Lactose Intolerance is the Inability to Digest Lactose
If you feel bloated, gassy, nauseous or have cramps a few hours after consuming milk or anything with milk as an ingredient, you could likely be lactose intolerant. Lactose is probably the most common intolerance as recognized at the Digestive Disease Center in California.
When you are suffering from lactose intolerance, your digestive system is struggling to break down the complex sugar called “lactose.” This sugar is very similar to glucose and sucrose, but it requires a specific enzyme produced by your body to break it down.
Typically, newborns will not be intolerant to lactose because babies rely on breastmilk for nourishment during the first few years of life. Breast milk contains lactose, among other types of calories and nutrients that can assist a young body with development with as little energy needed to digest the food as possible. Basically, lactose exists as an easily-digestible form of calories that newborn animals can take advantage of because their digestive systems are fully developed for regular foods yet.
Humans are unique as animals because we consume dairy and lactose throughout our adult life. That’s because our society has found it easy to obtain a source of nutrition by harvesting cow’s milk in massive amounts.
As a person starts to age, they become more and more likely to develop lactose intolerance. Before the point in human history when we decided to start harvesting cow’s milk on farms, our evolutionary line had found it beneficial for survival to decrease lactase enzyme production by the pancreas. Others, like those with type B blood types or who are ancestrally related to Genghis Khan and his tribe, might find that their genes allow them to eat lactose-containing dairy throughout their entire lives.
What Causes the Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance?
As some people get older, their natural lactase production declines and their bodies begin to struggle to break down and pass dairy. Lactase is a natural compound produced by the pancreas and intestines to digest and assimilate lactose in particular. You’ll notice that enzymes will have the suffix “-ase” after the food molecule it is designed to break down.
When lactase levels start to decline with age, your body will simply stop being able to digest dairy when you eat it. The means exactly what it sounds like. Lactose will enter through your mouth and find its way undigested until it finds a way out.
However, your body feels very strange and experiences symptoms related to lactose intolerance that we all know, like flatulence, gas, nausea and headaches. This happens as undigested lactose reaches your colon undigested. There, bacteria and yeasts that provide for a necessary function for digestion are able to directly act on the sugar molecules.
When bacteria and yeast eat sugars in your colon, the same thing happens in there that makes alcoholic beverages: fermentation. Normally when you consume sugar, it is digested and absorbed into the bloodstream before it can reach the colon in its whole form. It isn’t natural for your colon to receive undigested carbohydrates in large amounts like this.
Fermentation in your digestive tract can appear as any of the symptoms previously discussed: flatulence, nausea, gas, diarrhea, constipation and more. This is the root cause of your discomfort by lactose intolerance.
Does Lactose Intolerance Get Worse With Age?
It’s very common to begin developing lactose intolerance later in life, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH). About 65 percent of the global population has a poor ability to digest lactose, according to them. Apparently, age 40 is the median age for someone to begin reduced production of the lactase enzyme.
Therefore, it is unfortunate that lactose does get worse with time for most people because enzyme production levels generally decrease with age. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can no longer eat dairy, milk, or cheese.
Enzymes Have a Lot to Do With Genetics
Your genetics has everything to do with your susceptibility to lactose intolerance, its severity, and how early lactase levels will start to decline. Believe it or not, your race could be the primary factor affecting the lactose issue.
Some ethnic groups are much more prone to developing lactose intolerance than others. According to the National Institute of Health, people of the following descents are most likely to be affected by lactose intolerance by adulthood:
- East Asian
- West African
Therefore, it’s more than likely that you have some of this blood in you. At times, you might even be surprised to see where your gene pool comes from. If you were ever considering one of those DNA testing kits, it might be wise to invest in one for your health. Then, you could deduce your risks for developing lactose intolerance, among other potential health risks.
Who Can Safely Consume Lactose Then?
A brief explanation of human history versus dairy history will help you understand the origins of milk becoming a staple food for some parts of the world. The idea to raise cattle and, instead of killing them to eat their flesh, travel with them and consume their milk and eggs, came from the tribes associated with Genghis Khan and his lineage.
As you might know, Genghis Khan pillaged and spread his genes to a giant chunk of the European-Asian world during this time. Much of his success was attributed to the way his people could travel in masses and still be easily fed from dairy.
This lifestyle had influenced human genetics forever, developing the type B blood type. There’s evidence to show that almost all people with type B blood can trace their genetic lineage back to the actions of Genghis Khan’s army.
Perhaps they have been consuming dairy so much as their staple for so long, that their society’s digestive tracts adapted to retain the ability to produce lactase throughout their entire lives. When you think about it, that much pillaging and conquering couldn’t have gotten done if everyone was bloated and gassy on the toilet.
That being said, you can still have lactose intolerance if you have type B blood type or have Hispanic or Russian genetic lineages. There are a few other factors to consider that might contribute to developing this food intolerance.
Physical Damage to the Intestines May Cause Intolerance
An injury to the small intestine may also leave you unable to consume dairy without experiencing uncomfortable symptoms. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders (NIDDK), drinking poorly treated or untreated water can damage your digestive tract to the point where it can result in lactose intolerance, or any digestive disturbance for that matter.
National institutes like this always seem to make vague, generalized statements about health conditions and risks. They are often so careful with wording that the statement doesn’t make sense or it’s unhelpful entirely.
It seems like they are hinting at the concept of “leaky gut syndrome” which is a digestive condition caused by lacerations of your intestines. When that happens, pieces of undigested food may reach the bloodstream through these cuts. It’s not entirely clear yet what happens exactly with this, but I think it’s safe to say that this mechanism of action will cause inflammation or something else that could result in symptoms, disease, and poor emotional well-being.
The NIDDK describes some possible injuries to the small intestine as caused by accidents, surgery, radiation, infection or disease. I also believe that consuming protein you are already allergic or intolerant to can cause the same intestinal damage. Many people believe that food intolerance is actually caused by leaky gut syndrome, and then the condition worsens itself in a cycle.
Natural Enzyme Formulas Can Safeguard Your Health
If you have symptoms of lactose intolerance, there’s no need to be upset because there are many simple inexpensive solutions to your problem. Thanks to technology, you can now buy isolated capsules with lactose and other digestive enzymes that you can directly supply to your body in a natural supplement.
A lot of people prefer your average Lactaid pills, but I believe that there are much more effective solutions for lactose intolerance. I know this to be true from my actual experience. For me, it seems like lactose intolerance comes and goes in my health depending on how healthy I ate for the past few days.
This makes perfect sense to me and I’m fine with dealing with the cards I was dealt because this dairy-assisting lactase enzyme formula has helped my digestion tremendously. It contains lactase along with “Thera-blend” protease that helps to break down dairy proteins, not just the lactase. Click to check the price on Amazon because sometimes it’s on sale for a very reasonable price.
A natural supplement like this is very beneficial for those who react to milk and dairy in general, especially if you aren’t sure if it’s lactose intolerance or a milk protein allergy because both are similar. These enzyme supplements have really changed the game for a lot of food intolerance sufferers because they offer an ace in the hole.
If you accidentally consume dairy, there’s no issue at all because one of these capsules will assist with supplying enzymes for smoother digestion. Believe it or not, they will act almost immediately to soothe existing inflammation and prevent it if you expect it to be coming. Not only will the lactose intolerance symptoms stop, but digestion will be smoother in general. For me, it was better than ever before.
I really recommend that you try something like the one I use if you get uncomfortable symptoms when you consume dairy.
Digestive Issues You Might Mistake for Lactose Intolerance
The symptoms of lactose intolerance may imitate those of similar digestive conditions. It might be best to figure out what exactly you are suffering with so that you can more easily treat your actual condition.
Some adults might lead themselves to believe that they have lactose intolerance when they actually just have a different type of GI tract issue. Some of these digestive problems include:
- Celiac disease
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
- Other food allergies or food intolerance
- Irritation of the intestinal lining by drugs like caffeine or spicy foods
Aging may affect your susceptibility to these digestive conditions, as well as lactose intolerance. Their symptoms behave very similarly, with bloating and gas being the most common issue as a result.
If you think you might be experiencing uncomfortable bloating as a detox effect, please check out my post here.
The best way to determine if you’re lactose intolerant is to simply eliminate milk and dairy ingredients from your diet completely for a few weeks. Then, you can speculate how this type of food has affected your symptoms, your energy levels, and your mood.
It’s also important to note that you can have varying degrees and types of lactose intolerance. Some claim that they react strongly to uncooked dairy, but digest cheese and baked goods just fine. For these cases, I would be more skeptical about one of the milk proteins (casein, whey, or milk) causing these symptoms instead of lactose itself.
With this method of week-long elimination of dairy, you can see if the lactose or milk protein is really the culprit of causing your symptoms or if it’s something else. Whether you come to your expected conclusion or not, a digestive enzyme supplement like the one I use will still help you tremendously, regardless of what it is.
Other In-Depth Lactose Intolerance Posts You Might Find Helpful
How Long Do Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance Last? – Analyzing how long the discomfort from lactose intolerance symptoms should generally last.
MSM Supplementation and Sulfur Deficiency – Explaining how sulfur deficiency may be a direct cause of food intolerance, allergies and more.
Fasting as a Healthy Hobby – About how short bouts of fasting throughout the year have improved my allergies, including lactose intolerance.
Intestinal Parasites May Cause Allergies and Food Intolerance – Undetected parasite infection might be the cause of some allergies and food intolerance, like they were for me.
Could Candida be the Primary Cause of Allergies and Intolerance? – Simple-to-understand Candida information, my simple way of flushing excess yeast, and how it improved my health tremendously.
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Talk to you soon,