What is Lactose Intolerance?
Lactose (milk sugar) intolerance results from an inability to digest lactose in the small intestine. Lactose is the main carbohydrate or sugar found in milk, and in varying quantities in dairy products made from milk including yoghurt, ice cream, soft cheeses and butter.
What foods are eliminated from a lactose intolerance diet?
The dietary changes for lactose intolerance should initially include the exclusion of those foods highest in lactose. If the symptoms resolve then small amounts of lactose containing foods may be reintroduced, and symptoms monitored. Most people will be able to determine their olerance level for lactose. Very rarely people may be so sensitive that they will need to exclude foods with lower levels of lactose including biscuits, cakes and other processed foods. It is important to find a suitable replacement if important foods are excluded from the diet.
Lactose Content of Common Dairy Foods
The lactose content of dairy foods varies widely, as do the serving sizes consumed. Dairy products such as hard cheese are generally tolerated due to their low lactose content. Yogurt may be tolerated by some individuals as some of the lactose is predigested by the yogurt's bacteria.
Substitutes for Dairy Foods that are Lactose-Free
There are now available a wide range lactose-free milks, yogurts and ice creams. It is best if these foods are calcium enriched. Powdered soy milks such as Carnation powdered soy milk can be added during cooking to cakes, desserts and sauces to increase calcium content. Soy milk can be used freely in cooking as you would cows milk. Lactose free ice creams include those based on soy such as Fruccio dairy free ice cream, and many fruit sorbets.
For those who cannot tolerate soy milk or prefer cow's milk there are a number of low lactose milk products available. These include Lactaid or Balance, reduced lactose milks. These are UHT products that can be found on supermarket shelves.