In the past, being lactose intolerant relegated the afflicted individual to a life devoid of some of the simpler pleasures; ice cream, milk with chocolate chip cookies and grilled cheese sandwiches. But, not anymore. Those who are lactose intolerant are now provided with a wide array of food choices, lactose pills and alternative options.
So, how do people discover that they are lactose intolerant in the first place? Most lactose intolerant sufferers realize their ailment based on a few obvious symptoms. After ingesting dairy products they are plagued with gas, abdominal pain, lower abdomen noises, bloating and in more severe cases, diarrhea.
For some, the symptoms appear any time dairy products, especially milk, are consumed while others are only affected if large quantities of the culprit foods are eaten.
Since the symptoms of lactose intolerance are caused when the small intestine does not produce enough lactase enzyme, the enzyme which breaks down lactose, methods to treat the condition focus on ways to digest the lactose found in dairy products or on decreasing the amount of lactose in the diet.
The most obvious treatment to decrease symptoms is to avoid dairy products. But, for those who still crave a warm glass of milk before bed, or a bowl of ice-cream on a sunny day, there are still ways to do so.
First, limit the quantity of dairy products in the diet. On the average, most individuals, even if they are lactose intolerant, are able to ingest up to eight ounces of milk each day. So, try having only a small glass of warm milk or just a couple of spoonfuls of ice-cream.
To decrease symptoms even further, do not eat or drink all of the dairy for the day at one sitting, space it out throughout the day instead. Additionally, consume the milk products at the same time as other foods which will also lower the amount of symptoms experienced.
Instead of drinking milk and eating milk products that have the full amount of lactose, use lactose reduced or lactose free products. These alternatives have become widely available throughout the country in most grocery stores.
If an individual can not tolerate milk products at all, there are other options such as soy products, rice milk, almond milk and non-dairy creamers. Although the taste may need some getting used to, after a few weeks the palate will adjust.
Finally, for those die-hard milk product fans, choosing to add a lactase supplement to meals or to the milk product itself will greatly reduce the symptoms associated with eating dairy. The body uses the lactase enzyme supplement to digest the lactose.
Implementing one or more of the above options is usually enough to take care of the problematic symptoms while still enjoying a few milk products. However, if symptoms do not abate or worsen, speak to a doctor as this may be a sign of a more serious illness or condition.