Who is at risk for
Between 30 and 50 million Americans are lactose intolerant
and certain ethnic and racial populations are more affected
than others. Up to 80 percent of African Americans, 80 to 100
percent of American Indians, and 90 to 100 percent of Asian
Americans are lactose intolerant. The condition is least common
among people of northern European descent.
Babies that are born prematurely are also more likely to be
lactose intolerant, because lactase levels do not increase
until the third trimester of a woman’s pregnancy.
What can I do about
You will need to avoid or eat less of foods that have
lactose in them.
Lactose is in milk and all foods made with milk. It is also
added to some boxed, canned, frozen, and other prepared foods,
- lunch meats
- salad dressings
- mixes for cakes, cookies, pancakes, and biscuits
- frozen dinners
Learn to read food labels carefully. Look for milk and
lactose in the list of ingredients. Also look for words like
whey, curds, milk by-products, dried milk, milk solids, and
powdered milk. If any of these words are listed on a label, the
product contains lactose.
Do I have to avoid all
foods with lactose?
Not necessarily. You may be able to eat a small amount of
some foods with lactose. For example, you may be able to eat
cheese or yogurt but not drink milk. Try a small amount of the
food and then see how you feel. You can also drink
lactose-reduced milk. And you can buy lactase enzyme caplets or
drops that help you digest lactose. Continue to the next page
to read more on this important subject...