What is the Lactose Free Diet
What is lactose, and why are so many people suffering from its adverse effects? Lactose is the simple sugar found in milk and milk products. It is a water soluble food source, and it can also be found in a variety of other foods and even in pills and capsules, as filler. Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose. Those who are lactose intolerant are growing by numbers in leaps and bounds. Right now, it is estimated that almost 75% of adults show some instance of lactose intolerance during their adulthood, and this is worldwide.
If you are lactose intolerant, you are unable to digest this lactose. That is when problems arise. This lactose intolerance occurs when our bodies stop being able to properly metabolize lactose, or absorb the sugar in milk. This can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, flatulence, abdominal bloating and sometimes nausea.
Those who suffer from this problem can tremendously alleviate the symptoms of lactose intolerance by eliminating dairy from their diet. A lactose free diet eliminates lactose or reduces it to a tolerable level for those who are lactose intolerant.
Options for a Lactose Free Diet
There are some options for those suffering from lactose intolerance. You can completely cut dairy from your diet, or find alternatives. Gloria Tsang, RD, an expert on nutrition and the founder of HealthCastle.com suggests these ideas for changing your diet:
- If you still want to include milk in your diet, drink only small quantities of it per sitting.
- Drink milk only with meals to reduce abdominal discomfort.
- Use Lactaid when you eat dairy. This is an enzyme to help digest lactose in dairy.
- Drink or cook with products such as Lacteeze or another lactose-free milk. These products have their lactose reduced by 99%. Some of these lactose-reduced products have lactose only reduced – so be sure to read the labels.
- Try calcium-fortified soy milk, almond milk or rice milk to make sure your body still takes in enough calcium. You can also add calcium-fortified orange juice to up your intake of calcium.
- Find dairy products that are naturally low in lactose. These include Swiss cheese and cottage cheese.
Make sure to look out for non-dairy commercial products that still contain lactose. Look at the ingredient list for any of these: whey, curds, milk by-products, dry milk solids, or nonfat dry milk powder. These indicate lactose.
What Experts Say about the Lactose Free Diet
The experts at the Mayo Clinic recommend eating fewer dairy products, and adding in other foods that are rich in calcium, so that you will still meet the recommended daily allowance of calcium. Such foods as broccoli, almonds, bok choy, canned salmon, kale, oranges, pinto beans, spinach and rhubarb contain calcium. They also suggest other ways to include calcium in a non-dairy diet, like buying calcium-fortified foods and milk substitutes such as soy or rice milk.
Dr. Frank Jackson, MD, says that a lactose free diet is important for those who cannot handle any lactose at all. He reminds those who suffer in this way to read food labels, as many commercial foods include lactose.
Sample Lactose Free Diet Meal Plan
Dr. Frank Jackson, MD of Jackson Siegelbaum Gastroenterology designed this sample eating plan:
- ½ cup calcium fortified orange juice
- 1 cup oatmeal
- 2 slices of Italian bread, toasted, with jelly
- 1 cup of coffee with a teaspoon of sugar and non-dairy creamer
- 2 oz of turkey on 2 slices of Italian Bread with mayonnaise
- 1 cup of tossed green salad with oil, vinegar, carrots, and celery
- 1 banana
- 1 cup of lactose-free milk
- ¾ cup of consommé
- 1 cup of strained fruit juice
- ½ cup of fruit ice
- ½ cup of gelatin
- Hot tea with sugar and lemon