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About Lactose Intolerance - Its Causes, Symptoms and Dietary Management

Wednesday, November 03, 2010
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Tips to lessen the symptoms of lactose intolerance

  • Include smaller portions of dairy - sip small amounts of milk and do not exceed more then 120 ml at a time. The smaller the portion size the better your body will respond.
  • Combine milk with other foods, rather then consuming it by itself. This slows digestion to occur smoothly thereby reduceing the chance of a person experiencing lactose intolerance symptoms.
  • Cheese has less lactose and thereby does no cause any symptoms. Other dairy product should be tested as they might be tolerated better. Cultured milk products like yogurt/curd are good because the lactose is already converted to lactic acid.
  • Never forget to check nutrition labels and the ingredient list. Be cautious about the hidden lactose out there in the supermarket shelves. Milk and its products are added to many prepared products like cereal, instant soups, salad dressings, non-dairy creams, baking mixes and processed meats. Beware words like whey, milk byproducts, fat free solids, dry milk powder, and dry milk solids as they all are other words for lactose. Some medications have lactose in them too; make your pharmacist aware that you are lactose intolerant.
  • Replace milk and dairy products with lactose-reduced or lactose-free products to get over the symptoms. Soy or peanut/ground nut milk may be the best alternatives for regular milk.
  • Over the counter caplets and drops with lactase enzyme are available to help individuals with LI digest dairy products.

Talking to your physician or a registered dietitian will help you put together a diet plan that accommodates all the nutrients and makes sure you get sufficient amount of calcium and vitamin D, which in turn also helps in reducing the symptoms. Your doctor is the best person to determine if you need calcium or other nutrient supplements.

For more information, please click on our link -Dietary guidelines for children to find out the Recommended Dietary Allowances of these nutrients.

By, Sangeetha Narayana Swamy & Vijayalakshmi Iyengar
Senior Dietitians,



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User Comments

10 November, 2010 | Emma Louise | Reply

Emma Louise How much milk and milk products like cheese, yogurt, cream etc can be consumed by a women with normal weight and no medical conditions. I do not like to consume milk but will not mind only in my cereals. So if I consume one cup of milk in my cereals then how much of milk products can I have in a day.

11 November, 2010 | Poonam | Reply

Poonam Hello Emma,
You can consume 2-3 servings of milk/milk products everyday. A serving consists of 8 oz milk or 2/3 cup of low fat yogurt. 1 oz of cheese or 1/4 cup of cottage cheese can also be eaten instead. Cream is a concentrated source of saturated fat and should be used only occasionally or if necessary.

09 November, 2010 | Aditi | Reply

Aditi I say buttermilk/yoghurt is the way to go!!! I'm infamous in my family even today, for all the trauma I (as a child) put mom through to drink milk. I wish my first words had been " lactose intolerance" and perhaps I would've been absolved! Never mind that mine is a very specific milk-taste-and-smell intolerance!!! Also, a red flag would be behavioural avoidances like spilling milk very often, pouring it down the drain or outside a balcony (ahem, case in point: yours truly!), tantrums at milk-times, etc. I overcame my dislike with addition of a few drops of coffee to milk - in retrospect, that coffee should ideally have been decaf. If only it were available 25 yrs ago!

08 November, 2010 | Kanika Jain | Reply

Kanika Jain Dear Rishabh,
Milk and its products are often added to processed foods.According to The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), following food products may contain lactose(in varying amounts)-

-bread and other baked goods
-waffles, pancakes, biscuits, cookies, and mixes to make them
-processed breakfast foods such as doughnuts, frozen waffles and pancakes, toaster pastries, and sweet rolls
-processed breakfast cereals
-instant potatoes, soups, and breakfast drinks
-potato chips, corn chips, and other processed snacks
-processed meats, such as bacon, sausage, hot dogs, and lunch meats
-salad dressings
-liquid and powdered milk-based meal replacements
-protein powders and bars
-non-dairy liquid and powdered coffee creamers
-non-dairy whipped toppings

08 November, 2010 | Rishabh Gaba | Reply

Rishabh Gaba Are there any other products which may contain lactose?

08 November, 2010 | Shakthi Nene | Reply

Shakthi Nene My son who is 13 yrs old has stopped drinking milk regularly. He says that he feels a sort of discomfort if he drinks milk. Is this lactose intolerance or he just giving an excuse not to drink milk? He is underweight, catches cold and has chest congestion with slight wheezing more often. Please advise.

09 November, 2010 | Vijayalakshmi Iyengar | Reply

Vijayalakshmi Iyengar Dear Shakti
In our family many of my nephews and nieces used to cry off milk and would complain of feeling nauseous. Sometimes they even threw up. We substituted milk with thick buttermilk from freshly made curd and gave it as many times as required (equal to the amount of milk). The children grew up strong and healthy.
Many well wishers cautioned us about the children catching a cold or developing sinusitis, but in fact the reverse happened and the children built a good immunity as curd acts as a probiotic.

If your son is complaining I am sure there is some discomfort, try adding some flavouring agent to the milk or substitute with curd and see if it agrees with him. Some paediatricians recommend soy milk, so check with your son’s paediatrian for what is best for him as he does need Calcium for growth.
All the best.

09 November, 2010 | Sangeetha Narayana Swamy | Reply

Sangeetha Narayana Swamy Dear Shakthi,

If your son has had a episode of diarrhea, then he can show symptoms of temporary lactose intolerance but if he has not been drinking milk for some time then may be he dislikes the smell and taste of milk. You can try giving him flavoured milk, milkshakes, fruit yogurt, buttermilk, lassi etc that are good substitutes for milk in terms of nutrition.

At his age he requires good amount of energy and calcium, so do not to omit milk and milk products completely just because he dislikes them. Be innovative and try spiced lassi, smoothies with berries and fruits etc.

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