If you are lactose intolerant but love dairy, then you may be in agony thinking you will never fulfill your craving. Lactose intolerance is not a story of unrequited love! People with lactose intolerance can still enjoy the goodness of dairy, without digestive drama, through lactose-free and -low dairy products.
Drinking lactose-free milk can ensure you get the health benefits dairy has to offer without the unpleasant side effects. Lactose-free milk still contains the same package of nutrition as conventional milk, including 8 grams of high-quality protein per serving. The only difference between the milks is that lactose-free milk contains the enzyme (lactase) that breaks down naturally occurring sugar (lactose) in milk, making it easier to digest. Non-dairy options such as nut or oat beverages are lactose-free, but they often contain less than 1 gram of protein per serving and lack essential nutrients found in real dairy.
Hard, natural cheeses, such as Cheddar, Monterey Jack, or Parmesan, are naturally low in lactose because of the aging process. As cheese ages, lactose is broken down due to fermentation, resulting in a lower lactose product. Similarly, live cultures help break down lactose in yogurt. Some dairy products are made with lactose-free milk, making it even easier to avoid unwanted symptoms. Reducing your consumption of dairy foods because of lactose intolerance can result in a less than recommended intake of essential nutrients already lacking in a typical American diet – calcium, potassium, and vitamin D.
Continue to fall in love with real dairy foods! Check out delicious lactose-free alternatives to your favorite recipes, and never miss dairy again!
Casey Seamon, RD, LDN
Casey Seamon is a Registered Dietitian based out of Nashville, Tennessee, who specializes in community and corporate nutrition and focuses on client-centered nutrition interventions.