Approximately 75 % of the earths population is lactose intolerant. The statistics vary from race to race and country to country but overall they show an abnormal amount of individuals who qualify. (Source http://www.collective-evolution.com/2013/04/03/over-75-of-earths-population-is-lactose-intolerant-for-a-reason-dairy-is-harmful/)
In Belgium for instance 1 in 5 persons is lactose intolerant. Contrary to what is generally thought, the lactose intolerance – that can be more or less developed – does not preclude all dairy pleasures. In Belgium, our Delhaize supermarkets offer a large range of lactose-free products, but full of flavors.
What is lactose?
Lactose is a sugar found in milk. It is present in cow’s milk, goat’s milk, etc. but also in their derivatives such as cheese and other dairy specialties. It can also be found in cakes, pancakes, chocolates, dressings, breads and some drugs.
Lactase, an enzyme to digest lactose
Some people do not digest milk and experience some digestive discomforts because their body does not produce enough lactase, the enzyme that allows us to digest lactose. It’s produced in our digestive system. In function of your lactose intolerance, you produce little or no lactase.
Dairy products with low-lactose content
A small amount of lactose may not be harmful for you, if you produce a little lactase. Do not deprive yourself too fast of dairy pleasures! There is a small amount of lactose in hard cheese (Gouda, Emmental, Comté, etc.), in yoghurts and fermented milk (without added cream). You can also drink a small glass of milk. If you don’t tolerate any dairy product, you can opt for products “without lactose”. In Belgium Delhaize sells products specially developed for consumers with lactose intolerance (cheese, milk, yoghurts, creams). Vegetable products based on soya, rice or almonds are also good alternatives.
Provide your body with all the calcium it needs
Dairy products are, above all, the food that provides the calcium the body needs. Calcium helps the body to keep healthy bones and teeth for instance*. It is even more important to consume enough calcium when you are lactose intolerant. Opt for vegetable drinks (soya, almonds, etc.) enriched with calcium (and preferably with vitamin D). Add some nuts (almonds, Brazil nuts, etc.), cabbage (as broccoli) or sardines to your dishes. They are rich in calcium.
* as part of a balanced, varied diet and a healthy lifestyle.
Enjoy your meals!
This article was initially published in Delhaize Magazine August – September 2014.
Extracts of the article were used for this post.