Lactose Intolerance Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

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Lactose Intolerance is very common as it affects approximately sixty-five percent of the human populations, with East Asia dominating the charts; more than ninety percent of the adults in East Asia are affected.

Without the proper approach, Lactose intolerance can really weigh you down. It causes, sometimes severe, digestive problems whenever eating dairy.

Let’s explore together, the basics of Lactose intolerance.


lactose intolerance infographicWhat is Lactose Intolerance?

Since birth, you may have always loved milk; however, with lactose intolerance your body does not. Your body will let you know, if you’ve had too much, with symptoms like cramps or gas.

The main sugar in milk and other dairy products is Lactose; with lactose intolerance, you would not be able to properly digest milk, cereals, salad dressings, candy, bread, baked goods, and many other products of dairy that are high in lactose.


Causes of Lactose Intolerance

When your small intestine fails to produce enough of an enzyme (lactase) to digest milk and sugar (lactose), lactose intolerance occurs. Lactase normally turns milk sugar into glucose and galactose, which will then be absorbed into the bloodstream, through the intestinal lining.


Three Types of Lactose Intolerance

Primary lactose intolerance – Definitely, the most common type of lactose intolerance is primary. Usually, people who develop primary, start life producing plenty lactase; extremely vital for infants who would get the majority of their nutrition from milk. By adulthood, lactase drops dramatically, making milk products more difficult to digest. Another great fact is that lactose intolerance is genetically determined, taking place largely in the following people: Africans, Asians, and Hispanic ancestry; the Mediterranean or Southern European, the condition is common among those descents, as well.

Secondary lactose intolerance – When there’s a decrease in lactase production after an illness, injury or surgery involving your small intestine, secondary lactose intolerance will occur. Treating this disorder could be time-consuming, as it may restore lactase levels and improve signs and symptoms.

Congenital or developmental lactose – Babies can be born with lactose intolerance, caused by a complete absence of lactase activity; however, it’s extremely rare. This disorder is usually passed down from generation to generation in a pattern of inheritance called autosomal recessive, meaning that both the mother and the father must pass on the same gene variant for a child to be affected.


What Are the Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance?

The most common symptoms are bloating, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and gas. The severity of the symptoms can change, it all depends how much lactose you can tolerate and the total you’ve eaten.


Dairy is High in Nutrients, Avoiding Lactose Will Result in Avoiding Key Nutrients

Dairy products are extremely nutritious and contain key sources of protein, calcium, and vitamins like A, B12, and D. So, completely removing dairy could be extremely difficult, however not impossible. There are other food sources one could consider eating in replace of the basic dairy products.

Here are the 5 most common dairy products:

• Ice cream
• Yogurt
• Goat’s milk
• Cow’s milk (all types)
• All, hard and soft cheeses

It’s crucial that you check the manufactured food label to see if they contain any unseen lactose.


People With Lactose Intolerance, May Still Be Able to Eat Some Dairy

Most people can tolerate up to 18 grams of lactose, anything close to small portions of milk in tea will do fine; however, the amount of milk in a bowl of cereal, will not be wise to consume, as that is way too much lactose in one serving.

There are a few dairy products that can be consumed with more comfort like butter, some cheeses, and yogurt are usually tolerated better than milk.


Great Non-Dairy Sources of Calcium

Although dairy foods are excellent sources of calcium, they are not essential. It’s entirely possible to have a balanced out diet without having to consume dairy food.

The ideal intake of calcium is one-thousand milligrams per day, here are a few non-dairy sources of calcium.

Calcium Fortified Foods

• Juices
• Bread
• Non-Dairy Kinds of milk (Almond, Soy, and Oat Milk)
• Boned Fish
• Fish with Bones
• Sardines
• High-Calcium Plants Foods

Most plant foods contain decent amounts of calcium; yet, this calcium is usually badly absorbed due to the activity of antinutrients like phytate and oxalate.


Treatments for Lactose Intolerance

Giving up dairy doesn’t necessarily have to be the case, there are a few natural treatments that can help you out.

Enzyme Supplements
Enzymes are tablets you would swallow or drops you can add to your food or drink. Though the effectiveness of these products varies from person to person.

Lactose Exposure
As foolish as this sounds, but actually including lactose in your diet could assist your body to adapt to it, however, you must consume it regularly.

Probiotics and Prebiotic
While most studies have been small, prebiotics and probiotics have been shown to reduce symptoms of lactose intolerance.


Food For Thought

Before removing dairy from your diet, aim for suitable calcium alternatives first. Completely eliminating dairy from your diet can result in missing out on important nutrients. You don’t have to avoid eating dairy altogether, many people who are lactose intolerance can tolerate small amounts of dairy; however, you must be aware of the amount of dairy you consume, as the symptoms could occur.

If you are experiencing symptoms of lactose intolerance, contact your healthcare provider today. LaGrange Medical Center provides a friendly environment for you to get help for all of your medical care needs — from urgent care to primary care and annual physicals to occupational health services. We are conveniently located at 6170 Joliet Road in Countryside, Illinois. Call us today at 708-352-0330 to schedule an appointment. Se Habla Español?