The inability to process lactose or milk sugars affects some 20-22% of the American population. Those who are lactose intolerant can certainly get the proper amount of calcium from other sources that are not based in dairy, specifically fortified orange juice, green leafy vegetables, fish particularly salmon and soy based products such as tofu and edamame. For individuals who are lactose intolerant and erase milk, yogurt and cheese products from your diet, here are various ways that you can benefit from dairy products:
1- Small volume. Most lactose intolerant individuals can deal with a 1/4 cup of milk per sitting. This is due to the fact that they do not completely lack the enzyme needed to break down the lactose (known as lactase) but rather lack the proper amount. As such, drinking small volume (3-4oz.) can provide some benefits.
2- Select wisely. Opt for low lactose dairy products such as hard cheeses and ricotta cheese.
3- Look for Active Culture. Both yogurt and its “cousin” kefir are fermented dairy products tha contain active bacteria cultures. These friendly bacteria cultures help to digest the lactose, making these products better tolerated than milk.
4- Alternatives. Substances such as lactose-free milk, soy milk and rice milk are very health alternatives for most individuals. One can also add liquid enzymes to regular milk to assist digestion. Dairy in smaller amounts can be a healthy plus to most people’s diet. They provide calcium in a form that supplementation cannot.
Doc’s Thoughts: At the end of the day, there are so many more healthy and viable alternatives. When in doubt, find them.