Drink lactose-free milk if you are lactose intolerant

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Drink lactose-free milk if you are lactose intolerant.

(09/17/2010) Patients who are affected by lactose intolerance complain of severe abdominal pain, bloating and even diarrhea when consuming normal milk or milk products. But there are also lactose-free milk and soy products on the market that do not contain lactose. The Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG) provides information on what those affected should consider when shopping.

More and more dairy companies offer milk products that contain almost no lactose. With commercial lactose-free milk, the lactose content is just 0.1 percent. The milk products are actually made from normal cow's milk. However, the individual milk components have already been broken down and the lactose portion has been largely split off. For this reason, the milk tastes a little sweeter than conventional milk.

As reported by the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG), symptoms and complaints such as abdominal pain and diarrhea with a manifested lactose intolerance can usually be alleviated if milk products are largely avoided. If milk products are already ingested, they should be taken in at the same time as possible with other foods. Many sufferers can also tolerate milk if it is only consumed in moderation and distributed throughout the day. The maximum amount over a day is about two cups of milk.

Milk sugar is hidden in numerous products that you would not expect at first. Lactose is often used in finished products. For this reason, those affected should study the contents of the products very carefully. Terms such as lactose, lactose, lactose monohydrate, lactose monohydrate or milk sugar are usually given on the packaging. Milk sugar is also contained in other products that, according to the table of contents, contain sheep or goat milk.

Sometimes it happens that products with a low proportion of lactose are tolerated. But all of a sudden the typical complaints arise. Because many product manufacturers also change the recipe of the finished product from time to time. For this reason, consumers with a lactose intolerance should read the information about the amount and portion from time to time.

Lactase deficiency can be congenital (primary) or acquired (secondary). Rarely babies are already affected by the congenital form, mostly the primary deficiency in adulthood manifests itself in that the lactase production decreases and finally comes to a standstill.

According to estimates, around 20 percent of the population in Germany suffer from lactose intolerance. Worldwide, the proportion is estimated at a good third, since people from Asia and Africa in particular do not tolerate milk sugar. An intolerance to milk or milk products can easily be determined by an H2 breath test. "Before you go without certain foods, you should be as sure as possible what is really the problem," explains Professor Dr. med. Jürgen Windeler, head of IQWiG. Because other health problems such as irritable bowel syndrome can trigger similar symptoms. If those affected largely or completely do without milk and milk products, it is important to ensure a balanced diet. It is not lactose that we need for our health, but it is other components of milk - especially calcium. (sb)

Photo credit: almotti / pixelio.de

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Video: Tolerating Lactose Intolerance

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