Lactose intolerance or deficiency is the inability of the body to process lactose or milk sugar due to the lack of the enzyme lactase produced in the lining of the small intestine. This enzyme breaks lactose molecules into two sugars which are later absorbed by body\'s cells in the bloodstream. If the body does not produce lactase, most of the lactase from food passes through ti the colon unused. This condition is not very serious, but it is rather uncomfortable. People usually have low levels of lactase, but those who have signs and symptoms besides that are actually lactose intolerant.
The signs and symptoms of lactose intolerance typically start showing thirty minutes to two hours after food that contains lactose has been eaten. They include diarrhea, nausea, cramps in the stomach, gasses and bloating.
Three types of lactose intolerance
1. Aging. Human body typically produces less lactase when milk no longer is its primary source of food. Gradual decline of the amount of milk people drink or eat may cause the body to develop symptoms of lactose intolerance. 2. Consequence of illness or injury. In these cases small intestine starts producing smaller amount of lactase, but this type of lactose is treatable, only the treatment does not take place immediately. 3. Hereditary. This is the case when lactose intolerance is passed through generations, but only if both parents are lactose intolerant. Infants with this type of disorder are intolerant of the lactose in their mothers\' milk and show symptoms from birth.
Factors causing lactose intolerance
One of the first factors is aging because with age body starts producing less lactase.Next, it can be related to ethnicity since intolerance to lactose is most common in African-American, Asian, Hispanic and American Indian people.Prematurely born babies are more likely to develop lactose intolerance than babies born when they were due. Lactose intolerance develops due to diseases that affect small intestine.
Although this condition does not seriously damage people\'s health, there are ways to treat it and make it less uncomfortable. One of the first steps is to eat less dairy products. Since dairy contains a lot of the calcium necessary for the body, it is recommended people who avoid it due to lactose intolerance take it through almonds, broccoli, bok choy, spinach, tofu, milk substitutes, oranges and food products enriched with calcium. The second step would be to buy tablets or pills that contain lactase enzyme and can be bought without a prescription. It is also possible to take probiotics, live microorganisms that help for gastrointestinal conditions such as diarrhea.