What Is Lactose Intolerance? Basic Treatment
Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest significant amounts of lactose, the predominant sugar of milk. This inability results from a shortage of the enzyme lactase, which is normally produced by the cells that line the small intestine. While not all persons deficient in lactase have symptoms, those who do are considered to be lactose intolerant. Fortunately, lactose intolerance is relatively easy to treat by avoiding foods containing lactose. No treatment can improve the body's ability to produce lactase, but symptoms can be controlled through diet modification.
Lactose Intolerance Diet - Lactase Dietary Supplements
Between 30 and 50 million Americans are lactose intolerant. But even though lactose intolerance is widespread, it need not pose a serious threat to good health. People who have trouble digesting lactose can create their own lactose-intolerant diet by learning which dairy products and other foods they can eat without discomfort and which ones they should avoid. Many lactose intolerant sufferers can enjoy milk, ice cream, and other such products if they take them in small amounts or eat other food at the same time. Other lactose intolerant sufferers can use dietary supplements like lactase liquid or tablets to help digest the lactose.
Even older women at risk for osteoporosis and growing children who must avoid milk and foods made with milk can meet most of their special dietary needs by eating greens, fish, and other calcium-rich foods that are free of lactose.
Lactose Intolerance Diet - Summary
A carefully chosen diet, with calcium supplements if the doctor or dietitian recommends them, is the key to reducing symptoms and protecting future health.
For more details about lactose intolerance diets, see Lactose Intolerance Diet Advice.
SOURCE: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, 2002. Website: www.niddk.nih.gov/
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