You may have heard this term mentioned by an anxious individual in a café or restaurant, or you may be curious about the condition if you or someone you know has it. To gain a comprehensive understanding of lactose intolerance, its causes, symptoms, precautions, and treatments, continue perusing.
How is lactose intolerance defined?
Throughout the majority of our infancy, milk is the only component of our nourishment. It is essential to the skeletal, muscular, and dental development of infants and toddlers. Milk and other dairy products are not without consequences as we age, despite their exceptional nutritional value (vitamins, calcium, and minerals, etc.).
Simply stated, lactose intolerance is the unpleasant gut symptoms that some individuals experience after consuming milk or other dairy products. Lactose is a natural sugar and 4-5% of milk’s carbohydrates. To assimilate and extract energy from this carbohydrate, the body needs the enzyme lactase. The oral cavity, oesophagus, and stomach, which aid in the digestion of other nutritive components of food, do not react to lactase enzyme, so lactose digestion is limited to the small intestine. This enzyme is secreted by enterocytes, specialised cells required for milk tolerance in the intestines. Without adequate secretion, production, or activity of the lactase enzyme, lactose in the diet cannot be assimilated. This leaves the lactose component undigested and unabsorbed in the intestines, which makes consuming dairy disagreeable.
In a process known as hydrolysis of lactose, lactase is required to divide lactose into two smaller sugar molecules, glucose and galactose. In this form, sugars can be readily absorbed from the digestive tract into the bloodstream and then utilised by the body. Hypolactasia, or the insufficient production of lactase by the body, manifests as diarrhoea.
Important distinction must be made between lactose intolerance and milk allergy. Numerous individuals in established nations are allergic to various foods, primarily milk, peanuts, eggs, and shellfish. The protein content of these foods is responsible for initiating an IgE-mediated or cellular allergic immune response. In most cases, allergy manifests as gastrointestinal symptoms, itchy skin, eczema, erythema, and general irritation.
Lactose intolerance is a reasonably prevalent condition. Depending on genetic, ethnic, environmental, and other factors, 50-65% of the world’s population suffers from this condition. Extremely prevalent in Asian and African communities, it accounts for 80 to 100 percent of the adult population. A survey demonstrates that its prevalence is lower in North American and French communities. Fortunately, it is non-lethal and manageable in the majority of instances. And you may be among those who self-diagnosed the condition, despite the likelihood that this is not the case. The condition typically occurs along a spectrum; the majority of lactose-intolerant patients can ingest small amounts of lactose in their diets. The problem arises when lactose in the diet cannot be supplemented with adequate levels of lactase produced intrinsically.