Dr. Andrew Myers has the answers to your questions on the issues posed by lactose intolerance and arthritis.

Q: Dr. Myers, I’m lactose intolerant, and I would like to add a nutritional protein source, such as a meal replacement shake or bar, to my daily routine. What ingredients should I look for in these products?

A: Approximately 30 to 50 million Americans suffer from an inability to completely digest lactose, a natural sugar found in milk and milk products, due to a deficiency in the enzyme lactase. Because dairy products are often a good source of protein, people with lactose intolerance may need to find another protein source and that often involves supplementation.

Many protein powders, ready-to-drink shakes and bars contain lactose, but there are several good alternatives available. Look for plant-based proteins like soy or pea, which are often fortified with other vitamins and minerals and are naturally lactose-free. Since a milk allergy is different from lactose intolerance, pure whey or casein, which are proteins derived from milk, are other options. While they still contain small amounts of lactose, these proteins are able to be tolerated by most people with lactose intolerance. Some products containing lactose also have the lactase enzyme added in to help with digestion; these are often labeled lactose free or lactose reduced.

If you’re concerned you’re not getting enough protein in your diet, be sure to talk to your health care provider to determine the best supplementation regimen for you.

Q: Dr. Myers, is arthritis caused by inflammation? What kinds of foods should I eat to help alleviate my arthritis symptoms?

A: Arthritis is more than just achy joints; according to the Arthritis Foundation, it’s an inflammatory disorder that consists of over 100 different diseases, affecting people of all ages, including children. Like many diseases, the stiffness, swelling, joint pain and limited movement typically associated with arthritis are caused by inflammation in this case, located in the joints. While there are many over-the-counter and prescription medicines available to help alleviate arthritis symptoms, you can also make lifestyle changes to support joint health.

Along with exercise, rest, weight loss, physical therapy and lowering stress levels, consider eating a balanced diet full of anti-inflammatory foods. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as cold-water fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna and herring), soybeans, flaxseed, pumpkin seeds and walnuts, help fight inflammation and provide the body with a range of healthy nutrients. Other options include the culinary spice turmeric, found in most Indian curries and yellow mustard, which contains curcumin, an anti-inflammatory agent known for supporting joint health. Make sure to include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet, too, which contain the vitamins and minerals your body needs to maintain health and fight disease. Along with dietary strategies, supplements that promote a healthy inflammatory response include curcumin, boswellia and joint-supportive nutrients like glucosamine.

While many forms of arthritis are long-term and cannot be cured, they can usually be managed. Be sure to talk to your health care provider about the best options for your specific type of arthritis.

Do you have a question about supplements?Email us at hlms@samsclub.com, or write to us at Healthy Living Made Simple, 1703 Phyllis St., Suite 202, Bentonville, AR 72712.

Dr. Andrew Myers, is an expert in nutrition and preventive medicine and the co-author of Health Is Wealth: 10 Power Nutrients That Increase Your Odds of Living to 100 and Health Is Wealth: Performance Nutrition. Visit healthiswealth.net for more information.