How To Improve Lactose Digestion and Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance



Lactose intolerance, a common disorder is the inability to digest lactose into its constituents, glucose and galactose, and also demystify it into secondary low levels of lactase enzyme in the brush border of the duodenum.People with lactose intolerance are usually unable to fully digest the sugar (lactose) in milk and this causes diarrhooea, gas and bloating after eating or drinking dairy products. Lactose malabsorption, is usually harmless but the symptoms can be uncomfortable.

What causes lactose intolerance? 
Lactose intolerance occurs when your small intestine doesn’t produce sufficient quantity of enzyme (lactase) to digest milk sugar (lactose). Interestingly, you can have low levels of lactase and still be able to digest milk products, however if your levels are too low you become lactose intolerant, leading to symptoms after you eat or drink dairy.Typically, signs and symptoms of lactose intolerance usually begin from 30 minutes to two hours after eating or drinking foods that contain lactose. Common signs and symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea, and sometimes, vomiting
  • Stomach cramps
  • Bloating
  • Gas

There are also risk factors that trigger the onset of lactose intolerance in a person:

  • Increasing age: Babies and young children are not usually vulnerable to it, but older people are. 
  • Race factors: Lactose intolerance is most common in people of African, Asian, Hispanic and American Indian descent in the world.
  • Premature birth: Babies born prematurely may have reduced levels of lactase because the small intestine doesn’t develop lactase-producing cells until late in the third trimester.
  • Diseases affecting the small intestine: Small intestine problems that can cause lactose intolerance include bacterial overgrowth, celiac disease and Crohn’s disease.
  • Certain cancer treatments: People who have undergone radiation therapy for cancer in the stomach or have experienced intestinal complications from chemotherapy, may be prone to developing lactose intolerance increases.

Learning how to manage your symptoms through diet is key. Here are some things you can do to manage it: 

  • Limit milk and other dairy products.
  • Eat and drink lactose free ice cream and milk, notably plant based milk.
  • Add a liquid or powder lactase enzyme to milk to break down the lactose.
  • You can also consider having a lactose-free diet for 2 weeks. After 2 weeks, add foods with lactose back into your meals in small quantities and monitor your results. 
  • Discuss with your doctor about taking a dietary supplement that contains lactase.
  • Always take time to read labels on consumables, especially food items. Many foods contain lactose, including snack foods, bakery products, candy, dry mixes, dried vegetables and infant formulas.
  • A lot of drugs also contain lactose, which is used as a filler, especially in white tablets. Many birth control pills and medications used to treat gas and stomach acid contain lactose.



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