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Overcoming lactose Intolerance

Submitted by Stella Morgan on July 14, 2010

Lactose can colloquially be referred to as sugar of milk. It is composed of glucose and galactose and the digestion and absorption of lactose involves the breaking down of this complex sugar into its simpler constituents.

Lactose intolerance can be defined as the inability of the body to breakdown and absorb lactose. This can be attributed to a lack of the enzyme that is responsible for the digestion of lactose, called “lactase”. This enzyme is secreted by the cellular lining in the small intestine.

There are various causes of lactose intolerance which can be categorized and elaborated as follows:

  • Congenital Causes: Sometimes, lactose intolerance is caused due to mutation in the genetic code of our ancestors and is passed on along with other hereditary traits. This is, however, a rare cause of lactose intolerance.
  • Secondary Causes: The secondary causes of lactose intolerance include certain infections and diseases.
  • Developmental Causes: Developmental causes include mutations in the genetic code of a person while still in the zygotic or embryonic phase.

    Such causes of the affliction involve the evidence of the symptoms of lactose intolerance in later childhood and persist in adulthood.

When the lactose is not being broken down into simpler sugars, it is not being absorbed in the small intestine. It then passes to the colon sub-division of the large intestine where it is broken down by bacteria to releases gases like hydrogen and methane, which lead to flatus. Other symptoms of lactose intolerance are abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal bloating and distension.

Here are a few tips to relieve the symptoms of lactose intolerance:

  • First and foremost, you must avoid and reduce the intake of lactose in your diet. As such, you are advised not to consume milk,  cheese, and ice-cream. However, the intake of yogurt in small amounts is not restricted as the bacteria in it can help in the breakdown of lactose.
  • You can also consume milk substitutes like soy and rice milk.
  • You must avoid other foods that may contain lactose like salad dressings, mixes for biscuits and cakes, margarine, baked products like bread, processed breakfast cereals, soups, and even potatoes.
As such, reducing your intake of lactose is the best way to avert the symptoms of lactose intolerance.

It is also a good idea to consult a dietician to learn more about the foods that must be consumed and the ones that should be avoided if you are lactose intolerant.

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