The latest prescription for patients with lactose intolerance may seem counterintuitive. But a panel of experts recently reported that a glass of milk, especially if taken with other foods, may do more good than harm for many patients who avoid dairy products because they fear troubling gastrointestinal symptoms.
The National Institutes of Health consensus development conference panel met in late February to evaluate the current state of knowledge about lactose intolerance and offer guidance so that patients do not needlessly miss out on important nutrients in milk and other dairy products. Symptoms of lactose intolerance—severe diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, and flatulence—occur in some, but not all, individuals who have insufficient levels of lactase, the enzyme in the small intestine that digests lactose in milk and other dairy products.
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Most individuals with lactose malabsorption or lactose intolerance can consume 12 g of lactose, the amount in a cup of milk or yogurt, with no symptoms or minor ones.
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