Intolerance to lactose, or milk, is one of the most common digestive problems in the world.
What is lactose intolerance?
Lactose intolerance is a digestive disorder, wherein an individual is unable to digest lactose, which is a type of sugar found in milk and dairy products. The body does not produce enough lactase, which breaks down lactose into glucose and galactose for absorption. As such, it causes various gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea and flatulence.
Lactose intolerance may also be termed or connected with the following terms:
- Alactasia- It is the result of lactase deficiency, which can be genetic or environmentally yielded.
- Dairy product intolerance- If you have this, you're allergic to certain proteins in milk and dairy products.
- Hypolactasia- It is caused due to an enzyme deficiency that further leads to lactose intolerance.
- Lactose malabsorption- Lactose malabsorption is a common condition caused by decreased indication or activity of lactase in the small intestine.
- Milk sugar intolerance- Since, lactose is a sugar found in milk and milk products it is also termed as milk sugar tolerance.
DID YOU KNOW?
An estimated 75% of the world’s population has some form of lactose intolerance, and of that 75%, approximately 30% can tolerate small amounts of dairy while the other 50% are intolerant to dairy products in any form. Most people who are lactose intolerant can drink up to eight ounces of milk without symptoms, although it may take them longer to digest it properly compared to those who do not have any digestive problems with lactose.
What causes lactose intolerance? How can you treat it? Is it different from a dairy allergy? Find answers to all these questions, and more, in this article on lactose intolerance and how to prevent it naturally.
Why does it happen? - Symptoms of lactose intolerance
People with lactose intolerance have trouble digesting dairy products, resulting in digestive problems such as:
The severity of symptoms depends on how much lactase is available to break down dairy sugars and will vary by person. Some people have these symptoms when they consume milk or other dairy products while others may not notice any adverse effects until they increase their intake.
Lifestyle changes that can be made to manage lactose intolerance
Include a wholesome diet rich in nutrients, but low in lactose or dairy products. Certain probiotics have also been suggested to help ease lactose intolerance. Lifestyle changes that can be made to manage this Include a wholesome diet rich in nutrients, but low in lactose or dairy products. Certain probiotics have also been suggested to help ease lactose intolerance.
Here are some tips for doing just that!
- You can avoid dairy altogether by eating substitutes like almond milk instead of regular milk and soy cheese instead of mozzarella or paneer (cottage cheese)
- Read labels when you buy food – even if something is dairy-free, it could still have trace amounts of lactose.
- You might want to limit yourself to one serving per day or stick with smaller servings.
- If you love cream or ice cream, opt for those with little or no lactose; often they contain less than half of what’s found in other varieties.
- Find comfort food alternatives that don’t contain any dairy at all – soy butter has virtually no lactose but tastes similar to normal butter!
Foods to avoid
If you’re lactose intolerant, there are certain types of food that should be avoided at all costs. Dairy products contain high levels of lactose, and also a high-fat content which can cause gastrointestinal distress. Cow’s milk isn’t well tolerated by those with lactose intolerance—dairy products to avoid include:
- Whole milk
Lactose intolerance test
A hydrogen breath test is used to check for lactose intolerance. You drink a liquid containing a high amount of sugar (lactose), and a baseline measurement is taken. Then, two-three hours later, you’re given another drink with lactose in it. If your body has been unable to digest the lactose during that time period, bacteria in your gut will break down some of it and produce hydrogen, which you will then breathe out. People without lactose intolerance won’t produce any hydrogen because their bodies have digested all of it within two hours. Contact a doctor for more clarity.
1) Can lactose tolerant people eat curd?
Yes, Yoghurt bacteria contain high levels of lactase, which is responsible for digesting milk sugars. So even if you are lactose intolerant, you can have small quantities of yogurt every day.
2) Are lactose intolerance or dairy allergy the same?
No, they are different. While lactose intolerance is not a true allergy, it can cause many of the same symptoms as an allergy would. When you have an actual dairy allergy there is a response from your immune system that causes your body to fight against substances in milk products, like casein and whey proteins. On the other hand with lactose intolerance, your small intestine doesn’t produce enough of an enzyme called lactase which normally breaks down lactose into easily digestible sugars.