Lactose Intolerance and the Bowel

Not really considered a major problem, lactose intolerance is still something that affects millions of people every day. People who are lactose intolerant cannot digest the natural sugar that is found in milk, ice cream, and other sweet dairy products. The problem occurs in the small intestine where the body does not produce enough lactase. Lactase is an important enzyme in the bowel that normally breaks down or absorbs lactose. Without it, the dairy will run through colon undigested causing extreme gas, bloating, and digestive pain for the individual.

Medical news articles and journals have narrowed lactose intolerance down to three different types.

o Primary intolerance due to aging. The need for lactose is very great at a young age and as we grow older we become less dependent on that need resulting in a decline for milk. This gradual step away from lactose may result in the intolerance.

o Secondary intolerance due to illness or injury. You may have had a surgery or a bowel disease like ulcerative colitis, but somehow your small intestine has decreased its lactase and resulted in intolerance.

o Congenial intolerance due to birth. In some rare cases, both the mother and father pass on a defective gene resulting in the lack of lactase in the baby. The baby cannot consume breast milk and will require a lactose-free formula.

Lactose intolerance differs from person to person. Some can drink small portions of milk while others cannot consume any without painful repercussions. People with different ethnicities are more susceptible like Asians and Native Americans. Additionally, anyone who has received radiation therapy may be at risk. Many more different factors can cause a person to have low lactase.

Besides various medical supplies and countless ways to try and remedy this disorder, nothing is simpler than staying away from all dairy products. Try resisting that sweet tooth and getting your calcium from other rich foods like:

• Oranges

• Almonds

• Soy milk, rice milk, tofu products and soybeans

• Broccoli, spinach, kale, okra, or pinto beans

• Canned salmon

Recently there has been a spark in the market of probiotics. Available as live cultures in some popular yogurt brands and supplement pills, probiotics are good bacteria that contain living organisms which can help your intestines. Not necessarily a cure for lactose intolerance, but certainly worth the price of a yogurt cup to possibly ward off future gas and diarrhea.

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