Do you feel uneasy after consuming milk or any other dairy product? If this is a regular phenomenon then it is likely that you are lactose intolerant. What it means is that your body is unable to break down lactose, a natural sugar found in milk and other dairy product, properly. This in many cases can create uneasiness as it leads to gastrointestinal problems. If such is the case then read on.
Let us first understand more about this ‘intolerance’…
Our bodies cannot break down lactose, so our small intestine gets to work by synthesizing an enzyme called ‘lactase’. This enzyme breaks down lactose into two types of sugars which our intestines absorb to give us energy. If you have ‘lactase-deficiency’, you are lactose intolerant!
Watch out for symptoms such as:
- Stomach cramps or pain
These symptoms may kick in soon (about half an hour) on having any dairy food or milk that irritates your tummy.
There are many food products to suit those suffering from lactose intolerance. But removing the dairy products from your diet will cause nutrition deficiency. One aspect which you must watch out for is that your intake of calcium and vitamin D is not hit. Calcium is an extremely important nutrient. Deficiency causes osteoporosis, and we don’t want weak bones as we grow older. Another issue is that some studies have indicated calcium deficiency with SCA (Sudden Cardiac Arrest). Because milk and dairy products are main sources of calcium, therefore you must alter your diet so that it continues to remain wholesome. Reach out for lactose-free milk, orange, almonds, leafy greens, tofu, figs and the likes.
Lactose-free Milk or Soya Milk
Soya milk is 100% lactose-free milk. Made from soya plant, it is not milk in the true sense. However, calcium is added to meet the daily calcium requirement of a consumer. It is fortified with vitamin D as this nutrient helps calcium absorption. Yet another balle balle news, soya milk contains some level of protein. It does not contain any cholesterol. So, go grab one soya milk and make Johnny boy happy.
Almond Milk or Coconut Milk
It is made by crushing almonds, blitzed with water and strained. What you get it a halka sa beige coloured milk that tastes like almond. But naturally! Texture wise it tastes like ‘gai ka doodh’ and is rich in vitamin E, D making it healthier than our regular doodh. You can also add coconut milk to your list. It is creamier, contains medium triglycerides which increase your metabolism. It is possible that you may not be able to use both these milk on daily basis. However, they are a good source when preparing different food or using as alternatives.
Butter is made from milk fat which is rapidly churned to get white, delicious, slightly sweet butter. This sweetness indicates that some lactose could still be hiding in the butter. It is fine to have this butter, judiciously of course, if you are trying to gradually scale up your tolerance for lactose. It is wise to note here that lactose tolerance varies from individual to individual. However, if the butter still irritates your GI tract, push butter away and put ghee back on to the table. Though the latter might too contain small amounts of lactose, it is believed to be too insignificant to affect those who are intolerant.
You may want to go for Greek yoghurt which is probiotic. The live cultures in this probiotic wonder are those friendly bugs, enjoying all the sugar leaving you with an ‘almost lactose-free’ yoghurt. Additionally, during the process of making it, it is strained many times. This method removes the lactose out of the yoghurt leaving you with thick, creamy dahi. Furthermore, dahi is made by fermentation which breaks down lactose, so it works best for in such deficiencies. You can also go for full-fat yoghurt in which you have more fat and less whey.
Aged or mature cheese
Thank God cheese is still on the table. But go for hard, mature cheese like parmesan, cheddar, and such. In the process of making aged cheese, the enzymes used in preparing such cheese break down the sugar. The more time it takes to process aged cheese, the more the enzymes break down lactose. The end result, hardly any lactose left to trouble a cheese lover like you.
However, if you are watching your diet, you may want to give the mature cheese a miss. In that case, try steamed cauliflower. Full of nutrition, it is very easy to make steamed cauliflower. Cook it in a micro or pan. If you are pressure cooking it, take care not to overcook as it will lose its taste. Once done, drizzle the flowers with olive oil and dash of salt, pepper, and lime. You can add any topping of your liking and enjoy.
Some Vital Facts
- According to a study, all those who suffer from lactose deficiency should try to slowly include dairy products with less lactose in their diet. They can also build up a tolerance for it by gradually adding small amounts of milk and dairy products to alter the bacteria in the intestines and make lactose digestion easier.
- Most of us are lactose intolerant to a small degree. Many of us pass off bloating or gas as something not to be worried about.
- As we grow older, we start producing less of this enzyme lactase. This is why seniors cannot digest milk and dairy products easily. In many cases, probiotic yoghurt is the best substitute.
- Milk allergy and lactose intolerant is not the same. Milk allergy is an allergy to milk protein.
- Some non-dairy food could contain lactose as it is organic to milk and dairy foods made from milk. Hence lactose could still be lurking in such foods. Once again, read the ingredients carefully before buying any product.
- And above all, any altered diet and food products introduced into your daily routine should always be first approved by your doctor.
Once you take care of these issues, you will be fine.