Lactose intolerance affects as much as 65% of the global population, according to reports.
If it affects you, here are some tips on keeping it under control.
1. Go smaller
If a smoothie caused you to cramp up, try half a smoothie the next time. A smaller portion of a dairy product is less likely to give you those charming symptoms, such as bloating, gas and vomiting.
Start small and figure out your tolerance.
2. Space out your intake
Instead of taking in your entire day’s dairy at once, try splitting it up.
Evidence suggests that most people diagnosed with lactose intolerance won’t have any discomfort if they drink a cup of milk in the morning and another in the evening.
3. Eat dairy as part of a meal, not a snack
When you’re having dairy with other food, it’s digested more slowly. That means by the time the lactose travels to your large intestine, there’s less of it left.
Having dairy products as part of dinner, instead of a milkshake afterward, is less likely to create symptoms.
4. Try lactose-free milk
Lactose-free milk has had the lactose removed during the production process. None of the vitamins and minerals in the milk are affected in the process.
Since there’s nothing left for your system to react to, you won’t risk having symptoms when you gulp down a glass.
5. Add enzymes
Lactose intolerance is an enzyme deficiency. The uncomfortable bloating and cramping happen because your body can’t produce enough lactase to keep up with the dairy in your diet. But you can top up the enzyme in your digestive system by taking lactase tablets just before eating.
You can also add lactase drops to a container of milk or cream, but you’ll have to wait 24 hours to consume it.
6. Eat cheese
This seems as if it would be contradictory, but hard cheeses, such as cheddar and Swiss, are naturally low in lactose. So you may be able to enjoy them without suffering symptoms.
Processed cheese tends to have a higher lactose level, but it’s still less than regular milk.
7. Try yogurt and probiotics
Yogurt contains friendly bacteria that produce enzymes and help break down milk sugar. So when you snack on yogurt, some of the digestion work is already done for you. And it means there’s a lesser chance you’ll be bothered by lactose.
You can also take probiotics in capsule form to help you digest dairy.
8. Choose chocolate milk
Sometimes, people who have trouble with regular milk find they have fewer symptoms when they drink chocolate milk. Experts aren’t quite sure why it’s often better tolerated, but then again, who doesn’t want another reason to drink chocolate milk?
9. Read the labels
Sometimes, lactose is hidden in food products – even if there’s no milk.
Some things to watch out for include whey, milk byproducts or fat-free dry milk powder. If you spot any of those, back away and save yourself the discomfort.
10. Take a test
If you’re still struggling with symptoms, but aren’t sure if you are lactose intolerant, go visit your doctor and take a food sensitivity test. The symptoms and threshold can vary from person to person.