Lactose intolerance is miserable if you ingest anything with milk products. The bloating and stomach pain, along with diarrhea and gas, just isn’t worth eating foods with lactose. I have been lactose intolerant for 35 years. Before there were lactose alternatives for the lactose intolerant, I would not eat cheese or milk. Ice Cream is my favorite food, but I couldn’t eat it.
History Of Lactose Intolerance
Lactose intolerance developed around 8000 years ago when milk cows became domesticated. I know that is a long time ago. And years later, in the 1960s, an intolerance to milk products was thought to be an allergy, but it is actually the lack of an enzyme in your body to breakdown lactose.
When scientists discovered that lactose intolerance was a real issue, they found evidence pointing to a genetic predisposition. So in other words, it was inherited or thought to be a part of your DNA blueprint.
Today so many years later, we have an almost complete understanding of the process and have many lactose alternatives.
What is Lactose Intolerance?
A normal functioning intestine will produce lactase when we eat any milk products. A lactose intolerant person does not produce the lactase in sufficient amounts to break down the lactose we take in.
When we don’t have enough enzyme lactase, then lactose is broken down in our intestine by bacteria. When this happens, you can not absorb the lactose into your intestine, which causes bloating, gassy pain, and an overall miserable feeling.
Our bodies are supposed to have a gene that will tell your body when to make the enzyme lactase, but some of the genes have mutated and are so-called “turned off.”
Types Of Lactose Intolerance
Did you know there are different types of lactose intolerance? Here is some valuable information about the 4 types of intolerance.
- Primary lactose intolerance-This is the most well-known form of deficiency. It is thought to be a result of genetic inheritance. At around age 5, your body decreased the amount of lactase it produces, and the process increases as you mature. Therefore you can no longer break down the milk lactose you take in.
- Secondary lactose intolerance-a form of deficiency that is usually induced from surgery or an injury to your intestines. Such as bariatric surgery when parts of the intestine are bypassed to promote weight-loss.
- Developmental lactose intolerance-premature babies may develop this form of intolerance, but as they mature, they will outgrow the deficiency as the intestines begin to produce lactase.
- Congenital lactose deficiency (CLD, OMIM 223000)-a rare deficiency that is a severe autosomal recessive disorder or generically inherited. The intestine does not produce lactase from birth.
Symptoms Of Lactose Intolerance
How do you know if you are lactose intolerant? If you have any of these signs when you eat a milk product, you may have an issue with lactose. You can deal with it in a couple of ways. You can visit your physician or cut out all milk products and introduce them back into your diet one at a time to see how you feel.
- Nausea, and sometimes, vomiting
- Stomach cramps
What Foods Have Lactose?
Most people with Primary Lactose Intolerance can tolerate some lactose in small amounts. Lactose is hidden in many different foods that you may not suspect. Here is a list of some foods with lactose in them. Later we will talk about lactose alternatives to many of these.
- Milk, cheese
- Yogurt and custards
- Milk solids better are known as evaporated milk or powdered mild.
- Malted milk- is made from wheat, malted barley, flour, and evaporated whole milk. It has a flavor all its own and is used as a flavoring for drinks and helps dough cook well.
- Buttermilk-a firn if soured mild that has lactic acid. It is used in some recipes that require the increase of lactic acid.
- Curds-like cottage cheese
- Whey-whey comes from making cheese and is used as a supplement in weight-loss or weight training
Lactose Alternatives For The Lactose Intolerant
I have found many substitutes for lactose foods over the years, but I couldn’t stop eating the foods with lactose. They provide the much-needed calcium to keep my bones healthy, vitamin D to ward off the signs of depression, and not to mention I love ice cream.
But today, with the knowledge that lactose intolerance is the norm, there are many products on the market to help us.
Substitutes are the foods that do not have lactose but may lack the needed nutrients of milk and milk products. Some forms of lactose alternatives allow you to ingest lactose without the miserable side-effects. Yet other forms allow you to get the nutrients needed without ingesting lactose.
Here are a lactose alternatives and substitutes:
- Lactaid pills-A form of artificial lactase that you take with your first bite of any product with lactose such as milk, cheese, and yogurt. The pills break down the lactose for you so your body can absorb it.
- Lactose-Free Milk or what some know as “Lactaid milk”-it is cows milk with the lactase right in the milk to break down the lactose.
- Almond Milk-you can cook with almond milk or use it for smoothies. You can find almond milk that is fortified with Vitamin D and calcium.
- Coconut Milk-Coconut milk is also used to drink as a substitute for cow’s milk. You can also find it fortified with calcium and Vitamin D. The thing I really like about coconut milk is you can find it in cans as coconut cream. It is much thicker and works well in smoothies or shakes.
- Tofu-this is a creamy substance that is lactose-free and can be used in soups to give a creamy effect.
- Cheese-cheese is naturally low in lactose, so you may be able to handle it without the nasty symptoms. Cabot does make some lactose free cheeses along with other manufactures. Look at the label of the cheese you prefer. If it says “0” beside the sugar content, then it is 100% lactose-free, and you are safe to eat it.
- Sherbert-sherbert has a tiny percentage of milk products in it. It is a nice alternative to ice cream if you can eat lactose in small amounts.
- Sorbet-this is made of water and ice. It is cold and smooth without the lactose.
When I searched for lactose products that have lactose removed, I searched for lactose-free food images and came up with many. It gave me new choices and opened up my world.
Over the years, I have taken Lactaid tablets, eaten foods with the lactose removed, or used completely lactose-free alternatives. The search to find the food that I can eat has been well worth the joy it produces to eat the same foods I used to eat years ago.
Do you have some foods you would like to add? Please leave all comments and questions in the comment section below.