Is There a Way to Fight Becoming Lactose Intolerant?

The other post kind of inspired me to do this, but I didn’t really feel like my question belonged there, so I decided to start a new thread.

Essentially, I feel like I am becoming lactose intolerant. I don’t know for sure, but it seems like I have the tell-tale signs. My dad is lactose intolerant, as is his sister, so it definitely runs in the family.

Is there anything I can do to try and fight it? I understand that if it IS lactose intolerance, it’s because my body isn’t producing enough lactase to break down the sugar in milk. If I keep drinking and eating dairy, will my body somehow respond to it by continuing to make lactase? Is there any sort of dietary supplement or diet plan that can help me out?

I don’t want to have to give up milk! I love it so much. I know their are alternatives, but I’m not a fan of soy milk and I’ve never tried lactose free milk (does it come in skim?).

Thanks for the advice!

ETA: If I just say “forget it!” and keep eating lactose-rich foods, will there be any long term health effects other than indigestion and loose stool?

Lactaid or any number of similar products.

From what I understand, most people in the world are at least somewhat “lactose intolerant” - it’s more accurate to say that about 20% of the world is “lactase persistent”, a population that is concentrated originally in Northern Europe and some parts of Africa and Central Asia. For everyone else, it’s more a matter of degree.

It’s genetic so no you cannot “build yourself up” in the lactase producing department any more than change your hair color by thinking really hard (except to gray or white, eventually, I suppose). But, there are over the counter supplements for those who want to consume more dairy products than their body will naturally, er, “support” - such as LactAid.

(…like runner pat just said.)

There is no known way to affect the body’s ability to manufacture lactase. It can’t be increased or decreased; the decline can’t be stopped or slowed. If it’s going to happen to you it is an inevitable side effect of growing older, and that can’t be stopped either. Maybe in some future medical utopia.

There are dozens of dairy products that are lactose-free and hundreds of dairy alternatives that contain no dairy. Alisa Fleming at sells lists of dairy-free products and features huge numbers of recipes for dairy-free dishes. Steve Carper has a blog and website on lactose intolerance that talks about products, though it’s not up-to-date, and explains more about the medical and dietary basics.

Drinking full-fat rather than skim milk might help - the fat content slows down digestion, which allows for a more thorough sugar breakdown.

Along these lines, many people who have issues with milk find that they can handle cheese or yogurt with fewer problems.

There is no evidence that higher fat products with similar lactose percentages produce fewer symptoms.

The aging process in cheese squeezes out the water contents, which takes the lactose with it. There are several true dairy cheeses on the market labeled lactose-free. Young soft cheese products do have high lactose percentages, though.

The active cultures in yogurt produce lactase, which serves to digest the lactose in the yogurt. This is true for all yogurts, regardless of their fat contents.

Isn’t some of the lactose converted by the enzymes into various other compounds, contributing to the “sharpness”? Or am I wrong in thinking that?

I’ve been drinking Lactaid milk for years. It comes in skim, whole, and low fat. When I am eating other dairy products I use the Lactaid enzyme supplement. I prefer the chewable tablets, but they also have pills.

The sharpness in yogurt is lactic acid.

Indigestion and loose stool is the most common, but not only and not guaranteed, effect of lactose-intolerance.

Anecdote: My mother, who used to drink milk until about 20 years ago, and still likes cheese a lot, noticed that her knees (which have been operated on … twice … already) hurt after eating cheese. (It took some trial to find out it was the cheese). Next time I brought a lactose-free cheese (specially labelled, because it was a young one) to try out and she had no problems afterward. So now she eats lactose-free cheese. (Soy-based milk and yoghurt for other reasons).

Having indegestion and gas is uncomfortable and can be embarrassing if your stomach grumbles or you fart at an akward moment.

Loose stool, however, for long-term is not good, because you can loose too much water, nutrients, salts etc.

Given that there is not only a wide selection of lactose-free products available now (much better than 30 years ago!), and that you can eat lactase-enzyme tablets seperatly just before getting your milk dose, I don’t really see the necessity for having loose stool or similar instead of going the alternate route.

Thank you so much for all the advice guys and gals :slight_smile: I really appreciate it. I’m glad to know that there IS life after lactase. :slight_smile:

I’ve heard eating yogurt helps build up the good bacteria in the gut. I’ve been eating Activia and other yogurts every night for six years.

I also take lactaid with meals that include milk.

It helps a lot.