If your stomach is not agreeing with milk and dairy products, you could be lactose intolerant. Meaning that your body cannot process or breakdown the ‘lactose’ sugar present in the milk. Nothing to worry though. It is said that more than 60% of the world’s population, especially of the Asian and Mediterranean descent face this as a hereditary problem. This condition is so prevalent that it is easily overlooked or misdiagnosed by a lot of physicians!
Let’s dig a little deeper
The science is simple. Your body produces an enzyme called ‘Lactase’ that counters the ‘Lactose’ sugar present in milk products. When the production levels of Lactase drop as we age, it leads to this condition (unfair to tag this as a ‘disease’). If you are lactose intolerant you would experience a blotted sensation in the stomach and uneasiness in the lower abdomen possibly along with flatulence and diarrhoea. Consult a dietician if you are still not sure.
Should I completely avoid milk products?
The answer is no, unless you are one of our readers following a strict vegan lifestyle! Lactose intolerance levels are different for everyone. Most of us can have a glass of milk a day without any fuss. In foods like hard cheese and yogurt, there is beneficial bacteria that breaks down the lactose, which makes them ideal. But for few people, the deficiency is so stark that even a cup of tea can result in serious symptoms.
But completely forgoing milk products from the diet is not advisable because they account for the body’s calcium supply. According to our nutritionists, dairy products are home to complete protein, vitamin D and minerals like phosphorous and calcium. And the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) roughly translates to about 3 glasses of milk a day for everyone above 30 years! So it is better we find good substitutes for these products.
Here are some interesting alternatives!
Thankfully, there are a lot of substitutes to raw milk and dairy products. But before that, try taking milk in small quantities, preferably with your meals. This would help you determine how much dairy you can safely take. Then you can proceed trying these other substitutes.
- Lactose free milk: 99% of the lactose in the milk is neutralised and hence is safe for people with Lactose intolerance. It is sweeter than the normal milk due to the presence of glucose.
- Also, you can switch to other milk forms like coconut milk, soya milk, rice milk, almond milk etc. But before adding them to your recipes, try them out and see if you like the taste.
- Rice milk is thinner and soy milk is thicker than cow’s milk. Rice milk hence can’t be used for cooking.
- Prefer Tofu against paneer. Ask for fermented cheese next time you visit a store as it contains less lactose levels with similar taste and texture.
- Increase your Calcium intake. Beans and orange juice along with oats are rich in calcium. Avoid heavy intake of soft drinks as phosphorus in the soda can leach the calcium in your bones.
- Use Lactaid Pills with your meals after getting your physician’s approval.
Finally, if you are looking to replace dairy products, make sure that the nutritional profile of the foods are in line with your daily requirements. If in doubt, take out your Fitso app and direct your questions at our dietitians. We are happy to help 24/7.