Local News

Not All Dairy Products Are Bad For Lactose Intolerant People

Posted April 8, 2001 4:31 a.m. EDT

— Most of us could not imagine breakfast cereal without milk or pizza without cheese. For people who arelactose intolerant, dairy products can mean discomfort and sickness as their bodies reject certain foods.

Lactose intolerance means your body has a hard time digesting the sugar in milk called lactose. Your body has an enzyme called lactase that breaks apart the milk sugar.

"People who are lactose intolerant can learn to build up their tolerance by starting with small amounts of milk, perhaps half a cup with a meal and build up to two cups a day," says Janet Grubbs of the Southeast United Dairy Association.

You can also get lactase drops at the pharmacy to add to milk making it easier to digest. Some people say it even makes milk taste sweeter. More than half of the lactose is removed during the cheesemaking process.

"Chocolate milk has been shown to be easier to digest, so there are still many ways people who are lactose intolerant can get dairy products in their diet without any lactose problems," Grubbs says.

Yogurt is another dairy food lactose intolerant people may be able to eat. Most types of yogurt have their own enzymes to digest the lactose. Look for the term, "active cultures," on the label.

Lactose intolerance can be something you are born with. It can also develop with age or be a side effect from some medications. If diary products upset your stomach, ask your doctor to be tested for lactose intolerance.