Better Nutrition

EAT SMART Not Milk?

Tips for staying lactose-and dairy- free

- By Neil Zevnik

Nutritious ( and creamy!) alternativ­es to convention­al dairy products.

Milk in its various guises, from cheese to butter to yogurt, can be a valuable source of of necessary nutrients, especially protein and calcium. But for those affl icted with lactose intoleranc­e or a dairy allergy, it can be a source of discomfort and even danger. So if you or a family member has been diagnosed with either of these conditions, some suitable strategizi­ng is in order.

First of all, it is vital to distinguis­h between these two conditions. Your doctor can perform the necessary tests to determine the accurate cause of the discomfort.

What’s the Difference?

Lactose intoleranc­e refers to the inability of the body to digest the lactose, or sugar, in milk. An enzyme in the small intestine, lactase, isn’t present in suffi cient amounts to allow conversion and absorption, so the lactose proceeds to the colon, where it wreaks havoc that can manifest as gas, cramps, and bloating.

A dairy allergy involves an adverse reaction to the protein found in milk, casein. This reaction may present

the same symptoms as lactose intoleranc­e, but may also result in more severe conditions such as hives, a drop in blood pressure, or diffi culty breathing.

Both conditions can be controlled by completely avoiding all dairy products. Since lactose intoleranc­e can vary greatly in severity, it is possible to tolerate certain amounts and types of dairy, depending on individual reactions; and there are milk products that are “lactose- free” that may be safely consumed. For the person allergic to dairy products though, absolute avoidance is usually the necessary course.

Read the Label

It’s important for suff erers of these maladies to read product labels carefully. Of course, you want to avoid butter, milk, cream, and cheese. But also be on the lookout for less- obvious ingredient­s such as curd, whey, casein, lactalbumi­n, and other milk- derived products.

Suitable Substitute­s

For those with dairy intoleranc­es or allergies, soy, rice, almond, coconut, and hemp milks make great substitute­s. Pour them on your cereal, serve them chilled with vegan cookies, or use them in cooking and baking. You’ll fi nd that yogurt and kefi r drinks made from soy milk are high in protein and mighty tasty. You can also try dairy- free cheeses, including cheddar, mozzarella, and Parmesan- style varieties.

So you see, with a little caution and creativity, there’s no reason why lactose intoleranc­e or dairy allergies should put a cramp in your gustatory pleasures!

 ??  ?? Neil Zevnik is a private chef in Los Angeles who is devoted to the idea that "healthy" doesn't have to mean "ho- hum." Visit him online at neilzevnik. com to learn more.
Neil Zevnik is a private chef in Los Angeles who is devoted to the idea that "healthy" doesn't have to mean "ho- hum." Visit him online at neilzevnik. com to learn more.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States