As explained in my the previous post, food intolerance’s are a ‘chemical’ reaction that some people have after eating or drinking particular foods; They are not immune responses like food allergies, and are far more common than food allergies. Food intolerances can result in painful or annoying symptoms that most would like to minimize. There are many dietary strategies that claim to minimize symptoms of food intolerances, so over the next few posts I will do my best to clarify the fact from the fiction.

The four main food intolerances, including lactose, fructose, wheat and yeast are becoming ever more apparent, with more and more people saying they are intolerant to the food component, and then unfortunately, cutting out whole food groups unnecessarily.

For example, if you are wheat intolerant, you definitely do not need to go on a gluten free diet, and if you are lactose intolerant, you do not need to cut out all dairy products.

Today we will start by focusing on lactose intolerance as this is the most common intolerance, and in a future post I will look into some of the others.

Lactose is the type of sugar found in cows and goats milk products. We have a gene in our bodies that code for whether or not we will continue to produce the enzyme lactase as we age, which is necessary to break down lactose in our bodies. For those that are classified as lactase non-persistant, it is very common to have lactose intolerance symptoms when consuming large doses of lactose containing foods.

Dietary strategies to keep your calcium rich dairy foods in your diet include:

 Trying cheese and yoghurt; they are generally better tolerated than milk.

Drink full fat milk because the fats slow the journey of the milk through the intestines and allow the lactase enzymes more time to break down the sugars.

Avoid low fat or non-fat milks – they travel quickly through the gut and tend to cause symptoms in lactose intolerant people. Also, many low fat milk products may contain skim milk powder, which provides a higher dose of lactose.

Drink milk in moderate quantities. Most people with this condition can tolerate 240ml of milk per day, but you need to work out your own tolerance level. You can buy milk that has had the lactose broken down, which makes it lactose free.

Have moderate amounts of other dairy foods. Most people can tolerate the very small amount of lactose found in:
– Half a cup of full cream milk 
– Three-quarters of a cup of ice cream
– Three-quarters of a cup of yoghurt
– Half a cup of white sauce
– Three-quarters of a cup of unripened cheeses like cottage or ricotta.

Eat fermented milk products like some yoghurts, mature or ripened cheeses (like cheddar, fetta and mozzarella)– they usually don’t cause problems.

Eat foods that contain lactose in combination with other foods or spread them out over the day, rather than eating a large amount at once.

Use heated milk products like evaporated milk; they seem to be better tolerated because the heating process breaks down some of the lactose to glucose and galactose.

Buy milk products that have the lactase enzyme added to make it easier to digest e.g. zymil milk.

If you buy protein powders, look out for whey protein isolate, as whey protein concentrate has a higher dose of lactose that may cause gastro problems to those that are sensitive.

As you can see, there are many ways of including calcium rich sources that are dairy, without cutting out the whole food group, whilst still managing your lactose intolerance.

Although there are other foods besides dairy that can provide calcium, dairy is a far richer source and therefore when trying to manage your weight, and have more nutritious foods for less kilojoules, cutting out dairy does not seem like the wisest option.

So if you or someone you know suffers from lactose intolerance, next time dairy foods are on the menu, try not avoid them, just simply make the wiser choice.

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