How the DGAs Are of Use to Lactose Intolerant Americans
February is Lactose Intolerance Awareness Month — a time when we turn our attention to a digestive condition that can often be misunderstood and misdiagnosed.
Dispelling the Myths
People with lactose intolerance or lactose maldigestion often avoid milk and other dairy products. This can create a problem because avoiding dairy can cause deficiencies in calcium, potassium and vitamin D — key nutrients of public health concern identified by the recently released 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs).
Instead of avoiding dairy, the guidelines encourage individuals who are lactose intolerant to choose low-lactose and lactose-free dairy products. Yogurt is a great example of a lower lactose dairy product and can be an excellent dairy option for people who are lactose intolerant. On average, it contains less lactose per serving than milk, and its live and active cultures can help make it a more easily digested dairy option.
Additionally, Greek yogurt contains even less lactose than regular yogurt varieties due to the straining process used to make it.
Lack of Lactose Intolerance Resources
Adding to the misunderstanding around lactose intolerance is the limited information around the solutions that support healthy dietary patterns. Last fall, Dannon gathered consumer insights on healthy eating and yogurt and found that messages about lactose intolerance and yogurt’s digestibility were highly motivating to individuals with lactose intolerance concerns. There is an opportunity to do more to educate about the role of yogurt in helping to address consumers who may be avoiding dairy due to real or perceived lactose tolerance issues.
Lactose Intolerance and Health Equity
Lactose intolerance or lactose maldigestion is a prevalent issue among minorities. Currently, 75% of African Americans and 60% of Hispanic Americans have lactose maldigestion, compared to 20% of non-Hispanic whites. This “Nutrition: An Opportunity to Advance Health Equity” infographic shows how yogurt can help close nutrient gaps, such as those that may be caused by lactose intolerance, and promote a preventive approach to building health equity.
As we mark Lactose Intolerance Awareness Month, it’s especially important that we all do our part to dispel myths about lactose intolerance and expand upon its inclusion in nutrition education materials and health and food policy conversations. Health educators and professionals have the opportunity to make a positive health impact by making consumers aware of dairy options and ensuring that readily digestible foods, like yogurt, are included in the diets of all Americans.
Constance Brown-Riggs, MSEd, RD, CDE, CDN
One Yogurt Every Day Nutrition Advisor
Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH, Dean of the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy, recently reviewed the modern diet and food policy related to obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD) in the American Heart Association’s Circulation. Dr. Mozaffarian focused on the evolution in nutrition science from nutrients to foods and dietary patterns as a means to advance both diet intake and food policy, noting that foods including fruits, nuts, beans and yogurt may help support cardiometabolic health. Click here to read the full text.
In a TV segment aired last month in Utah, Dairy Council of Utah/Nevada Vice President Becky Low, MS, shared a few of her preferred parfait recipes. A favorite for children and adults, these parfaits can provide a nutritious snack in the classroom or at home. Click here to watch the segment.
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