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Lactose Intolerance

Milk has always been a good source of nutrients. It is both healthy and natural. Milk is important in the normal development of the human body. Milk is a great source of calcium which is essential for optimum bone development. Calcium deficiencies may also give rise to other serious diseases such as osteoporosis a debilitating bone disease. Milk also provides an excellent of energy for growing kids. Milk is also an excellent source of protein needed for muscle and body development.

What is Lactose Intolerance ?

Lactase is an enzyme needed by the body to breakdown milk into its basic components. As people grow older they lose their ability to digest milk. This is mainly due to lower levels of lactase in our bodies. When people lose their ability to breakdown milk they begin to suffer a medical condition known as Lactose intolerance. With age people lose their ability to effectively breakdown milk but with others it is more sudden.

Some people suffer from a condition wherein they are not able to produce adequate amounts of lactase or it is totally absent in their system. Lactose intolerance maybe confused with another medical condition which is milk allergy. People suffering from milk allergy show symptoms similar to common allergies. Symptoms of milk allergy include hives, itchy skin and wheezing.

Causes of Lactose Intolerance

The cause of this disease is not clearly known. It is believed to be genetic and certain sectors of the population are more prone than others. Lactose intolerance is mainly due to a deficiency in lactase or inability to produce adequate amounts of it.

Medications can also cause production of lactase which causes temporary lactose intolerance. People suffering from long-term diseases that affect the intestines (Crohn’s or celiac disease) sometimes suffer from lactose intolerance as well.

Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance

Symptoms for people suffering from lactose intolerance may take 30 to 2 hours before appearing. The severities of the symptoms depend on the amount of milk taken or general tolerance of the person.

Managing and Treating Lactose Intolerance

lactose and cocoa

Adding cocoa to milk helps ease the symptoms of lactose intolerance

Between 30 and 50 million Americans suffer from Lactose intolerance. Genetics play a major role, Asian, African, Hispanic and Native Americans are more likely to suffer from this condition than Americans of Northern European descent.

Lactose intolerance is quite common and can easily be managed. Below are simple steps on how to cope with Lactose Intolerance.

  • Avoid milk and milk products, carefully look for milk substitutes. There are a number of substitutes available today, consume only foods labeled “lactose free" on “non-dairy"
  • Doctors may prescribe after-market enzymes such as Lactaid which acts to breakdown lactose in milk
  • Another way of minimizing the side effect of lactose intolerance is by taking in food when consuming dairy products
  • Adding cocoa to milk also eases the symptoms of lactose intolerance. Cocoa slows down digestive movements and reduces instances of diarrhea
  • Lactose intolerance can also be managed by taking in food supplements which stimulate the production of lactase

Lactose Intolerance can be treated by a simple diet. Lactase an enzyme needed for breaking down milk into its basic components is produced in lesser amounts as people grow old. Managing and understanding lactose intolerance is important in preventing complications. Maintaining a proper diet and nutrition is essential to living a full life. Health is defined by the World Health Organization as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

written by Ronald Uy, RN

© 2009 Hemorhoid Information Center

Sources:

Lactose Intolerance. Retrieved Aug 26, 2009 from National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse NDDIC: http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov

Lactose Intolerance. Retrieved Aug 26, 2009 from Medline Plus: http://www.nlm.nih.gov

Lactose intolerance. Retrieved Aug 27, 2009 from babycenter: http://www.babycenter.com/0_lactose-intolerance_1201464.bc

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