of lactose intolerance. The active culture helps to break down the lactose prior to consumption. The longer the milk is fermented, the less the lactose will be, because the active culture will use the lactose for food.

Both the yoghurt and kefir can be used for breakfast by themselves or with other non-dairy ingredients such as fruits. If you are really having problems with cow's milk, goat's milk might be easier on you. Goat's milk is easier to digest and it also contains a smaller amount of lactose. So goat cheese, also, would be better than cheese made from cow's milk.

It is also possible to make a curd from your milk by adding lime. The milk curd will be separated and come to the top while the liquid part (whey), which contains large amounts of lactose, can be thrown away. This milk curd could be added to your shakes, fruits, smoothies, etc.

Also, to avoid the symptoms of lactose intolerance, you can take digestive enzyme supplements that contain lactose with your meals. In addition, ghee can be substituted for butter. The long skimming process which produces ghee from butter removes a lot of the lactose.

Adding softer cheeses that went through a fermented process would also be helpful. These cheeses could add lots of flavour to your salads and pastas.

Overall, it should be noted that with the improvement in technology a number of lactose-free milks and milk products have become available. You could check your health and whole food stores. Note also that people who are lactose intolerant usually tend to lack calcium and vitamin K. It is therefore important to incorporate foods rich in these nutrients.

We will answer your weight-related questions

Are you struggling to lose weight or just need some advice on living a healthier life? Tell us about your health issues and we'll have nutritionist and wellness coach Donovan Grant answer them for you. Grant has over 12 years' experience in the fitness industry and is the owner of DG's Nutrition and Wellness Centre, 39 Lady Musgrave Road. Call him at 876-286-1363. E-mail questions to clarkep@jamaicaobserver.com.

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