5 Foods To Eat If You Have Lactose Intolerance

Here are some of the most important foods for lactose intolerance sufferers:

1. Probiotics

The importance of probiotics – whether from food or supplements – in any diet cannot be overemphasized! This is especially true for those with lactose intolerance and other digestive complaints.

These friendly bacteria help to colonize the gut, keeping pathogenic bacteria and viruses under control. Probiotics also aid in digestion and nutrient absorption, and may even help boost lactase production, allowing suffers to enjoy moderate amounts of dairy!

Studies have shown that taking probiotic supplements can alleviate symptoms of lactose intolerance by altering the activity of bacteria in the colon.

If you have never taken probiotic supplements before, start slowly and gradually increase your dose to reduce the digestive discomfort caused when these beneficial bugs establish themselves in the gut.

Increase the effectiveness of probiotics by consuming some prebiotic foods too. These non-digestible carbohydrates – which include artichoke, asparagus, bananas, chicory, garlic, onions, and tomatoes – ‘feed’ the probiotics, and encourage them to grow and multiply in your gut.

2. Fermented Dairy & Other Cultured Foods

Kefir is a fermented (or cultured) milk which is loaded with probiotics. Surprisingly, it is very well tolerated by many with a lactase deficiency.

One study, published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, found that probiotic-rich yogurt and kefir can improve lactose digestion. Participants reported that the severity of flatulence was reduced by between 54% and 71% after consuming these products.

There are many other fermented foods that can also aid digestion, including in the digestion of dairy. Learn how to make your own kefir and other fermented foods here.

3. Alternative Sources Of Calcium

A lack of calcium in the diet can seriously compromise bone health. This mineral is also vital for the nervous system, muscles, and heart.

Although milk is the poster child when it comes to bone health, there is plenty of evidence to show that milk consumption doesn’t necessarily benefit bones – with a direct correlation seen between osteoporosis and high dairy consumption.

In fact, the Nurses’ Health Study found that women who ate lots of dairy products had higher rates of bone fractures than women who rarely consumed dairy.

In addition, some dairy free sources of calcium, like kale, have higher levels of bioavailable calcium than cows milk – so you needn’t worry about bone health if you go dairy free.

Good sources of calcium include tofu, canned sardines, kale, collard greens, broccoli, tahini, and fortified drinks like orange juice and nut milks.

There are plenty of other ways to protect your bone health too – discover them all here.

4. Alternative Sources Of Vitamin K

Vitamin K is essential for funneling calcium into bones to strengthen their mineral density and fight fractures. It also prevents heart disease, boosts brain function and metabolism, and helps regulate hormones.

As grass-fed dairy is one of the best sources of Vitamin K2, cutting it out means you need to increase your intake of other sources of the vitamin to ensure you’re meeting your body’s needs. In addition, gut issues – like those experienced by people with lactose intolerance – further reduce Vitamin K levels.

Vitamin K2 is found in natto, a fermented soy bean dish; free-range organic egg yolk; and meats like chicken liver, salami, and ground beef.

However, if none of these sources appeal to you, a healthier option is to choose sources of Vitamin K1, which research shows we can convert into K2.

Foods rich in K1 include green leafy vegetables, scallions, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, cucumbers, and dried basil.

5. Alternative Sources Of Vitamin D

Known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’, Vitamin D is vital for calcium absorption in the gut. It also has many other important functions in the body.

As many people boost their Vitamin D levels through fortified dairy products, replacing this source of the nutrient is important. Furthermore, by getting adequate levels of the fat soluble vitamins A, D, and K, adults can reduce the amount of calcium needed to maintain bone health.

One of the easiest ways to increase Vitamin D levels is to get out and about in the sunshine – the body can synthesize the vitamin from the sun’s rays. However, this isn’t always possible depending on your climate, and the amount of skin you expose when outdoors.

In addition, sunscreen with an SPF of just 8 lessens our ability to produce the vitamin by up to 95%!

There are very few food sources of Vitamin D but it is found in UV exposed mushrooms, egg yolk, beef, fish, and in an array of non-dairy fortified foods such as orange juice, cereals, and plant-based milks and yogurts.

Here’s all you need to know about Vitamin D.


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