Are You Lactose Intolerant? Signs Dairy Cravings Are Making You Sick

Bloated, gassy, and craving ice cream? If you’re lactose intolerant, the very thing you want could make you sick

Credit: Flickr/ToriMBC

Could that glass of milk be making you sick?

Do you have a history of unexplained, low-grade digestion problems like bloating, tummyaches, and gas – plus a stronger-than-normal craving for milky chai or cream-smothered porridge?

Incredibly, those urges could be directing you to eat the very thing that’s sabotaging your gut: lactose-rich dairy.

Assess Your Risk Factors for Lactose Intolerance

Populations without a history of dairy in the diet have a higher tendency to lactose intolerance. So if you’re Asian, for example, and your ancestors ate relatively traditional Chinese, Korean, or Japanese food, it’s less likely you’ll be able to process the lactose in the dairy products that weren’t widely consumed in those countries until recently.

Diagnose the Symptoms

Bloating, gas, nausea, and diarrhea 30 minutes after consuming dairy are the classic symptoms. To self-test, drink milk on an empty stomach and observe the results. (Be aware that other conditions, like a milk allergy or irritable bowel, can have similar symptoms).

Getting Tested

Your doctor can order a simple hydrogen breath test to tell whether the lactose in your gut is being digested properly. This can confirm any diagnosis you make yourself.

What to Do if You’re Lactose Intolerant

Fortunately, the fixes are simple. For those who don’t want to swear off dairy, cheese is far more digestible than milk.

Drops and lactose-free milk will either neutralize the lactose in untreated dairy or give you a pretreated glass of milk.

And while women in particular, given our increased osteoperosis risk, may want to continue to get their calcium from dairy, proponents of a dairy-free diet swear it has one surprising result: they become almost entirely free from excess mucous, and can tell the day after they fall off the wagon and consume cheesy pizza by waking up with a stuffy nose.

If you do decide to go dairy-free, calcium is available in lesser quantities in tofu, leafy greens, and fortified juice.