When Milk Doesn’t Do The Body Good

Got gas, bloating, or diarrhea? You could be among the millions of Americans who are lactose intolerant. Here’s how to spot it and stop it.

When Milk Doesn’t Do The Body Good

We think of milk as one of the healthiest food choices on the grocery shelf, especially for young children who are growing and building strong bones. But, for many people, drinking milk can actually cause health problems. In fact, without even knowing it, you could be among the millions of Americans who are lactose intolerant. If you or someone you know suffers from bloating, gas, and diarrhea, pay attention. There are simple solutions to this common problem, and you don’t even have to stop drinking milk.

What Is Lactose?


The sugar that makes milk sweet – lactose – is difficult for us to digest. We all need an enzyme called lactase to break it into 2 simple sugars that are absorbed more easily in the intestines. Without lactase, lactose passes intact into the colon where it becomes food for the bacteria that hang out there. As they snack on it, those bacteria release gases that cause pain and bloating. Typically, babies have a lot of lactase available so they can drink breast milk with ease. But as we age, we produce less of the enzyme, leaving us prone to lactose intolerance. And some people, including African, Asian, and Native Americans are often born lactose intolerant.

How Do I Know If I Am Lactose Intolerant?

It’s easy. Take a break from milk and other lactose containing products for several days and see if you feel better.

How Do I Know What Contains Lactose?

It’s not just in milk. Lactose is used as a bulking agent in pills and as a flavoring product in foods such as hot dogs, cereals, salad dressings and potato chips.  Surprisingly, there is not much lactose in dairy products like butter and yogurt, because enzymes in them help digest it. To find out if a product contains lactose, look for whey, curds, milk products, or milk powders in the ingredient list.

What Can I Do To Avoid It?

There are several products that will help you enjoy milk and calcium and their associated health benefits without experiencing unnecessary pain and discomfort.

  • If symptoms are mild, try drinking milk in smaller amounts and with a meal, which will aid absorption.
  • Try lactose-free cow’s milk or soy milk.
  • Look for enzyme pills or droplets that you take to help digest the lactase.
  • If you decide to go milk free, make sure you are taking a calcium supplement to get the amount you need to prevent osteoporosis.

Will you ever feel comfortable in your own skin? That is, if you don't make an effort to protect it? Although 64% of adults do report wearing sunscreen when outside for prolonged periods of time, it turns out that only about 10% of people surveyed actually protect themselves daily, according to a recent review.

No matter what your skin tone is, unless you live in a cave with no sunlight, daily protection with either sunscreen, sunblock or protective clothing can not only protect you from developing sunburns (ouch!) but can significantly reduce your risk of developing skin cancer, particularly the deadliest type called melanoma. In addition, for those of you wanting to keep your youthful looks, daily sunscreen has been shown to reduce the development of wrinkles. A great teacher once told me that the best way to not have wrinkles is not to get them in the first place (think of how much money you can save on useless creams that claim to diminish wrinkles).

Keep Reading Show less