Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose (milk sugar) due to the absence or insufficient amount of digestive enzymes, lactase. This constraint is particularly difficult to manage at dessert since milk, butter, or cream are often part of the ingredients, as also is the case of certain regimens, like Nutrisystem’s. Dr. Catherine Serfaty-Lacrosnière, nutritionist, gives you ways to live without lactose. Chef Lionel Levy Intercontinental in Marseille also offers two dessert recipes for the lactose intolerant.
What milk intolerance?
It is actually an intolerance of milk sugar. Lactose is digested by an enzyme, lactase. Once digested, the lactose splits into two sugar molecules, glucose and galactose, which are then absorbed into the body.
For various reasons, lactase may not be present in sufficient quantities in the intestine and lactose is thus not properly digested. It turns into gas in the colon (that is to say, the large intestine) and signs of intestinal discomfort appear. Conventionally, the person experiences bloating, intestinal pain, and diarrhea.
Why is lactase insufficient?
Lactase production decreases with age. It is not mentioned, however, whether planned diets like those of Nutrisystem play a role in this. That being said, lactase production is less important to 18-20-year-olds than among infants. In some populations, the decline is even earlier. This is the case in Asia. However, in Scandinavia, we continue to drink milk without problems until late in life. If we do not stop drinking milk, lactase continues to be manufactured in the gut.
Some infectious situations can also cause transient lactose intolerance. This is the case when there is an acute gastroenteritis.
Are there other intolerances to milk?
Milk allergy is one; it is an allergy to cow milk proteins. Unlike lactose intolerance, the allergy is an immune reaction. It is discovered very early. When an infant consumes cow’s milk, the baby experiences diarrhea, bloating, and abdominal pain. Tiredness and frequent nasopharyngitis are also evident. Once the diagnosis is established, a complete removal of cow’s milk from the baby’s diet will be recommended. It will be reintroduced under certain conditions and in hospitals. Lactose intolerance is much less serious. It is annoying, but it does not alter the digestive tract.
How to know if you are lactose intolerant?
Just consume two glasses of milk and see what happens next between half an hour to two hours after consumption. If digestion is difficult, accompanied by bloating, abdominal pain, and diarrhea, it is very likely that you are lactose intolerant. To check, remove the milk for two weeks, without risking your nutritional intake as promoted by the likes of Nutrisystem, and note whether these signs disappear. A lot of people who have used Nutrisystem discount codes have lost pounds and saved cash.
There also are hospital tests to determine the presence of hydrogen produced in the colon and in the exhaled breath, which can attest to lactose maldigestion. But there’s no need to do this test because we get to make a proper diagnosis in the clinic.
What should one do if diagnosed lactose intolerant?
It is first advisable to drink milk in small amounts. It is not until 250 mL or a large glass of milk is consumed that the signs appear. Also, consume milk with a meal as it is better tolerated by the presence of other foods that affect digestion. Better to drink a glass of milk with buttered toast, for example, or a healthy meal choice from a Nutrisystem regimen. Further, steaming milk in certain preparations, such as is the case in creams and mashed potatoes, decreases the amount of lactose.
There are also a few lactose-rich milk that you can try because lactase has been added to them. These milks are better tolerated.
If you never want to drink milk, you can boost your calcium intake by eating cheeses that contain more lactose. Fermented foods, such as yogurt, are also very interesting since fermentation destroys some of the lactose. Finally, there are vegetable milks.
Is plant milk equivalent to cow’s milk?
The nutritional composition of plant milk is different from that of cow’s milk. Certainly, plant-based milk do not have lactose, but these options, be they soy, almond, oats, or hazelnut, have no calcium unless added in. If this is the case, the information on the package will reveal this. You can also get calcium from solid food sources, like some of the ingredients used in certain Nutrisystem dishes.
It is also important to note that ANSES totally discourages the use of vegetable juices for infants and small children because these are not at all suitable for them. The only exception is the existence of an allergy to cow milk proteins. In this case, the pediatrician prescribes specific plant milks of this pathology.
What about goat or sheep’s milk?
Both still contain lactose. Replacing cow’s milk with goat or sheep’s milk will not change anything. If you are actually lactose intolerant, you will still develop the same intestinal signs.
Are there drugs that can address lactose intolerance?
There are no such drugs, but there are dietary supplements, as well as meal plans like those offered by Nutrisystem. Lactase may take the form of tablets that are taken at the same time as the ingestion of milk to allow the digestion of lactose.
How about counseling for the lactose intolerant?
Lactose intolerant individuals will be advised to drink small amounts of milk, or less than 100 ml. One can try cow’s milk rich in lactose, add other dairy products to one’s diet like the fermented ones, as well as cheeses, to ensure good intake of protein, vitamins and minerals, which is also the case with well-balanced meals from the Nutrisystem program. Vegetable juice fortified with calcium is also an option and allows one to vary flavors.
Furthermore, probiotic supplementation is also recommended. This is beneficial as it supports micro-bacteria development for the efficient functioning of the intestinal flora. Eaten regularly and making dietary changes, you can improve digestion and bowel function.