We understand why lactose is included in the list of dangerous food components and whether it is worth believing.
Milk is considered an essential product, but today we are trying to drink anything except its classic version – banana, soy, coconut and most the main thing is lactose-free. The fear of lactose forces residents of cities to switch from their favorite cappuccino to pure Americano, and fans of match latte to ordinary green tea. What is the reason for such eating behavior and how reasonable is it?
Lactose and lactase: what medicine says
Lactose is a type of sugar that is part of regular milk and dairy products. Our body cannot absorb lactose in its original form, but a special protein, lactase, helps in this. As a result, simple sugars glucose and galactose remain from lactose, which are easily absorbed by the intestinal walls. For young children, lactase is a vital protein, since they get all the most nutritious for the growth and development of the body with mother's milk. However, with age, such a need disappears.
Statistics show that in 70% of adults, lactase production decreases to a level at which complete assimilation of milk by the body becomes impossible. Studies have also shown that lactose intolerance can occur due to a genetic predisposition and certain treatments. These data were taken aback by supporters of a healthy lifestyle, as a result of which a lot of unfounded judgments arose about the dangers of lactose. So how to distinguish truth from fiction?
In reality, you can never say with absolute certainty that you have lactose intolerance. It can be detected only after passing the hydrogen breath test and consulting with specialists. If you often experience nausea, weakness, headaches and muscle pain after breakfast with your favorite cheesecakes, you should limit your intake of dairy products and visit a nutritionist. Perhaps you are really intolerant.
However, before reluctant to switch to lactose-free milk and tune in to lean dinners with salads and cucumber smoothies, you will be delighted when you find out that intolerance to milk sugar does not impose serious restrictions on your diet and love for all milk. Below are just some of the common beliefs about lactose intolerance and how true they are.
1. Lactose intolerance is an allergy to milk
No and no again. Lactose intolerance occurs when the level of lactase, a protein breaker, is too low to help the body deal with lactose, milk sugar. As a result, unpleasant side effects may occur, but they are not an allergic reaction. Milk allergy is most often diagnosed in children. Living with it is much harder than with lactose intolerance, and if there is the slightest suspicion of its presence, it is important to immediately contact a specialist (see also: "How to determine that you have a seasonal allergy").
2. If you are lactose intolerant, you cannot eat dairy products
Lactose is present in all dairy products, but the fact remains: those people who feel bad after a glass of milk can safely eat any kind of cheese. The explanation for this sounds very simple: if the protein that breaks down lactose is produced in less quantity, this does not mean at all that it is not produced at all. This indicator varies, as does the percentage of lactose in each individual dairy product. Somewhere it is a lot, and somewhere – it is not enough. The latter applies, for example, to hard cheeses, certain types of milk (for example, goat and sheep) and sour cream.
3. Lactose intolerance is incurable
Some experts argue that if at least a small percentage of the lactase-breakdown protein is produced in the body, the patient has a chance to overcome milk intolerance. As in many cases with the prevention of allergic reactions, taking small portions of dairy products in combination with other products can play into your hands and gradually accustom the body to the production of more lactase. Experts also note that those patients who take a probiotic after dairy products do not experience serious side effects (as a rule, symptoms of lactose intolerance make themselves felt within 20-30 minutes after taking dairy products).
4. With lactose intolerance, the only milk that should be excluded from the diet is cow
Do not forget that cow's milk is far from the only source of lactose. Goat and sheep’s milk also contain sugar, albeit in smaller quantities (see also: “To drink or not to drink: what is the danger of milk?”). And before moving on to them, it would be nice to find out what your threshold for lactose intolerance is. It is important to consider that you may well have a violation of the absorption of lactose, and this does not mean at all that your body does not tolerate it. It is often very difficult to distinguish between these conditions, so in such cases the most effective is to pass a hydrogen breath test. In this case, the percentage of exhaled hydrogen, which is formed due to the vital activity of the bacterium that processes lactose in the intestine, is estimated.