Do you think you are lactose intolerant? Think again — at least according to a draft consensus statement a panel of experts at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
USA Today reports, “Many Americans avoid dairy products … because they mistakenly think they’re lactose intolerant, a panel of experts concluded Wednesday at a National Institutes of Health conference.”
In the draft statement, “the experts wrote, most [people] don’t suffer the symptoms that characterize lactose intolerance, namely diarrhea, abdominal pain, and gas.”
In fact, “how well people can digest lactose is highly variable, and there is no good count of how many experience symptoms that mean full-scale lactose intolerance, said [the] panel,” the AP reports.
Panel chairman Dr. Frederick Suchy, of Mount Sinai School of Medicine, noted, “There are huge gaps in knowledge” about lactose intolerance.
The Los Angeles Times “Booster Shots” blog reported that Suchy said, “We need to define prevalence, develop gold standards for diagnosis, and test management approaches.”
Until then, “the disorder can be diagnosed by questioning and careful physical examination,” said Suchy.
HealthDay reported that for patients who experience symptoms of lactose intolerance, “taking small amounts of milk throughout the day or with meals or including yogurt and hard cheeses … in the diet might be tolerable.”
Suchy noted that vitamin D and calcium “may have implications in … areas such as cardiovascular health, hypertension, and maybe even colon cancer.”
So, if you think you’re lactose intolerant, but have never had this diagnosed by your physician, a trip to the doctor might be helpful in determining if you’re right … or if it’s something else.
And, if you are lactose intolerant, be sure that you talk to your doctor about taking calcium and vitamin D supplements.