Before lactose is absorbed into the bloodstream, it must first be broken down by lactase, an enzyme found in the intestine. The intestine produces lactase during childhood, as the newborn must be able to digest breast milk to survive. As the child’s body prepares to digest other foods, the genes responsible for lactase production are gradually deactivated.
Therefore, even babies who have the ability to digest lactose from the beginning will gradually create intolerance to lactose. Finally, the body can no longer digest lactose at all and the consumption of it can precipitate a wide range of symptoms. Undigested lactose is an excellent source of nutrients for intestinal bacteria, which take advantage of the opportunity to multiply rapidly in our digestive tract. Lactose is broken down into different acids and fermentation produces several gases. This process causes various symptoms that vary in intensity from one person to another. Symptoms include digestive problems such as bloating, cramping, and diarrhea as well as a number of ailments not specific as fatigue or dermatological issues.
Most people in the world are lactose intolerant. However, genes that continued to produce lactase throughout childhood and adulthood spread through populations of ancient peoples who raised cattle. As a result, most adults in populations with a history of milk production have the ability to digest the lactose.
A lactose-free diet can prevent all symptoms of lactose intolerance. People should become familiar with foods that contain lactose. Regrettably, often intolerance to lactose is misdiagnosed for years as the severity of symptoms depends on the amount of lactose the individual consumes. Since the symptoms of lactose intolerance are often misinterpreted as digestive upset in general, genetic testing to determine lactose intolerance can help to clear up any personal intolerance you may have and prevent future complications.
Genes Associated with Lactose Intolerance
More than 99% of cases of lactose intolerance are caused by a genetic variation of the LCT / MCM6 gene. If the gene is present as a duplicate, the carrier will most likely develop lactose intolerance at some point in his life.
How Do You Prevent Lactose Intolerance?
Based on your genes, you have a higher risk of lactose intolerance. Most people with their genetic characteristics develop lactose intolerance at some point in their lives. However, development is usually a slow process.
Therefore, it would be advisable to observe your long-term diet and see if foods containing lactose trigger some of the previously described symptoms. If this is not the case, no further changes to your diet are needed. If already suffers from discomfort, more complications can be avoided with a controlled diet. In your personal nutritional plan, it is of primary interest to reduce lactose consumption or even to avoid lactose completely. For this reason, it is important that you become familiar with all lactose potentials sources.
Common Foods That Contain Lactose Are:
- Milk and dairy products
- Packaged sausages and cold meats
- Soups and creams
- Bakery products
- Enhancers of chocolate flavor and many sweets
- Fast food products
- Some medications.
The occurrence and severity of symptoms depend on several factors, such as the amount of consumed lactose, the amount and type of other consumed foods, physical and mental health in general, as well as the personal enzymes deficiency. Since dairy products are a source of essential nutrients such as calcium, various vitamins, iron and magnesium, you should make sure that your diet contains enough of these nutrients. Therefore, a diet rich in calcium is recommended. Eat plenty of vegetables high in calcium. Lactase supplements are also a potential solution for you. They contain the enzymes you need and are a good substitute for lactose-containing foods.
Lactose intolerance is a common condition, and the symptoms will only appear if dairy products are consumed. When the symptoms will appear and how severe they will be will depend on many factors. There is no way to prevent it as genetic factor is involved.
- Lactose Intolerance or Lactase Deficiency- Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Home Remedies
- Acute Abdominal Pain Due to Lactose Intolerance
- Can Lactose Intolerance be Reversed?
- 10 Simple Home Remedies for Lactose Intolerance Attack
- Do Probiotics Help with Lactose Intolerance?
- How Long Does it Take for Lactose Intolerance Symptoms to Appear?
- Can you Develop Lactose Intolerance at Any Age?