Calcium is one of the most important minerals required by the body. It aids the body in performing multiple functions such as building bones, and teeth, muscle contraction, releasing hormones, stopping blood clotting and keeping the heartbeat normal. One of the richest sources of calcium, as we all know, are dairy products. But what if you are lactose intolerant? Then you should definitely consider some lactose intolerance substitutes.

Well, when a person can’t take lactose, they are strictly told to keep away from these dairy products. According to various estimates, 65 percent of the world’s population suffers from lactose intolerance. So, Health Shots reached out to Dr. (Mr) Kiran Rukadikar, Bariatric Physician and Obesity Consultant, to find out food alternatives for lactose intolerant people.

What do you mean by lactose intolerance?

If a person suffers from lactose intolerance, it means that your body faces trouble breaking down lactose, the natural sugar in milk. This can lead to irritable symptoms like gas, bloating, and diarrhea. However, you might be able to tolerate some dairy products that can be best found by trial and error. Avoidance is the best treatment for lactose intolerance, but surely you need to make up for the calcium lack in your diet.

Bovine milk doesn’t suit everyone! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Try these food alternatives for lactose intolerance

Lactose intolerant people can get that much-needed calcium by supplementing their diet with the right food choices.

1. Milk substitutes

Drink milk without lactose: if you are fond of cow’s milk in your food or drinks, then purchase milk that has lactase added to it. Lactase is an enzyme that breaks down the sugar in milk. Lactase-added milk and milk products are readily available in most supermarkets. These types of milk are the best substitute for regular milk since they possess the same nutritional value but might taste a little sweeter.

Soy milk: another best option is soy milk fortified with calcium. It is a healthy alternative, plus it can be a rich source of calcium. Just stay cautious in case your child has a milk allergy, which is different from lactose intolerance. In that case, your child could also be allergic to soy milk.

Almond milk: Being a rich source of magnesium and vitamin E, almond milk is a healthier alternative to regular or bovine milk. But you should also know the side effects of almond milk.

almond milk
Almond milk can be consumed, but with caution. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Rice milk: This type of milk is free from saturated fat and has abundant vitamin B12.

Coconut milk: This milk tastes as creamy as cow’s milk. The only downside to it is that it has a lot of saturated fat.

Other vegetable milk: These include kinds of milk like oat and cashew. However, these alternatives to regular cow milk don’t work well as substitutes for cooking, such as in soups or desserts that call for dairy.

2. Yogurt for less lactose

Dairy products with less lactose, such as yogurt have so-called “good bacteria” in them that may cause less bloating because much of the lactose is already broken in it due to the presence of active bacterial cultures. However, refrain from consuming frozen yogurt as it is devoid of any bacterial cultures, so it may not fit in your lactose intolerance diet.

3. Try cheese

Fermented cheese has less lactose than many other dairy products, and if taken in smaller amounts, your body might show tolerance towards it. They are worth including in your lactose-free diets because they are power-packed with calcium and protein. Varieties such as cheddar, Swiss and Parmesan are especially said to be low on lactose.

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