Research estimates that 70 percent of the world’s population can’t drink milk or eat dairy products without getting an upset stomach, which is due to lactose intolerance. Lactose is a natural sugar found in milk and other dairy products. Some of the conditions of being lactose intolerant include nausea, stomach cramps, gas, bloating or diarrhea. These side effects usually occur within 15 minutes to several hours after eating or drinking foods with lactose.
A low lactose diet eliminates only milk and milk products. If you think you’re lactose intolerant, you can consider drinking milk in small amounts or drinking it with a meal. Some people can tolerate yogurt. By experimenting, you may be able to build up your tolerance level. With a lactose free diet, all lactose products must be eliminated. Be sure to read labels carefully. Foods and drinks that can contain lactose can include some breads or dough, dry cereals, candies, cookies, salad dressings, cream soups, and drink mixes.
Try using Lactaid when you eat dairy. Lactaid is an enzyme that helps digest the lactose in dairy. There’s also Lactaid milk, which comes in three different types – Non-fat or one percent low fat, which is 70 percent lactose reduced; non-fat calcium-fortified, which is 70 percent lactose reduced, with 500 mg of calcium per cup added; and non-fat Lactaid 100, which is completely lactose-free. You can also use soy, hemp, rice or almond milk instead of dairy.
If you’re concerned about calcium, drink fortified orange juice or soymilk; take a calcium supplement (with magnesium) and work out with weights for bone health. Many vegetables, such as broccoli, contain calcium as well. Beware of the following items that also contain lactose: whey, curds, milk by-products, dry milk solids and nonfat dry milk powder.