Lactose intolerance is a condition wherein the body has difficulty producing lactase, an enzyme that is essential in the proper metabolization of lactose. Since lactose, a constituent of milk and other dairy products, is often used in cream sauces and soup bases, lactose intolerance can lead to discomfort for those with the condition who aren’t vigilant in maintaining a strict diet. When one is lactose intolerance, the result of consuming too much lactose is excess gas production, stomach aches, diarrhea, and other gastric distress. This forces people to search for foods that are lactose free. One of the great things about the increasing popularity of the vegan lifestyle is that more and more lactose free products are becoming available on the market every day!
Lactose intolerance is not to be confused with milk allergies. Unlike milk allergy, which can result in serious health risks when dairy is consumed, lactose intolerance is a very common and not particularly serious problem, one which many people live with without ever realizing it. It is, at best, a mild annoyance, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be aggravating when planning a menu.
Since lactose is a milk sugar, there are a wide array of non-dairy, lactose intolerant appropriate foods that won’t produce adverse effects among those with the condition. One of the major challenges for lactose intolerant people is finding food that will meet the normal F.D.A. recommended milligrams of calcium each day. Fortunately, many vegetables, such as broccoli, offer high quantities of calcium, as does the old vegetarian standby, tofu. Therefore, you don’t need to worry about getting enough calcium if you are lactose intolerant and can’t consume milk.
Again, since dairy is relatively easily avoided in this day and age, finding and cooking lactose intolerant foods is not too much of a challenge. There are even dairy products on the market that have been treated to neutralize the lactose in them, that taste almost exactly the same as their conventional counterparts. And, with an abundance of soy, rice and almond milk options available these days, there’s no longer a need to miss out on the creamy taste of milk just because of lactose intolerance!