Lactose Intolerance

What is lactose intolerance?

Lactose intolerance is the result of not being able to digest lactose, a sugar found in cow's milk. This is due to the absence of lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose into smaller absorbable parts. It is more common in adulthood and adolescents than childhood.

People with lactose intolerance may feel uncomfortable 30 minutes to 2 hours after consuming milk or milk-based products. Common symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, gas, nausea, and diarrhea, though many people are able to tolerate small amounts of lactose without having any symptoms.

Lactose intolerance is different than a casein allergy, the protein in cow's milk. A casein allergy causes an immune system response, which can be life threatening.

Hidden sources of lactose

  • Butter substitutes like margarine or popcorn butter flavoring
  • Baked goods, caramel candies, milk chocolate, nougat
  • Lunch meat, sausages, hotdogs, frozen dinner entrées
  • Cheeses, yogurts, creams, sherbets

Good substitutions for lactose

  • Milk substitutes: soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, hemp milk, and almond milk
  • Lactose-free products, such as lactose-free milk
  • Dark chocolate and hard cheeses (parmesan, pecorino)

Lactose intolerance does not have to impair your ability to enjoy a wide variety of foods! Use lactose-free products and enjoy naturally occurring lactose-free items like vegetables, fruits, nuts and whole grains.