Soy milk, almond milk, rice milk and coconut milk are all examples of non-dairy milks. They don’t contain lactose, so they shouldn’t trigger lactose intolerance.
Milk alternatives are nutritionally different from cow’s milk and breast milk. Compared to standard milk, you may find that these alternatives don’t offer enough calcium or protein. If you want to start substituting in one of these products in place of cow or breast-milk, be sure to check with a registered dietitian.
Avoiding all dairy products may leave you running low on calcium.3 Check in with your doctor, pharmacist or dietitian to make sure you’re getting enough calcium from other sources. Or you can find out yourself, with a handy calculator from Osteoporosis Canada!
Can probiotics help with my lactose intolerance?
Taking regular probiotics may help reduce signs of intolerance when you eat or drink dairy products. Sadly, most of the studies on probiotics used probiotic-fortified milks and yogurts. Studies are being done on whether probiotic capsules can help with lactose intolerance9, but for now, we can’t really say that they work. Probiotics are generally safe, so you can always feel free to test them for yourself.
It’s also important to keep in mind that not all probiotics are the same! Even if one probiotic works in a study, that doesn’t mean that all of them will help. You can speak with your doctor or pharmacist if you’re interested in trying out probiotic supplements.
Can I train my body to become lactose-tolerant?
Some experts say that having small amounts of lactose every day can decrease symptoms within a few weeks.4 However, there isn’t enough research to support this claim, and we don’t know whether these effects would go away if you stopped having lactose regularly.
Practically, you might find it simpler to just stick with a low-lactose diet and use lactase supplements or lactose-free products, as needed. If you’re still interested in trying to become lactose-tolerant by taking small, regular amounts of lactose, please consult your doctor.