By Andrew V.V.
Milk intolerance, or lactose intolerance, essentially means that your body cannot completely digest the lactose (or milk sugar) that is present in dairy products. While this medical condition is not generally considered to be dangerous to one’s health, the unpleasant symptoms that it produces can make sufferers quite miserable.
The cause of milk intolerance is a deficiency of lactase within the body. Lactase is an enzyme that the lining of your small intestine produces. One of the interesting things about this condition is the fact that not everyone with low levels of lactase suffers from milk intolerance. It is only when people with low levels of lactase also complain about suffering from intestinal symptoms that an official diagnosis is usually made.
Symptoms of Milk Intolerance
The onset of symptoms generally begins within a two hour time period after the consumption of dairy products. In some cases, symptoms may begin within as little as 30 minutes. The symptoms that are associated with milk intolerance are:
- Abdominal cramping
Unfortunately, it is impossible to predict whether a person’s symptoms will be mild or severe. Often, the symptoms will vary in their severity from one episode to another, and the severity is sometimes determined by a person’s age or ethnicity.
If you start experiencing regular symptoms that are consistent with milk intolerance you may find it difficult to obtain an accurate diagnosis when you first start going to the doctor. The reason for this is that the symptoms mimic several other illnesses including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and stomach flu.
Alternative Milk Options
If you suffer from milk intolerance, you should know that there are a variety of different options from which you can choose so that you do not have to live a life without consuming milk of any kind.
- Almond Milk – This is actually the most expensive milk substitute you can buy and it is usually found in health food stores. It is lactose and cholesterol free, and it is naturally low in calories. You can purchase almond milk in regular, chocolate, or vanilla flavors, and it does not spoil at room temperature.
- Goat’s Milk – This type of milk can normally be found in the refrigerated section of grocery stores. Goat’s milk is relatively high in fat content, but it has a similar taste to cow’s milk. This is a popular choice for those who are allergic to cow’s milk because people do not experience digestive difficulties with the consumption of goat’s milk. This milk also contains fatty acids that can reduce cholesterol within the human body, and it also contains the same vitamins and minerals that are found in cow’s milk.
- Rice Milk – Lactose free, low in cholesterol and calories, rice milk has long been considered a good substitute for cow’s milk. It must be kept in the refrigerator and is sold in health food stores.
- Soy Milk – Soy milk has become very popular in the past few years. Some people may have allergies to soy, however, so you need to be careful if you are thinking about switching from cow’s milk to soy milk. It is available in a low-fat version as well as chocolate and strawberry flavors.
You can find a modest selection of dairy-free alternatives in grocery stores, but for a wider selection you may need to shop specialty health food stores or online stores that specialize in selling foods that do not contain dairy products.