Skip to main content
Site search

When you can't do dairy



I hear it all the time, "I can't do dairy!"

Many people have trouble digesting dairy foods, resulting in symptoms such as diarrhea, gas, bloating, abdominal cramps and nausea. Intolerance to dairy products can be caused by lactose intolerance. But what is lactose intolerance and what can be done about it?

Lactose is the type of sugar that is found in milk and dairy foods. Lactose intolerance is caused by a lack of the enzyme (lactase) that is needed to break down the sugar (lactose) in the small intestine. Symptoms usually begin 30 minutes to 2 hours after ingesting lactose. Risk factors for developing lactose intolerance include increasing age, ethnicity, with people of African, Asian, Hispanic and American Indian descent having increased incidence, and certain diseases of the small intestine including celiac and Crohn's disease.

The condition is considered harmless, but can cause much discomfort for some individuals and can result in inadequate intakes of calcium and vitamin D.

Some individuals can tolerate a certain amount of lactose and others need to avoid it entirely. Lactase enzyme supplements that are taken with the first bite of a dairy food work for some individuals.

To ensure you are getting enough calcium and vitamin D, try an alternative milk such as soy, almond, or coconut milk that is fortified with calcium and vitamin D. Look for non-dairy foods high in calcium such as fortified orange juice, canned salmon, kale, dried beans, broccoli and almonds. You may also need to take a vitamin D supplement to meet your needs.

So, if you find yourself saying, "I can't do dairy" you may have intolerance to lactose, but remember that most people can very successfully manage symptoms of lactose intolerance with varying degrees of change to their diet.

Related articles
How to get more Vitamin C
How to get more vitamin C

Vitamin C is an essential nutrient, meaning your body doesn’t produce enough and needs adequate amounts through the food you eat.
Do juice cleanses really work
Do juice cleanses really work?

It's true that you’re likely to lose weight on a juice cleanse, but this is simply because you’re consuming fewer calories.
fresh ideas for fruit
Fresh ideas for fruit

Traditionally fruit is eaten plain or doused in sugar and butter and served as a dessert; however, fruit can be used in a wide range of recipes.
fruit and parfait
Fruit and yogurt parfaits

Makes 4 servings Ingredients 3 cups vanilla non-fat Greek yogurt 1 cup fresh or defrosted frozen strawberries 1 pint fresh blackberries, raspberries or blueberries 1 cup granola or nuts Preparation

1900 South Ave.
La Crosse, WI 54601

(608) 782-7300

Language Support:
Jump back to top