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Lactose Intolerance – Symptoms, Detection & Treatment

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What is Lactose Intolerance

Lactose is the sugar component that is found in milk. Our body produces an enzyme called Lactase that helps break down this sugar. Once broken down, the milk is easily digested by the body. However, it is quite common that some of us are not able to produce enough Lactase to break down the Lactose in Milk. This condition is called Lactose Intolerance. It is not harmful but it can be quite embarrassing. This primarily occurs due to the reduction in Lactase production of the body. It is estimated that over one-third of the people of the United States are Lactose Intolerant.

Effects of Lactose Intolerance

People with Lactose Intolerance cannot digest Milk or other Milk products. The enzyme Lactase that breaks down milk sugar is produced by our small intestine. But for the lactose Intolerants, the milk does not get broken down but proceeds directly to the colon where it mixes with normal bacteria and ferments. This causes acidity, bloating, and sometimes even diarrhea. The severity of symptoms can vary, depending upon how much lactose you can tolerate and how much of milk products you have consumed.

Detection of Lactose Intolerance :

Breath test: This examines the amount of hydrogen when you exhale. If the level of hydrogen is high, you may be lactose intolerant. That’s because hydrogen is given off when lactose is broken down in the colon. This hydrogen is then carried to the lungs after which you exhale it.

Blood Test : This tests how your body reacts after you eat a lot of lactose. However, this test is not usually done.

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Lactose Intolerant – Food substitutes

Those who are Lactose Intolerant should avoid high consumption of Milk or other Dairy products. Instead, they can eat the following healthy food substitutes to obtain their fair share of Calcium, Vitamin D, and other nutrients that are found in milk.

  • Almonds
  • Dried Beans
  • Tofu
  • Collards
  • Kale
  • Soy Milk
  • Calcium Rich Orange Juice

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