It is estimated that over 70 percent of the world’s population suffer from lactose intolerance. People with lactose intolerance are unable to digest the sugar lactose into simple sugars. Lactose is most abundant in milk products, and those afflicted have to avoid such products to ensure that they do not suffer from discomfort and other symptoms of this lactose allergy. The major reason for developing this allergy is that people do not have the ability to produce the enzyme lactase that is key in the breakdown of lactose.
The symptoms of lactose intolerance are typically intestinally related. It includes bloating, cramps, gas, indigestion, and diarrhea. For most people, the symptoms can take affect after only a few minutes after ingesting lactose. There are many products on the market that help to counteract the symptoms of lactose intolerance; however, most people with the condition opt to go with milk substitutes and avoid milk products all together.
The most popular milk substitute is soy milk. In many cases, you can find the same nutrition from milk in soy milk. Soy does not naturally contain calcium and other vitamins, but it fortified with these nutrients in order to compensate from one’s lack of dairy milk. Soy itself is also a common allergen. In these cases, there are other substitutes such as coconut milk and rice milk. These products are also fortified with vitamins to mimic the nutritional values found in milk.
Many lactose intolerant people do not have to necessarily avoid all dairy products. Instead, many find it easy to limit the amount consumed or find milk products with reduced or zero lactose content. Everybody is different, and it will take some trial and error to determine the body’s exact tolerance for any lactose. Some other dairy milk such as goat milk or sheep milk have a smaller lactose content, and some people find these products easier to digest than cow’s milk.
Most people are not born lactose intolerant. Age is a common factor in becoming lactose intolerant. Ethnicity and heritage is also factors in determining the risks of becoming lactose intolerant. Illness, injury, or abdominal radiation have also been said to cause lactose intolerance later in life. In any case, it is easy to test for lactose intolerance. The symptoms are quite obvious and can be confirmed by a physician at a yearly physical. The doctor will usually advise an OTC medicine to take when consuming milk products, or he or she will suggest milk alternatives. The goal of the physician is always ensuring that the patient is still going to be getting the essential nutrients that the body needs to function properly.
Many people diagnosed with lactose intolerance find it hard to deal with living without ice cream, milk in one’s cereal, or having cheese. However, understanding the symptoms and the body’s toleration of foods will be the best defense against this condition. With medication and moderation, those afflicted can still occasionally have that bowl of ice cream!