Not sure if you have ever had such experience: whenever you drink milk, your stomach gurgles and even aches. In severe cases diarrhea is unbearable. If you have experienced all these symptoms, you are likely to be one of those with lactose intolerance.
Milk has been in Australian families for decades. Now it has become a must-have at home especially for children’s standard meals. However, there are always people whose ability to accept milk is less than others. The ability to accept milk here does not refer to a personal dislike of milk, but a non-acceptance by the body. If every time you drink milk, you feel overwhelmed and run to the toilet. This is a typical lactose intolerance. Let us find out about it.
What is lactose intolerance?
Some people’s digestive system lacks lactase and is intolerant to the lactose in milk. They are not able to digest and absorb milk like others do. When they drink milk, symptoms such as abdominal pain, flatulence and diarrhea occur.
Why are some people intolerant to lactose? This is because lactose cannot be directly absorbed by the body, it needs to be broken down by lactase before it can be absorbed. If the level of lactase in the body is insufficient, it will not be able to break down lactose, which results in indigestion of milk.
How is lactose intolerance diagnosed?
If your family members show symptoms of lactose intolerance, please take them to see a GP. The doctor will first help rule out factors that cause similar symptoms, such as gastroenteritis, irritable bowel syndrome or celiac disease. After these factors are eliminated the doctor will direct a series of formal tests to diagnose lactose intolerance, including hydrogen breath test, lactose tolerance test and stool acid test. The doctor may also refer them to a dietitian to observe whether the symptoms are relieved by suspending the intake of certain lactose-containing foods. It is important not to self-diagnose lactose intolerance and make changes to diet without consulting a doctor or a dietitian.
How to deal with lactose intolerance?
People with lactose intolerance do not need to avoid milk completely. As an important source of nutrition, dairy products are especially rich in calcium. It is not worthwhile to reject all dairy products due to lactose intolerance. To deal with different degrees of lactose intolerance, we can take the following measures:
- Replace regular milk with lactose free milk. By artificially supplementing lactase in milk, it helps our intestines and stomach to break down lactose, alleviate the symptoms of lactose intolerance and improve the digestion and absorption of milk. Lactose free milk can be found in major supermarkets across Australia.
- Choose whole milk over low-fat milk. Because the fat in whole milk slows down the speed of milk passing through the intestine, which allows lactase more time to break down the lactose in milk.
- While drinking milk, eat some other food which works as a buffer. Otherwise, drinking milk in small amount multiple times a day instead of drinking large amount at once.
- Enjoy some hard cheeses which do not contain/contain little lactose. For example: cheddar, Edam, Swiss, mozzarella, brie, and fetta.
- Be mindful of foods that may contain hidden lactose, such as cakes, biscuits, milk chocolate, cheese sauce, cream soup, instant cereals, etc. Develop the habit of reading ingredients label when shopping to avoid food and drink that contain large amount of lactose.
Yakult and lactose intolerance
Do you know? As a fermented milk drink, each bottle of Yakult contains less than 2g of lactose! People with lactose intolerance can safely drink and digest Yakult. In addition, the unique probiotic Lactobacillus casei Shirota strain (LcS) exclusively found in Yakult helps to increase the total amount of beneficial bacteria in our intestines, improve the breakdown and digestion of lactose. To find out more about Yakult: https://www.yakult.com.au
Prefer reading this blog post in Mandarin?
Please click here.