More about Lactose Intolerance
What is lactose Intolerance?
Lactose is the disaccharide (double sugar) naturally present in the milk of mammals, including cow, goat, sheep and human milk. In our digestive system, we produce an enzyme called lactase, which separates the disaccharide lactose in to two easily digestible sugars – glucose and galactose.
The term lactose intolerant refers to a person with reduced ability to digest and absorb lactose – caused simply by low lactase enzyme production.
When lactose in food or drinks is not able to be broken down and absorbed, it moves through the digestive system and can commonly cause symptoms of gas, bloating and loose / urgent stools. Importantly, lactose does not cause damage to the digestive system, and does not cause non-digestive systems like headaches, rashes or fatigue.
How common is lactose intolerance?
As babies and children, we produce high amounts of lactase, making us well equipped to digest lactose in milk. However as we age, lactase production decreases significantly in a large proportion of people. According to our heritage and genetics, some of us will tolerate lactose better than others. For example, adults of northern European descent tend to digest lactose well throughout their lives, whereas many of Asian and west African descent will be lactose intolerant.
We can also become temporarily lactose intolerant (ie. for a few weeks) after an insult to the GI system like the dreaded gastroenteritis or an episode of acute food poisoning. In this case, lactase production and lactose tolerance returns once the gut is healed. Phew!
Read more in our blog where our dietitian Marnie further explores:
How much lactose is too much?
Where does lactose fit into the FODMAP equation?
How much lactose is in different foods?
We Feed You meals and lactose intolerance
What are lactose free dairy products?
FIVE COMMON MYTHS ABOUT LACTOSE INTOLERANCE
Read here: A Crash Course in Lactose Intolerance