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Lactose Intolerance – a detailed guide

75% of world’s population suffer from it. In this article, you will be able to fully understand everything about this problem.
Lactose Intolerance
Image: Freepik

Has it ever happened that you consumed your favorite shake and felt terrible stomach cramps right after sipping the last drop of the shake? If yes, then you may be suffering from lactose intolerance.

Have no idea what we are talking about?

Well, don’t get hassled. In this guide, we will explain lactose tolerance in detail. From lactose intolerance symptoms to lactose intolerance causes and treatment, we will cover all the topics that you need to know.

Lactose intolerance – an overview

Lactose is a sort of sugar found in milk. Lactase, an enzyme, is responsible for breaking down lactose in our intestine.

However, in case your body does not have sufficient amount of lactase enzyme, the untouched lactose may create havoc in your gut as it passed through it. The result – fermented products and gas which can cause severe bloating, cramps and diarrhea. This is known as lactose intolerance.

Lactose intolerance symptoms – can you relate?

Lactose intolerance symptoms
Image: Freepik

To be sure that you are lactose intolerant, you need to know the complete list of signs and symptoms that come with the condition. These include:

  • Excessive bloating
  • Severe cramps
  • Flatulence and gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty breathing

The onset of the symptoms will take place approximately 2-3 hours after lactose consumption and can depend on the quantity of lactose consumed.

Diagnosis of lactose intolerance

A popular test to determine if you are lactose intolerant is the hydrogen breath test. It is non-invasive and does not involve any painful testing. Your healthcare provider may ask you to stay empty stomach 2-3 hours before the test.

During the test, you will be asked to consume a drink containing lactose after which your breath will be observed for the presence of hydrogen. If you are lactose intolerant, the lactose will get fermented as it passes through your colon and the level of hydrogen in your breath will increase.

Another easy method is a trial period of lactose-free diet to see if your symptoms improve once you completely cut down your lactose consumption.

Know how to choose the right foods

Butter
Image: Pixabay

Here’s a list of some of the food culprits that are high in lactose and must be avoided if you are lactose intolerant:

  • Cottage cheese
  • Ice-cream
  • Milk
  • Cream cheese
  • Dry milk powder
  • Butter

However, the great news is that if you are a fan of dairy products, you don’t need to end your love. If you choose the right dairy products, you can continue your relationship with them and enjoy.

Here are some food substitutes for lactose intolerance:

  • Soy “milk”
  • Lactose hydrolyzed milk
  • Lactose-reduced yogurts
  • Rice beverages
  • Mature cheeses
  • Oat milk or flaxseed milk

Lactose intolerance treatment and prevention

Soy milk
Image: Freepik

Even though there’s no preventive measure for lactose intolerance, there are two types of treatments that can give you relief. These include:

Consuming lactase substitute enzymes

These are numerous commercially available lactose enzyme substitutes (liquids and tablets) that can control lactose intolerance symptoms. These enzymes can be directly consumed or added to your food. It is best to consult a doctor for the correct usage.

Limiting intake of lactose-containing food and beverages

Ensure that you carefully read the labels of food items to see if they contain lactose and avoid wherever possible.

The bottom-line

By now, if you are sure that you are lactose intolerant there are two most important things that you must remember.

1. Pick the right food items

Keep your taste buds happy with lactose-free milk products, yogurts, soy milk, mature cheeses, etc.

2. Keep your spirits high

Though lactose tolerance is a not easy to deal with, don’t lose hope. There are millions of people all over the world who live with this condition. The key to controlling your symptoms is to learn how to manage the condition. Look for lactose substitute foods and recipes to help you plan your meals efficiently.

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