Whats Lactose Intolerance All About

If you can't stomach milk and you experience bloating, nausea, cramping, excessive gas, or a bad case of the runs after eating a dairy food, you are not alone. In fact, an estimated 30 to 50 million Americans suffer from some degree of lactose intolerance, which is the inability to digest the milk sugar lactose. In fact, I once had a client tell me he visited so many restrooms while touring through Europe he was ready to write The Complete Idiot's Guide to European Bathrooms.

Why can't some people tolerate dairy foods? People who are lactose intolerant are unable to produce enough of the enzyme lactase, which is responsible for the digestion of lactose. Just imagine trying to tear down a skyscraper without a bulldozer; it's not gonna happen! Just like the bulldozer, lactase must break down, digest, and absorb lactose in the bloodstream. What's more, this type of intolerance affects people at different levels. Whereas one person might dash for the bathroom after just one sip of milk, others can tolerate small amounts of dairy without any problem.

generally tends to have a problem digesting

Up to 70 percent of the entire world's population does not produce enough of the enzyme lactase and therefore has some degree of lactose intolerance.

In the United States alone, the following groups experience some or all symptoms of lactose intolerance:

More than 80 percent of Asian Americans 79 percent of Native Americans 75 percent of African Americans

Food for Thought_

Don't confuse a lactose intolerance with a milk allergy. A lactose intolerance involves difficulty digesting the milk sugar lactose; a milk allergy involves an allergic reaction from the protein components in cow's milk. Folks who suffer from milk allergies cannot tolerate reduced-lactose products because the part of the milk they are allergic to (milk proteins) is still present.

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51 percent of Hispanic Americans

21 percent of Caucasian Americans

In rare cases, some people are born unable to produce the enzyme lactase due to a congenital defect.

  • Following gastric surgery, people taking chronic antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs might also lose their ability (both short-term and long-term) to digest lactose.
  • People might develop a temporary lactose intolerance during or following a bout of the flu, a stomach virus, or irritable bowel (spastic colon). During these instances, your doctor will probably tell you to avoid all milk and dairy because the enzyme lactase is easily destroyed with any stomach irritation. In these cases, when you recover, so does your ability to produce lactase.

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Allergic To Everything

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