If you've been diagnosed with lactose intolerance, you may be disappointed at the thought of giving up milk. But before you get too discouraged, here are some easy home remedies from your kitchen that you can try to get some relief.
Home Remedies From the Cupboard
Cocoa powder. Studies indicate that cocoa powder and sugar, or chocolate powders, may help the body digest lactose by slowing the rate at which the stomach empties. The slower the emptying process, the less lactose that enters your system at once. That means fewer symptoms. Also see
the information on chocolate milk, below.
Sardines. They're high in calcium, which might be lacking in your diet if you're not drinking milk or consuming calcium-rich milk products. These foods are also high in calcium: canned salmon (or any other canned oily fish with bones), tofu, dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, cooked dried beans, dried apricots, and sesame seed products.
Home Remedies From the Refrigerator
Chocolate milk. The calcium in chocolate milk is just as well absorbed as that in regular milk, and you may tolerate flavored milk better than plain.
Hard cheese. If you find yourself drawn to the cheese aisle at your grocery store, pick hard cheeses, like Swiss, cheddar and Colby: The harder the cheese, the lower its lactose content. Skip the soft cheese, including cream cheese, cottage cheese, and any product that's processed or spreadable.
Soy milk. It's a shock after you're used to cow's milk, but it won't cause lactose intolerance. If you can't get used to the taste, try using it in recipes and products such as pudding where adding milk is required.
Yogurt. Research shows that yogurt with active cultures may be a good source of calcium for many people with lactose intolerance, even though it is fairly high in lactose. According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, evidence shows that the bacterial cultures used in making yogurt produce some of the lactase enzyme required for proper digestion. If you can tolerate yogurt, it's to your advantage to include it in your diet.
Living with lactose intolerance doesn't have to mean you permanently can't drink milk or avoid all dairy-based products. With proper planning and precaution, many lactose intolerance sufferers can enjoy the foods they want to eat. Try the home remedies in this article to see which work for you.
For more information about remedies for stomach problems, try the following links:
David J. Hufford, Ph.D., is university professor and chair of the Medical Humanities Department at Pennsylvania State University's College of Medicine. He also is a professor in the departments of Neural and Behavioral Sciences and Family and Community Medicine. Dr. Hufford serves on the editorial boards of several journals, including Alternative Therapies in Health & Medicine and Explore.
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