Lactose Intolerance

Lactose intolerance is caused by an enzyme deficiency. But what makes up a lactose intolerance diet?

Published June 26, 2012 07:21

Lactose Intolerance

What is lactose?
Lactose is a sugar present in milk and some dairy products. It is a large sugar molecule that is made up of two smaller sugar molecules, glucose and galactose.

What is lactose intolerance?
Lactose intolerant individuals have insufficient levels of lactase, the enzyme that metabolizes lactose into glucose and galactose, in their digestive system. Without enough lactase enzymes, the lactose sugar is not digested and absorbed normally in the small intestine. Instead, it passes to the large intestine where it is fermented by bacteria. This fermentation can cause the common symptoms of lactose intolerance.

What are the symptoms of lactose intolerance?
Symptoms include gas; loose bowels or diarrhoea; and abdominal bloating and cramping.

How do I test for lactose intolerance?
Breath Hydrogen testing is used in the diagnosis of lactose intolerance and therefore assists in the future treatment and management of this condition.

What can I eat on a lactose intolerance diet?
The degree and severity of symptoms depends on the level of lactase insufficiency. If some lactase enzyme is still being produced then a small amounts of lactose in the diet can be consumed as tolerated. It is recommended to choose lactose-free varieties where possible and eat smaller quantities more often over the day than one large dose of lactose.

Foods that are high in lactose?
Specific intolerances vary from person to person so dietary management must be individualised. Milk, including skim, reduced fat, whole milk and cream, all contain lactose. Items made from milk, such as milkshakes and other beverages containing milk, ice cream, whipped cream, butter, cream soups and sauces, and puddings and custards also have significant amounts of lactose.

Hard, aged cheeses, such as parmesan or cheddar, or processed cheeses, such as American cheese, have very little lactose left in them after they are made. Fresher cheeses, such as cottage cheese, mozzarella and cream cheese tend to have higher levels of lactose. Yogurts, including, fruit, low fat or vanilla also have lactose in them.

Thanks to Susie Parker Simmons, MS, RD, MED
Sports Dietician and Physiologist
WTA Sports Nutrition Advisor


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