Friday, October 04, 2013

How to live with an intolerance - Parte II - Lactose

This is, probably the top one intolerance nowadays and results from an inability to digest lactose, a sugar found in cow’s milk and all dairy products.
So why does that happen? Because lactose intolerant individuals have insufficient levels of lactase, an enzyme that catalyses hydrolysis of lactose in-to glucose and galactose in their digestive system.
Lactose intolerance is not an allergy and the severity of symptoms typically in-creases with the amount of lactose consumed.
People with this intolerance may feel uncomfortable (abdominal pain, abdominal bloating, gas, diarrhea or nausea) 30 minutes after consuming milk products. The severity of these symptoms, depend on the amount of lactose consumed and vary from person to person.

So, how can we manage this? Well, this involves a dietary change and as I wrote above, it’s really personal, for example, I know that I can go with an yogurt per day, I can also deal ok with a really mature cheddar cheese and some butter. So, everyone with this intolerance needs to find out which kind of lactose products can they tolerate and which they cannot.
And, trust me, it is not the end of the world. Our supermarkets are, nowadays full of products that are identical to regular milk except the lactase enzyme has been added or there is a very good range of products that can substitute milk and dairy products like:
. almond, hazelnut or rice milk (soya milk is an option as well, just not for me cause I do not tolerate beans);
. to substitute yogurts, there is already in the market soya milk yogurts;
. cheese, well some people can tolerate goat and sheep’s cheese or even really mature cheddar cheese(lactose levels are lower);
. ice-creams, search for ice creams made with coconut milk or even with goats milk;
. creamy sauces that people love and contains cream can be made using tofu (blended and well-seasoned), coconut milk or one of the options that I ment
ioned above;
. cheese-frosting (for cupcakes and other cakes)can be made with coconut butter.

Once again I repeat myself by telling you that the internet is full of wonderful websites with lactose-free recipes, good tips, new products and information, just try it.

There is always a question that pops up into our minds whenever the lactose intolerance subject comes up …So and the Calcium intake?
Well, we grow up with the idea that milk and milk products are the major source of calcium and this nutrient is essential for the growth and the repair of bones at all ages, no doubts about that.
Nevertheless, many foods can provide us calcium as well, like, oil fish, spinach, kale, rhubarb, orange, broccoli, tofu, peas, black beans, sesame seeds, almonds, amaranth, teff and quinoa (both gluten-free grains).

Just do not forget that calcium is absorbed and used in our bodies only when enough vitamin D is present, and that comes from sources such as eggs, liver, oil fish and, of course, the exposition to the sun. That’s why it is so important to allow our kids to play outside in order for them to get vitamin D enough in their system to fix the calcium that they need when growing. Also during pregnancy it is recommend a supplementation of calcium and vitamin D for women (that’s what I am doing).

I know that sometimes it’s not easy to deal with lactose intolerance, however, it’s easier than a gluten intolerance (I have both ;-) ) and the food industry is getting better and better to provide us good alternatives in an acceptable price. Again, search, try and be creative!

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