How often do you eat an ice cream or a pizza and start to feel intestinal disorders? Have you ever wondered why, when you were young, you could drink a glass of milk every morning and now you can no longer digest it.? If you have identified yourself in these examples, perhaps you are also struggling to digest lactose (the sugar present in milk).
It may be useful to understand how to act consequently.
Lactases: what they are and what they are used for
Before understanding how to intervene, we must analyse what prevents a proper digestion of lactose in our body.
Lactose is a polysaccharide composed by two simple sugars, fructose and galactose. They are joined together by a specific bond. This bond must be broken because the organism is not able to absorb such a large sugar for this reason lactases (enzymes) cut this bond.
The production of lactase is regulated by a gene of our DNA and, due to genetic mutations of this, some individuals produce a lower amount of lactase, and therefore will be able to digest smaller amounts of lactose.
In addition to a genetic issue, unfortunately after the first year of age the production of lactase is reduced because milk is no longer the main food. The progressive reduction in lactase’s production means that, as we grow, we are no longer able to digest the same quantities of lactose as we did in our youth.
When lactases do not work to digest lactose: disorders
Undigested lactose circulates in the intestine but is not a “welcome” host. This is because it draws water and consequently develops various disorders, such as diarrhea, bloating and abdominal pain, meteorism and flatulence.
The disorders that may occur vary for each person. Some also show nausea, headaches, fatigue and rashes, the intensity then depending on the amount of lactose taken and how many lactases are present in the intestine.
How to deal with the problem
It is necessary to investigate the cause. The Breath test or genetic testing are simple and non-invasive tests, that help to identify a reduction in lactase’s production.
Once the problem is established, it is necessary to limit the consumption of dairy products. However, it is not possible to eliminate dairy products from the diet. Not always you know all the ingredients that make up the meal and the relative quantities of lactose.
There is a natural solution: a lactase-based supplement before meals. Be careful to some aspects when choosing the supplement:
- The quantity of lactase: this is the first aspect to consider. It is important to have high quantity of lactase in a supplement, a quantity of 15000 units of lactase per capsule is definitely an important quantity.
Edited by Dr.ssa Laura Rubini