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Lactose Intolerance Increasing?

On Blast:  Should we ditch the dairy?

“Calcium deficiency has also become a greater concern among parents as awareness of lactose intolerance increases.

First of all, amen to the article, sans the aforementioned quote.  It’s not that lactose intolerance awareness is increasing, rather that it is being increasingly misdiagnosed/self-diagnosed.  Ethnic minorities are more likely to believe they are lactose intolerant than Caucasians.  For example, African Americans are actually less likely to be lactose intolerant than any other ethnicity but show the highest lactose intolerance through self-diagnosis. 

People often mistake symptoms of celiac, IBS, or maldigestive disorders with lactose intolerability. Poor dairy intake increases sensitivity when dairy is consumed, manifests as lactose maldigestion.   Lactose intolerance is the suspected culprit and dairy is then permanently removed from the diet.  By removing dairy from your diet, you remove the #1 bioavailable source of vitamin d, calcium, protein, phosphorus, and riboflavin.

While there definitely are people who are truly intolerant to lactose (experiencing diarrhea, nausea, cramps, bloating, and/or gas), most people are NOT lactose intolerant.  True lactose intolerant people may be lacking the enzyme that breaks down lactose (a sugar present in dairy products), recipients of bowel surgery, inflicted with celiac sprue, or have small intestinal infection(s) that damage the cell lining.  If you believe yourself to truly be lactose intolerant, you should seek advice from a Medical Doctor or Registered Dietitian.

In order for us to comfortably digest lactose, we need to feed our digestive tracts continuous sources of lactose.  Your body is so amazing that it can relearn how to digest lactose in as little as 2-3 weeks!

Reintroducing dairy to our diets

  • Start with yogurt or hard cheeses.  These products may be easier for you to digest.
  • Eat dairy with other foods and in small amounts throughout the day.
    • Use small amounts of milk or cream in cooking.
    • Take a Lactaid pill before eating any dairy foods.
    • Add Lactaid powder/drops to milk and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours before using.

Dairy foods that might be easier to digest:

  • Butter Milk
  • Lactaid Milk
  • Sweet Acidophilus Milk

This is a great resource for further information.  It is a compilation of information regarding lactose intolerance in minorities.

Verdit:  Take your dairy with a grain of [Lactaid]. 

If you have trouble with dairy, try soy milk or see if you can reintroduce it to your system.  Give it a try!