Food wellness tips : Do you have lactose intolerance? You can still enjoy a glass of milk without getting the symptoms. Many people are lactose intolerant so what causes it?
Lactose Intolerance Definition
Lactose intolerance refers to the inability of the body to digest lactose because of a deficiency of lactose, a digestive enzyme in the intestines.
Lactose is the form of sugar present in milk. The enzyme lactase, which is normally produced by cells lining the small intestine, breaks down lactose into substances that can be absorbed into the bloodstream. When dairy products are ingested, the lactose reaches the digestive system and is broken down by lactase into the simpler sugars glucose and galactose. The liver changes the galactose into glucose, which then enters the bloodstream and raises the blood glucose level. Lactose intolerance occurs when, due to a deficiency of lactase, lactose is not completely broken down and the glucose level does not rise. While not usually dangerous, lactose intolerance can cause severe discomfort.
From 30 to 50 million Americans suffer from the symptoms of lactose intolerance, but not everyone who is deficient in lactase experiences symptoms. Experts believe that 75% of the adult population worldwide does not produce enough lactase and is at risk for some or all of the symptoms of lactose intolerance.
Causes and symptoms
Lactose intolerance can be caused by some diseases of the digestive system and by injuries to the small intestine that result in a decreased production of lactase. While rare, some children are also born unable to produce the enzyme. For many, however, lactase deficiency develops naturally because, after about two years of age, the body produces less lactase.
Symptoms include nausea, cramps, diarrhoea, bloating and gas. The symptoms usually occur between 30 minutes to two hours after eating or drinking lactose-containing foods.
There is no treatment that can improve the body's ability to produce lactase, lactose deficiency treatments instead, are focused on controlling the diet. People who are sensitive after ingesting small amounts of lactose can take lactase enzymes, which are available without a prescription. Using the liquid form, people can add a few drops in their milk, put the milk in the refrigerator and drink it after 24 hours, when the lactase enzymes have worked to reduce the lactose content by 70%. If the milk is heated first and double the amount of lactase liquid is added, the milk will be 90% lactose free. You can also buy chewable lactase enzyme tablet. By taking three to six tablets just before eating, the tablets help people digest lactose-containing solid foods. Supermarkets also carry lactose-reduced mild and other products, which contain the needed nutrients found in the regular products but without the lactose.
An old-time Jamaican trick how to drink milk without getting the symptoms
Put a small amount of salt into 1 glass of milk, stir, then drink the milk. There will be no symptoms.
Lactose intolerance is easy to manage. People of all ages however, especially children, have to replace the calcium lost by cutting back on milk products by taking supplements and eating calcium-rich foods, such as broccoli, kale, canned salmon with bones, calcium-fortified foods and tofu. Many people who suffer with lactose intolerance will be able to continue eating some milk products. The condition is not considered dangerous. lactose intolerance is a natural occurrence that cannot be avoided.