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How is lactose intolerance treated?

It depends on the severity of the symptoms. If you are lactose intolerant you may benefit from reducing the amount of lactose in your diet. The symptoms of lactose intolerance vary greatly. Your symptoms depend on the amount of lactose you eat at one time and the amount of lactase enzyme in your body. People with mild symptoms may feel better simply after reducing the amount of dairy products in their diet. For those with severe symptoms, a formal lactose-free diet should be adopted. This is best achieved by a consultation with a dietitian, which can be arranged through a GP.

Lactose intolerance is a harmless condition. If for any reason, you are unable to follow your diet, you are not in any danger, and you will not damage yourself in any way. However, the symptoms may well recur.

Some Positive Steps.

Limit your intake of foods that cause you discomfort. You may be able to tolerate certain lactose-containing foods while other people with lactose intolerance cannot.

Eat small amounts of foods or beverages that have lactose with your meals.

Lower lactose-containing foods eaten in small amounts (60-125mL or 14-1/2 cup) can include:

  • Milk, butter, margarine, fermented milk products, yoghurt and cheese.

  • Milk powder.

  • Bread and other baked goods – read the label to check.

  • Prepared foods - again, read the label.

  • Chocolate.

  • Many types of tablets.

  • Choose lactose-free or foods low in lactose, preferably fortified with calcium, such as:

    • lactose-hydrolyzed milk (e.g. Lactaid®, Lacteeze®)

    • soy beverage

    • rice beverage

    • casein or soy-based products in place of cheese

    • yogurts with live bacterial cultures or lactose-reduced yogurts

    • Lactose-free” or  “Lactose-reduced” .

    • Carefully read food labels and ingredient lists for sources of lactose.

  • Note: Products that contain lactic acid, lactalbumin, lactate and casein do not contain lactose.

  • Ask your Pharmacist about lactose in your medications; it may not be listed on the label. Your Pharmacist should be able to provide a lactose-free substitute.

  • Try lactase enzyme drops, tablets or other products made with these preparations to reduce the lactose in milk or dairy products. Tablets are taken before eating foods that have lactose. Enzyme drops can be added to milk before drinking. For the best results, follow the instructions included with the product or ask your Pharmacist for advice.

Some Special Considerations:

As many foods that contain lactose are important sources of calcium and vitamin D. If you avoid lactose-containing foods, you will need to find other sources of these nutrients. Calcium is essential for the growth and repair of bones at all ages. A shortage of calcium intake in children and adults may lead to fragile bones that can easily fracture later in life, a condition called osteoporosis. Ask your pharmacist or dietitian for ways to increase your intake of calcium and vitamin D.

This information has been sourced, in part from the following sources: Net Doctor UK  Dietitians of Canada  Food Intolerence Network  Web MD