1. What is Lactose Intolerance?
This condition means that the human body could not digest lactose easily. Lactose is a kind of natural sugar which can be found in milk as well as dairy products. Lactose intolerance is not the same thing as a food allergy to milk.
When lactose moves through large intestine (aka colon) without being digested properly, it may lead to uncomfortable symptoms like belly pain, bloating and gas.
Some people having lactose intolerance could not digest any type of milk products while others could drink or eat small amount of milk products or certain kinds of products without any problem.
Lactose intolerance is rather common in matures. It happens much more often in Native Americans and people of African, Asian, and South American descent than in European descent.
The big challenge of this condition is to know how to eat without feeling uncomfortable and to get adequate calcium for healthy bones.
If you are suffering from lactose intolerance, your lactase deficiency will result in symptoms after you consume dairy foods.
2. What are Causes of Lactose Intolerance?
Normally, lactose intolerance happens when the small intestine does not produce enough an enzyme named lactase.
The human body requires lactase to digest or breakdown lactose. This breaks down lactose into two sugars named galactose and glucose, which could be absorbed into the bloodstream easily.
Because people with lactose intolerance do not produce adequate lactase, so lactose still stays within the digestive system in which it is fermented by bacteria. As a result, it causes the production of gases, resulting in the symptoms associated with lactose intolerance.
Basing on the underlying reason why the human body is not producing adequate lactase, lactose intolerance might be permanent or temporary.
Lactose intolerance commonly happens in families and its symptoms often develop during the teenage or adults years. The majority of people with this condition could consume some dairy products without issues.
In young children, this condition are usually caused by an infection within the digestive system and might just last for several weeks.
3. What are Symptoms o f Lactose Intolerance?
The symptoms of lactose intolerance often start 30 minutes to 2 hours after consuming or drinking foods containing lactose. Common signs and symptoms are:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal cramps
- Throwing up
A lot of people have belly pain, gas bloating and diarrhea suspect that they might be lactose intolerance. The best manner to pinpoint this is to avoid consuming milk along with dairy products in order to see whether or not your symptoms disappear. Once they do, you could add small amounts of milk products to your diet to check if the symptoms return.
In case you feel sick after having a glass of milk one time, then you might not have lactose intolerance. Yet, if you still feel sick whenever you have ice cream, milk or another dairy product, then you might have this condition.
Occasionally, people who have never had any problem with dairy products or milk can suddenly have lactose intolerance. This condition becomes common when you get older.
In case you think that you may have lactose intolerance, consult your doctor to see if your symptoms are caused by lactose intolerance and not by other issues.
4. When to Visit a Doctor?
The signs and symptoms of lactose intolerance could be rather similar to some other conditions, so it is very important to see your doctor for a diagnosis prior to removing milk as well as dairy products out of your diet.
The symptoms mentioned above could be caused by milk protein intolerance, which is an adverse reaction to the milk’s protein from cows, or by irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which is a long term problem affecting the human digestive system.
If your doctor thinks that you get lactose intolerance, they might suggest avoiding drinks and foods containing lactose for about 2 weeks in order to check if your symptoms improve.
5. What are Risk Factors of Lactose Intolerance?
The factors that might make you or your family member more likely to lactose intolerance include:
- Premature birth
- Increasing age
- Certain cancer treatments
- Diseases impacting the small intestine
6. Home Remedies For Lactose Intolerance
Consume Yogurt And Cheese
The majority of people having lactose intolerance could tolerate products such as cheese and yogurt in moderation as these foods have lower amounts of lactose. Those full-fat dairy products often have lower levels of lactose in compared with non-fat and low-fat varieties. The fat might slow the lactose passage within our digestive system.
Some things you need to know when consuming yogurt and cheese for lactose intolerance relief are:
- Consuming yogurt having live cultures. The active, live bacterial cultures will help in breaking down lactose and relieving gastrointestinal discomfort. Besides, Greek yogurt has less lactose than normal yogurt as much of its whey protein is strained out in the processing period. However, frozen yogurt might not be helpful.
- You could also consume full-fat cottage cheese along with aged hard cheeses like Swiss and cheddar cheese.
Similar to yogurt, kefir could be used as a probiotic for improving digestive system. In accordance with a study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, researchers showed that kefir and yogurt could help in improving the digestion of lactose and alleviating the symptoms of lactose intolerance.
People participating in this study reported that consuming kefir decreased the frequency of symptoms of flatulence by over 50% in compared with milk.
Containing a wide range of active, live bacterial cultures, kefir can be beneficial in breaking down lactose in digestive tract. Moreover, it is considered a good source of potassium, calcium and protein.
To take advantage of kefir for relieving lactose intolerance, you should drink ½ cup of kefir milk every day and steadily increase that amount if you could tolerate without having any problems.
Use Milk Substitutes
If you are suffering lactose intolerance, look for good substitutes for milk, like soy milk, coconut milk, almond milk, soy milk, rice milk, hemp milk, oat milk, etc. In case you are not familiar with these alternatives’ taste, then add any of them as a replacement for milk in your baked goods, including puddings.
Moreover, start small and choose vitamin D and calcium-fortified plant-based milks. Also, you could substitute butter with the coconut oil and fruit purees such as banana, applesauce, and prune.
Notes: Sometimes, those non-dairy choices might come with gastrointestinal problems because they might have guar gum, which is a common food additive that might sometimes result in digestive problems, to increase thickness.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Using apple cider vinegar is one of good home remedies for lactose intolerance because it helps aid digestion, particularly in the first stages. Also, it works as a helpful remedy that can neutralize the acid within your stomach and other digestive issues resulted from lactose intolerance.
You had better put 1 tablespoon of unfiltered, raw apple cider vinegar in a glass of plain water. Have this solution every day for several weeks to get good results.
Saffron is a common herb used for a lot of medicinal purposes recent days. It can boost digestive health and prevent the gas formation. Also, saffron can boost appetite, purify the blood and act as an aphrodisiac.
Ginger is among the simplest but most effective home remedies for lactose intolerance. As you may have guessed, it is very beneficial for stomach issues and lactose intolerance because it helps reduce abdominal gas as well as nausea.
What you need to do is:
- Put 1 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger to a cup of hot water
- Allow it to simmer for several minutes and strain
- To add flavor more, you can add some lemon juice and honey into it
- Have 3 cups of the ginger tea every day to get a natural relief
Another remedy for lactose intolerance is peppermint. This herb is highly beneficial for digestive problems and commonly used in treating stomach problems.
Besides, peppermint can provide your body with menthol component that has great effects on the human digestion. Due to its relaxing and antispasmodic properties, menthol is an excellent cure for cramps and spasm in gastrointestinal tract. Read: [how to treat dry socket is peppermint].
To make use of this herb, you can follow these instructions:
- Take some peppermint leaves and add them into hot water
- Boil them up for several minutes before straining it up
- Consume this solution (with some honey if you want) for twice or thrice per day
Also considered a great solution when it comes to home remedies for lactose intolerance, chamomile in the tea form could relieve discomfort associated with lactose intolerance thanks to its relaxing quality, both for the human body and mind. Not only does it neutralize the stomach acid, but it also reduces bloating naturally. Another benefit of drinking chamomile tea is promoting relaxation.
- Put 2 teaspoons of dried chamomile flowers to a cup of boiling water
- After covering, you allow it to steep for 5 minutes before straining
- Have this tea several times per day to get the best results
Having a rich content of nutrients, cumin seeds are undeniably one of the must-try ways to relieve lactose intolerance. The thymol included in this seed could promote bile, enzymes and acid production within our glands. Furthermore, cumin seeds can supply essential minerals, such as sodium and magnesium, to improve the digestion in all natural ways. That is why this seed is used to handle stomach pain effectively.
What is more, other cumin seed benefits come from their other nutrients, including iron. Iron supports the flow of oxygen from our lungs to other body parts. Besides, it is good for metabolism, helping us stay energetic all day long.
You can use lactase supplements to replace the lactase enzyme which your body does not produce. It will help you digest lactose, thereby lessening gastrointestinal problems. These problems will be taken upon consuming foods having lactose.
It is recommended taking 1-3 lactase tablets prior to consuming foods having lactose. Also, you could add a lactase supplement (about 2000 IU) to 500ml of milk (or 2 cups) instantly prior to drinking it.
Note: Pregnant women and young children should not use these supplements. In addition, supplements might not work for everybody.
The prevention of symptoms of lactose intolerance is mainly focused on the avoidance of dietary milk along with milk-containing products. But, some aspects of lactose intolerance might be genetically determined and not changeable.
Decreasing your intake of dairy products does not mean that you could not get adequate calcium. Calcium could be found in a lot of other foods, like canned salmon, broccoli, calcium-fortified products such as juices and breads, milk substitutes such as rice milk and soy milk, oranges, rhubarb, spinach, and pinto beans.
Besides, getting enough vitamin D is also important to reduce the symptoms of lactose intolerance. Vitamin D is supplied in fortified milk, not to mention liver, eggs, and yogurt. The intake of vitamin D will accelerate the body’s absorbing ability towards calcium. Your body also makes vitamin D when you are in the sun. However, fact is, some people still do not get enough vitamin D, even without having a restricted diet. In such case, you should talk to your doctor about taking calcium and vitamin D supplements.
When it comes to lactose intolerance prevention and treatment, some people having this condition can slowly increase the intake of lactose in their daily diet without having symptoms. This adaption is most likely because of changes in the metabolism of bacteria within the colon not due to the production of more lactase enzymes. For instance, the bacteria might and produce less gas to adapt to a much more acidic environment of the colon which is induced by introducing slowly more lactose over time.
In general, having lactose intolerance does not mean that you could not drink milk or have to avoid dairy-based products. With appropriate precaution and planning, many people with lactose intolerance could enjoy their favorite foods. Try the home remedies for lactose intolerance introduced here to see which will work for you.