About 30% of Indians, and a higher percentage of certain groups such as South Indians have trouble breaking down the lactose (sugar) in milk and other dairy products. Diarrhea, bloating, abdominal pain, and gas can result.
Here are six ways you can enjoy dairy products if you are lactose intolerant:
1. Drink small amounts. Most people who are lactose intolerant can handle 4 to 8 ounces of milk without problems.
2. Try aged and hard cheeses (e.g., Swiss, cheddar). These contain very little lactose. Cottage cheese and ice cream contain
more lactose than cheese, but less than milk.
3. Try yogurt that has “active” or “live” cultures. The bacteria in this type of yogurt digests the lactose for you.
4. Try low-fat chocolate milk; there’s evidence that it produces fewer symptoms than regular milk.
5. Eat solid foods with your dairy foods.
6. Note that lactose-free dairy products cost much more than regular products. A less expensive alternative is to add enzyme drops (available at your supermarket) to regular milk and let it stand in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Adding drops just
before drinking milk digests only about 30% to 40% of the lactose, but it’s convenient to do when eating out.