If you believe milk upsets your stomach, perhaps you should try to prove it. In a study at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Minneapolis, researchers found that people who described themselves as “severely lactose intolerant” responded no differently to two cups of milk than to a placebo beverage. Scientists think that people who have noticed discomfort after consuming dairy – abdominal cramps, bloating, or diarrhoea – often eliminate it altogether, even though small amounts may not produce the same symptoms. Here’s how to test yourself.
Step 1: Buy two types of milk: regular and lactose-free. Then ask a friend to pour each type into identical containers, labelling one A and the other B.
Step 2: For 1 week, drink 2 cups a day from container A on an empty stomach and avoid all other dairy. Record any symptoms of intestinal discomfort.
Step 3: Discontinue container A for at least one day.
Step 4: Repeat step 2, but drink from container B instead.
Step 5: Compare the results from each container.
You aren’t lactose intolerant. However, if you tested positive, you can use these strategies for better digestion of dairy products.
a. Limit your milk intake to one cup at a time. And drink it with food, which slows the absorption of lactose and helps alleviate side effects.
b. Have more cheese. It contains very little lactose. (Hint: The fewer carbohydrates a dairy product has, the less lactose it contains.)
c. Try kefir. Ohio State University scientists found that this fermented milk beverage improves lactose digestion. Yogurt may provide similar benefits.