What is lactose intolerance?
- The main carbohydrate in dairy products is “lactose”.
- Our bodies have an enzyme called “lactase enzyme” that is responsible for the breakdown and digestion of lactose.
- Absence of lactase means that moves through your gut undigested, resulting in a digestive disorder commonly referred to as “lactose intolerance”
There are 2 types of lactose intolerance: Primary and Secondary. Primary lactose intolerance is more common and becomes more prominent with age; secondary lactose intolerance is very rare and is caused by an illness that causes inflammation in the gut which may result in a temporary decrease in lactase production.
Lactose intolerance is actually more common than we think, affecting over 50% of the world’s population. People with lactose intolerance experience digestive problems when they eat dairy. Symptoms include bloating, diarrhea and abdominal cramps, gas, urgency to go to the toilet, nausea, vomiting, pain in the lower belly and occasional constipation.
What to do?
The most obvious “solution” is to cut out anything with dairy products, be it milk, cheese, ice-cream, pizza, chocolate … etc which is not necessarily always the case. Most people with lactose intolerance can tolerate small amounts of lactose, depending on their degree of intolerance (amount of lactase). Dairy products like butter, yogurt and some cheeses are somehow well tolerated. If you’re not particularly passionate about dairy products, you can simply cut them out, just make sure you find other sources for the nutrients abundant in dairy. If you do like dairy, however, then there are definitely ways for you to thrive:
1- enzyme supplements
2- lactose exposure
3- consuming probiotics/prebiotics
Dairy Foods That Contain Lactose
The following dairy products contain lactose:
- Cow’s milk (all types)
- Goat’s milk
- Cheese (including hard and soft cheeses)
- Ice cream
Foods That Sometimes Contain Lactose
Foods that have some form of dairy as an ingredient may also contain lactose, including:
- Foods made with a milky sauce, like quiche
- Biscuits and cookies
- Chocolate and confectionary, like boiled sweets and candies
- Breads and baked goods
- Breakfast cereals
- Instant soups and sauces
- Processed meats, such as pre-sliced ham or sausages
- Ready meals
- Sauces and gravies
- Potato chips, nuts and flavored tortillas
- Desserts and custards
Some dairy companies have actually taken initiative to cater to the lactose intolerant population by producing lactose-free dairy products.