Lactose intolerance is a pretty common condition, and it affects about 75% of the world’s population. People who suffer from lactose intolerance go through digestive problems whenever they eat dairy, which can harm the quality of their lives. However, as with almost every other medical condition, you can deal with this condition with natural remedies for lactose intolerance.
You will learn the following from this post:
- Meaning of lactose intolerance
- Causes of lactose intolerance
- Symptoms of lactose intolerance
- Treatments for lactose intolerance
- Natural remedies for lactose intolerance
What is Lactose Intolerance?
Lactose intolerance is a digestive problem due to the inability to digest lactose, the primary carbohydrate in dairy products. Lactose intolerance can result from various symptoms, such as abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and bloating. Those with lactose intolerance cannot produce enough of the enzyme lactase, which is essential for the digestion of lactose.
Lactase is a disaccharide; this means that it contains two sugars. Lactose is a product of a molecule that belongs in each of the simple sugar galactose and glucose. The job of the lactase enzyme is to break down lactose into galactose and glucose, which can then go into the bloodstream and be used for energy.
Lactose causes digestive symptoms when it remains undigested due to insufficient lactase when it moves through your stomach. You can also find lactose in breast milk, and so almost everyone can digest it. Lactose intolerance is very rare in children below five years old.
Causes of Lactose Intolerance
Lactose intolerance has two major types, and each one of them has different causes.
Primary Lactose Intolerance
The most common intolerance is primary lactose intolerance. It results from a decrease in lactase production as one grows, so lactose becomes hard to absorb. Primary lactose intolerance may result from genes because it is more common among some populations than others.
Secondary Lactose Intolerance
Secondary lactose intolerance is rare; it results from stomach bugs or more severe medical complications like celiac disease. These diseases can cause inflammation in the stomach wall, which can result in a temporary decline in lactase production.
Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance
Lactose intolerance can cause severe digestive problems if not properly managed. The most common symptoms of lactose intolerance include the following:
- Abdominal cramps
In some people, the urgency to go to the toilet is a significant symptom of lactose intolerance, including occasional constipation, pain in the lower body, vomiting, and nausea. Lactose intolerance causes diarrhea because of the undigested lactose in the small intestine, which results in water moving into your digestive tract. Once the lactose reaches your colon, the bacteria in your gut ferment it, forming gas and short-chain fatty acids. The fermentation causes pain, flatulence, and bloating.
The severity of symptoms depends on how much lactose you have eaten or how much you can tolerate.
Lactose and Food
You can find lactose in dairy foods and other products that contain dairy.
Dairy Foods that Contain Lactose
The following dairy foods contain lactose, and you should avoid taking them if you are intolerant:
- All types of cow’s milk
- Goat’s milk
- Ice cream
- Cheese (both hard and soft cheese)
Foods that Sometimes Contain Lactose
Foods that contain some form of dairy in their ingredients may also have lactose in them; such foods include:
- Custards and desserts
- Foods made with milk sauce, such as quiche
- Flavored tortillas, nuts, and potato chips
- Cookies and biscuits
- Gravies and sauces
- Chocolate and confectionary, such as candies and boiled sweets
- Ready meals
- Baked goods and breads
- Processed meats, such as sausages or pre-sliced ham
- Instant sauces and soups
- Breakfast cereals
Other Names for Added Dairy
You can easily know if a product contains dairy by simply checking the label. On the list of ingredients, dairy products or added milk may have such descriptions like:
- Milk byproducts
- Whey protein-carbohydrate
- Milk powder
- Sour cream
- Dry milk solids
- Whey protein
- Malted milk
- Milk casein
- Milk sugar
Do not be confused when you find a product that contains such words as casein, lactate, lactalbumin, or lactic acid – these ingredients are not lactose.
Treatments for Lactose Intolerance
If you are unwilling to give up eating dairy products, then there are some natural remedies for lactose intolerance that you can try. I will mention the remedies momentarily. However, like remedies, some natural treatments can help you. These treatments include the following:
You can purchase enzymes that will help you digest your lactose. These enzymes are in the form of drops you can add to your foods and drinks. They can also come in the form of tablets that you can swallow. You should know, however, that the effectiveness of these enzymes can vary from person to person. Therefore, you should try lactase enzyme supplements; you may discover that it’s very effective for you.
By including lactose in your diet regularly, you may help your body to adapt to it – that is, of course, if you are lactose intolerant. In a small study carried out, nine lactose-intolerant people experienced a threefold increase in their lactase production after 16 days of taking lactose. Therefore, you can train your stomach to tolerate lactose.
Probiotics and Prebiotics
Probiotics provide health benefits when you consume them; they are also microorganisms. Prebiotics, however, are types of fiber that stand as food for bacteria. Prebiotics feed the bacteria that are already in your stomach. Both probiotics and prebiotics are effective in reducing the symptoms of lactose intolerance. However, the effectiveness of probiotics and prebiotics depends on the level of lactose intolerance in people. Some types of probiotics and prebiotics may be more effective in battling lactose intolerance than others.
13 Natural Remedies for Lactose Intolerance
You may be disappointed at the thought of giving up milk after discovering that you are lactose-intolerant. However, before you become too discouraged, here are some natural remedies for lactose intolerance you can get from your kitchen.
1. Cocoa Powder
Research indicates that sugar and cocoa powder, or chocolate powders, may assist the body in digesting lactose simply by slowing down the rate at which the stomach empties. As the stomach empties slowly, lactose will have challenges in entering your system at once. When lactose is unable to enter your system easily, you will experience lesser symptoms.
Sardines are high in calcium, which may not be available in your diet since you are not drinking milk or consuming products that are rich in calcium. Besides sardines, these foods also contain high calcium: sesame seed products, nuts, dark green leafy vegetables, tofu, and canned salmon (or any other canned oily fish with bones).
3. Chocolate Milk
The calcium available in chocolate milk is almost as that you will find in regular milk, and your system may tolerate flavored milk better than a plain one.
4. Hard Cheese
When you get to the cheese aisle in your grocery store, select hard cheeses like Swiss, Cheddah and Colby. The harder the cheese is, the lower the lactose contained in it. Do not pick the soft cheese, such as cottage cheese, cream cheese, and any other spreadable or processed product.
5. Soy Milk
Unlike cow’s milk, soy milk does not cause lactose intolerance. If you cannot bear the taste of soy milk, you can try it with other products and recipes like adding pudding instead of milk.
Studies have shown that yogurt with active cultures may be an excellent source of calcium for those suffering from lactose intolerance, even though yogurt has an appropriate lactose content. The bacterial cultures used in the making of yogurt produce some of the lactase enzymes needed for proper digestion. If your system can tolerate yogurt, you might want to include it in your diet.
7. Ginger Tea
Ginger has a lot of medical advantages. This root is effective for decreasing the symptoms of nausea and abdominal discomfort. It can relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Ginger also supports the level of digestive juice in the stomach. Ginger can alleviate spasms and ease inflammation in the intestines. To relieve the symptoms of lactose intolerance, boil a few slices of ginger roots in plain water, strain the liquid and drink it as tea.
8. Lime Juice
Lime juice is effective in relieving stomach aches resulting from lactose intolerance. You can prepare lime juice as a tasty drink just by adding it to water. You can drink this juice two or three times each day to avoid gas and bloating resulting from stomach aches.
It would help if you took lime juice on an empty stomach early in the morning and before breakfast to improve digestion. Lime juice is one of the most common natural remedies for lactose intolerance.
9. Cumin Seeds
Cumin seeds are popular among Indians for tempering their foods. In addition, the seeds help prevent bloating and improve the process of digestion.
Add two tablespoons of cumin seeds to four cups of water, then boil the mixture. Strain the solution and drink it two to three times each day for instant relief from lactose intolerance. You can include cumin seeds in your diet to improve any problem with digestion.
Peppermint is an excellent ingredient we generally use in our kitchens. However, many people do not know that peppermint has anti-inflammatory properties capable of calming pain from lactose intolerance. Peppermint works as effectively as ginger; it can decrease discomfort from digestion and intestinal irritation. In addition, peppermint can help relieve spasms and cramps since we can use it to prevent diarrhea, irritable bowel movement, and lactose intolerance.
In easing an episode of lactose intolerance, boil fresh peppermint leaves in plain water for fifteen minutes. Then strain the liquid and add a tablespoon of honey to taste. Drink the tea twice daily until you begin to see the signs of improvement. Peppermint is one of the excellent natural remedies for lactose intolerance.
11. Chamomile Tea
Chamomile tea has excellent anti-bloating properties effective in fighting gas and abdominal pain from lactose intolerance. Chamomile tea helps in keeping the stomach pH level accurate by neutralizing acids. The tea gives immediate relief from discomfort resulting from undigested lactose.
You can prepare a tea with dried chamomile flowers and drink it two to three times daily for an excellent result. In making the tea, add two tablespoons of dried chamomile flowers to half a cup of hot water. Cover the mixture and leave it to soak for five minutes. You can then strain the liquid and drink the tea as already directed above.
Saffron is a popular spice that greatly helps solve the indigestion problem due to its antioxidant properties. Saffron can also flush out toxins that have built up in the intestines. As a result, eating saffron can improve blood flow to the digestive tract, thereby inhibiting discomfort and pain associated with lactose intolerance. Saffron is also effective in preventing the formation of gas in the stomach.
13. Milk Substitutes
Milk is an important food or food ingredient because it is essential for certain drinks and cooking. However, in lactose intolerance, you can use some other substitutes to avoid complications from allergies. Using milk substitutes like butter for baking and condiments can help reduce the amount of lactose that your stomach should digest. The various milk substitutes include hemp milk, oat milk, rice milk, soy milk, coconut milk, and almond milk. To substitute butter, you can use purees of banana or coconut oil.
Although you are lactose intolerant, it does not mean that you must avoid all dairy-based products or you must not drink milk whatsoever. With proper precaution and planning, you can enjoy any food you want as a lactose-intolerant. It would help if you tried all the natural remedies for lactose intolerance in this article to find the ones that work for you.
The information contained in this post is for educational purposes only. Always consult your primary care doctor before using the remedies that are provided. The information is provided by The Hidden Cures and while we do timely, in-depth research on the information that we provide to you, everything stated may not be up to date or accurate from the time it was written.