Have you noticed that every time you eat cheese, ice cream, or other forms of dairy you experience abdominal pain, gas, or bloating? If so, you may have lactose intolerance, or an inability to properly digest dairy products, says Karen Kafer, RDN, a representative with the National Dairy Council.
But being lactose intolerant doesn’t mean you must forgo dairy at every meal. According to Kafer, the body produces an enzyme called lactase to help digest the lactose in milk. As we age, the body sometimes produces less lactase than it did from childhood, making it hard to break down dairy. However, many people with lactose intolerance can still tolerate at least 12 grams of lactose (equivalent to 1 cup of low-fat and fat-free milk or yogurt) in one sitting, with little to no discomfort. So, being diagnosed with the condition simply means that you may need to moderate your intake.