Lactose intolerance can have a dramatic impact on your diet, but that doesn’t mean that it needs to rule your life. But it does mean that you need to be a little more conscientious than the average person with your diet. But with the right plan and a balanced diet, there’s a good chance you can enjoy a more or less balanced diet and not have to sacrifice the flavors you love.
Understanding Lactose Intolerance
The first thing you need to understand is that the symptoms and severity of lactose intolerance can vary from person to person. They can vary from mild gas to serious diarrhea, and some people may actually be able to consume dairy in relatively small quantities. Lactose intolerance isn’t actually an allergy to dairy. Instead, it signifies an inability to process lactose at the levels of the average person.
So how long do lactose intolerance symptoms last? That’s a little more consistent. You can expect the onset of symptoms roughly 30 minutes to two hours after consuming dairy. They can last until the dairy has been fully digested – up to roughly 48 hours later. That said, the severity of symptoms tends to wane over that period, but that doesn’t help when you’re experiencing the direct effects of lactose intolerance.
Maintaining a Balanced Diet
Simply cutting dairy out of your life isn’t necessarily a healthy solution to treating lactose intolerance, because dairy is still the primary source of vitamin D and calcium in diets throughout the world. Pinto beans and dark greens like broccoli and spinach are both solid sources of the mineral, and you’ll also find it abundantly in milk substitutes like almond milk and soy milk. Vitamin D can be found in eggs as well as in some meats. Liver, in particular, is a solid choice for adding vitamin D to your meal choices. But you can also take supplements like fatty15 to keep a healthy level of both vitamin D and calcium in your diet.
Moderating Your Lactose Intake
Lactose intolerant can be more or less serious depending on the person, but most people with lactose intolerance can handle at least some dairy. Adding lactose-heavy products to your diet in small doses can help build up your immunity and promote the digestion of lactose. Hard cheeses and yogurts are good alternatives for traditional dairy, as they’re very low in lactose but include critical ingredients like vitamin D and calcium. As an additional bonus, yogurt is a probiotic that can help strengthen the helpful bacteria in your gut and more effectively process lactose.
Adding Enzymes to Your Diet
Your body may not be able to properly process lactose, but there are ways to help the process along. There are plenty of enzyme tablets on the market that can help you digest lactose, so you can enjoy your favorite cheeses and other lactose-heavy ingredients without having to worry about an upset stomach. Unfortunately, enzyme tablets only work in the short term, so you’ll have to take them every time you decide to indulge. It’s a good choice for the occasional splurge, but they don’t offer a permanent remedy.
Working With Your Doctor
If your lactose intolerance is having a serious impact on your life, you should take the time to discuss it with a medical professional. For some, lactose intolerance is a mild inconvenience. For others, it’s prohibitive to living a healthy life. A doctor can work with you to determine the cause and severity of your lactose intolerance and develop a nutritional plan that provides you with everything that you need to live a long and healthy life.