ABSTRACT – Lactose Intolerance is also known as Lactose Malabsorption, in which the body is unable to digest lactose...
Lactose intolerance is a digestive disorder caused by the inability to digest lactose, the main carbohydrate in dairy products.
It can cause various symptoms, including bloating, diarrhea and abdominal cramps.
People with lactose intolerance don’t make enough of the enzyme lactase, which is needed to digest lactose.
Lactose is a disaccharide, meaning that it consists of two sugars. It is made up of one molecule each of the simple sugars glucose and galactose.
The lactase enzyme is needed to break lactose down into glucose and galactose, which can then be absorbed into the bloodstream and used for energy.
Without sufficient lactase, lactose moves through your gut undigested and causes digestive symptoms.
Lactose is also found in breast milk, and almost everyone is born with the ability to digest it. It is very rare to see lactose intolerance in children under the age of five.
There are two main types of lactose intolerance, which have different causes.
Primary Lactose Intolerance-
Primary lactose intolerance is the most common. It is caused by a decrease in lactase production with age, so that lactose becomes poorly absorbed.
This form of lactose intolerance may be partially caused by genes, because it’s more common in some populations than others.
Population studies have estimated that lactose intolerance affects 5–17% of Europeans, around 44% of Americans and 60–80% of Africans and Asians
Secondary Lactose Intolerance-
Secondary lactose intolerance is rare. It is caused by illness, such as a stomach bug or a more serious issue like celiac disease. This is because inflammation in the gut wall can lead to a temporary decline in lactase production
The most common symptoms are:
Some people also experience urgency to go to the toilet, nausea, vomiting, pain in the lower belly and occasionally constipation.
Diarrhea occurs due to undigested lactose in your small intestine, which causes water to move into your digestive tract.
Once it reaches your colon, the lactose is fermented by the bacteria in your gut, forming short-chain fatty acids and gas. This causes the bloating, flatulence and pain.
The severity of symptoms can vary, depending on how much lactose you can tolerate and how much you have eaten
there are a few natural treatments that can help.
It’s possible to buy enzymes to help digest lactose. These are tablets you swallow or drops you add to foods and drinks.
However, the effectiveness of these products seems to vary from person to person
Nevertheless, lactase enzyme supplements may be very effective for some people.
One study examined the effects of three different types of lactase supplements in lactose-intolerant people who took 20 or 50 grams of lactose
Compared to placebo, all three lactase supplements improved overall symptoms when taken with 20 grams of lactose.
However, they weren’t effective at the higher dose of 50 grams of lactose.
If you are lactose intolerant, regularly including lactose in your diet could help your body adapt to it
So far, studies on this are few and far between, but initial studies have shown some positive results
In one small study, nine lactose-intolerant people experienced a threefold increase in their lactase production after 16 days of eating lactose
More rigorous trials are needed before definite recommendations can be made, but it may be possible to train your gut to tolerate lactose.
Probiotics and Prebiotics
Probiotics are microorganisms that provide health benefits when consumed (48Trusted Source).
Prebiotics are types of fiber that function as food for these bacteria. They feed the beneficial bacteria you already have in your gut, so that they thrive.
Both probiotics and prebiotics have been shown to reduce symptoms of lactose intolerance, although most studies so far have been small
Some types of probiotics and prebiotics may be more effective than others for people with lactose intolerance
One of the most beneficial probiotics is thought to be Bifidobacteria, often found in probiotic yogurts and supplements