How to Cope With Becoming Lactose Intolerant

girl golds her stomach

Almost a year ago I started to feel a pain in my stomach as a result of eating. This obviously concerned as I needed to eat in order to keep up my physique, vein I know. So I went to see my doctor, I had a blood test which came back bang on ideal and I was described as a very healthy person. I tried taking heartburn relief, digestive aids had a stool test done etc and no test reported any issues. It hadn’t crossed my mind or my doctors that I could be lactose intolerant, so I cut eggs from my diet, followed by gluten and then dairy. Bingo the problem was sorted, by cutting eggs and dairy from my diet I no longer experienced any pain after eating. Then it dawned on me, both of these are in a lot of foods, eating out would be a massive issue, getting food on the go when I wasn’t able to prepare my own would also be a lot of hassle. 

…A lot of hassle

Becoming lactose intolerant is a lot of hassle however by making an extra bit of effort it’s really quite easy to live with.

The Easy Way

lactase pills from questThe easy way to cope with lactose intolerance is to simply provide your body with what it can no longer produce, lactase.  Lactase is an enzyme that’s found in most peoples digestive systems however, for unknown reasons some people lose the ability to produce it entirely, as you get older you naturally lose the ability to produce it and thus everyone becomes slightly intolerant by default. If you simply introduce an external source of lactase into your body when you eat dairy products the lactose is broken down and you don’t feel any negative effects. I recommend either these lactaid pills or these from quest nutrition. They are an expensive solution as the more lactose you eat the more pills you’ll have to take and also in my opinion not the best way to tackle the problem. 

Dairy Substitutes 

If you like having milk in your tea/coffee and butter on your toast then the best thing do to is to use some lactose free alternatives to milk and butter. As I am writing this I’m actually having a dairy free cookie that’s been made using coconut oil. We did an amazing recipe on it here, it tastes better than a typical cookie and is gluten free, dairy free and a great healthy treat. 

Soya is quite likely to be the most common substitute. It has quite a unique taste, with unique being the word I use so you give it a chance. Personally I don’t really like the taste when it’s on it’s own but when its in tea or coffee I can barely tell the difference. Soy beans contain isoflavones which are an organic compound similar to isofalavanoids, they are an antioxidant as they are able to absorb oxygen radicals, and studies have shown in a population that eats soy protein breast cancer rates are lower.¹ Soya milk is also much lower in fat than cows milk but you must watch out for sugar content in sweetened versions. I suggest unsweetened organic soya from non-GM crops, with my favourite brand being Alpro

Other Alternatives to Milk;

  • almond milkAlmond Milk
  • Hazelnut milk 
  • Rice Milk 
  • Goat’s Milk 
  • Cashew Milk 
  • Coconut Milk 

Organic Gods Pick: Almond Milk. Almond’s are one of the best nuts that you can possibly eat, so getting more of the benefits from them in your diet is something I highly recommend. The milk itself is rich in calcium, magnesium, selenium, vitamin E, contains no cholesterol and of course is naturally lactose free. The milk itself tastes nothing like cow’s milk, it has a nutty taste so it will take some getting used to.

Butter and Cheese alternatives

Butter in itself isn’t a particularly healthy option unless you’re following the paleo diet where full fat lard is tolerable. Butter alternatives include vegetable oils many of which are hydrogenated so that they harden and have the same physical properties as butter. Quite often only partial hydrogenation occurs which produces a trans fat, naturally all fats has cis stereochemistry, our artificial introduction of these trans fats means our bodies interact with them different and have been linked to cancer and obesity.²

The best alternative to the already unhealthy butter is switching to a natural oil. My favourite is coconut oil it has a ton of incredible properties, it’s also naturally hard up until 25 degrees celsius so you can spread it on your toast as long as you keep it cool. We’ve done one of the most in depth articles you’re ever going to find on it here, so please check that out and I guarantee you’ll be convinced to switch to it.  

Will you suffer from a deficiency if you don’t eat dairy? 

The short answer is no by eliminating dairy you will not suffer any deficiencies as long as you have a well balanced diet. We’ve recently done a post on all the best natural foods that have a huge variety of vitamins in them, be sure to include them and you’ll have no need to worry about deficiencies.
 
There are 15 vitamins and minerals in milk. Vitamin A, Vitamin B12, Vitamin B6, Riboflavin, Niacin, Thiamine, Pantothenic acid, Folate, Vitamin D, Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, Selenium. The most common worry is that you’ll become calcium deficient if you stop drinking milk however I bet you didn’t know that spinach and almonds have a higher concentration of calcium than milk does! 

Summary

If you’ve become lactose intolerant it’s not the end of the world, you can still enjoy all the foods you used to enjoy by taking lactase supplements. It’s a great opportunity to improve your diet as dairy substitutes such as coconut milk and almond milk are better for you! If you have any questions leave a comment, tweet me or send me an email!

References: 

¹ Heber, D Berdanier, C.D, Dwyer, J.T., Feldman, E.B., ed. Plant Foods and Phytochemicals in human health. CRC Press. pp. 176–18. 2008.
² EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition, and Allergies (NDA) . “Scientific opinion on dietary reference values for fats”. EFSA Journal 8 (3).2010

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