Helpful Tips for Common Digestive Problems

Help for common digestive problems, from lactose intolerance to irritable bowl syndrome.

By EatingWell Editors

Helpful Tips for Common Digestive Problems

Lactose Intolerance

Thirty to 50 million Americans produce insufficient amounts of the enzyme, called lactase, needed to digest lactose, the naturally occurring sugar in milk and milk products. Rather than being broken down and absorbed for energy, lactose gets trapped in the digestive tract. This can trigger nausea, gas and diarrhea—usually within 30 minutes to two hours of eating. Eliminating dairy and all lactose-containing foods from the diet will alleviate symptoms. (Some people can tolerate dairy products, particularly aged cheeses and yogurts, in small amounts.)Some people choose to take lactase liquid or tablets to help them digest lactose.

Milk and dairy products are a major source of nutrients, including calcium and vitamin D, so don’t eliminate them from your diet unless you’ve tested positive for lactose intolerance. (Your health-care provider can diagnose the condition with a simple, non-invasive test.) If indeed you don’t produce enough lactase to digest dairy, be sure to get enough calcium and vitamin D from other food and/or supplemental sources.

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