Blog: Are You Lactose Intolerant?

Do you know anyone who cannot consume milk or milk-based products?

Well. such conditions are not uncommon, and these people are lactose intolerant. Lactose is the main carbohydrate or sugar found in milk and varying quantities in dairy products made from milk, including yoghurt, ice cream, soft cheeses and butter. Lactose (milk sugar) intolerance results from an inability to digest lactose in the small intestine. Back in the cave-days, the only time a person would ever consume lactose would be when they were infants getting milk from their mothers. During their adult lives, milk was never consumed. With the invention of agriculture, milk has become readily available to adults. Lactose is unique in that only in milk does it exist as a free form, unattached to other molecules.

What causes lactose intolerance? Lactose is digested in the small intestine by an enzyme called lactase. This enzyme allows the body to break down lactose into two simple sugars, glucose and galactose. These are quickly absorbed by the intestine and provide energy for the body. The level of the lactase enzyme varies between individuals, as does the severity of the symptoms caused by lactose intolerance. What are the symptoms of lactose intolerance? Symptoms range from abdominal discomfort, bloating and excessive wind to severe abdominal cramps and diarrhoea. Substitutes for lactose-containing foods Lactose intolerance generally isn't severe and can be controlled by some simple changes in your diet. The dietary changes for lactose intolerance exclude those foods highest in lactose. There is now a wide range of fresh soy milk, yoghurts and ice creams that are lactose-free and calcium-enriched. Many dairy foods have little or no lactose, so you can continue to enjoy them. The power of soy protein Soy-based products are on the rise for very healthy reasons. The humble soybean boasts some extraordinary benefits. Lactose-free soy protein is a "complete protein" containing all nine essential amino acids in the right balance to meet your body's needs. Soy protein is the only plant protein that is complete. This makes it an excellent substitute for many types of meat, allowing you to eliminate more saturated fat and cholesterol from your diet. While soybeans have much to offer from a protein perspective, they contain so many nutrients, such as isoflavones, that they are now the centre of so much attention. Soy protein enhances the body's ability to retain and absorb calcium into the bones. Soy isoflavones help by slowing bone loss and inhibiting bone breakdown.

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