February is Lactose Intolerance Awareness Month, so we wanted to remind you – you can still enjoy dairy foods with LI! Learn more from our Registered Dietitian below!
February is Lactose Intolerance Awareness Month. Perhaps you’re one of the roughly 1 in 10 adults who reports having symptoms of lactose intolerance? But are you aware that you don’t have to miss out on the important health benefits and great flavor of dairy foods?
The good news – there are a variety of options available to allow nearly everyone, even those with lactose intolerance, to enjoy delicious dairy while appreciating the health benefits of the 9 essential nutrients found in milk, cheese and yogurt. Keep in mind that the right amount of lactose will vary from person to person as lactose intolerance is a very individual condition. Here are some tips for enjoying dairy foods again:
- Try lactose-free milk. Lactose free milk is real cow’s milk without the lactose.
- Appreciate yogurt. Yogurt has live and active cultures – healthy bacteria which assist your body in digesting lactose.
- Choose cheeses naturally very low in lactose, such as cheddar, Colby, Swiss, Monterey Jack, queso blanco, queso fresco and mozzarella.
- Enjoy milk and other dairy foods with meals, as opposed to on an empty stomach. Food slows the breakdown of food, giving your body more time to digest the lactose.
- Try lactase enzyme pills. Take them with your first sip or bite of milk, cheese, yogurt, or ice cream to avoid the unwanted symptoms of lactose intolerance.
So what’s the big deal? Why should you continue to eat dairy foods if you have lactose intolerance? Many people recognize that dairy foods are an excellent source of calcium. But did you know that in order to obtain the same amount of calcium provided by one 8-ounce glass of milk (300 mg of calcium), a person would need to eat about 10 cups of raw spinach. Dairy foods are also a source of high-quality protein. In fact, milk naturally contains 8 grams of protein in every cup. Greek yogurt has anywhere from 15 to 20 grams of protein per 6-ounce container. And that’s not all – one serving of cow’s milk contains about as much potassium as a small banana.
In addition to packing a powerful nutrient punch, cow’s milk is simply milk, fortified with vitamins A and D. Milk alternatives may be more processed and usually contain more than 8 ingredients.
Nearly everyone, including those with lactose intolerance, should have the opportunity to eat confidently and live fully without restrictions – there’s something in the dairy case for almost everyone. If you’re lactose intolerant, visit EatConfidentlywithLI.org for additional tips and tricks, lactose intolerance-friendly recipes and more.