- What Is Lactose In
- Nondairy Calcium Sources
- Are You Lactose Intolerant
- Eat Healthy Diet Without Dairy
- Related Resources
What is lactose in?
Lactose is a type of sugar found in dairy products. If you're lactose intolerant, your body can't break down lactose because you don't have enough of the enzyme lactase. Although you may know that you need to avoid milk and dairy products, lactose may be a hidden ingredient in other products.
All milk and milk products contain lactose. Lactose may also be in other foods and drinks that contain milk or dairy products.
All types of milk contain lactose, including:
- Whole milk
- Low Fat milk
- Fat-free milk
- Evaporated milk
- Condensed milk
- Chocolate milk
There are eight varieties of cheese, and all contain lactose. They include:
- Blue cheese
- Hard cheese
- Pasta filata
- Processed cheese
- Semi-hard cheese
- Semi-soft cheese
- Soft and fresh cheese
- Semi-ripened cheese
These varieties include cheeses such as:
- Asiago cheese
- American cheese
- Blue cheese
- Cheese curds
- Cottage cheese
- Cream cheese
- Swiss cheese
- Farmer's cheese
- Feta cheese
Yogurt contains lactose, although the good bacteria used to culture yogurt may help you digest it. Strained yogurt, such as Icelandic and Greek yogurt, are thicker and have less lactose than other varieties.
You might be surprised that some of your favorite packaged products contain lactose. Milk products are often used in boxed, canned, prepared, or frozen foods, including:
- Baked goods like pancakes, bread, cookies, and cakes
- Breakfast foods
- Instant potatoes
- Snack foods
- Salad dressings
- Processed meats, including lunch meats, sausage, hot dogs, and bacon
- Coffee creamer, including powdered and liquid nondairy coffee creamer
- Nondairy whipped topping
When you're checking labels, look for the following terms that indicate a product contains lactose:
- Milk by-products
- Milk solids
- Dry milk powder
Nondairy sources of calcium
If you're concerned about getting enough calcium with a lactose-free diet, try these nondairy, calcium-rich foods:
- Leafy greens such as spinach, bok choy, kale, turnip greens, and collards
- Tofu, if calcium sulfate is an ingredient
- Calcium-enriched products such as juices and plant-based milk like almond milk or rice milk
- Canned fish such as sardines and salmon packed with bones
- Tahini, which is sesame butter or paste
How can you tell if you're lactose intolerant?
Your small intestine doesn't make enough lactase if you're lactose intolerant. Lactase is the enzyme that breaks down the lactose found in food so your body can digest it. Symptoms of lactose intolerance may differ for everyone, but they usually start between 30 minutes and two hours after you eat food containing lactose and can include:
You may not need to avoid all dairy products if you're lactose intolerant. Some dairy foods may not cause as many symptoms as others, and you may be able to tolerate small amounts of dairy foods. Here are some tips for incorporating dairy into your diet to see if you can tolerate it:
Start With Small Amounts
Add milk or dairy products to your diet slowly, starting with a very small amount to see how you respond:
Avoid Eating Dairy Alone
If you're trying milk products, eat them with other foods to see if that reduces the symptoms. Your symptoms may be less severe if you eat milk or cheese products as part of a meal:
Try Different Dairy Products
Dairy products have different amounts of lactose, so one person may not cause symptoms while another does. Hard cheeses usually have less lactose and don't cause symptoms for many people. Milk and ice cream both have high amounts of lactose. However, you may be able to eat ice cream because the fat content might reduce symptoms.
You may be able to tolerate yogurt since the bacteria used to culture it breaks down lactose. You can also try lactose-free dairy products.
Try Lactase Enzymes
Over-the-counter lactase enzyme drops or tablets may help you digest milk and other dairy products. You can try taking them just before you eat foods containing milk. They aren't effective for everyone, so try them with a small amount of dairy in case you still have symptoms.
Can you eat a healthy diet without dairy?
Although healthy diet guidelines often include dairy, it's possible to have a very healthy diet without dairy. In fact, there are some concerns about including dairy in your diet. Dairy products present people with challenges that include:
Dairy products such as milk and cheese are high in fat and hormones, which may be associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. One study showed that women who ate the most cheese, including American, cheddar, and cream cheese, had a 53% increased risk of developing breast cancer.
Milk products may be associated with an increased risk of bone fractures. One study showed that men who consumed the most dairy products as teenagers were more likely to experience bone fractures as adults. An analysis of studies that examined adolescent girls' diet, exercise habits, and stress fractures found that consuming dairy products didn't help prevent stress factors.
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Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Lactose Intolerance."
Mayo Clinic: "Lactose intolerance."
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease: "Eating, Diet, & Nutrition for Lactose Intolerance."
Physicians' Committee for Responsible Medicine: "Health Concerns About Dairy."
Undeniably Dairy: "Dairy Products," "What Are The Different Types Of Cheese?"
Top Which Foods Avoid if You Are Lactose Intolerant Related Articles
Can You Suddenly Become Lactose Intolerant?People may become lactose intolerant at any point of time in their lives.
Food and Recipes: Eating Healthy? Try These CheesesChoosing a cheese? Find out if you’re getting the most nutritional bang for your buck.
How Much Lactose Can I Tolerate?People with lactose intolerance can typically tolerate up to 12 grams of lactose. This is equal to one large cup or about 8 ounces of milk. Some can even have up to 12.5 ounces of milk without experiencing any symptoms.
How Do I Know if I Am Lactose Intolerant or Allergic to Milk?Lactose intolerance is caused by a deficiency of an enzyme (lactase) that helps digest the sugar (lactose) in milk. Milk allergy, on the other hand, is an adverse immune reaction to proteins found in milk. The symptoms of the two conditions are different.
Is Greek Yogurt Good for You?Greek yogurt is a high-protein yogurt produced by bacterial fermentation of lactose present in milk, releasing lactic acid that coagulates milk proteins and produces typical aromatic compounds. Health benefits of Greek yogurt include better mood, blood sugar levels, immunity, muscles, bone strength and healthier blood.
Lactose intolerance is a common problem where a person's digestive system cannot digest lactose. Signs and symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
- Abdominal bloating
- Abdominal distention (swelling)
There are several tests to diagnose lactose intolerance. Treatment is generally made with dietary changes, supplements, and adaptation to small amounts of milk.
Lactose Intolerant? How to Get Calcium and Vitamin DSee how to eat right when dairy gives you stomach problems. WebMD shows you ways to get calcium and vitamin D through lactose-free milk, foods, and the sun.
What Happens if You Eat Yogurt Every Day?The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends three cup equivalents of dairy per day (including yogurt, cream cheese, low-fat milk) for those older than nine years of age. So, if people stay within recommended limits, yogurt will help keep them healthy.