Home Remedies for Lactose Intolerance
Am I Lactose Intolerant?
Do you find yourself gassy after drinking a glass of milk? Does cheese pizza give you the runs? If you find yourself doubled over with intestinal pain from eating a bowl of ice cream, chances are, you're lactose intolerant.
The easiest, quickest way to test your suspicions is to cut dairy out of your diet, and see whether or not you find that makes a difference. If it does, and you're interested in further confirmation, visit your doctor for a breath or stool test.
So, I'm Lactose Intolerant... Now What?
Now that you know for sure that you're lactose intolerant, you're uncertain what to do next. How will your life and behavior have to change? What can you do to manage this condition with minimal impact on your daily existence? The good news is, your life doesn't have to be up-ended. You do not, in fact, have to avoid dairy products entirely to see your symptoms decrease, or even disappear! With a few small alterations in lifestyle that will soon become habit, there's much you can do to control the upset lactose intolerance causes.
If you grew up drinking milk, as I did, the thought of giving up your beloved morning glass can be daunting. There are, of course, non-dairy substitutes, but some individuals don't like the taste of soy or rice milk. It's been suggested that acidophilus milk might ease the symptoms of lactose intolerance, but while acidophilus organisms do aid in digestion, they work in the large intestine, and lactose metabolism takes place in the small intestine.
Instead, try lactase-supplemented cow milk, such as Lactaid, which can be used in cooking, baking, and coffee drinks as well as imbibed the old-fashioned way, by the glass. The difference in taste is negligible, but if it does bother you, try buttermilk. Buttermilk's name gives it a bad reputation, but it actually contains less fat and cholesterol than 2% milk, and many lactose intolerant individuals find it infinitely easier to stomach.
Yogurt should cause fewer problems than milk generally does, as it contains far less lactose per volume. Studies have also shown that eating yogurt every day can actually decrease the symptoms of lactose intolerance over all. Choose nonfat yogurt over whole, as fat causes slower digestion, which means the yogurt will take longer to reach the place in the small intestine where it is metabolized. Frozen yogurt is harder to digest than regular, as it has often been repasturized before freezing.
In addition, eating yogurt 10-15 minutes before eating other dairy products, such as ice cream, may ease the subsequent symptoms of lactose intolerance. Try it, and see if it works for you!
One of the least invasive ways to avoid stomach upset from lactose intake is simply to supplement your lactase by taking a supplement. The brand Lactaid (the same manufacturer of lactase-supplemented milk) manufactures tablets containing the beneficial enzyme, which will help break down the lactose your body cannot metabolize on its own. There are also lactase liquid supplements that may be added to milk or stirred into yogurt.
However, the most common mistake people make is not to take enough lactase to offset the amount of lactose. Different populations tolerate different quantities of lactose, so the only way to find a balance within your own system is through trial and error. You can also try taking a daily probiotic supplement.
In addition, it is vital to up your calcium intake with green, leafy vegetables such as spinach and broccoli, or by taking Tums or a calcium supplement daily. Even taking a lactase supplement, you will likely find yourself eating less dairy than you did, and it is important not to let your calcium intake slip.