Are you getting the right nutrients?
June is National Dairy Month, and a great way to start the summer is with nutrient-rich dairy foods. But whether it is by choice or an intolerance, not everyone can enjoy the tasty benefits of dairy. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) estimates that 30 to 50 million Americans are lactose intolerant.
The challenge with avoiding all milk and milk products due to lactose intolerance is that people may miss out on key nutritional and health benefits that milk and milk products provide. Specifically, without milk, cheese, and yogurt in the diet, it can be difficult for people to meet the recommended intake of several essential nutrients, including calcium and vitamin D.
The good news is that even if you are lactose intolerant, this doesn’t necessarily mean you need to abstain from dairy foods. There is a wide range of lactose intolerance, and most people with lactose intolerance can comfortably consume certain dairy products with minimal or no symptoms.
Tips to Enjoy Eating Dairy Again
Start with a small amount of lactose-containing foods daily. Increase your intake slowly over several days or weeks to find the amount that works with your tolerance. Keep a food diary, and write down when, what, and how much you ate, as well as how it made you feel. You should see a pattern emerge, and you will learn the amount of lactose you can have.
Many different dairy alternatives are available, from lactose-free to nondairy options. Try lactose-free milk and milk products. These real milk products have less lactose and provide the same nutrients as regular dairy foods. Or try nondairy beverages and foods made with soy, almond, cashew, rice, or coconut. Select a fortified brand, if possible, that contains at least 20-30 percent of the U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for calcium, riboflavin, and vitamin B12 values, which are similar to the nutritional profile of dairy milk.
Instead of eating or drinking dairy products by themselves, try having them with foods that do not contain lactose. Mix milk with soup or cereal or try blending it with fruit. Solid foods help slow digestion and allow the body to digest lactose.
If you are lactose intolerant, you may still be able to enjoy cheese, but choose carefully. Hard, aged cheeses like Swiss, Parmesan, and cheddar cheeses contain fewer than 0.1 grams of lactose per serving. Other cheese options lower in lactose include cottage cheese or feta cheese made from goat or sheep's milk. If you want to avoid dairy completely, try lactose-free and dairy-free cheeses.
Enjoy traditional yogurt or Greek-style yogurt that contains live and active cultures to help digest lactose.
Taking lactase enzyme supplements can help you eat foods containing lactose. Taking these before eating foods that contain dairy may help your body digest the lactose sugar in dairy, controlling the uncomfortable symptoms of lactose intolerance. Supplements are found in many forms, including caplets and chewable tablets. They may be particularly helpful if you don't know the exact ingredients in your meals.
How Publix Can Help
Publix carries a variety of dietary supplements to assist with your lactose intolerance needs, including Lactaid, Digestive Advantage, and Publix Dairy Digestive. Please be sure always to first check with your doctor.
Eating a Dairy-Free Diet
While many people are able to enjoy dairy even if they are lactose intolerant, some people choose to eliminate dairy from their diet altogether. These brands offer lactose-free products you can enjoy on a dairy-free diet.
The LACTAID brand offers high-quality products that help people who have a sensitivity to lactose enjoy all of the benefits of dairy.
Almond Breeze is an excellent source of calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin E, a good source of vitamin A, and provides lactose-intolerant people with a creamy, tasty, calcium-enriched alternative to dairy milk.
Silk products start with ingredients that are grown responsibly. All products contain no artificial colors or flavors, no high-fructose corn syrup, and are dairy-free and responsibly produced.
Daiya foods are great cheese alternatives that deliver the bold flavor and texture of cheese. Additionally, their foods are plant-based and free from dairy, soy, and gluten.
GO VEGGIE provides a variety of products and flavors—including dairy-free options—to satisfy every cheese-lover’s craving. With more calcium, equivalent protein, less fat, and fewer calories compared to ordinary cheese, you can enjoy all of your melty, cheesy foods.
- "Lactose Intolerance". The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC). NIH Publication No. 09-2751. June 2009, updated April 12, 2012.
- "Fall in Love Again with Dairy." National Dairy Council. January 1, 2015.
- "You Asked, We Answered: Lactose Intolerance 101." National Dairy Council. January 11, 2016.
- "Lactose Intolerance." U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. June 2014.
- “Dairy: Nutrients and Health Benefits.” Choose MyPlate. June 26, 2015.