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How do you start a lactose free diet?

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Quick Answer

Starting a lactose-free diet begins with reading the labels of all foods to see if they contain lactose or hidden sources of lactose. Because milk and milk products are major sources of calcium, a doctor or dietitian should be consulted about adding calcium to the diet.

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Full Answer

Reading nutrition labels is important because some products that do not appear to contain milk may have an unknown milk product as an ingredient. Some milk products to avoid on a lactose-free diet include lactose, milk, whey, milk solids and dry milk powder. Skim milk solids, skim milk powder, caseinate and curd should also be avoided. Some specific foods to avoid include most breads, pancakes, poultry, fish and biscuits.

Lactose is a natural sugar that is found in milk and other milk products. It is broken down in the body by an enzyme called lactase. Lactase is what allows the body to digest lactose. Lactose intolerance occurs when the body doesn't produce enough lactase to break down the lactose that is produced in the food that is consumed.

People who have a lactase deficiency begin to accumulate lactose in their lower intestine. This can lead to nausea, gas, cramps, bloating and diarrhea after consuming foods that contain lactose. Some people can still tolerate small amounts of milk products even if they are lactase intolerant.

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