Got Milk? No, Thank You!

Got Milk? No, Thank You!
February is Lactose Intolerance Awareness Month. I discovered I had lactose sensitivity when I started keeping a food journal shortly after being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. I’m not alone. An estimated 30 to 50 million Americans are lactose intolerant, including up to 80 percent of African Americans, 80 to 100 percent of American Indians, and 90 to 100 percent of Asian Americans. A study published in the journal Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics found that lactose sensitivity occurs in about 70 percent of IBD patients. What is lactose intolerance? Lactose intolerance or sensitivity occurs when the small intestine doesn’t produce enough lactase, the enzyme needed to digest lactose, the sugar found in milk. Lactase breaks down lactose into glucose and galactose so that they can be absorbed through the intestinal lining into the bloodstream. Without lactase, the unprocessed lactose moves from the small intestine into the colon. It then interacts with the gut bacteria in the colon. This interaction causes symptoms of diarrhea, abdominal cramps, bloating, gas, nausea, or vomiting about 30 minutes to two hours after consumption of dairy products with lactose. Types of lactose intolerance The Mayo Clinic classifies lactose intolerance, also known as lactase deficiency, into three categories: primary, secondary, and congenital or developmental. Primary lactose intolerance is genetic. It occurs mostly in people of African, Asian, Native American, Hispanic, Mediterranean, and Southern European descent. Most people have a gradual decrease in lactase production as they age. However, in people with primary lactose intolerance, lactase production reduces suddenly. Secondary lactose intolerance happens when lactase production decreases after surgery o
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