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Do you have problems digesting milk?

Do you have problems digesting milk?

Women's Wellness

Getting the daily requirement of calcium is of topmost importance when it comes to maintaining good bone health. Calcium is found in many food sources, with milk and dairy products being the richest source. So getting three servings daily of milk, yogurt or cheese is the easiest and most efficient way to meet your daily calcium requirements.

Have you ever experienced bloating or indigestion when consuming a glass of milk or other dairy products?

If yes, then you might be lactose intolerant. 

What is lactose intolerance?

It is the inability of certain individuals to digest lactose -- the sugar found in milk -- due to a deficiency or decreased production of the enzyme lactase, which is needed for digestion. So, the lactose remains in the intestines causing some gastrointestinal discomfort which varies from bloating and discomfort when the intolerance is mild, to abdominal pain, nausea, cramps and diarrhoea when the intolerance is pronounced. 

What are the foods that contain lactose?

Many foods contain lactose; milk, ice cream, cream, cottage cheese, some cheeses, and also butter and yogurt to a lesser extent. In addition, some prepared foods may contain lactose, like some bread, pastry, salad dressings, and some cake mixes. So, in order to reduce lactose intake you need to pay attention to food labels. 

Most importantly, find your degree of lactose intolerance.

Most people with lactose intolerance can eat a small amount of lactose; for example, you may be able to handle a cup of milk but not more; or you may be able to handle yogurt or cheese but not milk. So, having mild lactose intolerance doesn’t mean eliminating milk or dairy totally. With some trial and error you will find out what is your lactose threshold.

However, your intolerance might be severe and cause you serious discomfort. If this is the case, consult your doctor and ask him about lactase tablets which can help you include milk and dairy in your diet. 

Good to know: 

Studies have shown that having small amounts of lactose daily helps reduce the degree of lactose intolerance. 

What to do?

A diet rich in calcium is important for healthy bones and one of the primary risk factors of not getting enough calcium due to avoiding milk and dairy is osteoporosis. What is the solution? Find out your threshold and stick to it!

To complement your intake, enrich your diet with other calcium-rich foods like sardines, salmon, broccoli, dark leafy vegetables, almonds and legumes. 

If you have any discomfort when you drink milk, keep in mind to:

    • Check with your doctor if you are really lactose intolerant
    • Find out how much dairy you can handle, and consume this amount daily
    • If you can’t handle lactose at all ask your doctor about lactase tablets
    • Include non-dairy calcium rich foods in your diet
    • Finally, ask your Doctor if you need to take calcium supplements.

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