Why should we not view lactose intolerance as a disease in adult humans? Well it’s not really a disease, it’s just the dietary absence of an enzyme called lactase. As a culture we consume a lot of milk. It is ingrained in nearly everything we eat and we love it. For those of us that find out we are lactose intolerant, we wonder how we will survive without it. The good news is that we don’t have to. Being lactose intolerant is just a minor inconvenience and we will show you how to circumvent it.
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Should We View Lactose Intolerance as a Disease?
Many people globally have come to discover that they are lactose intolerant. These individuals have a difficult time digesting a sugar in milk called lactose. Normally the stomach produces an enzyme called lactase, which is produced in the lower intestines. However, people with lactose intolerance lack this enzyme. Therefore we should not view lactose intolerance as a disease in adult humans.
Why We React to the Lactose in Dairy
When we consume dairy our stomach is unable to break down the lactose. As milk sits in our intestines, the bacteria in our colon begins to eat the lactose. As they do so, they create gas and bloating as a byproduct within our gut. This can lead to many unpleasant symptoms. There are three main types of lactose intolerance, also known as lactose malabsorption:
Primary Lactose Intolerance – For about 70% of the world population, with the exception of those with Northern European Ancestry, the body stops making lactase around the age of 5. This genetic factor is the main reason why the majority of people are lactose intolerant.
Secondary Lactose Intolerance – Is usually due to illness or an injury to the small intestine. Both Celiac and Crohn’s disease can diminish lactase, the enzyme we need to digest milk. Also, having ulcerative colitis or irritable bowel syndrome can cause difficulty in digesting dairy as well.
Developmental Lactose Intolerance – When babies are born prematurely they may be unable to digest milk initially and for a short time. They usually outgrow this.
Lactose Intolerance Symptoms for Adult Humans
How can you tell if you are lactose intolerant? Do you have stomach discomfort after drinking milk or consuming dairy of any kind? Those that suffer from lactose intolerance have symptoms that range from mild to severe. Some of these symptoms include bloating, nausea, gas, constipation, diarrhea, stomach pain, abdominal cramps, and even vomiting.
Now that you suspect you may be lactose intolerant, you might be wondering: how long do lactose intolerance symptoms last? A person with lactose intolerance will usually experience gastro-intestinal symptoms within 30 minutes to 2 hours of consuming dairy. Long term symptoms may be harder to identify and attribute to dairy. For most people though, they are able to manage being lactose intolerant without having to give up all dairy. Equipped with the right information they can easily manage symptoms.
Those that have newly acquired symptoms often ask, can you become lactose intolerant over time? Absolutely. For some people, lactose intolerance is acquired gradually over time and may not be noticed until later in life. We call this adult-onset lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance can develop at any time and for a variety of reasons. The best way to know what has caused your symptoms is to see your healthcare provider. Your doctor can run a full panel of tests to find out the root cause of your lactose intolerance.
Lactose Intolerance While Pregnant
How does being lactose intolerant during pregnancy affect the overall health of both mother and child? So you’re lactose intolerant and pregnant. The first step is discussing with your healthcare practitioner what nutritional parameters are right for you. Each woman is different and has her own unique set of nutritional needs. There are many women who opt to remove milk while they are pregnant. Others continue to enjoy milk products with the aid of digestive enzymes. There are many alternative sources of vital nutrients for mother and child to consume to ensure optimal growth and health. The best thing a mom-to-be can do is to find peace of mind by engaging in her own research while utilizing the assistance of capable medical professionals around her.
Enjoying Dairy Again
Indulging in dairy is now easier than ever. There are a myriad of lactose intolerance pills available on the market. Scitec Essentials sells a helpful lactase enzyme supplement. Lactaid is one of the most popular and trusted brands on the market and provides handy little caplets that you can carry with you on the go. For a more natural product, check out NutriNutritionals Lacto Joy tablets. They even come in a convenient, easy to carry case.
Cooking with Lactose Intolerance
For those who wish to avoid dairy altogether, there are so many wonderful dairy-free foods to choose from. There are a plethora of delicious food groups to consider. Include more fruits, meats, veggies, nuts, seeds, beans, grains, and starches in your diet. It’s important to include a full spectrum of foods in your diet to have a robust nutritional foundation. Be aware of hidden sources of dairy. Some people can handle small amounts of dairy, especially the kind found in some cheeses. For others, they have to avoid every kind of dairy.
Dairy can be disguised as other ingredients. For instance, casein can be found in some deli meats as a binder. Prescription and over-the-counter medications can contain traces of dairy too. Even some birth control pills contain dairy. Read food and drug labels. Be mindful that many food products are produced in facilities that also process dairy. Additionally, processed foods are more likely to contain trace amounts of dairy. This is why it is always best to consume fresh, whole, organic foods, as much as possible.
Well, we’ve given you just an introduction into the lactose-free world. Be sure to check out all our other articles that span an extensive range of dairy topics. Dive deep with us and check out our full collection of amazing recipes as we explore how to get the most nutrition benefits from our food. Dairy is only a small portion of the food pyramid. With our healthy recipes, we will help you get the essential nutrients you need. Here at Lactose Free Life, let’s explore all the beautiful possibilities.