Milk has been a part of the human diet for thousands of years. But a lot of people end up feeling uneasy, bloated or excessively gassy after consuming milk. If one experiences such symptoms, they are most likely to be lactose intolerant. It is simply the body’s inability to absorb milk lactose or a milk allergy.
“Lactose intolerance is the inability of a person to digest lactose, the principal sugar in milk, that gives rise to gastrointestinal symptoms. Lactose intolerance is caused by a deficiency of the intestinal enzyme lactase that acts on lactose to convert it into glucose and galactose which are then absorbed from the intestine. Primary symptoms of lactose intolerance are diarrhoea, flatulence (passing gas), and abdominal pain. Abdominal bloating, abdominal distension and nausea may also occur. Lactose intolerance is treated with dietary changes,” Dr Amreen Sheikh, head dietician, Wockhardt Hospital.
The expert added that lactose intolerant people must avoid milk and milk-containing products. She, however, mentioned that the main challenge would be dietary deficiency of calcium and vitamin D which may lead to diseases of bone, hence supplements would be required for the same. “Persons who avoid dairy products may need calcium and vitamin D supplementation or must be careful to get nondairy sources of these nutrients. A completely actose free diet is not necessary in lactase-deficient persons. Most lactose maldigesters can consume some lactose (up to 12 g/day) without major symptoms, especially when taken with meals or in the form of cheeses or fermented dairy products,” she told indianexpress.com
Experts sometimes also suggest plant-based milk such as soy milk, almond milk, cashew milk, and oats milk. Below are some health benefits of consuming plant-based milk.
*Plant-based milk is low in saturated fatty acids and free of cholesterol. They also contain polyunsaturated fatty acids like omega 3 and omega 6. Consuming them as a part of a balanced diet helps to maintain a healthier lipid profile essential for cardiovascular health and an active lifestyle.
*Plant-based milk helps in providing the necessary nutritional value and aids easy digestion. It also helps in the absorption of nutrients from food and keeps up with the energy levels without causing the most common symptoms of lactose intolerance like bloating, nausea or diarrhea.
*Soy milk is the healthier plant-based dairy alternative due to the quality of protein it delivers naturally. Soybeans are known to have one of the best amino acid profiles compared to any plant-based sources.
*They are usually enriched with calcium and vitamin D. They are also fortified with vitamin B-complex essential to derive energy from the food and minerals like magnesium, zinc, iron which, when consumed, regularly helps in boosting the immune system.
*Soymilk begin a great source of vegetarian protein and a source of dietary fibre which is known for good gut health, could be a great substitute for those allergic to nuts or dairy or any individual who wants healthy energy to do more.
*When choosing milk substitutes, remember that not all substitutes are equal. Selecting the healthiest one could be confusing given the variety but checking the kind of additives it includes can help you analyse the need of your body and focus areas.
*Plant-based milk is also recommended for people who have a slow digestive system.