Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Lactose & Lactose Intolerance

Lactose is a type of sugar that is found in butter, cheese, milk and other dairy products. Lactose intolerance is a medical condition in which lactase (an enzyme that helps digest lactose) is not produced in sufficient amounts by the small intestine. Although lactose intolerance can occur at any age, it usually affects young adults and middle aged people. It is more common in people with American or Asian ancestry than it is among Europeans.
Lactose intolerance can be caused by a variety of factors including age, family history, intestinal diseases, infections in the small intestine and bowel surgery. Typical symptoms are flatulence, nausea, indigestion, diarrhoea, irritability, difficulty concentrating, abdominal bloating and abdominal cramps. One might also experience weight loss, constipation and vomiting.

Lactose intolerance is diagnosed with lactose-hydrogen breath test, lactose tolerance test, enteroscopy and examining the stool pH.

As far as the treatment is concerned, avoiding the consumption of dairy products is a best way to prevent the disorder. However, not having dairy products in the diet can lead to deficiency of riboflavin, protein, vitamin D and calcium. Therefore, if you are not consuming milk or other dietary products, then make sure that you regularly take calcium supplements and eat foods that contain calcium such as salmon, sardines, shrimp, leafy greens, oysters and broccoli. Other treatment option for people with lactase deficiency is to add lactase enzymes into their daily dietary routine. Sufferers can consume fermented dairy products, hard cheeses, lactose-free milk, soy milk, goat's milk and lactose-free buttermilk. It also makes a good idea for people with lactase deficiency to take a dietary supplement that helps reduce the symptoms of lactose intolerance. There are many lactose intolerance supplements that provides all the essential enzymes that are required to digest lactose.

The use of probiotics may also provide positive health benefits for those that suffer from lactose intolerance.

Probiotics are a type of living bacteria that confer a health benefit on their consumers when taken in the appropriate amounts. They live in the human gastrointestinal tract and act as a balancing agent for harmful gut-bacteria such as Candida albicans and E. coli. A low population of probiotics in your intestine may give rise to a number of bacteria-related health problems such as stomach bloating, indigestion, candidiasis, lactose intolerance, headaches, irritability, anxiety and even colon cancer. The most common forms of intestinal probiotics include Bifidobacteria bifidum and L. acidophilus

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