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Diet for Lactose Intolerance

What is lactose intolerance?

Lactose is the name of the sugar found in milk. Lactose intolerance occurs when the body is unable to breakdown all of the lactose that is in the foods you eat. Symptoms of lactose intolerance include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Stomach pain
  • Stomach cramps

What foods contain lactose?

Lactose is found in dairy products such as:

  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Ice cream
  • Sherbet

Items on a food label that contain lactose:

  • Milk
  • Milk solids
  • Skim milk powder
  • Cream
  • Buttermilk
  • Malted milk
  • Whey lactose
  • Curds
  • Margarine

Some foods that may have hidden sources of lactose:

  • Breads
  • Candy
  • Cookies
  • Cold cuts
  • Hot dogs
  • Bologna
  • Sauces and gravies
  • Dessert mixes
  • Cream soup
  • Frostings
  • Chocolate drink mixes
  • Salad dressing

What may be used as a milk substitute?

Lactaid® milk is regular milk that has had the lactose reduced or removed. Most people with lactose intolerance can drink this type of milk. Ask your doctor or dietitian about this product.

How are the body's calcium needs met?

Calcium is needed for strong bones and teeth. If you are not using milk or milk products, you may not be getting enough calcium from your diet. Ask your doctor or dietitian for more information about your body's calcium needs.

The following are good sources of calcium:

300 mg calcium150 mg calcium100 mg calcium
4 ounces canned salmon 2 ounces canned sardines 2/3 cup broccoli
1 cup calcium fortified orange juice 1/2 cup turnip greens, kale, or collards 1/2 cup okra
1/4 cup almonds 1/2 cup tofu 5 ounces shrimp
1 cup yogurt 1 1/2 cups dried beans 2 cups cabbage

In September of 2006, the American Academy of Pediatrics released new guidelines for treating lactose intolerance. These guidelines support the use of dairy foods as an important source of calcium for bone growth and maintenance, as well as of other nutrients needed for growth in children and adolescents.

In the past, it had been recommended that dairy products should be eliminated from the diet to treat lactose intolerance. The new guidelines suggest that dairy foods should be tried to see which ones can be tolerated better than others. While the symptoms of lactose intolerance can be unpleasant, the condition does not damage the body. Thus, dairy foods that cause less disagreeable symptoms should be used in the diet to ensure adequate intake of calcium and other important nutrients.

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