Lactose Intolerance means just what it says…no fancy words, no fluff, just a straight shooter. If you suffer from lactose intolerance you understand that this condition means business. But for those of you lucky enough to not be included in the over 1 billion global population* that suffer from this condition, let me break it down for you.
Lactose intolerance is a condition one suffers if they lack lactase. Lactase is an enzyme located in your intestines required in the breakdown of lactose. Sounds confusing, right? Let’s break this down even more.
Lactose is a sugar that is found in milk, and thus, in dairy products, such as ice cream, cheese, butter, cream, among many other foods. Once the dairy product is consumed, your body uses lactase to break down the sugar into galactose and glucose allowing easy absorption into the bloodstream. However, this process is not easy or seamless for those 40 million Americans* who suffer from this condition. For these people who lack or have low lactase enzyme present, the lactose is not properly broken down, and thus it moves from your small intestine to your colon where the sugar is “fermented” (instead of broken down). The fermentation causes an increase in gas production, and then the excess gas production causes symptoms such as abdominal pain, gas, cramping, bloating and diarrhea*…not pleasant, right?
And yes, you’re correct, sufferers cannot enjoy milk chocolate on Valentine’s Day or cake on their birthday or ice cream on a hot summer day. Because one bite of any of these, and countless other dairy products, may lead to symptoms that can range from mild discomfort to severe pain.
So what did we learn today? If you are part of the 40 million Americans and more than 1 billion people worldwide who suffer from lactose intolerance, you can’t have your cake and eat it too! Make sure to choose wisely.
By: Neghin Khanverdi, Esq. on February 9, 2017