How can bifidobacteria help with lactose intolerance? Lactose intolerance is a widespread phenomenon in Europe. Certain people, like Asians, have almost no lactase in their bodies by nature. Therefore, they are lactose intolerant from birth, and therefore, do not consume dairy products.
Lactase enzyme is a fundamental enzyme in the body. It is necessary for the digestion of milk. Lack of this enzyme or an age-related loss of lactase activity triggers an intolerance to dairy products and the lactose (milk sugar) contained in them.
In some cases, there are people in our latitudes who cannot metabolize milk sugar from birth. This can have dramatic consequences for a newborn because lactose is present in large amounts in breast milk – the most important food for newborns.
Without breast milk, the human immune system is significantly weaker. Breast milk contains important nutrients and strengthens the child’s immune system. The bifidobacteria are important to support lactose intolerance in order to remedy the related disorders in the body.
Live bifidobacteria are probiotics.
How does lactose intolerance occur?
One of the reasons for intolerance to milk sugar (lactose) may be genetic. Enzyme deficiency arises much more frequently due to diet.
In many cases, it is also due to decreased enzyme activity in old age or maybe favored by acute or chronic intestinal disease. When bifidobacteria are prescribed for lactose intolerance, the accompanying symptoms of enzyme deficiency often disappear.
If the enzyme that divides the sugar in milk is missing or weakened, those affected suffer several nonspecific complaints after consuming dairy or lactose-containing products.
Lactose or milk sugar consists of two parts dextrose (glucose) and one part sugar (galactose). These two types of sugar have to be digested after the absorption of dairy products by the enzyme lactase.
If there is a deficiency or a complete absence of this enzyme, the breakdown of milk sugar alone cannot be performed. As a result, sugar from unprocessed or partially digested milk is introduced into the large intestine.
Only then do flatulence, unpleasant fermentation processes, abdominal pain, and thin diarrhea develop.
How do you know if you are lactose intolerant?
It is interesting that not only a lack of lactase can cause these symptoms. Bacterial colonization in the intestine or an undetected intestinal disease can also cause lactose intolerance.
Such disorders and health problems in the intestinal system can trigger a more or less severe lactase deficiency. In some people, the symptoms mentioned appear even with the smallest amounts of lactose ingested with food.
In others, only large amounts of sugar in milk cause the symptoms described. Lactose-poor foods, on the other hand, are generally well tolerated.
However, it is problematic that the diagnosis of lactose intolerance is generally made years after it has developed. Gut flora problems are generally not an area of interest to gastroenterologists or general practitioners.
Instead of trying a diet low in lactose and bifidobacteria those affected are often left with an alleged “irritable bowel“. It may happen that after an operation they receive a low-lactose diet, but not completely lactose-free.
The consequences are foreseeable for sensitive people.
What to do and what not to do
Lactose intolerant people generally have to watch out for what foods they can eat, what drinks they can drink, and what products may contain hidden milk sugar.
Health food stores offer corresponding product lists. The Internet can also be a good source of information about the lactose content of food and beverages.
The problem is that the smallest amounts of lactose below 0.1 percent do not have to be declared individually. Somewhere you can read “May contain traces of milk” or “Contains milk sugar (lactose)”. Lactose content may be related to production or there may be other reasons.
The highest sugar content in milk is found in breast milk, milk, and dairy products such as cottage cheese, cheese, yogurt, or butter made from cow’s milk, goat’s milk, or other types of animal milk.
All lactose-free “replacement milk” is made from plant sources such as rice, soy, almonds, walnuts, or oats. These replacement products are generally well tolerated. Even young children can feed on it, provided the calcium content of the replacement milk is high enough.
What measures are recommended for lactose intolerance?
Of course, bifidobacteria are not the only therapeutic approach to lactose intolerance. The most important measure is a strong restriction on the consumption of foods and beverages that contain milk sugar.
If some lactose-containing foods are better tolerated than others, they can be enjoyed occasionally. These include, for example, sour milk cheese, long-ripening cheeses, or low-lactose products that are identified as such.
Some people have to do without foods that contain sugar in milk. Sometimes, after a grace period of several months or years, it is possible to consume small amounts of milk sugar again without showing symptoms. In other cases, this does not happen.
Many of the products that are said to contain no lactose are incorrectly marked. In fact, “Minus L” products contain low lactose content. However, it is so low that it is not considered remarkable.
But since highly sensitive people also react to such a low lactose content, the term “low lactose” would actually be justified and more accurate. This makes it hard for severely affected people to eat completely lactose-free. Most people don’t even suspect which sausages and processed foods contain milk sugar.
Lactose powder is deliberately added to finished foods. Milk sugar is not inherent in sausages or ketchup.
Many people help themselves to supply the body with the missing enzyme before eating foods that contain lactose. The lactose contained is broken down by a lactase preparation and can then be digested without the usual symptoms.
Since this is just a symptomatic solution, we now come to so-called probiotics. If bifidobacteria are administered, it is more than symptomatic treatment. This measure goes directly to the causes.
The goal is to regulate intestinal flora that has gotten out of control and remedy lactose intolerance in the medium term. Therefore, bifidobacteria for lactose intolerance is much more promising in the long term than lactase preparations.
What do bifidobacteria do if you are lactose intolerant?
Probiotics, which also include bifidobacteria, are lyophilized but still living microorganisms. These ensure that the altered intestinal flora is regulated and repopulated. Along with so-called prebiotics and resistant starch found in various foods, probiotics can help rebuild healthy intestinal flora.
Bifidobacteria are particularly useful in treating lactose intolerance. An interesting side effect of bifidobacteria is that they support digestive functions. They also stimulate the production of the enzyme lactase.
Taking probiotics can regulate the intestinal flora for a long time. With enough patience, bifidobacteria can eliminate some symptoms of lactose intolerance.
At the same time, however, the diet should include the exemption of foods containing such lactose. It is also found that the consumption of prebiotics as oats or wheat flakes, onions, leek, garlic, and an adequate supply of foods containing a lot of starch, improves the intestinal flora.
When combined, probiotics, prebiotics, and starch can ensure that altered intestinal flora is repopulated. The last two provide plenty of food for good gut bacteria. Bad gut germs run away or decline to a healthy level that the body can cope with.
A healthy intestinal flora has the ability to metabolize milk sugar without unpleasant side effects.
If the intestinal flora heals due to long enough administration of bifidobacteria, the cells of the upper intestine can generally produce enough lactase for the enzymatic digestion of milk sugar. Bacteria of the lactic acid produce beta-galactosidase in the intestine.
This substance improves the tolerance to milk sugar, which had been eliminated due to enzyme-related intolerance. Lactose intolerance symptoms may gradually improve with treatment with bifidobacteria.
After a while, those affected can promote this process with probiotic yogurt. Extremely lactose intolerant people should refrain from this. Long-term treatment with bifidobacteria for lactose intolerance is more appropriate for them.
Probiotic yogurt also contains viable intestinal bacteria. These have a positive effect on the metabolism of milk sugar and support the intestine. Bacterial cultures of Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus included.
What do probiotics and bifidobacteria do in the body?
Probiotics stimulate the immune response in the intestine, among other things. Ensure that there is an increased release of immunoglobulin.
Immunoglobulin A is a protective protein that develops its protective effect on the mucous membranes of the body. Thanks to this protective film, foreign substances, and substances that sensitize or trigger allergies cannot develop their harmful effects on the bloodstream.
If bifidobacteria are used for lactose intolerance, they can cause:
- An increase in lactase production in the cells of the upper intestine.
- An improvement in the metabolism of sugar in milk.
- The regeneration of the altered intestinal flora.
- In combination with prebiotics and resistant starch, a regeneration of the intestinal flora.
- Better tolerance to milk sugar.
- The increasing decrease in stress symptoms.
Is it possible to cure lactose intolerance?
Naturally, many lactose-intolerant people wonder if lactose intolerance can be cured by bifidobacteria. Unfortunately, a positive response may not apply equally to all concerned.
Those who are lactose intolerant from birth will generally remain so forever. On the other hand, it can be seen that many Asians, who actually lack lactase, consume milk today. The body seems to be able to get used to a certain amount of milk. It remains to be seen whether long-term consumption of lactose will harm the intestinal system.
Lactose intolerance is often an acquired condition that can be improved by appropriate measures. The intestinal flora plays a prominent role in lactose intolerance.
With altered and unbalanced gut flora, bad and harmful gut bacteria crowd out good ones. As a result, certain internal conditions also change. For example, in addition to the immune system, functions in cells of the upper intestine are also altered. Without these, lactase cannot or cannot be produced to a sufficient degree.
An unhealthy diet, which puts harmful gut bacteria into a true feeding frenzy and starves the good, can trigger a real chain reaction.
If you have a chronic intestinal disease, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, they can also cause lactose intolerance. Intestinal cells can only do their job to a limited extent if you suffer from intestinal inflammation.
Chronic inflammation of the intestinal lining and associated lactose intolerance are woefully permanent. If the cells of the upper intestine are functionally impaired or defective, there is generally a restriction in lactase production. This causes chronic deficits in the enzyme which, in turn, triggers lactose intolerance and all accompanying symptoms of the corresponding intolerance. Of course, the intestinal flora can also be altered.
Your doctor must decide how to treat chronic intestinal disease with probiotics.
Bifidobacteria and probiotics can be used to prevent chronic intestinal inflammation from a different perspective. Taken prior to inflammatory bowel disease, the resulting lactose intolerance can be prevented.
Mainly, probiotics are only used if the intestinal flora has been damaged by antibiotics. And even then, it is not a matter of routine for doctors to advise on how to restore the flora.
Most of the time, those affected have to take care of straightening their intestinal flora. This is paramount given the importance of intestinal flora for overall health and immune power.
Can probiotics prevent lactase deficiency?
A diet that is high in starch and prebiotics and avoids all foods that damage the intestine because they nourish bad intestinal germs would be desirable first. Avoiding processed foods with tons of fat, white flour, and sugar is a good start.
In this case, additional probiotics would not be necessary due to the healthy nutritional base.
However, since our modern diet is anything but balanced and intestine friendly, preventive intake of probiotic foods and proper nutritional supplements makes sense.
In any case, it is advisable to treat healthy bacteria in the intestinal tract with a proper diet. After all, if our gut germs are healthy, they can do a lot for our lifetime well-being.
Without them, our immune system would also be in bad shape. The cells of the upper intestine, in particular, are our guarantee of health because only they can form lactase. Damaging them makes life much more difficult.