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Could You Have Lactose Intolerance?

How to Manage Lactose Intolerance

You can't change how well your body digests lactose, but you can reduce or even eliminate the symptoms you have from lactose intolerance.

Talk with your doctor or a registered dietitian who can help you plan a healthy diet that keeps you feeling good. Keep a food diary to help you learn how much, if any, dairy you can eat without having symptoms. Many people do not need to stop eating dairy completely.

Making small changes in what you eat can often help prevent symptoms by helping your body digest dairy foods more easily.

  • Don't eat dairy alone. It's easier for your body to digest lactose when you eat it with other foods. So incorporate small amounts of milk or dairy foods with meals.
  • Choose the easier-to-digest dairy products. Some people find it easier to digest certain dairy products, including cheese, yogurt, and cottage cheese.
  • Use lactose-free or reduced-lactose milk and dairy products. Many supermarkets offer dairy products that have removed most of the lactose or added the lactase enzyme.
  • Switch to dairy-free products. There are many alternatives to dairy, such as almond, rice, or soy milk. Special note about infants and young children: When a child has symptoms of lactose intolerance, many pediatricians recommend changing from a cow's milk formula to a soy milk formula until the symptoms disappear, then slowly reintroducing milk and dairy products.
  • Take a lactase enzyme replacement. These are available over-the-counter in tablets, caplets, or liquids. Take the recommended amount with your first drink or bite of dairy to help prevent lactose intolerance symptoms.
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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on April 07, 2014

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