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Lactose Intolerance: What You Need to Know

Today, lactose intolerance is a popular term; however, there are many misconceptions surrounding this type of food sensitivity. In order to ensure the health of your family, it is essential to be well informed. 

February is Lactose Intolerance Awareness Month and a great time to dispel many misconceptions about what lactose intolerance is and if you need to completely avoid dairy if you are intolerant. With the increase in food sensitivity and allergies, lactose intolerance is often mistaken for other issues, and it’s a condition many people self-diagnose.  

Here are 5 common questions about lactose intolerance. 

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What is lactose intolerance? 

Lactose intolerance is an inability to digest lactose, a natural sugar found in milk and other dairy products, according to The National Library of Medicine. Lactose is normally broken down by an enzyme called lactase, which is produced by cells in the lining of the small intestine. Symptoms of lactose sensitivity include abdominal pain, bloating, gas, flatulence, nausea, and diarrhea within 30 minutes to 2 hours after consuming lactose-containing dairy products.  

How do I know if I’m lactose intolerant?  

To know if you are truly lactose intolerant requires the diagnosis of a medical professional.  Too often, people self-diagnosis as lactose intolerance has similar symptoms to many other sensitivities and illnesses.  

Is lactose intolerance the same as a milk allergy? 

A milk allergy is a potentially serious and even life-threatening condition that is not the same as lactose intolerance.  A dairy allergy is an immunological reaction to the proteins in milk (casein and whey) that triggers an immune response. 

Do I need to avoid dairy if I am lactose intolerant? 

The good news is you don’t have to give up dairy products or seek a plant-based milk imitator. Dairy products contain many natural and essential nutrients that you and your family need to stay healthy. Here are some options: 

-Choose lactose-free milk and dairy products. They are authentic milk products, simply, without the lactose, and they provide the same 13 essential nutrients as regular milk. Grocery shops are full of this option. 

-Eat yogurt.  Yogurt contains live and active cultures that help to digest lactose.  For a protein boost, try Greek yogurt as it has twice the protein as regular yogurt.  

-Add naturally-aged, hard cheese like Cheddar, Colby or Swiss —which are low in lactose — to salads and sandwiches. 

-Try mixing regular milk with other foods such as cereal or soups. This helps give your body more time to digest lactose. 

How can I celebrate Lactose Intolerance Awareness Month? 

Celebrate the Lactose Intolerance Awareness Month and all the nutrients that dairy offers with these wonderful recipes. 

Greek Yogurt Bagels. Ideal to start the day with the energy that yogurt offers. 

Yogurt Marinated Chicken Kabobs. This recipe is an excellent option for lunch or dinner; it is a festival of flavor and textures. 

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese. This new version of a traditional dish is perfect for anyone looking for a low-carb option. 

White Cheddar Mashed Potatoes. Any protein goes well with this side dish. 

Research shows only about 12 percent of all Americans are lactose intolerant.  If you are diagnosed as lactose intolerant, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to avoid dairy.  We hope you enjoy lactose intolerance month with your favorite dairy recipe.  

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