Lactose Intolerance | Types | Causes | Symptoms | Diagnosis | Treatment | Remedies | Diet | Prevention Tips
What is Lactose Intolerance?
Lactose intolerance is a kind of digestive disorder, occurs due to the inability to digest lactose, natural sugar produced by the body. When we consume the lactose in any form, an enzyme called lactase ( produced by the small intestine) breaks lactose further in our body through bloodstreams to get energy. But when our body is unable to produce enough amount of lactase enzyme, then the body becomes unable to tolerate excess lactose. Hence, develops lactose intolerance. The amount of lactose that can be tolerated by a person is depending on the individual. With an insufficient amount of lactase, lactose moves through your gut undigested and causes digestive disorders.
Lactose is mainly found in milk and milk products, hence it is believed that due to lactose intolerance one has to avoid milk and milk products, but the truth is going to reveal here, so read further to know more.
Fact: Currently, about 75 percent of the world population is lactose intolerant, knowing or unknowingly.
Types of Lactose Intolerance:
Prominently, there are three types of lactose intolerance –
- Primary lactose intolerance – This is the most common type of lactose intolerance, as it develops as a result of aging. Our body produces enough lactase since we are born. But, as time passes, the production of lactase enzyme starts decreasing. This decrease is because we eat more diverse food with age and rely less on milk. This process is gradual and mostly found in the people who live in Asia, Africa, and Hispanic ancestry.
- Secondary lactose intolerance: This type is found in those people who are suffering any kind of illness or injury. People with intestinal diseases like celiac disease, IBD, or having an injury or surgery are more likely to suffer this kind of lactose intolerance.
- Congenital or developmental lactose intolerance: People born with this type of lactose intolerance, due to hereditary. Although this type of people is found in rare cases.
In this case, your baby will be intolerant of breast milk even. They get diarrhea, whenever they consume human milk, dairy products, or any kind of food that contains lactose. If left untreated, the condition may get worse and even life-threatening.
- Developmental Lactose intolerance: The lactose production in the baby develops at least after 34 weeks of pregnancy. If the baby born prematurely, then the chances of growth of developmental lactose intolerance are very high.
- Familial lactose intolerance: In this, a person’s body produces enough amount of lactase enzyme but not able to break down the lactose for absorption into the bloodstream and get energy.
Causes of lactose intolerance:
The causes of primary and secondary lactose intolerance are different.
- Primary lactose intolerance –
- Secondary lactose intolerance –
Celiac disease, stomach bug, inflammation, infection, injury, or surgery are the main causes of this type of lactose intolerance. Intestinal surgery, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, chemotherapy, gastroenteritis, irritable bowel syndrome can also develop this kind of lactose intolerance.
Symptoms of Lactose intolerance:
- Abdominal cramps
- Lower belly pain
- Occasional constipation
A person suffers these symptoms after 30 minutes to 2 hours of consumption of milk or lactose-containing products. The severity of the symptoms depends on the capability of the person, that how much he/she can tolerate.
Diagnosis of lactose intolerance: Although one can predict lactose intolerance through symptoms, it is better to go for a diagnosis. Some tests to diagnose are –
- Hydrogen breath test
- Lactose tolerance test
- Stool acidity test
Treatment of lactose intolerance:
Since there is no way known to make your body produce lactase, so all you can do is avoid dairy and milk products. As every person’s tolerance level is different, that’s why some can consume about half a cup of milk without having any kind of symptoms or some can not consume milk and dairy products at all. But low fat or nonfat dairy products like yogurt, cheddar cheese, etc. Can be consumed by some people.
Over-the-counter lactase capsules, pills, tablets, drops, or in the chewable form are also available. One can consume it before eating any kind of product containing lactose.
But, people who are lactose intolerant, have higher chances to be deficient in some elements like calcium, vitamin D, riboflavin, proteins, etc. But here is the way to fulfill the need for calcium and vitamin D in your body.
Calcium – There are some food products that are a source of calcium, but lactose.
- Fish with soft bones like salmon etc.
- Green leafy veggies like broccoli
- Brazil nuts
- Fruit juices
- Soy milk
Vitamin D – Vitamin D helps one to absorb calcium fully. For this, one should consume –
- Orange juice
- Be under the sunlight
Supplements of vitamin D and calcium are also available.
Remedies for kids having lactose intolerance problem:
- In a small bowl take half tsp ginger juice, half tsp of lemon juice, and a pinch of black salt. Mix it well and give this to your child to eat, 1 hour before consuming milk.
- Mix a pinch of long pepper powder with a pinch of asafetida and dry ginger powder each. Mix it and consume it two times a day.
- If you can, consume half a cup of milk with your meal.
- Consume lactose-free products.
- Use lactase enzyme tablets and drops.
- If you want to consume milk, go for soy or rice milk instead of the usual one.
Foods to avoid:
- Packaged baked foods such as cookies, cakes, etc.
- Processed foods like potato chips, soups, salad dressing, etc.
- Processed meat like bacon, hot dog,s, etc.
- All kinds of milk-based products like powders proteins etc.
- No dairy heaped creams and coffee creamers.
- Whey, non – fat dairy milk powders, milk, sauces, lactose, curds, etc. Are needs to be avoided.
- Maintain good nutrition
- Avoid dairy products
- Keep a check on your intolerance level
- Take medical help if needed.
Although this can not be treated fully, one can make his/her life easier by opting the good lifestyle habits with all the above-mentioned tips and diet.