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Lactose Intolerance... Get in The Know
Milk, cheese, ice cream oh my!...
The thought alone of these dairy based treats may be enough to distress people with lactose intolerance but how much do you know about this often misunderstood and misdiagnosed digestive condition?
What is Lactose Intolerance?
Lactose, the predominant sugar found naturally in milk, can be difficult for some to digest due to a shortage of the enzyme lactase in the small intestine. In normally functioning intestines, lactose is processed into galactose and glucose which are sugars your bloodstream absorbs. Without this enzyme, the breakdown of the lactose cannot occur and it passes to the colon unprocessed. While in the colon, the lactose becomes friendly with the bacteria present and results in a number of digestive discomforts including nausea, cramps, bloating, flatulence and diarrhea.
How is Lactose Intolerance diagnosed?
If you suspect you may be lactose intolerant, you are urged to talk to your doctor. After a brief discussion, your medical practitioner may request a series of tests including the more popular lactose tolerance test where you will be required to consume a lactose-rich liquid and provide a blood sample which will be tested to determine the levels of glucose.
Who is at risk for Lactose Intolerance?
Studies show that lactose intolerance is more common in people of African, American Indian and East Indian descent whereas it is least common in people of European descent. While the correlation between race and lactose intolerance is still being researched, it is believed that a historically rich diet may have encouraged tolerance over a period of time in those of North European descent.
Persons who have been diagnosed with Crohn’s or Celiac Disease, have received chemotherapy to the abdominal area or damage to the small intestines due to surgery are at higher risk for developing lactose intolerance.
Tips for Managing Lactose Intolerance:
- Not all milks are created equal. To enjoy the nutritional benefit of fresh cow’s milk without the uncomfortable side-effects, give PINEHILL Dairy’s 2% Reduced Fat, Lactose Free Milk a try.
- Be label wise. Make sure you know how to accurately read labels. Lactose can sometimes be “hidden” in baking mixes, salad dressings, cereals, cereal bars and much more. Be sure to check the ingredients list before you buy.
- Notify pharmacists and doctors of your lactose intolerance before filling a prescription. Some medications can contain lactose.
- Try cooking with olive oil or coconut oil instead of butter.
- Feel free to indulge in your favorite foods by selecting dairy-free alternatives.
Resources: The Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic and the United States Department of Health & Human Services.