About lactose intolerance (1) – Lactose intolerance is a problem where people struggle to digest lactose, which is a sugar that is commonly found in milk and dairy products. Most of the time, when a person eats something containing lactose, an enzyme called lactase (commonly found in the small intestine) breaks the food down. The definition of an enzyme is a “substance produced by a living organism which acts as a catalyst to bring about a specific biochemical reaction” (en.oxforddictionaries.com). In the case of lactose, the enzyme involved speeds up the hydrolysis of lactose to glucose and galactose.
(2) – People that are lactose intolerant do not form enough of the lactase enzyme to break down all of the dairy products they consume. Instead, all of the lactose that they have consumed cannot be digested, meaning that it sits in the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract,gut). Eventually these lactose foods get broken down by left over bacteria, causing stomach aches, bloating and diarrhea. Lactose intolerance is common.
It has the same effect on both girls and boys. However, younger people don’t tend to suffer from it, you normally start to realize you have it in your teenage or adult years.Who is most prone to becoming lactose intolerance? (3) – People become lactose intolerant for many strange reasons. The first being where they are from. Research has been done and it has been said that people of Asian, African, Native American and Hispanic backgrounds are more likely to become Lactose intolerant when little. Another way people may become lactose intolerant is if they have had previous issues with their digestive tract. For example suffering from celiac and Crohn’s disease reduces their level of lactase enzymes.
Medicine too can cause lactose intolerance. Scientists have found out that antibiotics can reduce the intestines’ ability to produce lactase enzymes.People who are lactose intolerance(4) – When someone is lactose intolerant, they must monitor and be aware of the amount of milk containing products they consume and the amount of lactase the body is producing. People with lactose intolerance will experience stomach aches, bloating and cramps anywhere from thirty minutes to two hours after eating a meal as I mentioned before. Food companies all around the world are helping to fight the problem. In recent years, there has been the creation of many lactose-free products.
A few examples are lactose-free yogurt, milk, cheese, ice cream, butter and chocolate. These are perfect solutions for those who suffer from lactose intolerance, but would still like to enjoy an ice cream or bar of chocolate.How doctors diagnose lactose intolerance(5) – There are several ways to find out whether somebody is lactose intolerant or not. The most used method is called the lactose intolerance test.
The test involves the patient consuming a liquid that contains high levels of lactose. The doctor measures your body’s reaction to it. Then after two hours the patient will have blood tests done to record the amount of glucose in his/her bloodstream.
If their glucose level doesn’t rise, it means their body isn’t digesting and absorbing the lactose-filled drink. From undergoing this experiment, the doctor can diagnose whether the patient is lactose intolerant or not. To find out whether a child is lactose intolerant doctors will recommend a stool acidity test. This is when the child’s undigested lactose makes lactic acid which can be seen in a stool sample.How to treat lactose intoleranceThrough thorough investigation from doctors and scientists, it is known that there are several ways to treat lactose intolerance.
A few examples are listed below; Substituting high lactose products such as milk, butter, yogurt and ice cream for low lactose products such as block cheese’s, goat milk and lactose-free yogurt. Taking digestive enzymes that contain lactaseEat more non-dairy probiotic foodsUse coconut oil for cooking Change butter for gheeThe most scientific and one of the most common treatments for lactose intolerance is taking digestive enzymes that contain lactase. These enzymes normally come in pill form and are taken before or after a meal. After the patient consumes the lactase enzymes, they move into the body helping to break down the milk-containing products that he/she has consumed, as well as splitting the lactose into glucose and galactose. This means that the enzyme breaks down the lactose molecule into two simple sugars which the body can absorb into the bloodstream and use for energy. These are sugars that share the same molecular formula and are made of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen (C6H12O6). Because they both contain six carbon atoms, they are hexoses (simple sugars whose molecules have six carbon atoms).
The enzymes that the patient has consumed travel through the digestive system. However, along the way they are helping to break down the food, absorb nutrients from the food and convert the food eaten into a more liquid form. However, these pills don’t always work. Studies have found that by taking digestive enzymes, some people suffer even more due to the side effects which are the same as the symptoms of lactose intolerance itself. These are stomach aches, bloating, cramps, diarrhea and nausea. It is therefore difficult to identify its efficiency. It may well be more beneficial for a person suffering from lactose intolerance to avoid taking digestive enzymes, but instead to focus on changing their diet to avoid dairy products.Of course it is important to consume dairy products as they provide our bodies with nutrients, vitamins, calcium, riboflavin and protein.
However these can be obtained from other food sources such as seaweed, almonds, sardines and chia seeds. Substitutes for milk also exist such as soy, goat and coconut milk. Different types of lactose intolerancePrimary lactose intolerance is the most common. As babies we produce a lot of lactase as we get all our nutrients from milk alone.
As we get older some people stop producing enough lactase to break down all of the lactose products we consume. This normally happens in adulthood and is dependent on genetics.Secondary lactose intolerance is due to illness or injury. For example celiac disease, crohn’s disease and overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine can all result in less lactase being produced. As can cancer treatments such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy. By treating the underlying illness the production of lactase can increase and return to normal.The third type of lactose intolerance is congenital which occurs when a baby is born with a lack of ability to produce lactase. This can happen particularly if a baby is born early as the small intestine has not developed enough to produce cells which create lactase.
Milk allergy vs lactose intolerance (move to top)It must be noted that lactose intolerance is not a milk allergy. Lactose intolerance is caused by the absence the enzyme lactase, however a milk allergy occurs when the immune system overreacts to the protein in milk.ConclusionIn summary, lactose intolerance is a condition in which the body does not produce enough lactase enzymes to absorb the nutrients and break down the lactose products that the person has consumed. Scientists have found that by taking lactase digestive enzymes, the body can consume dairy products and break down the lactose into two simple sugars which can be easily absorbed (glucose and galactose). On the one hand, this enzyme treatment can be considered as an effective solution as it allows the person to consume dairy products without having to modify their diet or substitute foods to still consume the correct amount of nutrients, vitamins, calcium, riboflavin and protein.However for other patients taking digestive enzymes, the treatment can result in similar symptoms to lactose intolerance itself due to its negative symptoms.To conclude, whilst scientists have found a way of managing lactose intolerance with enzyme treatment, its success depends on the individual.