We keep hearing about someone or the other being lactose intolerant these days. What exactly is it? To put it simply, lactose intolerance is nothing but inability to digest lactose, or in other words primary sugar in milk and dairy products. This intolerance leads to stomach aches, gas, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, flatulence, and other gastrointestinal problems.The reason one suffers from lactose intolerance is due to insufficient levels of an enzyme called lactase, which helps break down lactose, in the body. The symptoms vary from person to person, depending upon the lactase producing capability of the small intestine.The reasons for this conditions range from genetics to digestive problems such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, ulcerative colitis and gastroenteritis. One may develop such a condition at any stage in life too when the small intestine starts making less lactase.But lactose intolerance is different from milk allergy, as it is often confused with. A milk allergy is nothing but an overreaction of the immune system to the proteins in milk.Most people who are lactose intolerant can have small amounts of lactose without any problem, unlike those who are allergic to milk. So, they need not avoid milk and milk products completely. The lactose threshold, though, varies from one person to another.Here are some natural ways to help you deal with lactose intolerance.
Chamomile tea is also helpful in easing the discomfort caused due to lactose intolerance. It basically neutralizes the acid in the stomach acid and reduces bloating. Further, it promotes Just add two teaspoons of dried chamomile flowers in a cup of hot water. Over with a lid and allow them to steep for a few minutes. Later strain and add a spoon of honey in it. Stir well and consume this chamomile infused tea a few times a day.
- Cheese and yogurt
Many with lactose intolerance can eat products like yogurt and hard cheese in moderation owing to lower levels of lactose in these products. In fact, full-fat dairy products usually have lower amounts of lactose compared to low-fat and non-fat varieties. Try probiotic yogurt with live cultures. The live, active bacterial cultures will help break down lactose and relieve gastrointestinal discomfort. Frozen yogurt, though, may not be helpful.Full-fat cottage cheeses and aged hard cheeses can also be had.
- Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar aids in digestion, especially in the initial stages. Mix 1 tablespoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar in a glass of water. Drink it daily for at least a few weeks.
Ginger is commonly found in all homes and is great remedy to ease gastrointestinal problems caused by lactose intolerance.Add 1 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger to a cup of boiling water. Let it simmer for a few minutes and strain the solution. You can also add a little lemon juice and honey to it. Drink up to 3 cups of ginger tea daily to relieve symptoms.Milk and dairy products are a major source of several nutrients, especially calcium, and limiting their intake may be detrimental to your nutritional needs. Make smart food choices in your diet to make up for the loss. Eat whole grains, beans, lentils, green leafy vegetables (like spinach, collards and broccoli), soy products, blackstrap molasses, nuts and seeds, dried fruits and calcium-fortified juices to enrich your body with essential vitamins, minerals and fatty acids. In addition, consult your doctor about taking calcium and vitamin D supplements. Plus, you can opt for lactose-free or lactose-reduced products available at most supermarkets.
- Milk Substitutes
Coconut milk, soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, oat milk and hemp milk are some of the substitutes. To begin with, add any of these as a replacement for milk in your puddings and other baked goods so that you develop a taste.Plus, start with small amounts and opt for calcium and vitamin D-fortified plant-based milks. But keep in mind that non-dairy options sometimes may cause gastrointestinal problems as they may contain guar gum (a common food additive) to add thickness.