Lactose Intolerance Explained

Thursday 14 June 2012

Nowadays, it's quite common to hear of friends suspecting they (or their children) may be lactose intolerance when they get an upset stomach after taking cheese, milk or other dairy products. This article sheds some light on what is lactose intolerance all about and suggests a very simple, effective solution should you really be unable to tolerate lactose.

What is lactose intolerance?  
Lactose is a type of sugar that is normally found in milk and related products. Lactose intolerance occurs when a person is unable, or has insufficient ability, to digest this sugar.

What causes lactose intolerance?
It is caused by the lack of an enzyme called lactase. Lactase breaks lactose down into glucose and galactose, 2 simpler forms of sugar which are then easily absorbed into our bloodstream. This condition is referred to as lactase deficiency.

What else causes lactose intolerance?
Some people's immune system may develop some form of reaction to cow milk protein, resulting in their inability to tolerate lactose. This condition is called cow milk allergy. It is commonly confused with lactase deficiency.

What are the different types of lactase deficiency?
1) Primary lactase deficiency
It may be genetically inherited. Usually begins after the age of 2, when the body starts to produce less lactase.
2) Secondary lactase deficiency
This occurs due to an injury to the small intestine as a result of severe diarrheal illness, major burns, blood infections or chemotherapy. May occur at any age.

What are the symptoms of lactose intolerance?
  • Uncomfortable feeling experienced between 30 minutes to 2 hours after consuming a lactose product
  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Gas/wind in the abdomen
  • Diarrhea and/or nausea
The symptoms range from mild to severe, depending on the level of tolerance and amount of lactose consumed. However, don't be so quick to assume you're lactose intolerance just because you get abdominal pains. It could be signs of other illnesses as well.

(Source: Dealing with lactase deficiency by Prof Dr Christopher Boey Chiong Meng, StarFit4Life, 20 May 2012)

What solution do you recommend?

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