Lactose is a milk sugar found in all dairy products, and lactose intolerance refers to one’s body’s inability to digest it properly.
When your body is unable to produce enough lactase to break down lactose naturally, lactose found in dairy products agitate the gastrointestinal tract and results in stomach discomfort and pain. Lactose intolerance is very prevalent, and 50-75% of the world is estimated to be lactose intolerance, which is gradually increasing since it is a hereditary condition.
What causes lactose intolerance?
Lactose intolerance often develops and worsens with age. Even though children do show signs of lactose intolerance, the condition becomes more detectable and difficult to cope with. Sometimes people stop suffering from lactose intolerance on their own as they grow up, but in most cases, without cutting out dairy out their diets, the symptoms get worse with age. Babies may be born with the condition as well and often have trouble gaining weight compared to other children.
What are the symptoms of lactose intolerance?
Everyone with lactose intolerance responds to dairy products differently. Some may only experience symptoms when they consume too much dairy, whereas some may experience hell with only an unintended, minuscule intake of lactose. Also, not every dairy product causes the same response in everyone; some people may be particularly triggered by cheese but may be able to have yogurt in moderate amounts without consequences, vice versa.
Most common lactose intolerance symptoms include stomach cramps, bloating, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Triggers Lactose Intolerance Foods to Avoid
All dairy products have the potential to cause symptoms, but there are also products and foods that are made with milk or contain small amounts of lactose. Most baked goods are made with dairy products, for instance. Some people with extreme cases should also avoid baked goods and carefully read the ingredients list of every product.
Treating lactose intolerance symptoms
Lactose intolerance is incurable, but dairy substitutes and a wide array of over-the-counter medication options are available for relief. For instance, taking a dairy digestive supplement before you know you are going to consume dairy will help you prevent symptoms to a degree. There are a huge variety of lactose-free dairy products and dairy alternatives available at every grocery store.
Can lactose intolerance be dangerous?
Lactose intolerance itself is not a serious condition. However, it may lead to more precarious situations, especially in children and infants as dairy products contain nutrients like calcium they need to grow and develop. Adults are not in the clear either as calcium deficiency may lead to serious conditions like tooth decay and osteoporosis. Dairy products are also rich in Vitamin D, and not a lot of other foods are, so it is crucial to substitute these nutrients and vitamins to avoid deficiency and further ailments.
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