Lactose Intolerance: Why Some People Are Affected and How To Overcome It

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lactose intoleranceLactose intolerance – the cause of many digestive problems

Lactose intolerance is the failure to digest lactose. Simply put, some people just cannot digest milk. The digestive system cannot break it down. And it is more common than you think, it just goes by different names. The inability to digest lactose is also known as lactase deficiency, milk intolerance,or dairy product intolerance.

There is a special kind of sugar present in milk called lactose. The body produces an enzyme called lactase. When we’re deficient in lactase we cannot digest milk. Another way for people with lactose intolerance to get to digest milk is for the lactase enzyme to be added to to milk products so they are more tolerable.  (photo credit)

Lactose intolerance in people is more common in cultures that did not have dairy farming as an early industry. In many studies, it was found that those from the Northern hemisphere are less likely to suffer fromthis intolerance because their bodies adapted to the nutritional needs in the local diet. For cultures that had other developed industries, their bodies did not fully develop the enzyme needed to break down lactose. This is why lactose intolerance is more common in Asians, the Native Americans, African Americans and those from the Mediterranean basin.

Here are some symptoms that people with lactose intolerance suffer if they drink milk:

1. Abdominal cramps. They may come swiftly and with such intensity, or they may come at a later time and not be as severe.

2. Bloating. This is the most common symptom and is a sure sign of  intolerance in adults after they drink milk.

3. Flatulence and being gassy.

4. Abdominal distention, this occurs when the abdomen grows bigger and hard to the touch.

5. Diarrhea

Lactose may be present in processed foods, even in some vitamin tablets. There are many OTC lactase enzyme drops or pills for people, who even after changes in food intake, still react to tiny amounts of lactose. In children, lactose intolerance has to be monitored more closely so that the child gets all his nutritional needs met without jeopardizing his growth and development. The nutritional plan recommended by the child’s doctor or dietitian should be followed by parents of a child with this condition.

How can I deal with lactose intolerance?

Milk is the best source of calcium for stronger bones. So for people who have a milk allergy or intolerance they can opt for other non-milk products that are high and rich in calcium like soft-boned fish, and vegetables such as broccoli, peas, baked beans, white peas and okra. Soy milk can be used as an alternative, but check that it has added calcium.

In adults this condition means dietary changes, taking supplements and finding other alternative foods to compensate for the nutritional benefits of milk. In children, it is more of a challenge, especially in babies. The good news is a lot of makers of formula have found one way or the other to answer the problem of lactose intolerance by still giving alternatives that are rich in calcium!

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One Response to “Lactose Intolerance: Why Some People Are Affected and How To Overcome It”

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