Lactose intolerance is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It occurs when the body is unable to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and dairy products. The symptoms of lactose intolerance can be uncomfortable and include bloating, flatulence, and diarrhea. In this article, we will explore the causes of lactose intolerance and what you can do to manage your symptoms.
What Causes Lactose Intolerance?
Lactose intolerance occurs when the body doesn’t produce enough lactase, an enzyme that breaks down lactose into glucose and galactose. Without enough lactase, lactose passes through the digestive system undigested and can cause discomfort and other symptoms. Lactose intolerance can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, age, and certain medical conditions.
Some people are born with a genetic predisposition to lactose intolerance. This means that they have a reduced ability to produce lactase from birth, and may experience symptoms of lactose intolerance throughout their lives.
Lactose intolerance is more common in adults than in children. This is because as we age, our bodies naturally produce less lactase. This can lead to a gradual onset of lactose intolerance symptoms as we get older.
Several medical conditions can cause lactose intolerance. These include celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and some types of cancer. If you have one of these conditions, you may be more likely to develop lactose intolerance as a result.
Managing Lactose Intolerance
If you are lactose intolerant, there are several things you can do to manage your symptoms. These include:
Avoiding Dairy Products
The most effective way to manage lactose intolerance is to avoid dairy products altogether. This can be difficult, as dairy is a common ingredient in many foods. However, there are many non-dairy alternatives available, such as soy milk, almond milk, and coconut milk.
Taking Lactase Supplements
If you can’t avoid dairy products, you can take lactase supplements to help you digest lactose. These supplements contain lactase enzymes that can help break down lactose and reduce symptoms of lactose intolerance.
Gradually Introducing Dairy Products
If you want to continue eating dairy products, you can try gradually introducing them into your diet. Start with small amounts and see how your body reacts. You may find that you can tolerate certain dairy products better than others.
Lactose intolerance is a common condition that can cause discomfort and other symptoms. It is caused by a lack of lactase enzymes in the body, and can be managed by avoiding dairy products, taking lactase supplements, or gradually introducing dairy into your diet. If you think you may have lactose intolerance, speak to your doctor for advice on managing your symptoms.