Lactose Intolerant

Have you checked recently with a health care provider and been diagnosed as suffering from lactose intolerance or do you have certain symptoms that make you feel you may be lactose intolerant. The symptoms very closely resemble those of Irritable Bowl Syndrome (which is why it is a good idea to get checked out). These symptoms include but are not limited to:

  • Cramps
  • Gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Bloating
  • Yeast Infections (yeast feeds on sugar and when a person is lactose intolerant their body isn’t able to break down the lactose (a sugar))

How can we live lactose free if we are intolerant of lactose?

If you are in fact lactose intolerant then your digestive system can not tolerate lactose. This is a sugar found in cow’s milk and in cow’s milk products.  A deficiency in lactase, an enzyme which is produced in the villi (small finger like projections in the lining the small intestine ), is what is known to actually cause this condition. There is an hereditary tendency to this condition. Have you ever noticed that you do not see dairy products in an asian restaurant. The American indian and most Asian cultures (with india being the exception) have the highest incidence. The work of the lactase is to turn the lactose into glucose and galactose (two simpler sugars that are then taken into your bloodstream).

Lactose intolerance facts:

  • Symptoms usually appear anytime from the onset of adolescence well into adulthood.
  • It can start though anytime after 2 years old (our body begins producing less lactase)
  • Causes can stem from an inherited gene as well as certain factors that can adversely affect our small intestines like celiac disease, chemotherapy, crohn’s disease or even an infection in the small intestine either viral or bacterial.

Symptoms – nausea, stomach pain, gas, bloating or diarrhea – tend to vary in the intensity of pain and type (symptoms vary also) depending on the individual and the amount ingested. Symptoms usually begin 30 minutes to 2 hours after eating or drinking a dairy product.

Usually for people who are lactose intolerant making some small changes to their diet will control the symptoms. Simply decreasing the amount of lactose ingested (depending on the person’s trouble with digesting the lactose) is sometimes all that is required. For some the avoidance of consuming milk or milk products by themselves and having them at meal time may alleviate symptoms. Eating yogurt or hard cheese with lower amounts of lactose has been found to work for some people.

Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living

Because calcium is essential for strong bones and teeth as well as the absorption of vitamin B12 and our main source is from milk and/or dairy products not getting enough calcium can lead to serious health issues – one of which is osteoporosis later in life causing bone fractures even with minor falls. A deficiency in calcium has been known to be a contributing factor in high blood pressure as well as insomnia.

When a severe intolerance is present then drastic dietary changes and an alternate nutritional plan may be needed. Do not neglect getting help from a health care professional. You can get a lactase enzyme in drops, capsules or chewable tablets (non-prescription over-the-counter) which can be consumed while drinking milk or ingesting dairy products.

Remember a few simple tests (ex. Lactose-hydrogen breath test) can tell you whether your symptoms are from being lactose intolerant and the cause of your abdominal issues.