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Lactose intolerance

Dietary Management of Lactose Intolerance

Lactose intolerance is a condition that affects around 65% of the world population.

Medically, the condition is present in individuals who lack the ability to break down lactose or those who aren’t very successful at it. Lactose is a type of sugar found in milk and other dairy products. In an otherwise lactose tolerant individual, lactose is broken down by lactase, which is produced by cells in the small intestine.

For those who are diagnosed with this condition, there are a few things that must be kept in mind when it comes to condition management. The following list demonstrates what these are.

Understanding the symptoms of lactose intolerance

When a diet plan is being chosen, individuals need to understand how dairy affects their body. Certain considerations are important, including how each symptom takes effect, how long before any pain or discomfort is felt, and whether symptoms are restricted to a particular time of the day.

By understanding how lactose intolerance takes effect, preparing the right diet and minimising any discomfort may become more manageable. This information can then be shared with a doctor or dietitian, who will come up with a personalised meal plan that’s tailor-made to each individual’s requirements.

Choosing lactose-free or low-lactose products

While it’s not necessary for anyone with lactose intolerance to lead a life completely devoid of dairy, avoiding unnecessary indulgences may reduce pain and discomfort.

Given the developments in the food technology industry, patients can now enjoy dairy products that are low in lactose. These include a range of cheese, milk, and ice cream. For anyone who’s unsure of how these will affect their body, consulting a doctor before doing so is always a safer option.

Adding enzyme supplements to meals

It is possible to remedy some of the effects of lactose intolerance by adding certain enzyme supplements to meals. These come in various forms, such as pills or food and drink additives. Incorporation is generally hassle-free.

Effects may vary from person to person. They’re also only as effective as long as individuals don’t exceed a certain level of lactose intake, which is around 50 grams of lactose. For this reason, it is recommended that a doctor is consulted before any enzyme supplement is chosen.

Adding alternative sources of calcium to meals

Calcium is an essential vitamin for the human body. It helps build bones, keeps them in good condition, and even assists with clotting blood.

Dairy is an excellent source of calcium. For those who are lactose intolerant, adding alternative sources of calcium into their diet is necessary. Milk can be substituted with almond, soy or oat milk. Certain types of fish are another rich source of calcium. Plant-based products are another source of calcium.

Lactose exposure

Another recommended dietary practice is lactose exposure by adding dairy to meals, gradually and incrementally.

While there are a few studies that support this approach, the area still remains relatively under-researched. Certain research papers propose convincing evidence that shows that consuming dairy products reduces lactose intolerance over time.

Key takeaways

Lactose intolerance is a condition that doesn’t have to disrupt all elements of life.

When it comes to day-to-day life, proper diet management is required. Consuming the right nutrients ensures that any potential health benefits being missed out on a dairy-free diet are administered. For those that find it difficult to go completely dairy-free, lactose exposure and calcium supplements may prove useful.

Find out more information on lactose intolerance

The Sydney Gut Clinic specialises in treating gastroenterology-related conditions such as lactose intolerance. More information can be found on their site. Appointments for treatment can also be requested.