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How to Fix the Food Plate for the Lactose Intolerant
by Peter Bua
From our earliest moments and as both children and adults, we are taught about the importance of eating right, the role the food pyramid plays in a good diet, how the //kidshealth.org/en/kids/pyramid.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Food Plate can help with diet, and how important strong bones are. It’s also a good bet that along the way, we also hear about the importance of calcium and the role it plays in building strong bones and teeth. Getting the right amount of calcium daily is especially important if you’re a post-menopausal woman, pregnant, or nursing. If you’re an athlete, it’s likely you also need to pay close attention to your calcium ingestion. What these basic guidelines often don’t take into account are the lactose intolerant among us. Where is the food chart and the Food Plate for lactose intolerant adults and young people? Well, it largely doesn’t exist—let’s talk about what it takes to create our own Lactose Intolerant Healthy Food Plate, so we can learn how to get all the nutrients our body needs to stay healthy and strong.
What is Lactose Intolerance?Lactose is a natural type of sugar found in milk and dairy products. Lactase is an enzyme that is found in the small intestine, which breaks down the natural sugar found in lactose. When the lactose can’t be digested, it produces a buildup of gas, which causes stomach cramps and diarrhea, usually within a couple of hours of eating lactose-containing foods. So while you may love milk, cheese, ice cream, and other dairy products, if you’re lactose intolerant, your body definitely does not.
What Causes Lactose Intolerance?So //www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lactose-intolerance/basics/causes/con-20027906" target="_blank" rel="noopener">what causes lactose intolerance? Great question. It’s first important to know that there are three ways to classify the lactose intolerant. These are: Primary lactose intolerance. This is the most common type of lactose intolerance. Individuals generally start out producing enough lactase, but for some reason once they reach adulthood, lactase production falls off. This is a genetic occurrence and is often prevalent in large numbers of Asians, African Americans, and Hispanics. Secondary Lacose Intolerance. Secondary lactose intolerance generally occurs after an illness or injury, or surgery involving the small intestine and the body stops producing lactase. Congenital of Developmental Lactose Intolerance. This is a rare disorder but it is one that can be passed from generation to generation and is characterized by a complete lack of lactase. Now we know there are a variety of things that can cause lactose intolerance, and it’s a condition that come on at really any time—it’s not something you can generally predict. There are anywhere from //www.webmd.com/osteoporosis/lactose-intolerance-and-osteoporosis#2" target="_blank" rel="noopener">30 to 50 million Americans who are lactose intolerant, so if this is a condition you’re dealing with, you are definitely not alone. Lactose intolerance doesn’t just cause the body to feel poorly after ingesting foods that contain lactose, it can lead to other issues, such as osteoporosis and colon cancer. When a person is lactose intolerant, what they eat is even more important than ever before, as ensuring they get the nutrients that milk and dairy products deliver in an alternative fashion is critical. That leads us to The Food Plate, and how we modify it for the lactose intolerant individual.
The Food PlateWe are all no doubt familiar with the Food Pyramid, as it’s an image we’ve seen since childhood. The Food Pyramid is essentially guidelines that come from the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) and the HHS (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services), and are the basis of the Federal nutrition policy. The intention of the Food Pyramid is to educate—in order to be healthy, individuals should consume certain foods in certain quantities. The Food Pyramid has been renamed in recent years, and it’s now called My Plate. The visual above was created in order to make it easy for individuals to understand what a meal should look like and what portions of each kind of food it’s recommended a healthy diet contain. The folks at Harvard University took it a step further and reinvented My Plate, renaming it the Healthy Eating Plate. Their version explains in much greater detail what to eat and what not to eat. If your interested in educating yourself about calcium and where to get it from sources other than milk, a deeper dive into their site might be of interest. Here’s the Harvard team’s version of the Heathy Eating Plate.
Get the Calcium You Need—How to Fix the Food Plate for the Lactose IntolerantSo what changes about the Food Plate or the Healthy Eating Plate when you’re lactose intolerant? We know that a body needs calcium, and that you can get calcium from certain foods. There are plenty of foods that contain calcium naturally. If you are among the lactose intolerant, we suggest using this guide to create your own Lactose Intolerant Healthy Food Plate:
- Bone broth made from chicken, beef, lamb or fish. The longer the bones are boiled, the more calcium is dissolved in the water, making it easy to absorb.
- Canned fish, think sardines or salmon, with the bones. When the fish has been canned, it’s easier to chew and absorb the bones. Fish alone is good, fish with bones is better.
- Collard Greens, Turnip Greens, Bok Choy, Kale and Broccoli are all good sources of calcium and Vitamin D.
- White beans and black-eyed peas are a great source of calcium.
- Figs aren’t just high in calcium, but also in fiber.
- Blackstrap molasses has iron, calcium and is great when you are craving something sweet.
- Almonds have a lot of nutritional value, one of which would be calcium.