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This Surprising Symptom May Reveal You're Sensitive to Milk

Some celebrities and pro athletes are cutting dairy over this rarely discussed symptom.

More than one-third of Americans are unable to properly absorb lactose, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDKD). The symptoms related to lactose intolerance that we most commonly think of are gastrointestinal-related, including bloating, cramping, and more severe digestion signals.

However, a registered dietitian is speaking about another lesser-known symptom of lactose intolerance, which is prompting some entertainers and professional athletes to overhaul their diets. Read on to learn more about this surprising symptom, and don't miss One Major Side Effect of an Unhealthy Diet for Women, Says Science.

What are the most common symptoms of lactose intolerance?

Woman touches her stomach.

If you or someone you care about has a sensitivity to dairy, you may be aware of the discomfort that comes along with it. The NIDDKD cites "bloating, diarrhea, and gas" as three common symptoms associated with lactose intolerance.

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What happens when someone is lactose intolerant?

flavored fruit yogurt cups

For the estimated 36% of individuals who are lactose-intolerant, the NIDDKD explains what's happening inside the body:

"Lactose is a sugar that is naturally found in milk and milk products like cheese or ice cream. In lactose intolerance, digestive symptoms are caused by lactose malabsorption. Lactose malabsorption is a condition in which your small intestine cannot digest, or break down, all the lactose you eat or drink."

Lactose intolerance is not a milk allergy.

drinking milk

"Lactose intolerance is different from a milk allergy," the NIDDKD explains. "A milk allergy is an immune system disorder." (FYI: Milk allergies are "the most distressing of the food allergies" these days—even more so than nuts.)

Here's the big reveal . . .

Sick woman blowing nose on her sofa.

Digestive symptoms aren't the only indicators of lactose intolerance, according to dietitian Heather Ray, M.S., R.D. In an article for the plant-based news site The Beet, Ray reveals there's another symptom of lactose intolerance that we mistake for sinus problems or allergies. "One way to know if you're sensitive or allergic to dairy products is to pay attention to how much mucus your body is producing," she writes.

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Some athletes and music superstars are doing away with dairy.

Cassy Athena/Getty Images

Ray writes, "A lot of celebrities and professional athletes are ditching dairy to help their sinuses right now, and mucus is one big reason why."

Two pro athletes who cut dairy for its lactose intolerance-related effects are NBA star Jrue Holiday and former soccer star Lauren Holiday. The husband and wife picked up dairy alternatives after their child was diagnosed with lactose intolerance.

"Sometimes, when I drink dairy, I get a lot of mucus build-up," Jrue, who is also a fan of the plant-based JUST Egg, said. "And since I've been off dairy, it's been gone. I feel better, lighter, and I have more energy."

Chloe x Halle say ditching dairy improved their vocals.

2020 Billboard Women In Music/Getty Images for Billboard

Chloe x Halle, the Grammy-nominated R&B duo, shared in a PETA interview that going vegan upped their vocal game at performances.

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Not to mention, the No. 1 tennis player in the world, Novak Djokovic.

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Novak Djokovic thought his breathing issues were caused by allergies, and he even went so far as to have surgery, according to The Beet. Instead:

"Novak Djokovic . . . reported issues with persistent allergies, even undergoing surgery to help him breathe better. When the combination of changing his workouts with nasal surgery didn't bring relief, he sought help from a doctor who analyzed his diet and discovered a list of foods he was reacting to, including gluten, dairy, and refined sugar. After making dietary changes and cutting out dairy, Djokovic reported feeling better immediately."

If sinus and congestion issues just don't seem to clear up, it may be worth asking your doctor about lactose.

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Krissy Gasbarre
Krissy is a senior news editor at Eat This, Not That!, managing morning and weekend news related to nutrition, wellness, restaurants and groceries (with a focus on beverages), and more. Read more about Krissy
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