Lactose is a sugar that is found in milk and milk products. Lactose intolerance occurs when the body lacks the enzyme, lactase, which is needed to digest lactose. Not everyone with a lactase deficiency will have digestive symptoms, which can include abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea and nausea. Lactose intolerance is most common in adulthood, but can occur in premature infants.
Lactose intolerance can be easily managed with dietary changes. Most people can tolerate a small amount of lactose in their diet. Often times, consuming milk and milk products with meals can prevent symptoms. In addition, many people with lactose intolerance can consume dairy products with lower amounts of lactose such as yogurt and hard cheeses.
Milk and milk products are important sources of calcium. For those with lactose intolerance, the need to limit dairy products may prevent adequate calcium intake. Consuming foods with higher calcium content can help meet daily calcium requirements. Salmon, sardines, and dark green vegetables are some non-dairy foods with high calcium content. Remember that calcium fortified orange juice and soymilk have the same amount of calcium per cup as cow’s milk. In addition, calcium supplements can be taken. However, your body absorbs calcium more readily from food sources. See the chart below to determine if you are getting adequate calcium in your diet:
|Age||Daily Calcium Requirement in Milligrams|
|51 + years||1200mg|
Many times, Hospice patients do not eat well, and high calorie shakes can be beneficial for meeting nutritional needs. If lactose intolerance is an issue, any high calorie shake can be made with non-dairy liquids such as soy milk, rice milk, or almond milk. In addition, many nutritional supplements are soy based and contain very little dairy. Ensure, Boost or generic versions of these supplements can be used in place of cow’s milk in high calorie shake recipes as well.