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Could You Be Lactose Intolerant And Not Even Know?

Milk could be causing more upset in your life, and you could suffer from a type of lactose intolerance and not even be aware.

Primary lactose intolerance is estimated to be 7 to 20% for people of Caucasian descent, 65 to 75% for African descent, over 90% in some Asian populations and approximately 70% in Australian Aboriginal populations, according to My Virtual Medical Centre.

In some parts of the world it's more common to not be able to digest lactose. But what is lactose intolerance?

Explained by Nutrition Australia, "To digest lactose your body contains the enzyme lactase. Lactase splits the lactose into two smaller sugars, glucose and galactose. These smaller sugars are absorbed by your body to provide energy."

If you feel bloated, have a stomachache or produce a lot of gas after digesting dairy, this could be down to not having enough lactase to digest the lactose.

"When a person doesn’t have enough of the lactase enzyme to break down all of the lactose, they are said to have lactose maldigestion. The undigested lactose passes through the small intestine to the colon. In the colon, natural bacteria ferment the lactose and produce acids and gas.

"This combination of events can cause the symptoms of lactose intolerance, which may include abdominal pain, bloating or diarrhoea.

"Lactose maldigestion does not necessarily result in symptoms of lactose intolerance. Most people with lactose maldigestion can eat some lactose-containing foods, such as dairy, without feeling unwell."

If you do suffer from lactose intolerance here are some tips to help you include three serves of dairy each day:

1. Drink milk with other foods and not on an empty stomach

2. Distribute milk intake into small serves spread out over the day

3. Build up your tolerance. Start small and gradually increase your milk consumption

4. Regular fat milk may be better tolerated than low fat or skim milk. Fat slows the passage of lactose through your digestive system giving you more time to digest it

5. Yogurt is often better tolerated than milk; and

6. Cheese is low in lactose and is usually well tolerated.

Of course this is just a guide. If you suspect you might suffer from lactose intolerance there is a simple medical test you can take from your doctor.

Nutrition Australia advises strongly, "Do not self diagnose lactose intolerance, as there could be other medical issues causing similar symptoms. If you are concerned, ask your doctor to test you for lactose intolerance."

*Before you make changes to your diet consult your GP.

Source: Nutrition Australia

Top Image: Stock photo

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