- July 18, 2015
- Posted by: Melissa Albers
- Category: Articles, Nutricion and Diseases
Lactose intolerance. What is lactose intolerance? What causes lactose intolerance and are the complaints? What forms of lactose intolerance do exist? What foods contain lactose and what to do and do not if you know you are lactose intolerant?
What causes lactose intolerance?
Lactose is a sugar. To be more precisely, it is the sugar found in milk (products). Therefore sometimes lactose is also called milk sugar. In order to be able to digest lactose, you need lactase. Lactase is a digestive enzyme, which is synthesized in the small intestine. Lactose intolerance appears if the small intestine produces insufficient or no lactase. In that case, the lactose from food cannot be well digested. The undigested lactose gets into the large intestine in an undigested form. Here lactose ferments and this can cause several health problems.
Signs of lactose intolerance
A deficiency of lactase (also known as lactase deficiency or lactase deficiency) thus causes complaints. These symptoms arise in the gut flora of the large intestine. Here, the intestinal bacteria synthesize lactose into gases. The most common health complaints are therefore bloating, flatulence, abdominal pain and cramps and diarrhea. Also, the stool is sometimes foamy and often has an acidic smell. Sometimes people also suffer of nausea and vomiting. There are more symptoms, but the mentioned complaints are the most common lactose intolerance symptoms.
What is lactose intolerance?
Lactose intolerance can have various causes. Sometimes it can be already present at birth, but lactose intolerance can also occur in childhood or in adults. On average, two thirds of the world’s population is lactose intolerant. These are mainly Africans, Asians and people from the Middle East. But also a large part of the North Americans and Europeans have, without knowing, lactose intolerance. There are various types of lactose intolerance. Primary lactase deficiency occurs at birth. Secondary lactase deficiency is caused by a damage of the intestine. This can occur at any age and is often caused by intestinal bacteria. Also viruses, hormone imbalances or age can be potential causes. This form of lactase deficiency is often reversible, except in cases of aging. There is also a third form; congenital lactase deficiency. However, this form is very rare.
Lactose intolerance foods
Not only milk and milk products contain lactose. Many foods are sources of hidden lactose. Especially processed foods and ready-made meals can contain much lactose. Sometimes these foods contain more lactose than a glass of milk! In products such as bread, sauces, cookies and desserts you will often find lactose. Therefore, in case of lactose intolerance, use as many whole foods as you can. Also always carefully read all labels of processed foods. Check on the following ingredients: milk powder, lactose, milk, curd, whey, milk sugar, etc. In addition, use no milk (products) and no (soft) cheeses. Sometimes people can tolerate small amounts of lactose. Then you could use small amounts of cottage cheese and yogurt (instead of milk). Fermented milk products contain less lactose than “sweet” milk products. Think not just milk itself, also in cream, porridge, custard, etc.