Lactose intolerance, also known as lactose deficiency, is an insufficiency in the production of the enzyme lactase, which is responsible for digesting the sugar of all foods derived from milk.
The amount of enzyme produced varies from organism to organism and, in some cases, it is completely zero! Therefore, there are different levels of lactose intolerance, and the lower the production of the enzyme lactase, the more intense the symptoms.
Do you think you have lactose intolerance? Then read on! In this text, we will explain everything you need to know about this problem. Check out!
How to detect lactose intolerance?
Those suffering from lactose intolerance experience a series of discomforts when eating a food rich in milk, but these symptoms are very general and can be easily confused with the symptoms of some other disease .
Therefore, instead of diagnosing yourself with lactose intolerance, it is recommended that you go to a doctor and ask him to perform an exam that really proves your deficiency in the production of lactase. These are the tests that detect intolerance:
This test consists of measuring the level of acidity (lactose not ingested by the body produces lactic acid) in the stool to detect intolerance. The test is performed mainly on children and babies .
The patient must drink a liquid with a large amount of lactose, then the doctor will measure the presence of hydrogen in the air expelled by the patient.
As in the above exam, the patient must drink a liquid rich in lactose to then perform the exam, so the doctor can measure the amount of glucose present in the blood.
A small sample of intestinal tissue is collected to be analyzed by a microscope, then the presence or absence of cells that indicate lactose intolerance will be examined. This exam is the least chosen because it is very invasive.
If lactose intolerance is indeed detected, the patient will need to change his entire routine as well as his eating habits, otherwise he will continue to experience pain and discomfort.
What are the symptoms of lactose intolerance?
As already said, each body reacts in a different way, that is, not everyone feels the symptoms in the same proportions. Know the most common problems caused by lactose intolerance:
Diarrhea is the most common. Due to the insufficiency of the enzyme lactase, the sugar present in milk is not broken down during digestion, arriving whole and intact in the intestine. The bacteria that make up the intestinal flora promote the fermentation of lactose, transforming it into lactic acid, which is not good for the walls of the organ. As a form of defense, the body induces diarrhea so that the acid is eliminated as quickly as possible.
Abdominal pain, or cramping, is usually associated with the symptom of diarrhea. During the fermentation of lactase in the intestine, there is the formation of gases that move inside the organ, which causes such terrible abdominal pains. Some patients experience mild pain that passes in a matter of minutes, others need to rush to the emergency room and take medication in the vein to eliminate the pain.
The proof that each body reacts differently to this type of intolerance, is that some individuals have constipation instead of diarrhea when eating a food rich in milk. This depends on how the person’s gut reacts to the presence of lactase.
Nausea and vomiting
These symptoms appear in patients who have a greater rejection of milk sugar, that is, the greater the intolerance the more severe the symptoms will be. The body tries to expel lactose at all costs, so nausea and vomiting happen.
The person who has lactose intolerance but, due to stubbornness, ingests some food that has milk, usually gets swollen and has a rigid belly. That’s because lactase fermentation generates gases. As stated, the large presence of intestinal gases leaves the patient bloated.
How to live with intolerance?
For some people, living without milk may seem impossible, but in fact, individuals with lactose intolerance are able to live peacefully without giving up any pleasure. These are the best ways to deal with intolerance:
Carry lactase capsules with you
Lactase capsules contain the enzyme needed to break down milk sugar. Therefore, the intolerant person who wants to eat some food rich in milk should take one of these capsules to reduce the symptoms of intolerance. The capsule is eaten together with the food, so that the effect is more efficient. As this is a rather expensive alternative , it is recommended that intolerants use the capsules in special moments, such as parties and trips.
Prepare your food
Many dishes contain milk, so if you feel uncomfortable every time, ask the person who is cooking to take the milk out of the food, do it yourself! So you can prepare what you want without adding milk.
This tip is also for those who usually have lunch at work. Take your lunch, snack or dinner. All people who have a dietary restriction are practically obliged to carry their meal, as it is difficult to find anywhere on the street that meets their nutritional needs.
Try zero lactose products
The number of lactose intolerant people only increases, the brands saw this problem and decided to create products that can be consumed by these intolerant people. Today, you can find creams, condensed milk and even zero lactose milk. This is a good option for you who miss eating a sweet that is based on milk, like pudding.
Use another type of milk
Cow’s milk is not the only one that exists. The best option is to replace animal milk with vegetable milk, especially when preparing some cake or pasta recipe. Some options for vegetable milk are coconut milk, soy, almonds, oats and several others.
Living with lactose intolerance is not an impossible task, but for that, you need to know your body. Notice how your body reacts to milk, what symptoms you feel, which food causes the most reaction, all that matters. Always remember to visit the doctor and follow the tips in this text!