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"I'm Robin and I'm Lactose Intolerant" Great news for People Like Me!

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Robinsbite: "I'm Robin and I'm Lactose Intolerant" Great news for People Like Me!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

"I'm Robin and I'm Lactose Intolerant" Great news for People Like Me!

I'm feel like I just was released from a huge bear hug.

Never have I felt so supported by virtual strangers before in my plight with lactose intolerance. You see, I've just returned from the recent Lactose Intolerance Forum-hosted by the National Dairy Council and Lactaid. Yes, that's right-an entire forum dedicated to research and new information regarding LI.

Managing my LI now for nearly 20 years, I've often avoided the products that I know will cause the, ahem, unpleasant gastrointestinal side effects that simply are LI.

When I was 23, I remember having dinner at a friends house who was well know for her Southern cooking. In this instance, Southern cooking mean copious amounts of cream, butter, milk and cheese in nearly everything she cooked. Within 1 hour, I was doubled over in pain, had severe cramps and spent a bit of time in the bathroom. Long story short, I had to cancel the rest of the plans for the evening and head home. And so began my plight with dairy.

I could tolerate small amounts of hard, aged cheeses (Cheddar, Swiss, Mozzarella) as well as frozen yogurt and regular yogurt but absolutely no ice cream or milk. I began drinking soy milk and eliminated ice cream from my diet. I definitely reduced my dairy intake over the years and as I got older, began to worry about vitamins and minerals that I knew I must have been lacking without the proper amount of dairy in my diet. Obviously osteoporosis was at top of mind, but also the other diseases that were plaguing Americans-obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure/heart disease, etc. The studies I was reading all had correlations with dairy. I began drinking soy milk and calcium fortified orange juice-and also ate many of the non-dairy products that contained calcium.

At the LI Forum, we talked LI all day long. Literally. I've been introduced as many things before, but I'm not sure I've ever been introduced as "This is Robin Plotkin. She has Lactose Intolerance, too!". There were expert speakers and excellent research presented. The recent recommendations by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are that people with lactose should be able to tolerate up to 12 grams of lactose per day.

The NIH Panel concluded that:

"Many people with real or perceived lactose intolerance avoid diary and ingest inadequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D, which may predisposed them to decreased bone accrual, osteoporosis and other adverse health outcomes. In most cases, people don't need to eliminate dairy consumption completely."

Dr. Gilman Grave, Chief, Endocrinology, Nutrition and Growth Branch, National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health

You see, since so many of us self diagnose (which we shouldn't-our MD can order at Hydrogen Breath test to confirm a diagnosis of LI), we also overestimate our symptoms. And because we do that, we often completely eliminate dairy from our diet so we don't have to experience those symptoms. The problem is that when we completely eliminate dairy from the diet, we often times are eliminating excellent sources of calcium, Vitamin D, potassium and magnesium. Over time, when we don't feed our bodies with these vitamins and minerals, we become even more at risk for those diseases mentioned above and, in some cases, even malnutrition.

So, here's the good news! That 12 grams of lactose per day will help us get those nutrients we need AND reintroduce dairy back into our diets! Sure, I was skeptical at first too, but I've been working on it for a few months's working!

Below are some tips and some strategies to manage LI and to incorporate dairy back into your life!

Sip it-introduce dairy slowly into the diet. You'll have to build up to the 12 grams, so start small. Maybe 1/4 of a glass of milk on days 1-5 and gradually increase from there. ( An 8 ounce glass of milk has about 12 grams of lactose)

Stir it-mix milk in with food. Try adding milk to mashed potatoes, mac n cheese, smoothies or cereal.

Slice it-Try a slice of cheese on a sandwich or with whole grain crackers. Start with about 1 ounce. Cabot Creamery has naturally lactose free Cheddar Cheese as well as 50% reduced fat Cheddar Cheese. Yep-thanks to the aging process, it's naturally lactose free! I've done work for these good people and they can explain the entire process to you if you'd like.

Shred it-Shred cheeses over soups or in tacos and enchiladas. Sprinkle some in your salad.

Spoon it-Try yogurt mixed with cereal or with fruit. Always choose yogurts with active live cultures. The cultures are also helpful in breaking down the natural sugar in dairy that causes lactose intolerance symptoms to occur.

Try it-Try lactose free milk and milk products. I've recently become a big fan of Lactaid. In the past, I'd only tried their cottage cheese...but their regular milk, chocolate milk and ice cream ROCK. I'm a believer now! (note: Lactaid is REAL COW's MILK-just with an enzyme added to it to make it tolerable for people with LI).

I encourage you to try incorporating dairy back into your diet. It's worth it to try these foods again and get the nutrients you may be lacking. I never thought I'd be able tolerate as much dairy again, but I do! Just remember to go slow and enjoy.

Need to know how much calcium you need? Check here.
How much lactose is in certain products? Check here.
If you'd like more information about improving your diet, see at Registered Dietitian!

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Blogger Edible Nutrition said...

Such a great read! I'll pass this along to my clients, as well! Thanks for the resource!

June 28, 2010 at 8:02 PM  
Blogger Victor said...

Thanks for the tips. Lactose Intolerance is the inability to digest and absorb lactose that results in gastrointestinal symptoms. Taking vitamins can help reduce the risk.

January 21, 2011 at 12:50 AM  

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