What solutions exist in the case of lactose intolerance ?

Since there is no cure that would reestablish the production of lactase, the safest way to prevent the troubles generated by lactose intolerance is obviously to exclude any milk sugar from one’s food.

Unfortunately this is not as easy as it may seem! Indeed, lactose is often present where it is least suspected: soups, fruit juice, biscuits, bread, cereals and medications which often contain lactose as the base ingredient. It is therefore necessary to have a look at the ingredients of food stuff. What makes it more complicated is that an ingredient may be composed of a number of components without that these sub-components are necessarily mentioned on the label (for example: fruit based products, caramel). Furthermore, under certain legislations, it is not necessary to declare lactose unless it represents more than a certain percentage. Also, if lactose is used as the base matrix, it may not be declared on the label. To exclude all sources of lactose from one’s diet is therefore not straight forward.

Most sufferers of lactose intolerance lack lactase only to a certain degree rather than totally. It is therefore necessary to establish one’s own level of intolerance by consuming milk products and observing the symptoms that appear. When undertaking these personal trials, it is important to remember that the severity of the symptoms depend on the quantity of residual intestinal lactase, the quantity of lactose ingested and the conditions under which it was ingested (for example whether lactose is eaten after fasting or whether it is eaten with or without other food). This explains why the symptoms can vary greatly not only between individuals but also from one time to another.

Those people with a partial lack of lactase can make sure that they consume food stuff that has little lactose: Specialty yoghurt (with no milk powder added to increase the solid matter), hard cheeses, and milk with reduced lactose (through the use of a microbial lactase which hydrolyses the lactose). Some recommend the consumption of flavored milk or to consume milk products together with other food … each person has to find his or her own tolerance. Those who suffer from severe lactose intolerance, the exclusion of all lactose is the best solution. Since there exist now lactose-free milk and yoghurt, as well as cheeses and a range of replacement products (products based on soy, vegetable milk) a diet free of lactose has become easier to achieve and doesn’t require as many sacrifices.

Another solution is to compensate for the lack of natural lactase by introducing artificial lactase. Such food complements should be taken about 30 minutes before a meal that contains lactose which should ensure that the food can be digested normally. Some people take advantage of artificial lactase on a daily basis, others only use it occasionally, for example when eating out in a restaurant or when invited for a meal, when it is not always easy to ensure that no lactose is ingested.

Once the reason of one’s problems is known and the lactose intolerance has been diagnosed, it is absolutely possible to live normally and even to enjoy the pleasures of the food.