February is Lactose Intolerance Awareness Month, a time to educate individuals about a condition that is often self-diagnosed and misunderstood.
In reality, lactose intolerance is a condition that approximately 1 in 10 people report living with. Although individuals may be diagnosed with lactose intolerance, not everyone may experience symptoms in the same way or to the same level of severity.
Individuals who are diagnosed with lactose intolerance don’t produce enough of the enzyme lactase. Lactase helps the body digest lactose, and when not enough is produced, not all of the lactose found in milk and dairy products can be properly utilized. This can result in a variety of gastrointestinal symptoms like bloating and gas.
“It is important to realize that lactose intolerance isn’t an all or nothing condition.” states registered dietitian, Kati Mora, MS, RDN, “In fact, research has shown that most people diagnosed with lactose intolerance can tolerate up to 12 grams of lactose, the amount found in an eight ounce serving of milk, in one sitting.”
Mora recommends that individuals start by gradually introducing dairy back into their meal plans if they haven’t had it in a while. “It’s important for each person to find the portion size that works best for them. Everyone’s tolerance level is different and that’s important.”
Thanks to innovations in the dairy aisle and the way in which some dairy foods are produced naturally, lactose intolerance doesn’t mean dairy is completely off the table. From lactose-free milk and cottage cheese to low-lactose containing foods like natural, aged cheeses and yogurt, many foods are well tolerated by individuals diagnosed with lactose malabsorption.
Given the many nutritional benefits milk provides, this is great news. Individuals with lactose intolerance can rest easy knowing that they can continue to rely on dairy food favorites for nutrients like calcium, protein, vitamin D, and potassium.
For individuals looking to learn more about lactose intolerance, the United Dairy Industry of Michigan has developed a helpful infographic outlining pertinent information regarding the condition.
Additional resources can also be found at MilkMeansMore.org.
For individuals looking for creative ways to incorporate dairy into their day while keeping lactose levels in check, mouthwatering lactose intolerant-friendly recipes created by Michigan-based food bloggers are also available.
From decadent hot chocolate to macaroni and cheese, the quintessential comfort food, everyone is sure to find a recipe that meets their needs and fits their preferences.
Get ready to make dairy functional and lactose-intolerant friendly with these delicious dishes:
Discover the facts about lactose intolerance and keep dairy on the table as a nutrient-rich option.