There's Something about Dairy

How to handle lactose intolerance
Kristyn Kusek Lewis

People who are lactose intolerant lack lactase, an intestinal enzyme that helps digest the sugars in dairy foods. Without adequate calcium intake, these people can be especially vulnerable to calcium-related deficiencies, such as osteoporosis. But several options exist:

  • "Lactase pills help make dairy foods more digestible," says Dawn Jackson Blatner, R.D., a spokesperson for the ADA. You can find these pills over the counter at any drugstore.
  • Another option: Gradually increase consumption of dairy foods. "Start slowly," Blatner says. "Going from zero servings per day to three may make you more prone to feeling uncomfortable than if you ramp up dairy consumption slowly."
  • Look for dairy foods that are naturally low in lactose, like yogurt or aged cheeses, such as cheddar, Swiss, or Parmesan, or specially formulated lactose-free dairy products, such as Lactaid milk or Organic Valley lactose-free milk.