Do you experience feelings of bloating, nausea, gas, cramping, and diarrhea after consuming dairy products? If so, you probably have lactose intolerance – and while its symptoms can be troublesome, it is generally not dangerous.
Let’s talk about some of the things you can do to keep your symptoms at bay if you are lactose intolerant, and where you can go in Greater Cleveland and Cuyahoga County for professional testing and a diagnosis of your gastrointestinal problem – so you’ll know whether you have a milk allergy, lactose intolerance, or some other digestive issue.
Avoid or Limit Dairy Products
You can determine your body’s response to lactose through mindful trial and error. You may be able to find a level of lactose-containing foods where your body does not experience symptoms.
People who have severe lactose intolerance need to avoid all milk products and all foods or medications that contain even trace amounts of lactose. Those whose lactose intolerance is mild may be able to consume low-fat milk products, such as skim milk.
A good approach is to avoid consuming any foods that contain lactose for two weeks. Once the symptoms have subsided, you can slowly add lactose into your diet while monitoring how your body reacts. Make sure to be aware of precisely how much lactose you consume so that you can get an idea of your maximum limits.
Today, there are lactose-reduced dairy products and 100% lactose-free milk available as substitutes for regular dairy products.
Read All Ingredients Carefully for Lactose
Always read the food labels of the food you buy. Look out for ingredients that are derived from milk, such as:
- Milk by-products
- Dry milk solids
- Milk powder
- Nonfat dry milk
Depending on how severely your body reacts to lactose, you may need to limit or avoid food items that say they “may contain milk.” Foods that almost always contain small quantities of lactose include:
- Milk chocolate
- Breakfast cereals
- Bread and other baked goods
- Instant soup mix
- Cheese-flavored snacks
- Some candies
- Salad dressings
- Sugar beets
- Lima beans
You also need to be careful with the medications you take. About 20% of prescription medications, such as oral contraceptives, contain lactose. Lactose is also present in about 6% of over-the-counter medications, such as stomach acid tablets and gas-relief tablets.
Maintain a Balanced Diet
Milk and dairy products are the best sources of calcium. However, there are plenty of other calcium-rich foods you can consume, including:
- Fortified cereals
- Fortified juices
- Broccoli, spinach, and other leafy green vegetables
- Canned sardines
- Canned salmon
Another vitamin you need in your body is vitamin D, which helps your body absorb calcium. If you have lactose intolerance, you can get vitamin D from other sources, including:
- Fortified cereals
- Fortified orange juice
- Fish (such as salmon, tuna, and sardines)
- Beef liver
Lactose Intolerance Testing in Westlake and Brooklyn, Ohio
If you think you may be lactose intolerant, it is ideal for you to get professionally tested so you can tamp down your symptoms once and for all. Here at North Shore Gastroenterology, we offer testing and treatment for lactose intolerance, milk allergies, and other causes of gastrointestinal issues.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule a consultation with one of our excellent gastroenterologists, contact our office today at (440) 808-1212 or complete our online appointment request form now. We look forward to helping you conquer your lactose intolerance!