When it comes to consuming milk and other dairy products, does your heart tell you yes, and your mind tell you no? Lactose intolerance (LI) could be the culprit in the lover’s quarrel that keeps you from the enjoyment of delicious and nutritious dairy foods. Red alert: It doesn’t have to be that way. Many people with lactose intolerance can enjoy these foods- even on a daily basis.
Lactose intolerance - the inability to digest the milk sugar lactose- can result in cramping, gas, bloating, or the need to find the nearest restroom in a rush. Although African Americans and Hispanics have a higher chance of developing LI, this does not mean that they have to avoid all dairy foods. In fact, many people who claim to have LI have never been tested and unnecessarily avoid dairy products. With evolving LI research along with simple solutions to manage LI symptoms, people can take advantage of the nutritional qualities of a wide variety of dairy products, like milk, cheese, and yogurt, to name a few.
Americans are currently consuming less than two dairy servings per day on average. Milk, cheese and yogurt are nutrient-rich and contribute significant nutrition to Americans’ diets. Milk provide nine essential nutrients, including protein, vitamins A, D, and B12, riboflavin, niacin (niacin equivalents), calcium, potassium, and phosphorus. Daily underconsumption of calcium, potassium and Vitamin D are of concern in keeping with recommendations from experts and the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Dairy avoidance increases risk of deficiencies in these nutrients, many of which play an important role in the prevention of chronic diseases including hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome, Type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis.
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPlate recommend three servings of dairy per day for adults.Hispanics consume only 1.5 servings and African Americans consume even less with 1.2 dairy servings per day.Lactose intolerance is a primary reason for dairy limitation or avoidance. Remember:
What can we do to ensure our clients are getting the health and nutritional benefits associated with dairy while alleviating LI symptoms? Following are some tips to help educate those with perceived or actual LI:
Incorporating dairy into eating habits without experiencing uncomfortable side effects can be easy and enjoyable. So raise your glass and fall in love with dairy’s taste, flavor and health this Valentine’s Day AND everyday.
Cecilia Pozo Fileti, MS, RD, LDN, serves as president of Latino Health Communications, a bilingual consulting firm servicing government, health, and service organizations. She is the director of the Latino Integrative Nutrition Initiative, a national collaborative that supports US Hispanic infants, families, and communities. Pozo Fileti conducts minority-focused outreach through social initiatives, strategic communications, and qualitative research.