Can you think of someone in your life who avoids some or all dairy foods because of lactose intolerance? I know I can. Even though it’s not an uncommon issue for people to have, a knowledge gap about how to best approach including dairy foods in your diet when lactose intolerance is involved seems to prevail. In honor of Lactose Intolerance Awareness Month, I want to clear up a few misconceptions.
Myth: All dairy foods contain high amounts of lactose.
Truth: Thankfully, this is not true. In addition to dairy foods specifically made for those with lactose intolerance, like lactose-free milk, aged cheeses like Swiss, cheddar, and Parmesan, have just trace amounts of lactose and are a good option to try for those with lactose intolerance.
Myth: Plant-based yogurts are the only option if you have lactose intolerance.
Truth: Not quite. While fermented dairy foods, like yogurt and kefir, do contain lactose, they also contain beneficial bacteria that help digest it. Those with lactose intolerance may find they tolerate real dairy yogurt better than other dairy foods because of this. If not, you can find lactose-free yogurt in the dairy aisle made from real cow’s milk.
Myth: Eliminating dairy’s nutrients from my diet isn’t a big deal.
Truth: It really is, though. Dairy is included in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans for a reason. It provides crucial nutrients for health including three of the four nutrients of public health concern—calcium, potassium, and vitamin D. Apart from fortified soy beverage, no other milk alternative is included in the Dietary Guidelines. They just aren’t similar enough.
Myth: A milk allergy is the same thing as lactose intolerance.
Truth: Not at all. A milk allergy most commonly occurs in early childhood but is often outgrown as children get older. It requires one to completely avoid dairy to prevent a potentially serious allergic reaction. However, when you have lactose intolerance, there are still many ways you can incorporate low-lactose and lactose-free dairy into your diet.
Celebrate Lactose Intolerance Awareness Month by sharing this information with your friends and family or by mastering a dairy delicious, low-lactose recipe.