Lactose Intolerance

Tests and Treatments

How to test for lactose intolerance?

The elimination diet – where an individual stops consuming dairy products – is often used as a method for identifying lactose intolerance. However, the main way of testing for lactose intolerance is through an assessment with a doctor. The assessment begins 2 hours after the patient consumes a large quantity of lactose (typically through a beverage form). The patient then has their blood tested to measure the amount of glucose found in their blood. If the glucose levels stay the exact same, even after an individual has consumed a considerable amount of lactose, this shows that the body is not properly absorbing the lactose. This result typically ends in a diagnosis of lactose intolerance.

Lactose Intolerant Treatments and Dietary Alternatives

A person who is lactose intolerant should generally avoid consuming dairy products. There are certain types of dairy products that can be enjoyed by one who is lactose intolerant. For example, hard cheeses, such as Parmesan or Swiss, can often be enjoyed without symptoms because these cheeses have a very low lactose content (Mikstas, 2020). The intensity of the symptoms and the prevalence of it will vary depending on the amount of lactose being ingested. Studies have shown that some people have a tolerance to one cup of milk per day (12- 19g of lactose) without symptoms. (Storhaug, Fosse, Fadnes, 2017). Those who experience extreme lactose intolerance should keep to a strict ‘no dairy diet’.

However, milk and dairy products, are hidden in a variety of processed and ultra-processed foods on the supermarket shelf and a person can still be consuming milk unbeknownst to them. It is important to highlight that focusing on the importance of a diet based on wholesome foods, which include a variety of food groups, with calcium being obtained from other sources of different food groups.

Lactose-free dairy are a great substitute for those who  want the same flavour and taste without the negative symptoms. Lactose-free dairy also contain the same amount of calcium as regular dairy products.

Some people who are lactose intolerant lean towards over the counter pills to halt or soothe oncoming symptoms. Lactaids, which are manufactured lactase enzymes, may help in digesting dairy products when taken at the right time.

Calcium Needs

The ‘no dairy diet’ can lead to calcium deficiencies if not properly compensated. Calcium is key for obtaining optimal bone health, as well as muscle growth, nerve functions and blood clotting. Below are calcium rich non-dairy/lactose free alternatives with their respective levels of calcium per serving size:

FoodFood Groupmg of Calcium per 100gMg of Calcium/ per serving
Sesame seedsProtein975263 / 2tbsp
Chia SeedsProtein631179 / 2 tbsp
AlmondsProtein27376 / 2 tbsp
HazelnutsProtein11432 / 2 tbsp
Sardines with BonesProtein382275 / 6 sardines
Soybeans-edamameProtein197504 / 1 cup
ParsleyVegetable13883 / 1 cup chopped
Olives, blackVegetable8860 / ½ cup
BroccoliVegetable4635 / 1 cup
CeleryVegetable4040 / 1 cup chopped
CarrotVegetable3384 / 1 cup chopped
KaleVegetable25453 / 1 cup
FigsFruit162120 / ½ cup
MolassesSweetener20582 / 2 tablespoons

Reference: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov

Vitamin D Needs

When avoiding dairy, calcium is not the only vitamin/mineral to be mindful of. Vitamin D is a necessary nutrient that builds and maintains healthy bones. Milk is a great source of Vitamin D, so switching to lactose-free milk will have the same nutritional qualities.

You can also obtain Vitamin D through sunlight, vitamin supplements, fatty fish and certain vegetables, such as mushrooms (if grown under UV light).


Students from the Culinary Management Nutrition Program at George Brown College Chef School participated in an academic writing content to create a lactose intolerance article for CDHF. The course, called Nutrition Issues, is taught by nutrition professor, Dr. Linda Gillis. Students highlighted the multicultural aspect of our nation and how lactose intolerance rates differ throughout Canada.  Their experience in planning meals using creative recipes is highlighted in this article.  Chante Grant and Mariana Schille were the winners for the contest.  George Brown College provides students with real world applications and opportunities for learning. Learn more more about Culinary Management Nutrition program.

This content was made possible through partnership with  George Brown’s Culinary Management Nutrition Program and Lactalis.

 

Tests and Treatments

How to test for lactose intolerance?

The elimination diet - where an individual stops consuming dairy products - is often used as a method for identifying lactose intolerance. However, the main way of testing for lactose intolerance is through an assessment with a doctor. The assessment begins 2 hours after the patient consumes a large quantity of lactose (typically through a beverage form). The patient then has their blood tested to measure the amount of glucose found in their blood. If the glucose levels stay the exact same, even after an individual has consumed a considerable amount of lactose, this shows that the body is not properly absorbing the lactose. This result typically ends in a diagnosis of lactose intolerance.

Lactose Intolerant Treatments and Dietary Alternatives

A person who is lactose intolerant should generally avoid consuming dairy products. There are certain types of dairy products that can be enjoyed by one who is lactose intolerant. For example, hard cheeses, such as Parmesan or Swiss, can often be enjoyed without symptoms because these cheeses have a very low lactose content (Mikstas, 2020). The intensity of the symptoms and the prevalence of it will vary depending on the amount of lactose being ingested. Studies have shown that some people have a tolerance to one cup of milk per day (12- 19g of lactose) without symptoms. (Storhaug, Fosse, Fadnes, 2017). Those who experience extreme lactose intolerance should keep to a strict ‘no dairy diet’.

However, milk and dairy products, are hidden in a variety of processed and ultra-processed foods on the supermarket shelf and a person can still be consuming milk unbeknownst to them. It is important to highlight that focusing on the importance of a diet based on wholesome foods, which include a variety of food groups, with calcium being obtained from other sources of different food groups.

Lactose-free dairy are a great substitute for those who  want the same flavour and taste without the negative symptoms. Lactose-free dairy also contain the same amount of calcium as regular dairy products.

Some people who are lactose intolerant lean towards over the counter pills to halt or soothe oncoming symptoms. Lactaids, which are manufactured lactase enzymes, may help in digesting dairy products when taken at the right time.

Calcium Needs

The ‘no dairy diet’ can lead to calcium deficiencies if not properly compensated. Calcium is key for obtaining optimal bone health, as well as muscle growth, nerve functions and blood clotting. Below are calcium rich non-dairy/lactose free alternatives with their respective levels of calcium per serving size:

FoodFood Groupmg of Calcium per 100gMg of Calcium/ per serving
Sesame seedsProtein975263 / 2tbsp
Chia SeedsProtein631179 / 2 tbsp
AlmondsProtein27376 / 2 tbsp
HazelnutsProtein11432 / 2 tbsp
Sardines with BonesProtein382275 / 6 sardines
Soybeans-edamameProtein197504 / 1 cup
ParsleyVegetable13883 / 1 cup chopped
Olives, blackVegetable8860 / ½ cup
BroccoliVegetable4635 / 1 cup
CeleryVegetable4040 / 1 cup chopped
CarrotVegetable3384 / 1 cup chopped
KaleVegetable25453 / 1 cup
FigsFruit162120 / ½ cup
MolassesSweetener20582 / 2 tablespoons

Reference: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov

Vitamin D Needs

When avoiding dairy, calcium is not the only vitamin/mineral to be mindful of. Vitamin D is a necessary nutrient that builds and maintains healthy bones. Milk is a great source of Vitamin D, so switching to lactose-free milk will have the same nutritional qualities.

You can also obtain Vitamin D through sunlight, vitamin supplements, fatty fish and certain vegetables, such as mushrooms (if grown under UV light).


Students from the Culinary Management Nutrition Program at George Brown College Chef School participated in an academic writing content to create a lactose intolerance article for CDHF. The course, called Nutrition Issues, is taught by nutrition professor, Dr. Linda Gillis. Students highlighted the multicultural aspect of our nation and how lactose intolerance rates differ throughout Canada.  Their experience in planning meals using creative recipes is highlighted in this article.  Chante Grant and Mariana Schille were the winners for the contest.  George Brown College provides students with real world applications and opportunities for learning. Learn more more about Culinary Management Nutrition program.