Lactose intolerance, which is otherwise known as dairy product intolerance, is a simple health problem that can cause a lot of painful symptoms. It involves the way a person’s digestive functions. Lactose is a sugar that is found in milk, ice cream, cottage cheese, and other dairy products.
Normally, a person has a sufficient amount of lactase enzymes in their small intestine. Every time they eat a dairy product, these enzymes are designed to break down the lactose into simpler sugars. Then, the simpler sugars, which are known as glucose and galactose, can be taken into their bloodstream.
A person who suffers from lactose intolerance lacks having these lactase enzymes in their intestine. Therefore, when they eat any dairy product, their digestive system can’t break down the lactose into simpler sugars. This results in the body not being able to process the lactose correctly.
Instead of being broken down and moved into the blood stream, the lactose sugar simply stays inside the intestine. The lactose then ferments, and that is the leading cause of the symptoms.
Some people actually have lactase enzymes, but apparently not enough for their body to process a large amount of dairy products. Because, they tend to suffer the same painful symptoms as someone who lacks it altogether. These people are fortunate enough to be able to eat a small amount of ice cream or cottage cheese, or drink a small glass of milk without feeling any adverse effects.
While it’s a fact that our bodies need sugar because it provides a valuable source of energy, the only sugar that our bodies can use is glucose. All of the other sugars, including common fruit sugar, (fructose), and white sugar, (sucrose), need to be changed into glucose. Otherwise, our bodies can’t process them properly.
The symptoms of lactose intolerance can sometimes be confused with having a bout with the flu.
They include stomach upset, bloating, painful abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and intestinal gas. The symptoms can start within a half-hour or so after you have ingested a dairy product. They can last for two to three hours, depending on your digestive system, how many lactase enzymes you have, if any, and how much dairy product you ate.
If you think you may have a problem with lactose intolerance, you can talk to your health professional. However, there is no test he or she can perform on you. So, if you want to continue to eat dairy products, your best bet is to purchase an over the counter preventative.
These products contain the lactase enzymes that your body is missing. Be sure that you read and follow the manufacturer’s directions before you take it. Usually, though, you take the preventative thirty minutes or so before you either eat or drink a dairy product.
Presently, you can purchase milk, butter, and yogurt that is manufactured to be free from lactose. But, other dairy products still contain it.
Or, in order to avoid the uncomfortable symptoms, you may choose to eliminate dairy products from your daily diet altogether.