Lactose intolerance is quite a common phenomenon that many people suffer from. About 65% of the entire adult population worldwide suffers from lactose intolerance. It is a condition in which, a person does not produce enough of the enzyme that is required to digest the carbohydrate called lactose or there is an absolute absence of the enzyme in the digestive system, resulting in intolerance to the dairy carbohydrate. As a consequence, you feel uncomfortable; there is a feeling of bloating as well as cramping in the stomach region.
Just like the table sugar that you add in most of your desserts or sweet dishes, lactose is a carbohydrate that you find in milk and all other dairy products. Your body requires the enzyme called lactase to digest this carbohydrate. Lactase helps in breaking the lactose that you consume into smaller particles of sugar glucose as well as galactose. The body can absorb the galactose and sugar glucose particles and use it for the production of energy. However, when the body cannot produce enough lactase or cannot produce any lactase at all, lactose carbohydrate cannot be broken down into absorbable particles and the body reacts to this.
Can Lactose Intolerance be Reversed?
Now the question is, whether lactose intolerance can be reversed or treated completely or not. In most cases, the answer would be no. Those, who are born with intolerance towards lactose, cannot reverse this condition and will never be able to digest lactose. Also, if you have lost your lactase production ability with ageing, you cannot reverse your condition. However, there are cases, where you may gain the ability to produce lactase gradually with time. This is especially if you have lost your lactose digestion ability as a consequence of some illness or disease or some injury. As the condition heals over time, your ability to tolerate and digest lactose will grow back again.
Bacteria Growth in Colon:
What helps in the production of lactase are certain kinds of bacteria in the gut. It is the absence of these bacteria, the gut lacks the production of lactase in the digestive tract. So, if you can manage to grow the bacteria in the gut or increase the activity of microbiota in the colon, you can try to produce the lactase in your digestive tract. The bacteria will produce the lactase themselves and this will help in the digestion of the lactose that you consume. On the other hand, the lactose that you consume will increase the activity of the bacteria and the production of lactase thereby.
Using Probiotic Drinks to Reverse Lactose Intolerance:
If you incorporate probiotic drinks and foods that are rich in calcium or a daily diet that is rich in Vitamin D and Vitamin K, it will help the body to grow these bacteria in the guts. Also, eating and drinking fermented foods will increase the growth of these bacteria. As a consequence, the gut and the digestive tract produces lactase enzyme and this helps in digesting lactose.
Gradually Increase your Lactose Consumption:
Many people do not know that even if you cannot digest lactose, you can still tolerate a daily maximum limit of 12gm of lactose consumption. This is the amount of lactose that you get from a cup of milk. You can slowly start to consume this amount of lactose through milk or other dairy products and you should not feel any significant symptom of intolerance to lactose. For the next 72 hours, you should see if there is any symptom such as bloating or indigestion. In case not, you can again try and increase the amount of consumption and this way, you will slowly start to grow your tolerance towards lactose. In general, consuming a spoonful of yoghurt everyday with your meal will help you to increase the growth of bacteria in your gut through the good bacteria from the yogurt. Most of the time, people experience intolerance to lactose by consuming too much of lactose in a single go.
Lactose Intolerance and Misconception
While trying to cope with lactose intolerance and reverse your condition by increasing your tolerance towards lactose, you need to know that not always your inability to tolerate and digest lactose is caused by lactose intolerance. You may have other disorders such as celiac disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or Small intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). If that is the case, staying away from dairy products would not help you much. The disorders should be treated from the core. Still, if you are trying to reverse your intolerance by slowly increasing your lactose intake, you should keep some lactase enzyme tablets in hand. This will help you in case you are in need.