a bowl of ice cream

Lactose intolerance: causes, alternatives, and solutions

Do you like having a nice bowl of hot chocolate but, after each consumption of dairy products, do you feel more or less uncomfortable and your stomach hurts? The problem may be that you have lactose intolerance or, in other words, you cannot tolerate lactose.

What is lactose intolerance?

Lactose is referred to as a natural sugar found only in the milk of mammals. It is called double sugar because lactose consists of glucose and galactose.

In order for your body to use lactose, it must first be broken down, and this is usually done with the help of the body’s lactase enzyme.

Without this chemical reaction, the sugar in milk cannot be absorbed by the small intestine. And here is the problem if you have lactose intolerance.

Your body produces little or no lactase. In this way, the milk sugar is not digested from the small intestine into the large intestine.

The intestinal bacteria ferment sugar and generate a large amount of gas. In addition, the intestine tries to dilute the undissolved lactose with the help of tissue water.

Depending on the amount, your intestines become full and diarrhea may occur.


What if you are lactose intolerant?

First of all, you suffer from indigestion after consuming dairy productsGas formation in the intestine leads to a bloated belly, bloating, and abdominal cramps.

A feeling of satiety, nausea, or diarrhea is also possible . Symptoms generally appear fifteen to thirty minutes after eating.

Although headache, fatigue, or even dizziness are not necessarily typical symptoms, these symptoms may also indicate lactose intolerance.

Lactose intolerance does not pose a direct health risk, although occasional severe diarrhea can also occur. The body loses a lot of water and important mineral salts.

If these symptoms occur in small amounts or in young children, it is best to consult a doctor.

Is there a test for lactose intolerance?

Even if you have observed the discomforts mentioned above, you definitely want to be safe before you start thinking about changing your diet. There is evidence either from your family doctor or from a self-assessment at home.

Caution is advised if you drink a glass of milk on an empty stomach as a test in the morning, as if you really have lactose intolerance, you could have very serious symptoms soon after taking it.

There are certain tests you may do with your doctor, these include the hydrogen breath test and a blood sugar test.

What foods contain lactose and what are the alternatives?

Now you know what lactose intolerance is, and you need to find out what foods to look out for in the future. Of course, this includes normal dairy products like cheese, cream, or whey.

But other foods may also contain lactose, such as baked goods, spice mixes, sausages, candy, or medications.

There are now many foods that are alternately available without lactose.

Lactose-free dairy products are not milk substitutes but remain consistent in pure cow’s milk that has been specially prepared so that milk sugar molecules are broken down into glucose and galactose in milk.

In fact, the choice of food depends on your individual tolerance. Only very few affected people have to do without lactose-containing products. It’s just about trying it out.

man with stomachache, suffering from lactose intolerance

What are lactase products and what should be considered when dosing?

It is best not to avoid dairy products entirely, even if you are lactose intolerant, as this could be harmful to your body in the long term.

Milk, for example, contains calcium which is very important for bone development. A calcium deficiency can weaken the bone structure because your bones depend on a regular supply of calcium.

vitamin deficiency can also occur if certain foods are omitted. Therefore, you need to pay attention to a good balance, for example, with dietary supplements.

Another solution for lactose intolerance is lactase products. As its name implies, you take the lactase-breaking enzyme lactose in tablets, solutions, capsules, or powder directly with your food.

They are available with different amounts of lactase. The information is provided in the FCC unit. This abbreviation stands for “Food Chemical Codex” and is a measure of the purity of food chemicals.

The strength of the enzyme in FCC fluctuates mainly between 1,000 – 20,000 FCC and depends on the degree of tolerance. However, it is advisable to take five to seven times the amount of lactase, therefore 1,000 – 1,500 FCC per 1 g of milk sugar.

A 2,000 FCC tablet of lactase is enough for a glass of whole milk, for example. Also, ultimately, it’s about testing it, because dosing is a matter of estimation and your individual experience.

Most manufacturers promise that there will be virtually no side effects from consuming lactase products; at most, they may have a slightly laxative effect at higher doses.

Strengthen your intestinal flora through intestinal cleansing

If you’re going to change your diet anyway, it could also give your intestines some rest. With probiotic bacteria, you can clean and rebuild your intestinal flora.

A healthy intestine protects it from pathogens that weaken your immune system. Taking probiotics improves digestion, strengthens immune function, and can lead to a better overall feeling.

Intestinal rehabilitation is recommended for several months. If you also watch your diet and learn to use lactase products if necessary, you’ll notice that stomach cramps and constant nausea will soon be a thing of the past.

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