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What is lactose intolerance and how to live with it
What is lactose intolerance and how to live with it

A stomach revolution after a glass of milk is a good reason to visit your doctor and review your diet. You may be lactose intolerant.

What is lactose intolerance and how to live with it
What is lactose intolerance and how to live with it

What is lactose

Lactose (aka milk sugar) is a disaccharide carbohydrate found in milk and dairy products. In order for the body to assimilate lactose, it must be broken down into glucose and galactose. This is done by lactase, an enzyme produced in the small intestine.

It happens that there is too little lactase to completely break down lactose. The milk sugar is not completely processed and is sent to the large intestine. There he begins to ferment under the influence of bacteria, and a person develops characteristic symptoms. This is called lactose intolerance, and 65% of the world's population can face it. At least 16-18% of the inhabitants of Russia suffer from the same, and for certain ethnic groups on the territory of the country this figure may exceed 80%.

The most common type is primary intolerance. In infancy, lactase is produced in the required amount, so there are no problems with drinking milk. The child grows, other foods appear in his diet, and the level of lactase gradually decreases. Usually adults have enough enzyme to digest milk normally, but in some cases lactase production drops dramatically, hence the problem.

With secondary intolerance, lactase levels may decrease due to surgery on the small intestine or certain diseases, such as celiac disease or Crohn's disease. With timely and competent treatment, the lactase level can be restored.

Rarely, but still there is congenital lactose intolerance - this condition can be passed from generation to generation. In infants with congenital intolerance, diarrhea begins even from breast milk. If the problem is not noticed in time, there may be a risk to the life of the child.

How does lactose intolerance manifest?

It is quite easy to suspect this condition in yourself. Typical symptoms are:

  • Bloating.
  • Pain or cramps in the stomach.
  • Increased gas formation.
  • Nausea and sometimes vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.

Such manifestations can be characteristic of other diseases, so it is important to understand whether the discomfort is associated with the use of dairy products. Typically, with lactase deficiency, symptoms will show up within 30 minutes to 2 hours after drinking a glass of milk.

To know for sure that lactose intolerance is to blame for feeling unwell, and not stale curd cheese, it is better to consult a doctor. Testing methods include stool acidity and carbohydrate analysis, as well as breath hydrogen tests and a glycemic load test with lactose.

If you have a difficult relationship with lactose, this does not mean that you need to give up dairy products and fresh cheeses once and for all. Lactose-free mozzarella has recently appeared in the line of Italian cheeses.

Lactose-free mozzarella
Lactose-free mozzarella

At the stage of cooking, the enzyme lactase is added to the milk, which breaks down the milk sugar. The taste is no different from the usual, but you can forget about problems with digestion.

What to do if milk makes you feel sick

The solution seems to be obvious: since after consuming dairy products, you feel sick and twist in your stomach, you just need to exclude them from the diet. But you don't need to do this. First, milk is a source of protein that you need to build muscle. Milk also contains calcium, which is necessary for bones, and potassium - it helps to maintain good condition of the cardiovascular system.

Secondly, lactose intolerance in humans manifests itself in different ways: some people feel sick even from a small amount of milk, while others can drink a whole glass without any special consequences. It happens that fermented milk products like yogurt or cheese do not cause such a violent reaction as milk.

It is simply not worth giving up milk just in case. Try keeping a food diary: write down what, when and how much you ate or drank, and then note how your body reacted to it. It is important to find your norm: it is quite possible that drinking milk in small doses does not cause you any problems, but after a couple of glasses in one gulp it is better not to plan anything serious for the next 2 hours.

If your body is determined and even a cup of coffee with milk is unsettling, try adding lactose-free dairy products to your diet. The milk sugar in them has already been broken down by lactase. The taste of such products does not differ from ordinary milk, fresh cheeses or yogurt, and also contain the same vitamins and minerals.

Instead of regular cheese, try adding Unagrande to salad, pizza, or canapes. It is prepared on modern European equipment, and it contains only premium milk, Italian sourdough and salt. The production process takes 9 hours, resulting in a familiar natural taste.

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