If you have a dairy intolerance –it can be easy to feel like you’re the only one.
But lactose intolerance isn’t as rare as you might think! In fact, it’s estimated that 75 percent of the world is intolerant to some degree. For many, this intolerance develops gradually over time and with age as the intestine stops producing enough lactase to digest the lactose.
However, lactose intolerance is not strictly limited to adults, as many children and younger people have also developed intolerances to dairy. In fact, an estimated 30 million American adults are intolerant to some degree –by the age of twenty.
What does it mean? What causes lactose intolerance –and what can you do if you receive a diagnosis? Let’s take a look at some of the facts about lactose intolerance –and see why a diagnosis doesn’t have to be devastating.
What Is Lactose Intolerance?
If you are lactose intolerant –you probably know it! But let’s take a scientific look at what causes it –and how it works.
Normally, the small intestine produces an enzyme known as lactase to digest the lactose –a sugar in milk. But when the body does not produce enough lactase to break down lactose, the lactose is instead moved to your colon instead of being processed and absorbed into the bloodstream. This causes discomfort, bloating, and other symptoms.
While there are three types of lactose intolerance, primary lactose intolerance is the most common. This occurs when the body stops producing lactase. Your body is then unable to digest dairy products properly.
What Can You Do About It?
Just because you’ve had a diagnosis for lactose intolerance, doesn’t mean that you’ll never be able to eat another bite of ice cream again! While certain cases of intolerance require complete abstinence from dairy, in other cases –some people who are lactose intolerant find that they are still able to enjoy dairy –in moderation, without experiencing any negative reactions.
If you suspect that you may be lactose intolerant, it’s a good idea to talk with your doctor, to obtain an official diagnosis. In some cases, other, serious intestinal issues can create similar symptoms to lactose intolerance.
While the most common way to treat lactose intolerance is to cut out, or cut back on dairy –make sure you aren’t depriving yourself of important nutrients in the process. The good news, though, is that calcium and Vitamin D can be obtained from other sources. Tuna, mackerel, salmon, and egg yolks –for example, all contain Vitamin D. And dark leafy greens, broccoli, and almonds all have calcium. Keep in mind too, that lactose-free versions of many dairy products are widely available –so unless you’re intolerant to dairy, you’ll still be able to enjoy your favorite treats.
What are your thoughts on lactose intolerance?