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Easy Living With Lactose

September 28, 1998|BARBARA J. CHUCK

Quick. You're lactose intolerant. Which foods listed below should cause you to run screaming into the night?

1. milk

2. cheese

3. butter

4. ice cream

If you're thinking, well, duh, all of the above, you'd be wrong. Yes, wrong. All four of the foods are OK as long as you're careful. Though you can't digest lactose, which is a sugar found in milk and other dairy products, that doesn't mean you have to cut a lot of foods you like from your diet. Many lactose-intolerant people can eat or drink small amounts of dairy products and have no symptoms. To find your limit, keep track of what you eat and drink, and keep written track of when you have symptoms. This can show you how much and what kinds of dairy products you can handle.

There are ways to reduce symptoms, which include gas or bloating, abdominal cramps and pain, rumbling stomach and diarrhea:

* Choose low-lactose dairy products, such as buttermilk and some aged cheeses.

* Take lactase enzyme tablets with dairy products. (To digest milk sugar, your body needs the enzyme lactase. If you don't have enough lactase . . . well, you get the picture.)

* Consume dairy products with other foods.

* Avoid eating several high-lactose foods, such as milk, cream, butter and ice cream, at one time.

You can also try nondairy substitutes:

Milk, cream: Soy or rice drink, nondairy creamer, lactose-reduced milk

Cheese: Tofu (soy) cheese, some aged cheeses

Butter, margarine: Milk-free margarine, vegetable oil

Ice cream: Fruit sorbet, juice bars

If you decide to eat less dairy, check with your doctor about calcium supplements. Dairy products, of course, are an important source of vitamins and minerals, especially calcium. You can also eat more dairy-free, calcium-rich foods such as:

* broccoli, kale, bok choy

* fish with edible bones, such as canned salmon and sardines

* soy sprouts

* tofu, soybeans, pinto beans and navy beans

* calcium-fortified orange juice, and soy and rice drinks

Source: Based on information provided by StayWell Co.

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