What is Lactose Intolerance?
In lactose intolerance or Lactose maldigestion, our intestine cannot digest lactose present in the milk and milk products. This occurs due to lactase deficiency. If you have lactose intolerance and you eat dairy products, you can get diarrhea, belly pain, bloating and gas. Lactose intolerance can affect anyone. But it is most common among Native American, Asian, Asian Indians, and black people.
How common is Lactose Intolerance?
Approximately 60 to 70 per cent of people in India are lactose intolerant. The frequency is higher among healthy populations from southern India than from northern India. The lower frequency in the north Indians is apparently due to the fact that they are descendants of the Aryans who have been dairying for long and are known to be lactose tolerant. So, the genetic mixing is responsible for greater lactose tolerance amongst them.
Europeans have higher percentage of lactose absorption in the whole world. People of African, Asian, African-American have lower frequency of lactose absorption and are most likely to be affected at an earlier age. The absorption capacity goes on decreasing as we grow up. It is least in old age.
What causes Lactose Intolerance?
Lactose intolerance occurs when the small intestine does not produce enough lactase. Lactase is required to digest lactose in the diet. Lactose intolerance generally develops in individuals as they age. People tend to become lactose intolerant around their teenage years, or during adulthood.
If your parents have lactose intolerance, it is very likely that you may too suffer from same. Lactose Intolerance runs in our genetics. Lactose intolerance can also be brought on by infection of intestine (gastroenteritis, rota virus infection), chemotherapy, surgery, or from the avoidance of dairy products for a prolonged period of time.
What are the symptoms of Lactose Intolerance?
The symptoms can happen after you drink milk or eat dairy foods. They can include:
- Abdominal Pain
- Gurgling Sound of Intestine
Is there a test for Lactose Deficiency/Lactose Intolerance?
Diagnosis of Lactase Deficiency/Lactose Maldigestion
You can identify, whether you are suffering from lactose maldigestion by signs and symptom post drinking milk or consuming dairy food items . Generally there are many tests. They are given below:
- H2 Breath Test: Detection of H2 in the exhaled air as bacteria in the bowel use lactose generating hydrogen (H2). Confirmed by an increase in breath hydrogen of > 20 ppm(parts per million) after ingestion of 50 g lactose is diagnostic
- Lactose Tolerance Test (LTT): Detection of reduced or missing rise in blood glucose. An abnormal LTT denotes failure of the blood glucose to rise thirty minutes after ingestion of a 50 g lactose load
- Stool acidity test: Detection of stool pH as the fermenting of undigested lactose creates lactic acid and other acids that can be detected in a stool sample
- New Tests: Genetic testing of blood or saliva.
Diagnosis of Lactose Intolerance
- Lactose Challenge Test : Take 500 ml of Milk (25 grams of Lactose), ideally at home, followed by fasting till 1-3 hours. If you have symptoms such as abdominal pain, gas, cramps, bloating or diarrhea; you are likely to be lactose intolerant
What are the complications of Lactose Intolerance?
Dairy products such as milk are an important part of a healthy diet. They contain calcium, protein and vitamins such as vitamins A, B12 and D. For adults, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for calcium is approximately 1000mg.
Lactose is also important because it helps your body to absorb a number of other minerals, including magnesium and zinc. These vitamins and minerals are important for the development of bones.
If you are lactose intolerant, getting the RDA of important vitamins and minerals can be difficult. Person suffering from Lactose Intolerance have increased risk of developing following conditions.
- Osteopenia, a condition where you have a very low bone mineral density. When osteopenia is not treated adequately, it may result in development of osteoporosis.
- Osteoporosis, a condition that causes your bones to become thin and weak. If you have osteoporosis, your risk of getting fractures and broken bones is increased.
- Malnutrition occurs when the food that you eat does not give you the nutrients that are essential for a healthy functioning body. If you are malnourished, wounds can take longer to heal and you may start to feel tired or depressed.
- Weight loss, Excessive weight loss can damage your health, and it can also lead to conditions such as osteoporosis.
Is Lactose Intolerance basically a food allergy?
No. There are people who are allergic to milk and dairy foods. But the symptoms of a dairy allergy are often different from those of lactose intolerance. In the case of an allergy, the body reacts to the protein in milk, rather than to the sugar. Plus, allergies involve the body's infection-fighting system, called the immune system whereas Lactose intolerance does not.
Should I see a doctor ?
Yes. If you think you might have lactose intolerance or Lactose maldigestion, tell your doctor. He or she can ask you questions to make sure that there are no other problems
How is Lactose Intolerance treated?
In most cases, people cut down on or avoid sources of lactose and start replacing them with lactose-free alternatives but one of the biggest concerns for these people is to make sure they get enough of the nutrients found in milk products, especially Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Protein, and Riboflavin .Calcium is especially important for women, because it keeps bones strong and reduces the risk of osteoporosis. Thus avoidance of milk and milk products is strictly not recommended.
Eating fewer products containing lactose, or avoiding them completely, can mean you miss out on certain vitamins and minerals in your diet and increase your risk of complications.
Lactase substitutes such as Lactase enzyme tablets or drops replace the lactase your small intestine isn't producing, and can reduce your symptoms by helping your body break down any lactose in your diet more easily. These can either be added to milk or taken just before eating a meal containing lactose. The important thing to know is that each product works a bit differently for each person. Plus, none of them can break down every last bit of lactose, so some people still have some symptoms even with an enzyme supplement.
For the Natural & Safe management of Lactose Intolerance, Yamoo tablets (Lactase enzyme chewable tablets) have been introduced for the first time in India that helps break down lactose, and thus help relieve the symptoms of Lactose Intolerance and Lactose Maldigestion.