Most of us have this image of what a perfect morning should start with: a classic English breakfast well prepared on the table, wholemeal bread or fruits by the side, and a glass of milk or coffee. However, in reality, this is not the case for most of the people on earth.
Ever remember how frequent you blow it off in the toilet after having a cup of milk in the morning?
What is lactose intolerance?
Well, according to research, up to 90% of Americans are considered lactose intolerant.
Although the effects of lactose intolerance are common among Malaysians, most of the people don’t acknowledge it. Lactose intolerance is the inability of adults and children to digest lactose, which found exclusively in milk and some milk products, which causes side effects. In a general case, lactose would be broken down by an enzyme named lactase into glucose and galactose during digestion.
What are the symptoms of lactose intolerance?
Most of the lactose-intolerant individuals have insufficient levels of lactase, and when lactose is undigested, this could result in the following symptoms:
- abdominal bloating
- mild diarrhea
- nausea which may be accompanied by vomiting
These symptoms can last from half an hour to 2 hours, depending on how fast your body produces lactase.
How can you find out if you have lactose intolerance?
To find out if you have lactose intolerance or any other diseases, it is advisable to consult a doctor and do the below test:
- Lactose tolerance test
This test involves two blood tests: one is done after fasting overnight, and the other done after drinking a large amount of liquid containing lactose. The test is to demonstrate your ‘before and after’ blood sugar or glucose level. The result shows the efficiency of your body to digest lactose.
- Hydrogen breath test
For this test, you will be asked to drink a beverage that contains lactose. Fifteen minutes later, you will be asked to blow up balloon-like bags every 15 minutes for two hours, and the air you breathe into the container will be tested for the presence of hydrogen. Ordinary, a small amount of hydrogen, will be detected in the breath, but hydrogen will be produced when bacteria ferment undigested lactose in the colon.
Is lactose tolerance curable? Should one make any diet changes? If so, what foods must you avoid?
Although lactose intolerance is incurable, it is not the end of the day because you would be surprised how most lactose-intolerant individuals can avoid discomfort after consumption of milk products. There are few tips to help you live with lactose intolerance, and the first is to limit the use of milk or milk products in the diet.
In general, most people can tolerate up to 10g of lactose, which can be a glass of milk each day. However, it might differ from one person to another, and you need to check how much is present in the food consumes. Besides this, it is better to drink milk or milk products together with other meals. A typical and favorable combination would be cereal with milk.
Besides, you can try to consume a small amount of lactose-containing products at a time throughout the day. This can easily be achieved by purchasing reduced lactose products in grocery stores. Some milk or milk products on the market are low in lactose, and it would help to control the symptoms.
A few food and drinks that can be used in place of regular dairy products
- Soy-based products – soy milk is a good substitute for milk, which provides similar taste and is also suitable for health.
- Yogurt with lives and active bacterial cultures
- Sherbets can replace Ice-creams
- Butter can be replaced by non-dairy butter such as margarine or coconut oil-based butter
Wondering if you will not be meeting the required calcium levels due to lower consumption of milk? Worry not! You can easily have the level of calcium needed by consuming other calcium-rich foods such as:
- Broccoli – rich in calcium
- Canned sardines, tuna and salmon – are all rich in calcium
- Almonds, Brazil nuts, and dried beans – excellent sources of calcium
Take note that calcium can be absorbed effectively with vitamin D. Sunlight in the morning gives us vitamin D, and consuming eggs, liver, and fish would help as well.