Every day I talk to women and families about keeping bones and bodies strong with protein, calcium and other essential nutrients. Dairy naturally contains all of these essential nutrients, with no added sugars or ingredients which makes it a great choice .
My patients know they need plenty of calcium, but wonder what to do when there’s a question of lactose sensitivity. Contrary to what many people believe only a small percentage of people actually have a lactose intolerance. Even when there’s a concern about lactose sensitivity, most people can enjoy small amounts of lactose. While the exact percentage of people who have a lactose sensitivity is not known, what is clear is that certain ethnic groups are more likely to be sensitive to the lactose in dairy products, including people of hispanic origin.
Essential Nutrients are Important for Every Family Member
Dairy foods are an important source of 9 essential nutrients for every member of every family. The 9 essential nutrients are:
What is Lactose sensitivity?
Lactose sensitivity occurs when a person does not have the ability to digest the lactose, which are the sugars in milk and other dairy products. This can lead to gas, bloating, cramping and discomfort. People with a lactose sensitivity may not produce enough of an enzyme known as Lactase which aides in digesting lactose found in dairy products.
Having Dairy when there’s a Lactose Sensitivity
Many patients are surprised to learn that even when lactose sensitivity might be present there are many ways to continue enjoying the yummy taste of real dairy and still get all the essential nutrients.
Some people with a lactose sensitivity are able to enjoy some low lactose dairy products or they can drink Lactaid milk, which contains lactase and is still a natural dairy product.
How you might ask?
The whole family can enjoy the delicious taste of real dairy and get the benefit of the 9 essential nutrients without the worry of tummy troubles.
Here’s some examples of no-to-low lactose cheeses:
We’re lucky, because California is the #1 producer of Hispanic-style cheeses and we all have a wealth of nutrient-rich choices available.
Each of the following contains less than 1 gram of lactose per ounce:
- Queso Anejo
What about milk?
The lactose content for individual milk products is the same, no matter the fat content. For example, 1 cup of milk has 12 grams of lactose, regardless if it’s whole, 2%, low-fat or fat-free:
- Use a variety of glass sizes and pour a little or a lot of milk for everyone at the table
- Use Lactaid milk for those family members who have a lactose sensitivity because it contains absolutely no lactose
- Stir chocolate into Lactaid or other milk to help make the taste appealing to different taste preferences
- Make milk part of every after school snack
- Use Lactaid or other dairy milk to make Horchata. This is my new go-to recipe for a Horcahata milkshake
What about Yogurts?
Note that while yogurt ranks relatively high on this scale, its live and active cultures help make it easier to digest lactose, and therefore, is often well-tolerated by people with lactose intolerance.
Disclosure: I’m working with the California Milk Advisory Board to help educate parents and health care providers about the benefits of real dairy. (link under CMAB: http://www.realcaliforniamilk.com )