Lactose intolerance is a type of reaction to lactose present in cow’s milk or formula manufactured from it that you or your child may experience. This occurs when our bodies are unable to digest lactose, a natural sugar found in milk. Lactose intolerance affects over 70% of the world’s population. People from Asian, African, and Hispanic ethnic groupings are more likely to have it.
Lactose Intolerance Symptoms
Lactose intolerance has certain symptoms that are comparable to those of a cow’s milk protein allergy. Digestion issues such as belly aches and bloating may be among them. Diarrhoea can also be a symptom.
A lactose intolerance test, which evaluates blood sugar levels before and after drinking a lactose solution drink, may be given to confirm the intolerance.
If the test reveals lactose intolerance, you will most likely be directed to a dietician, who will advise you on appropriate meals and beverages. To ensure normal growth and development, babies and young children require the right nutrition. If your baby is bottle-fed and has lactose sensitivity, your doctor will probably recommend switching to lactose-free formula milk. Lactose replacement drops, which make it easier for your infant to digest lactose in breast milk, may aid if you’re nursing. For many babies and young children, lactose intolerance is only transitory. Within a few weeks or months, their symptoms will usually improve. It’s safe to gradually reintroduce milk and dairy into their diet at this time.
How Do You Deal With Lactose Intolerance?
When a child is diagnosed with lactose intolerance, the symptoms are relieved by avoiding milk and other dairy products. Those with primary lactose intolerance, on the other hand, have various degrees of lactase insufficiency and can tolerate varying levels of dietary lactose. Lactose-intolerant youngsters (and their parents) should be aware that symptoms caused by dairy products are usually temporary and do not cause harm to the gastrointestinal tract (as compared with celiac disease or allergic reactions, including milk-protein intolerance that can lead to ongoing inflammation and mucosal damage). Despite the fact that lactose malabsorption does not predispose to calcium malabsorption, avoiding milk products to alleviate symptoms may be detrimental to proper bone mineralization. It’s been proven that children who don’t drink milk get less calcium than they need for appropriate bone calcium accretion and mineralization.
Beyond infancy, lactose-free alternatives to cow milk based on rice, soy, or other proteins are widely accessible, albeit the nutritious content of most of these milks is not comparable to cow milk. Lactose is present in other mammalian milks, including goat milk. Tolerance to milk products may be partial, so some people may be able to avoid symptoms by simply changing their diet. Lactose in little doses, spaced throughout the day and ingested with other foods, may be tolerated in some cases, without causing discomfort. Because the bacteria in yogurt convert the lactose into lactic acid before intake, many lactose-intolerant individuals who are intolerant of milk can consume yoghurt. Furthermore, the semisolid nature of yoghurt reduces gastric emptying and gastrointestinal transit, resulting in less lactose intolerance symptoms.
Aged cheeses have a lower lactose content than other cheeses and may be better tolerated as a result. Finally, oral lactase replacement capsules or lactase-enhanced milk or dairy products are widely available, allowing lactose-intolerant people to consume some or all milk products without restriction. Because the vitamin D amount of milk substitutes vary, labels must be verified to ensure that each brand’s vitamin D content is accurate.
Low-lactose and lactose-free formulas have no clinical advantages over standard lactose-containing formulas in developed countries, even in the case of acute gastroenteritis, because enough lactose digestion and absorption is preserved, except in severely undernourished children, in whom lactose-containing formulas may worsen diarrhoea and lactose-free formulas may be advantageous. In all circumstances, human milk should be continued for breastfed newborns. Despite the widespread availability and popularity of lactose-free cow milk–protein-based formulas, no research has shown that they have any therapeutic influence on infant outcome indicators such as colic, growth, or development.
Calcium Absorption and Bone Mineral Content Lactose, Calcium Absorption, and Bone Mineral Content
Recent research suggests that dietary lactose improves calcium absorption and that lactose-free diets decrease calcium absorption. Lactose intolerance (and lactose-free diets) may thus predispose to insufficient bone mineralization, a condition now identified in a variety of other paediatric illnesses. The long-term effects of lactose-free diets on bone mineral content and the risk of fractures and osteoporosis as people age have yet to be determined. Protein intake, vitamin D status, salt intake, hereditary and other factors all affect calcium homeostasis, making long-term research necessary to assess the hazards of each or all of these to bone health. Recent research suggests that genetic testing may one day be effective for detecting those at risk of lactase deficiency and, as a result, decreased bone mineral density, allowing for early management with dietary changes or nutrient supplementation.
Lactose intolerance has been recognised as a frequent condition in many children and people around the world for many years. Despite the fact that lactose intolerance is rarely life-threatening, its symptoms can cause severe discomfort, interrupted quality of life, and loss of school attendance, leisure and sports activities, and work time, all at a cost to individuals, families, and society. Treatment is straightforward and focuses on lowering or eliminating lactose, from the diet or “predigesting” it with supplemental lactase-enzyme replacement. Calcium must be obtained from nondairy sources or as a dietary supplement to avoid indolence.
Kanupriya Khanna, a Senior Consultant Nutritionist & Dietitian with over 18 years of experience in child nutrition, can provide expert advise and the right kind of diet. Kanupriya Khanna is regarded as one of the best dietitians in Delhi because of her unwavering commitment to making a difference in people’s lives by instilling good eating habits and lifestyles.