February is Lactose Intolerance Awareness Month. Lactose Intolerance is a body's limited ability, or even inability to digest lactose - the sugar naturally found in milk. It can cause abdominal pain, bloating and gas. So people affected by lactose intolerance can't eat dairy? Not true! The symptoms can often be managed by diet. Treatment of lactose intolerance by eliminating dairy products is usually not necessary. Avoiding dairy can lead to inadequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D. So what? Dairy and its essential nutrients (nutrients that your body can not produce and therefore must come from what we consume) are associated with weight management, better bone health (which may help prevent osteoporosis), and reduced risk of certain chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
Dairy is important to your health, but you don't want to live with symptoms from lactose intolerance? I get that. Step one- Talk to your doctor. Your health care provider recognizes the health benefits of dairy in your diet and also can discuss the consequences of avoiding dairy.
Here are 5 tips to help you cope with lactose intolerance that can keep dairy in your daily diet -
- Go slow. Build up a tolerance. Start with small amounts.
- Opt for lactose-free or reduced-lactose dairy.
- Eat dairy with meals to help in digestion.
- Eat live culture Greek or regular yogurt.
- Choose natural, aged cheeses such as Cheddar, Colby, Swiss, Mozarella and Monterrey Jack. They contain minimal lactose.
National Dairy Council