Dairy is a very complete food group from a nutritional point of view. They provide calcium, phosphorus, vitamins, carbohydrates, proteins and fatty acids. Now, if milk does not suit us, we can choose an alternative that carries multiple health benefits: yogurt.
Within the dairy group, yogurt is one of the most recommended options for the diet of people in general and not only for those who are lactose intolerant, as is often thought.
Although it is not common in childhood, when you reach adulthood problems digesting dairy can arise. This is because our body stops correctly assimilating lactose, which is the predominant carbohydrate in dairy products.
However, this does not mean that we should stop taking all these foods, since their nutritional characteristics are not easily substituted.
What is lactose and why is it difficult for us to digest it?
Lactose is a very abundant sugar in milk and dairy products. It is a carbohydrate made up of a molecule of glucose and one of galactose.
In order to digest this sugar, an enzyme is needed, lactase, present in the cells of our digestive tract. This enzyme breaks down lactose into its two components, allowing it to be absorbed and pass into the blood.
Lactase is present in our intestines since before birth. The problem is that, after breastfeeding, its synthesis decreases and this can cause lactose to not be digested properly.
For this reason, many adults have digestive complaints from milk consumption. In these cases, we usually talk about lactose intolerance. This condition is usually harmless, but its symptoms are unpleasant. Some of them are:
These symptoms usually appear between 30 minutes and 2 hours after ingesting lactose products. If you start to detect them frequently, you may be facing lactose intolerance. Do not hesitate to consult the specialist.
Do I have to eliminate all dairy from my diet if I don’t digest milk well?
- No, in fact most people who digest milk with difficulty can take dairy products.
- We must know that dairy foods are an abundant source of calcium. This mineral is necessary to maintain healthy skeleton, muscle function, and nerve transmission.
- They are also an important source of protein, vitamins and minerals, so they are a food group that we should not do without.
- In addition, on many occasions the digestive discomforts derived from lactose poor digestion are temporary, disappearing after a few days.
- Some intestinal infections can make it difficult for lactose to be absorbed, and by overcoming it, dairy products are assimilated normally.
If milk makes me sick, why won’t yogurt make it?
A yogurt has a third of the lactose that a glass of milk contains, so it is better digested. In addition, yogurt is obtained after a process of fermentation of milk by microorganisms (lactobacilli and streptococci).
These ferments also break down lactose into glucose and galactose, facilitating its absorption. Once in the intestine, these bacteria continue to break down lactose so they continue to contribute to digestion.
For this reason , yogurts and other fermented milks are an ideal alternative to milk for individuals who do not digest lactose well.
Yogurt has many other properties!
In addition to being an alternative to milk consumption, by reducing the symptoms of lactose malabsorption, yogurt is a dairy food that can complement any meal.
Along with the rest of fermented milk, yogurt is included in probiotic foods. This group of foods contains microorganisms beneficial to health that contribute to maintaining the intestinal bacterial flora.
The ferments in yogurts seem to support the immune system by strengthening defenses and helping to fight infections. It also helps balance the intestinal flora.
Bacterial fermentation converts lactose to lactic acid. This acidity facilitates the absorption of calcium in the intestine. This means that yogurt allows greater assimilation of calcium than other dairy products.
The recommended intake of yogurt is 250 grams per day, which would be equivalent to two units per day.
We invite you to try how you feel when incorporating this food into your diet. Surely you will begin to notice its benefits in the body.