Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest and absorb lactose (the sugar in milk) that results in gastrointestinal symptoms when milk or food products containing milk are consumed. The common primary symptoms of lactose intolerance are cramps, bloating, gas or diarrhea.
There is a perception among pediatricians that milk avoidance is necessary to control intestinal symptoms. But the new recommendations go much further by saying that Lactose-intolerant children should not avoid dairy products but consume as much as they can tolerate.
Milk products often help kids maintain daily recommended levels of bone-building calcium and vitamin D. It is better for children to suffer the intestinal symptoms of lactose intolerance from time to time than to not get enough dietary calcium.
Now it is recommended people with lactose intolerance can tolerate at least 12 grams of lactose (the amount in about one cup of milk) to meet nutrient needs. Available research suggests with such amount of lactose, those with this condition have no or minor symptoms. Moreover, gradually re-introducing dairy into the diet can help manage symptoms and help those diagnosed benefit from dairy’s unique nutrient package, including calcium, vitamin D, protein, potassium and other nutrients that are critical for bone health and beyond.
With modern diets, excluding dairy foods from the diet will result in poor nutrition with long-term consequences for health. To ensure the body get the same nutrients as regular milk, experts advise those with lactose intolerance should drink lowfat or fat free milk (regular or flavored) with meals or a snack instead of an empty stomach, trying small, frequent portions or buying lactose-free or lactose-reduced milk. Yogurt and hard cheeses (the panel suggests cheddar, provolone and mozzarella) are also recommended to be in diet.
To incorporate more dairy products into the diets of lactose intolerant, patients should:
• Drink lactose-free and lactose reduced milk
• Consume small amounts of dairy products spaced throughout the day
• Consume dairy products with other foods, as this often reduces symptoms
• Try yogurt
• Try aged cheeses like cheddar and Swiss which have lower lactose content.
• Use oral lactase replacement capsules or dairy products supplemented with lactase.