Exactly What IS Lactose Intolerance?

Lactose intolerance is when your body can’t digest lactose (sugar) that is found in dairy and milk products.

In the small intestine, there’s an enzyme called lactase that breaks down lactose into simple sugars that is then absorbed into the bloodstream and turns into energy. When someone is lactose intolerant, their body doesn’t produce enough lactase to handle the breakdown of dairy and milk products, thus creating discomfort and various painful symptoms.

Lactose intolerance isn’t gender biased as it happens equally to male and females and it’s a common problem. Certain ethnic groups may be more sensitive because their diets include more dairy and milk products. Becoming lactose intolerant can happen any time during your life.

A sudden onset of sensitivity to lactose can be caused by these events:

– Medication such as antibiotics can interfere with the small intestine of producing the enzyme lactase.

– As people age, their bodies doesn’t produce as much lactase.

– Infection can temporarily block the body’s production of lactase.

– People who have intestinal dysfunction such as Crohn’s disease or Celiac disease have less lactase enzyme production.

What are the symptoms of lactose intolerance?

The symptoms and degrees of symptoms will vary for each person. It will largely depend on how much of it is consumed. A person may experience:

– Vomiting
– Bloating
– Painful cramps in the lower abdominal area
– Diarrhea
– Gas
– Nausea
– Rumbling noises in your abdomen

A person can start feeling discomfort within 30 minutes or up to two hours after eating the offending foods. Obviously, it’s embarrassing when you’re out of the comforts of your home.

Most people may think they are lactose intolerant if they experience diarrhea after drinking coffee, for example. If this only happens once in awhile, you’re not likely sensitive; on the other hand, if it happens all the time, you might want to eliminate dairy and milk products to see if the symptoms go away. If you want to be sure, make an appointment with your doctor and get tested so you can be treated properly if you are.

There’s no medication you can take to cure lactose intolerance. The best way is to substitute dairy and milk products with goat, almond, or coconut milk products; and depending on your degree of allergic reaction to lactose, you can choose products that are reduced lactose. To get more calcium, you can choose foods such as canned sardines, tuna, salmon, broccoli, kale, spinach, peas, baked beans, collard greens, okra, almonds, sesame seeds, tofu, flax seeds, and Brazil nuts.

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