Milk and other dairy foods are one of the most highly consumed products in the world. With this statistic, lactose intolerance seems to be a common condition affecting. You probably know at least one person who doesn’t consume milk because of this condition. Is lactose intolerance a problem that few people deal with? Are you lactose tolerant? Does being lactose intolerant prevent you from consuming dairy products?
What is lactose intolerance?
A condition where the body can’t digest lactose is called lactose intolerance. Digestion of milk becomes difficult as lactose is the primary sugar found in milk. This condition could be as a result of the deficiency of the enzyme lactase in the intestine. Two things could cause it. One is genetics and the other, gastrointestinal diseases.
• Lactose intolerance that manifests from 21 years and up is usually because of gastrointestinal diseases. These diseases could affect the intestinal walls and destroy the lactase found in the lining of the intestine.
• Genetic lactose intolerance manifests early between the ages of 5 to 21. This happens when there is a mutation in the gene that is responsible for producing lactase. People who are lactose intolerant from birth are said to have congenital lactase deficiency.
Symptoms of lactose intolerance
A lactose intolerant individual would experience the following symptoms after consuming milk.
• Abdominal pain
• Distended abdomen
• Abdominal bloating
The severity of the symptoms relies on how acute your intolerance for lactose is. Some people only experience flatulence and occasional diarrhea, while others experience more serious symptoms.
How common is lactose intolerance?
Lactose intolerance is more common than you think it is. Statistics show that it affects more than half of the adult population in the world. In the United States alone, 75% of adults have a problem digesting the lactose in milk and dairy products. This is because, as we grow older, the rate at which our bodies produces lactase reduces and over time comes to an end. Based on this, at some point in our adult lives, we all would become lactose intolerant.
As common as lactose intolerance is, congenital lactase deficiency isn’t. Most people with this condition can consume dairy products that contain lactose in small quantities. It is not the same for people born with a congenital lactase deficiency. They are unable to digest lactose in any form at all and usually have to avoid milk and dairy products. Just because you can consume milk does not mean you aren’t lactose intolerant. Take steps today to find out if you are lactose intolerant.