Do you suffer from lactose intolerance or are sensitive to dairy? Celebrity chef Melissa D’Arabian and nutritionist Dr. Lana Balvin joined me recently to discuss some of the most common myths and misconceptions around lactose intolerance and dairy, and how you can still get the three recommended servings of dairy a day.
Candace Rose: What is your experience with dairy sensitivity and lactose intolerance?
Melissa D’Arabian: “My husband and my daughter are both dairy sensitive, meaning that their body’s have a hard time processing the lactose which is the natural sugar that appears in milk. We noticed this because they were not feeling well after certain dishes. Once we pinpointed what the problem was I teamed up with Lactaid so I could bring in lactose-free milk into our family so that I can make the puddings, I can serve milk to my kids on their cereal, that my husband can have a cappuccino. So we brought in the lactose-free milk as an option so that they’re not missing out on all the health benefits of milk, but I’m also extending into other dairy items that are lower in lactose naturally speaking: cheeses, yogurts. They’re all very good options that are a little bit easier for the lactose intolerant to digest.”
Candace Rose: What are some important nutrients we get from dairy products?
Dr. Lana Balvin: “Dairy is a very unique nutrient package. I think a lot of us recognize calcium, but it also delivers eight other essential nutrients. So along with that calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D actually help build and support strong bones. Milk is also a good source of protein that helps build and repair muscle tissue. So all these nutrients are so important in our diets throughout our lives, and it’s important that when you are dairy sensitive or lactose intolerant that you can still enjoy dairy. I think that’s the big message that we want to share is that lactose intolerance, dairy sensitivity does not mean dairy avoidance. We don’t want to miss out on those essential nutrients that dairy delivers.”
Candace Rose: How can those who are lactose intolerant still incorporate dairy products into their diet?
Dr. Lana Balvin: “One thing that Melissa mentioned earlier that I think is a great point is that we can lean on Lactaid lactose-free milk and dairy products. We can also look when we’re going down that dairy aisle for yogurts and cheese, and make sure that you’re getting those three servings of dairy that’s recommended every day.
To really build that nutrient rich diet we need all five of the food groups, and dairy is such a critical part of building that nutrient rich diet. So you can lean on that variety of options that are available and make sure that you’re getting those essential nutrients.”
Melissa D’Arabian: “And if you’re looking for inspiration for some of those recipes you can go over to Lactaid.com, but there’s also a dairy digestion test that you can take to determine. That’s how my family had to do it. We knew we weren’t feeling well, what’s going on? So that’s a really good place to start.”
Candace Rose: Do either of you have any additional information you’d like to share with us?
Dr. Lana Balvin: “Sure. You can visit NationalDairyCouncil.org to really learn more about lactose intolerance and the health benefits that dairy delivers. And like Melissa mentioned, Lactaid.com has that dairy digestion test and is a great way to connect with all the wonderful recipes that Melissa was talking about. We’re both very big advocates of learning more because knowledge is power.”