The Best Practices for a Lactose Intolerant Lifestyle


Approximately 12% of people in the United States are lactose intolerant. Those who are lactose intolerant have a deficiency of lactase which is the enzyme produced by the lining of your small intestine. This means that they cannot fully digest lactose, i.e. the milk and sugar in dairy products. You can have a lactase deficiency, but not be diagnosed as lactose intolerant, especially if you do not experience symptoms. The symptoms of lactose intolerance can be unpleasant, and those who suffer from the condition are very familiar with the cramping, bloating, flatulence, and/or diarrhea that can accompany any meal or drink that contains lactose.


Luckily for those who are lactose intolerant, there are steps that you can take to reduce and possibly eliminate the symptoms:


  • First and foremost: change your diet.

Dietary changes are an important first step for lactose intolerant individuals. The amount of lactose that can be tolerated in a diet without any negative side effects is on an individually basis. Some that are lactose intolerant find that after removing dairy products from their diet they are able to re-introduce them slowly without much difficultly. Others are not able to tolerate lactose in any form, even when consumed with other types of food. There are a variety of products available for consumption that are lactose-free.


  • Consider a nutrition plan.

A doctor can recommend a nutrition plan that will still provide all of the vitamins and health benefits of dairy products (e.g. calcium), but without the amount of lactose normally found in these products. If you are lactose intolerant and are interested in talking to a specialist about your nutrition options, please contact us and we’ll be happy to walk you through the process or offer a referral.


  • Take over-the-counter products that contain lactase.

There are over-the-counter products that contain lactase and can help minimize the symptoms of lactose intolerance when dairy products are consumed. Since lactase is a very common additive in food, those who are lactose intolerant can experience symptoms outside of dairy products. Over-the-counter products can especially help those who are not yet familiar with their own individual response to certain amounts of lactose.


Being lactose intolerant doesn’t mean the end for some of your favorite foods and/or drinks. It’s important to really get to know how your body reacts to lactose and what will trigger your individual symptoms. For help diagnosing lactose intolerance, as well as guidance on nutrition and over-the-counter products, please contact San Francisco Gastroenterology.

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