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Keeping your immune system strong is important at all times throughout life but especially now with the popularity of flu, viruses and even chronic conditions such as cancer and heart disease.  There are a lot of factors that go into immune system health and one of the core pieces to focus on in order to help you stay healthy and happy is dairy.  That’s all well and good, just go drink a glass of milk, right?  But what if you suffer from lactose intolerance?  Never fear, you can still enjoy a healthy and strong immune system.

Eating dairy while living with lactose intolerance

When you take an intolerance test and find out that you have lactose intolerance — it’s common in both children and adults — it can be stressful to try and figure out to get the right kind of dairy in the right amounts without dealing with painful symptoms every single day.  Since dairy products contain lactose in their native forms, how can you have one without struggling with the other?

The reality is that experts say quite a few adults believe that they are living with lactose intolerance only to find out that they don’t — it’s usually assumed or psychological creation — and that majority of the adults that do actually have lactose intolerance can handle moderate levels of lactose-containing foods and drink [1].  This, first and foremost, affirms that you should definitely consider getting a food intolerance test to know for sure.  Perhaps it’s something else in your diet that you are intolerant to.

Research and studies tell us that adults need to ingest 1,200 – 1,500 mg of calcium throughout the course of the day in order to keep themselves healthy.  Even if you are lactose intolerant, you can still safely eat and drink dairy up to the limit of when your symptoms become troublesome.  That limit is a personal choice, of course [1].

If you find that your threshold is low, experts recommend that you should consider taking a look a lactose-reduced milk or calcium supplements to keep your intake up to the proper amount [1].  You can also consider options such as soy milk or rice milk, as many of those are calcium-fortified to give you the same dietary benefits [1].

The importance of proper nutrition 

Very few of us actually are responsible for ingesting the right amount of calcium per day.  Further still, many of us aren’t especially healthy unless we’ve had a recent health scare that has led us to make positive changes.  

Now more than ever, it’s important to make sure that you are doing whatever you can to keep your health in check.  This means healthy, nutritious foods and understanding the impact that nutrition has on your general well-being.  Research tells us that proper, regular nutrition plays a big, important role in preventing chronic conditions such as yearly flu, pandemics, chronic illness and more [2].  While eating healthily will not guarantee you to be healthy 100%, it will boost your immune system significantly in the long term and give you the best chance to stay healthy longer and easier than someone who does not eat a balanced diet.

Dairy and its link to the immune system

Dairy foods and drinks are full of vitamins, minerals and nutrients that contribute to a strong and balanced diet.  In fact, research tells us that ingesting probiotic foods regularly (such as yoghurt and milk) can help boost the immune system from top to bottom, in big, important ways [2].  Proper dairy ingestion is really important to make sure that you are giving your digestive tract and immune system the chance to develop healthy bacteria culture so that you can fend off viruses and flu and even protect our body against cancer and other chronic conditions [3].

Further, your immune system can be weakened by psychological stress or physical stress, which means proper nutrition and dairy intake all the more important [4].  That’s why, when going through a difficult time, you need to do your part to stay healthy and strong in your immune system responses.  This will keep you healthy physically and it will help you recover emotionally and mentally from stress, grief and other issues in return.

Dairy intake is even more important in those who become vulnerable from disease as they age.  The older we get, the more immunocompromised we get and the more that we need to protect ourselves [4].  This can be worsened with emotional stressors or grief as well.

The bottom line

While eating dairy may not seem important, especially when you are debating between a glass of milk and a can of soda, you should give proper weight to the thought of enjoying a functional, healthy diet.  Since it’s up to you to keep your diet healthy and strong so that you can keep your body healthy and strong, the choices that you make should always be geared towards that [2].   The good news is that it isn’t as hard as you thought.  You just need the right information to guide you!

Whether you’re living with lactose intolerance or not, go on our there and grab your preferred way to ingest dairy.  It’ll be good for you!

References:

[1] Swagerty Jr, D.L., Walling, A. and Klein, R.M., 2002. Lactose intolerance. American family physician, 65(9), p.1845. Available at: https://www.aafp.org/afp/2002/0501/p1845.html

[2] Lopez-Varela, S., Gonzalez-Gross, M. and Marcos, A., 2002. Functional foods and the immune system: a review. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 56(3), pp.S29-S33. Available at: https://www.nature.com/articles/1601481

[3] Gill, H.S., 1998. Stimulation of the immune system by lactic cultures. International Dairy Journal, 8(5-6), pp.535-544. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0958694698000740

[4] Segerstrom, S.C. and Miller, G.E., 2004. Psychological stress and the human immune system: a meta-analytic study of 30 years of inquiry. Psychological bulletin, 130(4), p.601. Available at: https://psycnet.apa.org/buy/2004-15935-004