Do you know Victoria Beckham, Jessica Alba, Halle Barry and even Pirates of the Caribbean star Orlando Bloom are all Lactose Intolerant ? Famous american actress Halle Barry won the 74 th Annual Academy Awards. I hope, she did not win the award in 'Best Lactose Intolerant category' ; she won it for her incredible acting in the movie 'Monster's Ball'.
All I want to say there are many people around us who are suffering from Lactose Intolerance and still trying to make an effort to do something good for us. So why don't we give a try?
Now, let us discuss our topic.
What is Lactose Intolerance ?
Lactose intolerance is also known as lactase deficiency.
Here we are not able to fully digest the milk (lactose) in our dairy products.
Lactose intolerance is caused by low levels of the enzyme 'lactase' in our small intestine. In normal condition, the cells that line our small intestine produce an enzyme called 'lactase'. The 'lactase' enzyme attaches to lactose molecules of our diet and breaks them into glucose and galactose. Both of them are absorbed into our body. Without enough of this 'lactase' enzyme, most of the lactose in our diet moves into the colon (without being broken into glucose and galactose). em>
In the colon, our intestinal bacteria interact with it. This causes bloating, gas and diarrhea. Hey, these are really troublesome sometimes. Especially when you are in a job, at a meeting or even in public places. Isn't it?
Lactose Intolerance and the Evolution of Human Digestion
Another important point to note.
Lactose Intolerance can present at different ages in different ways. So, it's important to know a little about different types of lactose intolerance and their presentation.
Here they are:
Primary Lactose Intolerance:
Normally, our body produces large amounts of 'lactase' at birth and during early childhood. But gradually, our 'lactase' production decreases when our diet habit changes and becomes less reliant on milk. This may lead to Primary Lactose Intolerance.
Secondary Lactose Intolerance:
Whenever our small intestine decreases 'lactase' production after an surgery, illness or injury this type of Lactose Intolerance develops. This may even occur as a result of many different intestinal diseases, such as celiac disease, tropical sprue, gastroenteritis and inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn's disease. This disorder may take time to resolve.
Congenital lactose intolerance:
This disorder is relatively rare. In this condition babies are born with complete absence of 'lactase' enzyme. This disorder is may pass from generation to generation. Infants with congenital lactose intolerance are intolerant of the lactose in their mothers' breast milk and have diarrhea from birth. Sometimes, premature infants may also have insufficient 'lactase' level.
Those who love dairy products and are Lactose Intolerant, I am sorry to announce the name of your favourite foods. I know, I know, they are so yummy. Especially, ice cream (I love it!) . Foods that commonly contain lactose are:
b. Ice Cream
e. Cream Cheese
f. Sour Cream
Well, You may be thinking....I know foods that contain lactose .... But ..How do you know you are Lactose Intolerant ?
Well I am coming to the point. If you are Lactose Intolerant, usually you should start feeling following symptoms within 30 minutes to two hours after taking foods that contain lactose. Good news here they are mild ...
Most common sign and symptoms Lactose Intolerance are:
Nausea, and sometimes, vomiting
Loose motion or Diarrhoea
Moreover, there are certain conditions (also known as risk factors) that make us prone to develop this condition. Remember, having these conditions doesn't mean that you have lactose intolerance. You are just at risk.
Increasing Age :
Lactose intolerance becomes more common as we age.
Lactose intolerance is most common in Asian, Hispanic, black and American Indian people.
Premature baby: Infants born prematurely may have reduced levels of 'lactase'. This enzyme production is increased in the fetus late in the third trimester.
Small intestinal disorder : Small intestine problems that can cause lactose intolerance are bacterial overgrowth, celiac disease and Crohn's disease (inflammatory bowel disease) .
Those patients who received radiation therapy for certain cancer in their abdomen or have intestinal complications from chemotherapy (cancer drug therapy), may have an increased risk of lactose intolerance.
There is another disorder related to Lactose Intolerance known as Milk Allergy. This is an allergic reaction to one or more of the proteins in milk like casein, lactalbumin, lactoglobulins. The allergic manifestations to milk include: eczema, rash, mucous buildup, wheezing, respiratory discomfort, rhinitis, and anaphylaxis . The type and severity of symptoms varies widely.
It is possible for us to be both lactose intolerant and allergic to milk.
I think I have said enough. I do not write this blog to apply my medical knowledge and feel proud of myself. I want you to keep this small information in your mind. Someday you might find people close to your heart suffering from this disorder (Lactose Intolerance) and help him/her when no body can. If you can do so, you save life. I think, saving life is the most beautiful thing that could happen to you. Remember, path to your success, joy and effort start and end with yourself.
For further reading on Lactose Intolerance:
Lactose Intolerance References:
Kumar and Clark: Clinical Medicine,6th edition: 2005; Elsevier Saunders
Lactose Intolerance Vs IBS
Lactose Intolerance: An Overview