Ten Facts on Lactose Intolerance

Lactose Intolerance is among the most common form of food intolerance, affecting much of the world’s population. Lactose intolerance refers to the body’s inability to breakdown lactose, the sugar found in milk and dairy. The result can be uncomfortable (symptoms), although the condition is not harmful. Lactose intolerance is sometimes mistaken for other sugar intolerances, such as sucrose and fructose, and gastrointestinal disorders, including Irritable Bowel Syndrome, but it is usually easy to diagnose. If you suspect that you have lactose intolerance, don’t be alarmed. Although there is no cure for lactose intolerance, it is easily treatable. Here are ten facts that you should know about lactose intolerance.

  1. Lactose intolerance has a sliding scale, so you may be able to consume some dairy products but not others. For instance, due to the digestive enzymes found in yogurt, especially Greek yogurt, most lactose intolerant individuals can handle yogurt. Various production methods mean that other dairy products are also often digestible because they contain low levels of lactose, such as hard cheese, including cheddar.
  2. Very few people are lactose intolerant from birth and need to avoid all lactose, including “hidden lactose,” which is found in processed foods such as breads and other baked goods.
  3. Certain populations are more prone to lactose intolerance than others, including people with backgrounds from parts of Europe, Asia, Africa and the Caribbean.
  4. Primary lactose intolerance occurs when the body doesn’t produce enough of the lactase enzyme needed to breakdown and absorb lactose.
  5. Secondary lactose has another cause, such as an infection or inflammation, and will resolve when the cause has been solved.
  6. Testing and family history can provide a definitive conclusion as to whether or not it is lactose intolerance or another food intolerance causing symptoms.
  7. Symptoms can vary from mild gas and discomfort to severe nausea and even vomiting in very severe cases.
  8. Digestive enzymes in liquid or tablet form, as well as reduced lactose dairy products, allow for lactose intolerant individuals to safely and comfortably consume dairy.
  9. Lactose intolerance is not a dairy allergy. Dairy allergies invoke a response from the immune system. Lactose intolerance can be present with other food allergies.
  10. Symptoms of lactose intolerance occur shortly after eating dairy products, within half an hour to two hours.

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