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Nutrition- Does milk make your stomach bubble?

By Vision Reporter

Added 7th February 2010 03:00 AM

FOR some people, the taste of milk leaves their stomach rebellious. If so, you may be lactose intolerant. Being lactose intolerant means you cannot digest lactose — the natural sugar in milk and other dairy products.

FOR some people, the taste of milk leaves their stomach rebellious. If so, you may be lactose intolerant. Being lactose intolerant means you cannot digest lactose — the natural sugar in milk and other dairy products.

By Rachel Bahika

FOR some people, the taste of milk leaves their stomach rebellious. If so, you may be lactose intolerant. Being lactose intolerant means you cannot digest lactose — the natural sugar in milk and other dairy products.

People, who cannot digest lactose, have a deficiency of an enzyme called lactase, which is produced in the small intestine and is needed to digest it.
It breaks down milk sugar into two simpler forms absorbed into the bloodstream.

However, lactose intolerance is not the same as a milk allergy. While people with food allergies must avoid certain foods, those with food intolerances can eat small amounts of the offending foods without having symptoms.

Symptoms
When one lacks lactase to digest the lactose, one may experience nausea, stomach cramps, painful gas, bloating and diarrhoea.

These symptoms typically occur within 30 minutes to two hours after consuming such foods. The severity of symptoms varies depending on the amount of lactose an individual can tolerate.

Causes
Most people inherit this condition from their parents. For many, lactose intolerance develops naturally as they grow older. The small intestine produces less lactase after age two, so many people do not have symptoms until they are adults.

Lactose intolerance is not very common in children under two years of age unless the child has a lactase deficiency because of an injury to the small intestine. If you think your child may be lactose intolerant, talk to a paediatrician.

Certain digestive diseases like crohn’s disease, celiac disease (a disease that damages the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food) and injuries to the small intestine can also reduce the amount of lactase available to process lactose properly.

Managing it
There is no treatment to make the body produce more lactase, but the symptoms of lactose intolerance can be controlled through diet. People have different levels of tolerance to lactose.
Some may have a tablespoon of milk in a cup of tea with little or no discomfort. Others have reactions that stop them from taking milk.

Lactose is also present in about 20% of certain birth control pills and about 6% of over-the-counter medications like tablets for stomach acid and gas.

Dietary supplements with lactase are available to help people digest foods that contain lactose. However, consult your doctor or dietician before you take them.

Pay attention to labels
“Lactose-free” or “lactose-reduced” milk and other products are available in supermarkets. These may provide the same nutrients as their lactose-containing counterparts.

However, lactose-free or lactose-reduced products do not protect those allergic to dairy products from experiencing an allergic reaction. People with milk allergies are allergic to the milk protein, which is still present when the lactose is removed.

If any of these words are listed on the product, it probably contains lactose: milk, cream, butter, evaporated milk, condensed milk, dried milk, powdered milk, milk solids, margarine, cheese and curds.

Highly sensitive individuals should also beware of powdered coffee creamers and whipped toppings which contain sodium caseinate or ‘milk derivative’, which may contain low levels of lactose.

The lactose intolerance test
Usually lactose intolerance is diagnosed based on its symptoms and relief of those symptoms after one has avoided dairy products.

However, medical tests for lactose intolerance to confirm the diagnosis can be done. Many doctors will ask patients, who may have lactose intolerance, to avoid milk and dairy products for one or two weeks to see if their symptoms subside.

A hydrogen breath test, lactose intolerance test or a stool test will be done to confirm the diagnosis.
One can also do a milk challenge test: One fasts overnight and drinks a glass of milk in the morning. Nothing more is eaten for three to five hours.

If one is lactose intolerant, the milk should produce symptoms within several hours of ingestion. But you should still consult your doctor to make sure that you are lactose intolerant and do not have a milk allergy or another digestive problem.

Tips for Milk consumers
If you are lactose intolerant, try lactose-free milk or dairy products such as yoghurt and cheese. You may consume dairy products in small amounts without symptoms.

Consume milk or other dairy products with other foods. This helps slow down digestion, making it easy for your body to absorb lactose.

If you are eating few or no dairy products, ask your doctor or dietitian if you are getting enough calcium in your diet.

You may need to take dietary supplements with calcium to keep your bones healthy.

Raw milk and lactose intolerance: Some people believe that pasteurised milk causes lactose intolerance while raw milk does not. This is not true.

All milk, whether raw or pasteurised, contains lactose and pasteurisation does not change the concentration of lactose nor does it convert lactose from one form into another.

Drinking raw milk causes uncomfortable symptoms in people who are lactose-intolerant. But worse than this discomfort are the dangers of raw milk which can harbour a host of disease-causing organisms.

Foods with Lactose
Milk, including evaporated and condensed
Creams, including light, whipping and sour
Ice cream, sherbet, yoghurt, some cheeses (cottage cheese) and butter
Lactose may also be added to some canned, frozen, boxed and other prepared foods
Bread, baked foods
Cereals
Mixes for cakes, cookies, pancakes and biscuits
Instant potatoes, soups, and breakfast drinks
Lunch meats (other than Kosher)
Frozen dinners
Salad dressings
Margarines
Candies and other snacks

Nutrition- Does milk make your stomach bubble?

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