Live a happy lactose-free life
Many of us, sooner or later, in our life find out that we are lactose-intolerant. So, what does it mean to be lactose-intolerant and how to overcome that?
If you are also wondering the same questions, you’ll get the answers here.
What is lactose?
Lactose is a carbohydrate or sugar, which is naturally present in milk and other dairy products. It is made of two sugar molecules, glucose and galactose, which are used by our body as energy.
However, Lactose in its actual state cannot be consumed by the body, and therefore, must be split into two separate molecules. The Lactase enzyme present in the body does the job of splitting lactose into small molecules, enabling the body to use it as energy.
Lactose Across The Lifespan
Lactose is an integral part of human milk. Babies usually have a sufficient amount of lactase in their body to be able to consume the lactose present in breast milk. And as they grow older and stop taking breast milk, the body adapts itself to produce less lactase as per need.
Some babies, in rare cases, are born without lactase, which makes them unable to properly digest lactose present in breast milk. This is a form of lactose intolerance, known as congenital lactase deficiency in scientific terms. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), about 30 million Americans have some degree of lactose intolerance by age 20.
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The lactose tolerance issue is also very common in adults at any age. This happens when our intestine stops making sufficient lactase and we start having issues with consuming dairy products.
Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance
In most cases, it is easy to identify whether or not a person is lactose intolerant. The common symptoms include bloating, abdominal cramps, flatulence, nausea, migraine or diarrhea. The symptoms might start showing within 2 hours of consuming dairy products.
Test: A scientific way of detecting lactose intolerance in a person is the hydrogen breath test, in which the amount of hydrogen in the breath of the person is measured. The higher amount of hydrogen in the breath is the signs and symptoms of lactose intolerance in the system.
Solution - A Lactose-free Diet
The only true cure for someone who is lactose intolerant is to completely avoid consuming lactose. Whey protein powders can be replaced by plant-based protein powders such as the Vegan Pro, milk can be replaced by plant-based substitutes such as almond, coconut, rice or soy milk and non-dairy cheeses are also available at most grocery stores.
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If you suspect to have an intolerance to lactose my recommendation would be to see a qualified health care professional who will perform tests such as the hydrogen breath. You can still live a happy lactose-free life by substituting dairy products with plant-based ones, they are becoming more available at grocery stores and when eating out.
- Lehninger, A. L., Nelson, D. L., & Cox, M. M. (2013). Principles of biochemistry. New York: W.H. Freeman.
- National Institutes of Health. (n.d.). Lactose intolerance: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Retrieved August 22, 2018, from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000276.htm
- Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care. (2015, June 17). Lactose intolerance: Overview. Retrieved August 22, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0072452/