What is lactose intolerance?

Lactose intolerance happens when your body cannot digest lactose, a natural sugar found in milk. This differs from a milk allergy.

Lactose intolerance occurs when there is not enough lactase, an enzyme produced by the small intestine to break down lactose. If your small intestine can’t break down lactose, then it moves into the large intestine where bacteria feeds on it. This fermentation process causes uncomfortable abdominal symptoms.

If you experience gas, bloating, abdominal pain or diarrhea shortly after eating milk products, particularly milk or ice cream, you might be lactose intolerant.

Good news: Hard aged cheeses, like Swiss and cheddar, and plain yogurts are lower in lactose and usually tolerated by people with a lactose intolerance.

More good news: Taking lactase supplements with lactose-containing foods might help you tolerate them better. We don’t recommend doing this all the time, but it’s a good know-how for the occasional ice cream craving.

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