Many people have lactose intolerance but not all of them know it. If you experience occasional discomfort after consuming milk, it may not necessarily be lactose intolerance. But consistent discomfort following dairy consumption may be cause for concern. Lactose intolerance is a common condition caused by inadequate production of the enzyme lactase in the body. Lactase breaks down lactose, the sugar found in milk and dairy products, and aids its absorption. When lactose is not properly digested, it can disrupt the colon and lead to digestive discomfort. If you want to be sure, watch out for the telltale signs of lactose intolerance.
Identifying Lactose Intolerance:
According to nutritionist Dr Simran Saini, it’s crucial to pay attention to your body’s response after consuming milk. If you find yourself experiencing discomfort and various symptoms within one to two hours of drinking milk, there’s a possibility that you could be lactose intolerant. But that’s not all-lactose intolerance can sometimes lead to more severe reactions, including skin allergies, bothersome rashes, and persistent itching. These symptoms shouldn’t be taken lightly, and it’s highly recommended to seek professional medical advice if you consistently experience them after consuming dairy products. Your well-being matters, so don’t hesitate to consult a doctor and get the support you need to manage your condition effectively.
What Are The First Signs of Being Lactose Intolerant?
1. Gas: If you hear gurgling or rumbling sounds in your lower belly and experience flatulence after consuming milk, it may be a sign of lactose intolerance.
2. Bloating: Pay attention to persistent bloating that occurs within an hour or two of consuming milk or dairy products. This could be an indication of lactose intolerance.
3. Pain or Cramps in the Lower Belly: Lactose intolerance can cause discomfort in the lower half of your abdomen, resulting in pain and cramps.
4. Diarrhea: Loose stool or water or foamy stool is a common occurrence in individuals with lactose intolerance. There can also be a change in the colour of the stool.
5. Vomiting: If you consistently experience vomiting after consuming milk products, it is possible that you have lactose intolerance and should explore alternative dairy options.
6. Painful Bowel Movements: Some individuals with lactose intolerance may experience pain and irregular bowel movements due to the disturbance caused in the colon.
7. Persistent Fever: In severe cases, lactose intolerance can lead to persistent fever and fatigue lasting for several days.
Can Lactose Intolerance Go Away?
Depending on the underlying cause, lactose intolerance may be temporary or permanent. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, if the condition is caused due to injury to the small intestine, it may be reversed, but in cases such as congenital lactase deficiency, only symptoms can be managed. The first thing to do is to avoid milk and dairy products and switch to dairy substitutes.
What Are Good Milk And Dairy Substitutes For Lactose Intolerance?
For those diagnosed with lactose intolerance, there are numerous dairy substitutes available that can provide similar nutritional benefits without causing discomfort. Here are some alternatives you can add to your diet:
1. Plant-Based Milk
Explore a variety of plant-based milk options such as almond milk, soy milk, oat milk, coconut milk, pea milk or rice milk. These alternatives are lactose-free and can be used in place of regular milk in beverages, cereals, and recipes.
2. Dairy-Free Yoghurt
Opt for yoghurt made from plant-based ingredients like soy, almond, or coconut milk. These alternatives offer similar probiotic benefits as traditional yoghurt.
3. Non-Dairy Cheese
Try vegan cheese options made from ingredients like nuts, soy, or tapioca pearls. These alternatives can be used in sandwiches, pizzas, and other dishes that typically include cheese.
4. Lactose-Free Dairy
Look for lactose-free versions of dairy products, including milk, cheese, and ice cream. These products have the lactose removed, allowing individuals with lactose intolerance to enjoy dairy without discomfort.
5. Calcium-Rich Foods
Ensure you get enough calcium in your diet by incorporating other calcium-rich foods such as leafy greens, fox nuts, fortified orange juice, and tofu.
Also Read: Should You Be Drinking Skimmed Milk?
If you experience consistent discomfort after consuming dairy products and are concerned if you have lactose intolerance, it is best to consult a medical practitioner for a proper diagnosis. With various dairy substitutes that are easily accessible, if you can still enjoy a nutrient-rich diet sans dairy.
(This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.)