While the specific amounts of lactose that your body can handle are different from one person to another, in most instances your symptoms may be controlled while still enjoying moderate amounts of some of the foods you love. Please note that this article is not to be construed as medical advice, and there is no substitute for having a talk with your doctor about the specific circumstances surrounding your lactose intolerance. That being said, there are some foods that have been determined to be relatively safe for most people suffering from lactose intolerance.
- Yogurt with live and active cultures – The bacteria present in yogurt helps to break down some of the lactose, although not as well as the enzyme lactase does (which means it is not a viable option for those who are entirely lactase deficient). Higher-fat yogurts have a lower lactose concentration from the start, and therefore have less lactose to be broken down. Please note that inactive cultures do not have the same effect on the lactose content of the yogurt.
- Full-fat hard cheeses – The process in which hard cheeses are aged plays a big role in why these are safe for most lactose intolerant individuals. Different cheeses have different concentrations of lactose, with “low fat” and “soft” cheeses having a higher lactose content than the full-fat, harder versions. Additionally, the longer the cheese is aged, the more of the lactose is broken down, although after only a few months, the lactose reaches a safe level for most people with lactose intolerance.
- Specially-labeled lactose-reduced milk – Companies such as Lactaid have released milk that has been treated with the lactase enzyme in order to start the process of breaking down the lactose content before it reaches your digestive system. While the addition of this enzyme may not break down the lactose enough for those who cannot produce any lactase of their own, this process is sufficient in most cases to lower the lactose to an insignificant amount that is safe for consumption by the vast majority of lactose intolerant consumers.