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Nutrition Today:
Pleasures of the Table

Dairy Foods: Are They Politically Correct?

Moore, Barbara J. PhD

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Abstract

This article considers the scientific evidence on the prevalence and management of verified lactose intolerance and the growing misperception that dairy foods should be avoided because ethnic populations cannot tolerate them. Healthcare professionals, in particular, must understand why eliminating dairy foods is rarely necessary and is generally undesirable. The genetically programmed ability to digest the milk sugar lactose normally declines throughout childhood in all ethnic groups. Only rarely does lactase nonpersistence result in verifiable lactose intolerance. The intolerance—gastrointestinal symptoms, such as diarrhea, bloating, and abdominal cramping—is easily managed when it occurs and is not a barrier to the consumption of 2 to 3 servings of calcium‐rich dairy foods, as encouraged by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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