Experience a rumbling, gassy tummy whenever you drink milk or eat ice cream? You could be lactose intolerant, a very common condition in which people have trouble digesting lactose, a natural sugar found in milk and dairy products. Symptoms can be mild or severe, and include bloating, pain or cramps, gas, loose stools or diarrhea, or throwing up. Usually, they occur 2 hours after consuming a milk-based product. To be on the safe side, see your doctor to make sure your symptoms are caused by lactose intolerance and not other health problems.

In most cases, you can control your symptoms by cutting down or avoiding the foods that cause you problems. But since dairy foods are rich in bone-building calcium and vitamin D, you also run the risk of running low on these essential nutrients.

The solution? Try to include lactose-free foods or foods lower in lactose in your diet.

Here are some ways to do it:

  • Enjoy a calcium-fortified fruit juice in the morning.
  • Eat foods high in vitamin D like fish regularly. This includes salmon (both fresh and canned), trout, sardines, and herring.
  • Choose tofu made with calcium sulfate (look at the ingredients list) for your stir-fries.
  • Use lactose-free milk or try yogurt with your meals.
  • Consider a nutritional liquid supplement like Ensure®, which contains some of the calcium and vitamin D you may be missing.

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