As a teacher, you’ve probably had a student with a food allergy in your class. But lactose intolerance is sometimes confused with an allergy to milk. This article will help you understand the difference between the two and provides tips for helping children with lactose intolerance enjoy milk products.
Is lactose intolerance the same as a milk allergy?
If a child is allergic to milk, their immune system will react to milk proteins as though they are harmful to the body. This reaction can be life-threatening. But there is good news! Many people born with a milk allergy grow out of it by the time they are two years old. According to a Canadian study, only 0.7% of children aged 17 or younger have a milk allergy.
Lactose intolerance is not an allergy and is not life-threatening. Lactose is a natural sugar found in milk. People with lactose intolerance do not make enough lactase, the enzyme that helps digest lactose.
Symptoms of lactose intolerance include gas, bloating, abdominal pain or diarrhea. For some people, these symptoms can be severe. However, many people with lactose intolerance can still eat some dairy products without these side effects.
Can people with lactose intolerance still enjoy milk products?
Did you know that many people with lactose intolerance can enjoy some milk products? Research shows that eating small amounts of milk products can increase the amount of lactose someone with lactose intolerance can handle.
Here are some tips to help people with lactose intolerance enjoy milk products:
- Drink milk with meals or snacks rather than on its own.
- Try lactose-free milk products.
- Enjoy yogurt. The live bacteria it contains help break down the lactose.
- Choose aged cheeses like mozzarella and cheddar. They contain almost no lactose.
- Have small amounts of milk products throughout the day instead of all at once.
Check out our Milk and Lactose Intolerance Resource for more information.