Lactose intolerance is a normal human condition

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), 30-50 million people in the US alone are lactose intolerant (6 in XNUMX people). Is this condition really to be considered a deviation from the norm?

What is lactose intolerance?

Also known as “milk sugar”, lactose is the main carbohydrate in dairy products. During digestion, lactose is broken down into glucose and galactose for absorption by the body. This step occurs in the small intestine with the help of an enzyme called lactase. Many people have, or develop over time, a lactase deficiency that prevents the body from properly digesting all or part of the lactose they consume. Undigested lactose then enters the large intestine, where all the “cheese-boron” begins. Lactase deficiency and the resulting gastrointestinal symptoms are what is commonly referred to as lactose intolerance.

Who is prone to this condition?

Rates are higher among adults and differ significantly by nationality. According to the NIDDK study in 1994, the prevalence of the disease in the United States presents the following picture:

Globally, approximately 70% of the population is lactose intolerant in one way or another and is at risk of lactose intolerance. No dependence on the gender indicator was found. However, it is interesting that some women can regain the ability to digest lactose during pregnancy.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms vary from person to person: minor, moderate, severe. The most basic include: abdominal pain, abdominal cramps, bloating, flatulence, diarrhea, nausea. These conditions usually appear 30 minutes – 2 hours after eating dairy food.

How is it developing?

For most, lactose intolerance develops spontaneously in adulthood, while for some it is acquired as a result of an acute illness. Only a small number of people are lactase deficient from birth.

lactose is due to a natural gradual decrease in lactase activity after stopping breastfeeding. Often a person retains only 10-30% of the initial degree of enzyme activity. lactose can occur against the background of an acute illness. This is common at any age and may disappear after complete recovery. Several potential causes of secondary intolerance are irritable bowel syndrome, acute gastroenteritis, celiac disease, cancer, and chemotherapy.

Maybe just poor digestion?

Of course, the truth of lactose intolerance is questioned by none other than… the dairy industry. In fact, the National Dairy Board suggests that people are not lactose intolerant at all, but the symptoms of poor digestion caused by lactose consumption. After all, what is indigestion? Digestive disorders resulting in gastrointestinal symptoms and general poor health. As stated above, some retain some of the lactose enzymes and are therefore able to digest dairy products without visible symptoms.

What to do?

Science has not yet figured out how to increase the body’s ability to produce lactase. The “treatment” of the condition under discussion is quite simple and, at the same time, difficult for many: a gradual complete rejection of dairy products. There are many tactics and even programs that help you switch to a dairy-free diet. The main thing to understand is that the symptoms of so-called “lactose intolerance” are a non-painful condition that is only caused by eating non-species food.

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