Millions of hours of research and countless scientists agree that milk and milk products are an important part of a healthy diet. Dairy is a practical source for many key nutrients for all people, including those who are lactose intolerant.

Lactose intolerance is the body’s inability to digest the natural sugar found in dairy products. This causes many uncomfortable reactions such as gas, bloating, stomachaches and much more. However, there are several alternatives for those who are lactose intolerant to still receive the key nutrients that this food category provides.

“We buy lactose-free milk at my house,” said Courtney Miller of Columbia, Mo. “I also eat a lot of yogurt, as it does not make me sick. I have spent a lot of time experimenting with how much of a dairy product I can consume at a time and figuring out what makes me feel bad and what doesn’t.”

According to the Florida Dairy Farmers, there are several tips for integrating dairy products back into the diets of people who are lactose intolerant.

  • Look for lactose-free milk at the supermarket.
  • Add milk and cheese to solid foods and allows your body more time to digest the lactose.
  • Choose aged, hard cheese because they are naturally lower in lactose.
  • Eat yogurt as it contains “good” bacteria making it easier to digest the lactose.
  • Gradually increase the amount of dairy foods you consumer over time and allow your body time to adapt.
  • Be aware that not all tips are good for every individual. Follow the advice of your doctor or registered dietitian first.

Kelsey Forqueran, of Fayette, Mo., who became lactose intolerant in December 2010, also has some advice for those with lactose intolerance symptoms.

“My advice to anyone with lactose intolerance would be to just try different things and see what works and what doesn’t,” she said. “I have found that my lactose intolerance makes me more sensitive to some dairy products than others. I can’t drink milk, but can still eat small amounts of cheese and yogurt. Those suffering from lactose intolerance should just try different things until they find something their body can handle.”

For more information, see “New hope for those with lactose intolerance.”