BY MARIJKE VROOMEN DURNING
DO YOU experience cramping, bloating
and urgent trips to the bathroom after
you’ve consumed ice cream, cheese or
other dairy products? If so, you may be
one of the estimated ;; million American
adults who have some degree of lactose
intolerance, the reduced ability to digest
lactose, a sugar found in dairy products.
“Some people are so sensitive that
even the tiniest bit of lactose sets them
off,” says licensed nutritionist Monica
Reinagel, owner of the blog Nutrition
Over Easy (
others can eat products like yogurt,
although they may not be able to drink
much milk, she explains. “It’s one of those
things where everybody might have a different threshold of sensitivity.”
Determining lactose intolerance
Lactose intolerance can be diagnosed
with a hydrogen breath test, but Reinagel
says it’s fairly easy to determine if you’re
sensitive to lactose. “I think it’s probably
worth doing some experimentation and
eliminating dairy for three or four days to
see if there’s a difference,” she says.
She describes it as a big reveal: “People
go without dairy for a few days and think,
‘OK, I don’t know if I notice anything dra-
matic.’ Then they have dairy again and it’s
like, ‘Oh, and there it is.’ ”
If you find eliminating dairy doesn’t
help ease your discomfort or doesn’t
always help, then it might be worth seeing
a doctor to research another explanation.
Eating a balanced dairy-free diet
Dairy products are often our primary
source of calcium, says Reinagel. “Cheese
is the number-one source of calcium,” she
says. “If you’re eliminating dairy all of a
sudden, you’re probably going to be dramatically reducing your calcium intake.
You want to be sure you’re replacing it
with other sources.”
Alternative sources could include
calcium-fortified dairy replace-
ments, vegetables (especially those
in the cabbage family), tinned fish such as
salmon and sardines, and even tofu. Other
options include drinking lactose-free milk
or using a supplement that helps some
people digest lactose. Many people don’t
eat dairy for reasons other than intoler-
ance, such as those who are vegan, so there
are more choices than ever, Reinagel
Intolerance and allergy are different
Lactose intolerance can lead to
extreme discomfort, but it’s not life
threatening, as an allergy could be.
People with a dairy allergy react to proteins in the milk, not sugars. When the
proteins enter the body of someone with a
dairy allergy, the immune system mounts
an allergic response that may be mild or
severe to the point of anaphylactic shock.
People with a dairy allergy must completely avoid dairy.
Lactose intolerance can be frustrating and uncomfortable, but by checking
labels and being aware of the food you
consume, you may notice a big difference
in how you feel in a short time. Advising
that you consult with your doctor first,
Reinagel says, “As long as eliminating
dairy doesn’t leave you with holes in your
diet nutritionally, there’s no harm in
going without it.” C
Marijke Vroomen Durning is a health writer
and registered nurse in Montreal, Quebec
FOR YOUR HEALTH
AN ESTIMATED 2 to 10 percent of American
women between the ages of 25 and 40
are affected by endometriosis, according
to Johns Hopkins Medicine. That estimate
is so wide because symptoms can vary in
severity. Many women are first diagnosed
when being examined for infertility.
In women with endometriosis, the tissue that normally lines the uterus grows
in other parts of the body, such as on the
ovaries, fallopian tubes, bowels or bladder.
Normal tissue in the uterus—called the
endometrium—sheds during each menstrual
cycle. In endometriosis, the displaced endometrial tissue continues to act as it normally
would: It thickens, breaks down and bleeds
with each menstrual cycle, but this displaced tissue has no way to exit the body.
WHO IS AT RISK
Any woman can develop endometriosis,
but some women may be at increased risk,
• Women who have a mother, sister or
daughter with the disease.
• Women who are giving birth for the
first time after age 30.
• Caucasian women.
• Women with an abnormal uterus.
• Pain and cramping before and during periods, often felt in the abdomen and
• Pain during sex.
• Painful urination and/or bowel movements during periods.
Some women with severe endometriosis may experience no pain, while others
with a milder form of the disease may have
severe pain or other symptoms.
DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMEN T
Endometriosis is best diagnosed by
laparoscopy—a minor surgical technique
in which a thin tube attached to a camera
is inserted through a small incision in the
abdomen—and biopsy of any suspicious-looking tissue.
Treatment varies, depending on symptoms, extent of the disease, medical history
and the desire for pregnancy.
Search “endometriosis” at:
• Johns Hopkins Medicine,
• Pub Med Health,
Costco members will ;nd a wide
variety of alternative calcium sources,
as well as supplements to help digest
lactose, at Costco and on Costco.com. © A