From early childhood, we have been taught that milk is an extremely useful product. Of course, no one disputes the beneficial properties of this product. But there are people who face with milk intolerance, and its use brings them stomach problems rather than benefit.
Lactose intolerance in humans leads to various digestive disorders; it is even dangerous for the children with this problem to drink it.
What is lactose intolerance?
Our body produces certain enzymes that help to digest nutrients. To break down milk sugar (lactose), the lactase enzyme is produced. When this enzyme is low or none at all, lactose cannot be absorbed. This leads to discomfort. In science, milk intolerance is called lactase deficiency.
2 types of lactase deficiency
Lactose intolerance is of two kinds.
- This is primary lactase deficiency, which is caused by insufficient production of the enzyme or the lack of the necessary enzyme. This diagnosis is usually genetically programmed. It can manifest itself immediately after birth or develop with age.
- There is also secondary lactase deficiency which is caused by various diseases that adversely affect the intestinal cells. Less than normal amount of the enzyme is produced, and there develops milk intolerance.
Primary lactase deficiency cannot be treated, but the secondary one can be cured by removing its cause.
Lactose intolerance symptoms
It should be noted that the characteristic symptoms of this disorder are not observed at all. This may be due to the fact that enzyme deficiency is insignificant, or the body receives little milk sugar with products. By the way, people with lactase deficiency subconsciously try to avoid drinking milk and other lactose-containing products.
How does lactose intolerance manifest itself?
A few words should be said about the symptoms of the disorder. If you begin to feel discomfort, sharp cutting pain, or diarrhea half an hour after drinking milk, most likely this is lactose intolerance. Do not confuse lactase deficiency with allergies. The symptoms of allergies are absolutely different: rash, mucosal edema, or shortness of breath.
Myths about lactose intolerance
Myth 1. At older age, the human body cannot digest lactose at all
Not true. It is natural that most of the lactase enzyme should be produced during the first years of life. With age, the enzyme amount is reduced, but it does not lead to the fact that people turn lactose intolerant in adulthood.
Myth 2. Sheep or goat milk contains no lactose
Not true. Lactose is equally present in the milk of all mammals.
Myth 3. Intolerance to milk can be determined by making a blood test
Not true: Diagnosis is made on the basis of the breath testing results.
Myth 4. Cheese contains little milk sugar
True. Hard cheeses contain very little lactose (less than 0.5%).
Myth 5. The symptoms can be alleviated, if you follow the rules of nutrition
True. There are a few tricks to help deal with the discomfort of lactose intolerance. They are described below.
How to deal with lactose intolerance?
One should not completely abandon milk because it contains calcium and essential amino acids. If you are still intolerant, you should develop a “friendship” between your stomach and dairy products with caution. Here are a few “tricks”:
do not drink whole milk and milk products or cheese;
take lactase pills;
buy dairy products specifically designed for people with this problem (they have a designation that they do not contain lactose);
combine milk and sugar. Lactose can be digested with the help of other enzymes. The sweet taste may intensify their action. For example, people with lactose intolerance feel no discomfort after eating ice cream.