Get the lowdown on lactose intolerance from Channel 4's Food Hospital expert Lucy Jones
It is estimated that approximately 15% of the population suffer from lactose intolerance. Dietician Lucy Jones explains how to identify lactose intolerance and manage it without having to completely give up dairy products.
What is lactose intolerance?
Lactose intolerance is a common digestive problem where the body is unable to digest lactose, a type of sugar mainly found in milk and dairy products.
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What are the symptoms?
Typical symptoms of lactose intolerance include wind, bloating, abdominal cramps, diarrhoea and nausea.
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How is lactose intolerance diagnosed?
Allergies can be difficult to diagnose. Although there are home tests available, most of them are not evidence based and can give inaccurate results. If you think you are suffering from lactose intolerance then you need to inform your GP and go through the steps to get diagnosed. Then you can get referred to a dietician who can recommend a suitable diet. If your problems persist, ask to be referred to an allergy clinic.
You may be advised to try an elimination diet, in which you eliminate lactose from your diet for 14 days, and then re-introduce lactose in order to see if the symptoms re-occur. It's not a particularly comfortable process, but it can help to confirm a lactose intolerance.
How do I manage it? Limiting your intake of food that contains lactose is the main treatment for lactose intolerance. Swap your dairy products for a suitable lactose-free alternative.
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Should I be worried about giving up dairy products?
It's important not to completely eliminate dairy products from your diet, as dairy products contain nutrients which are really important for health. You need to find a suitable substitute that replaces these nutrients. Luckily there are more options now than ever before:
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If you are experiencing gut problems but are not sure whether it is lactose intolerance or something else, go to Lactofree's website and take the 'are you lactose intolerant?' test.
Posted: 28/07/2013 at 13:00
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