Tolerating Lactose Intolerance

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This post was written while participating in my partnership with the National Dairy Council, but, as always, all opinions are my own.


If you’ve followed this blog for awhile, you have a pretty good idea how important milk is to our diet. Over the years I’ve written about milk at breakfast and quesadillas in the evening. I’ve written how we received our milk from the dairyman down the road, and how, when I was a little girl, we pasteurized that milk ourselves each evening while sitting around the table separating pebbles from dry beans.

I’ve written about rich, milky, hot chocolate and peach gelatina with milk. And probably the most read post of all time on this blog is my three milk or tres leches cake recipe, which has been used by readers from Sweden to Argentina and everywhere in between. Suffice it to say, milk plays a big part in our lives.

When I was growing up, we knew milk was rich, yummy, satisfying and, intuitively, we knew it was nutritious. And it is. It’s rich in calcium, potassium, and vitamin D. In fact, it is the top food source for all three nutrients, all of which were identified in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) as lacking in the diets of both children and adults. It also has 9 essential nutrients associated with bone health. So it’s an important food source.

I’m telling you all this so you can imagine, then, the near panic I felt when I found out a member of my family was lactose intolerant.

We’ve all heard the phrase “lactose intolerance,” but what exactly does it mean? Lactose is a sugar found in milk. Our bodies use an enzyme called lactase to break down and digest lactose in our small intestines. Some folks have lower lactase levels so they may not have a sufficient amount to digest all the lactose present in their small intestines at a particular moment.

The great news is we discovered our lactose intolerant family member didn’t need to eliminate milk from his diet. By just having smaller portions, more times per day, he was able to continue drinking the same amount of milk per day as he always had. This was great news because we couldn’t imagine eliminating such an important food (especially one packing such a nutritious punch) from his diet, and we were sure eliminating milk would have had nutritional consequences we wanted to avoid.

So this experience had a happy ending, and the takeaway from the whole thing was that, for us, lactose intolerance didn’t have to mean milk avoidance. We’ve managed the intolerance without throwing out the nutritional baby with the bath water. And for that we are truly grateful. Do you have someone in your family who is lactose intolerant? Find out all kinds of great information about managing it here.

Please read Mama Latina Tips’ General Health Disclaimer

Silvia Martinez
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