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Home Remedies for Lactose Intolerance

Updated on March 8, 2011

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.

Milk

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

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!

Supplements

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.

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    • BlissfulWriter profile image

      BlissfulWriter 

      6 years ago

      Lactose intolerance is a normal condition in adults. 75% of the world adult population is lactose intolerance. Babies can take milk because they have the enyzme lactase. But as they become adult, they loose this enyzme.

      Milk is not that great considering that other people are also allergic to the protein casein in milk. I personally avoid dairy products. One can get calcium from leafy vegetables, sardines, and other sources.

    • profile image

      Ruby 

      6 years ago

      A great article, but the logic is that children and babies have the ability to tolerate lactose,as a matter of fact adults can go on the consumption yogurt or better still consume leafy vegetable since calcium , some minerals and vitamins contained in the leafy vegetables are also in milk.

    • profile image

      gil 

      6 years ago

      The reason humans consume dairy products more than anamils is they haven't discovered how to make ice cream,cheese ect.

    • profile image

      // 

      7 years ago

      Thanks I found out recently I was lactose intolerant (which I should have guessed earlier) Think that introducing dairy slowly in small doses should help.

    • profile image

      judyd 

      7 years ago

      grew up on a dairy farm, the milk truck driver was my grandfather... had to drink my milk, eat ice cream for desert, was always sickly, developed migraines as a teenager, took years but now I know why. Luckily it is a sensitivity & not allergy. Nothing I take helps. Any suggestions???

    • sharmanlow profile image

      sharmanlow 

      7 years ago

      im one of the lactose intolerant persons, glad to have come across your hub.

    • renegadetory profile image

      Carolyn Dahl 

      7 years ago from Ottawa, Ontario

      I've been lactose intolerant since I was 20. I think I drank far too much milk growing up.. it was gradual but it got to the point where if I drank milk or ate ice cream I would be doubled over in pain on the floor and have to use the washroom shortly after.

      I don't find the lactose-free milk any different from regular milk, I still can't drink it or lactose-free ice cream or certain cheeses either. The pills do help, but I've been sick even after taking them. Buttermilk and yogurt and soft cheeses seem to be the only things my system can handle.

    • LindaOH profile image

      LindaOH 

      7 years ago from OH

      Thanks goodness for Breyer's Lactose Free Vanilla Ice Cream. It's 99% lactose free so one pill does it for me. Good article!

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 

      8 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      Very well done - great opening. You are a terrific writer. Thank you very much!

    • profile image

      dare the cow 

      8 years ago

      Are'n't milk and milk by products for babies. from what I understand humans are the only mammals that continue to intake milk products beyond suckling age. Perhaps great marketing is the reason so many suffer from lactose intolerance, because our bodies simply reject what is not needed or is polluting us. I would alos like to add, the milk we get from stores is very, very different from the natural stuff, it's chock-full of chemicals and additives, logic would tell me that this isn't going to agree with my body. But, hats off to all the milk producers for pulling the wool over so many eyes and hats off to the makers of lactose intolerant remedies for seeing that a buck can be made from the hardships of our own species.

    • profile image

      toast 

      9 years ago

      thanks this really helped a lot.

    • profile image

      jojo 

      10 years ago

      What about what to do after you couldn't resist the plate of nachos???? No one's talking about this!!!!

    • Maddie Ruud profile imageAUTHOR

      Maddie Ruud 

      11 years ago from Oakland, CA

      Chris:

      In fact, the opposite of what you're saying is true--we are all lactose intolerant, just to different degrees, depending on our genetics, and more specifically, our ethnic backgrounds. The enzymes that metabolize dairy decrease with age in all races.

      Nevertheless, what you say about building up tolerance is often true. Eating yogurt on a daily basis, and working more and more dairy gradually into your diet may help rid you of your symptoms. On the other hand, in those with a higher intolerance, it may worsen symptoms. Listen to your body on this one.

      Thanks for reading,

      Maddie

    • profile image

      Chris 

      11 years ago

      Well, lots of times people think they are lactose intolerant when really they just need to build up a tolerance to dairy foods. I think it has something to do with the bacteria (don't worry its healthy) in dairy foods that your body needs to adapt to. Don't quote me on that though.

      In my opinion, if you have trouble with dairy, then eat/drink in smaller doses and slowly build up to more servings. If that fails, then yes, you are most likely lactose intolerant

    • profile image

      Marye Audet 

      11 years ago

      Good info! I had problems as a teen but seemd to grow out of them.

    • Paul Edmondson profile image

      Paul Edmondson 

      11 years ago from Burlingame, CA

      Thanks for putting this together. I stopped eating dairy products for a bit, although I'm thinking of bringing them back to see how I do.

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