Lactose is how milk sugar is described as. Intolerance of lactose refers to the situation in which the sugar does not get digested in the small intestine. Lactose is the main source of carbohydrates present in milk and other dairy products.
Yogurt, ice cream, soft cheeses and butter contain lactose in varying amounts. It is with the help of an enzyme termed lactase that lactose gets digested. The level of the lactase enzyme present in individuals varies from one person to another. Similarly, the severity of symptoms caused by lactose intolerance also varies.
However, the symptoms caused by the indigestion of lactose vary from mild abdominal discomfort and tummy bloating to flatulence and severe abdominal cramps. In some people lactose intolerance get manifested as diarrhea. Lactose intolerance might also be the after effect of gastroenteritis. In such cases, it is a temporary condition, which can be cured within a couple of weeks of proper treatment.
The dietary alterations that can be made in people suffering from lactose intolerance should initially include the exclusion of such victuals that are high in lactose. If the symptoms resolve completely as a result of the exclusion, then small amounts of lactose containing food materials can be reintroduced in the diet.
The consequent bodily changes need to be strictly monitored. Very rarely, it has been found that some people are so sensitive to lactose that food materials with minimal milk presence such as biscuits, cakes and other processed foods also causes trouble. It is advisable for people suffering from lactose intolerance to include more fresh fruit, crackers or micro waved popcorn in their diet.
Toasted fruit loaf with milk free margarine and tea, coffee or hot chocolate made from cocoa and soymilk will help in making their diets balanced. It is important to ensure that the body of lactose intolerant people does not fall short of its calcium reserves. It is a good idea to include high fiber cereals and porridges with fresh fruit and soy or low lactose milk (if tolerated) and whole grain meals in their daily menu.