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Are You Lactose Intolerant?

Before you can treat lactose intolerance, you must first of all find out if you're a sufferer.

What Is Lactose Intolerance?

Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest significant amounts of lactose, the predominant sugar in milk. This results from a shortage of the enzyme lactase, which is normally produced by cells that line the small intestine. Lactase breaks down milk sugar into simpler forms that can be absorbed into the bloodstream. When there is not enough lactase to digest the lactose consumed, you will experience symptoms, like nausea, stomach cramps, bloating, gas and diarrhea about 30 minutes to two hours after consuming foods with lactose.    

How Is A Milk Allergy; Different From Lactose Intolerance?

A milk allergy occurs when milk protein (not lactose) hasn't been broken down by digestive enzymes and may trigger allergic reactions, like redness of lips, abdominal cramps (colic), vomiting and/or diarrhea. Cows' milk allergy is mainly a condition of infancy, and about 90 per cent of those affected grow out of it by the age of three. Consult your regular physician if you have any doubts.

Is Lactose Only Found In Milk?

Lactose is found in almost all foods, such as milk, dairy products, eggs, cereals, potatoes, salad dressings, biscuits, soft drinks, beer and more. It is also found in 20 per cent of prescription drugs (antibiotics and oral contraceptives) and 6 per cent of over-the-counter medicines.

Is Lactose Intolerance A Common Problem?

It is estimated that up to 70 per cent of the world's population suffers from lactose intolerance. It's particularly common among Asians and other ethnic groups due to their traditionally low dairy diets.


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