Lactose intolerance: what are the symptoms and how to treat it?
At a time when the contents of plates are observed under a magnifying glass, food intolerances seem to have multiplied. However, the poor assimilation of dairy products is nothing new. According to Dr. Olivier Spatzierer, gastroenterologist at the American Hospital (Neuilly-sur-Seine), " 30 to 40% of the adult population in France has always been concerned ". A figure that can reach 90% in Asia, or down to 5% in Northern Europe.
What is lactose?
It is a sugar naturally present in mammalian milk, transformed into two simple sugars (galactose and glucose) by the body to be digested. This operation is done with lactase, an intestinal enzyme. However, the rate of the latter decreases at the end of childhood, and then varies strongly from one adult to another. The enzymatic activity of the lactase never disappears completely, which makes it possible to assimilate a small amount of lactose. Dr. Spatzierer would like to reassure us: " Intolerance is normal, it is a deficit, in no case a disease. Let's not forget that for centuries milk was only consumed during breastfeeding!
How to estimate lactose intolerance?
There are several types of tests to confirm its intolerance: genetic, respiratory or blood (to measure the glucose level). Knowing that the consequences of intolerance are manifested twenty minutes to two hours after consuming products containing lactose, Dr. Spatzierer advocates dietary tests to see what you tolerate and identify what is really not happening ".
What are the symptoms of lactose intolerance?
When lactose is not completely digested, the surpluses remain in the digestive tract, then they are fermented by bacteria that transform them into gas. The digestive symptoms are rather uncomfortable: bloating and flatulence, intestinal cramps, sometimes accompanied by diarrhea and vomiting. Intolerance can also cause general symptoms: headaches, fatigue, muscle and joint pains.
Lactose intolerance: which foods are affected?
Dairy products do not contain the same amount of lactose depending on their processing: yogurts, butter and hard cheeses are almost devoid of it (it degrades during fermentation), while milk powder can display more than 50% lactose. This powder is widely used for its thickening properties in processed meats and processed products (industrial breads, ready meals, etc.), to be avoided in case of strong intolerance. There is also, in a smaller amount, in the coating of drugs.
How to adapt your diet?
Drugs that are least tolerated should be avoided, but Dr. Spatzierer advises against excluding dairy products from the diet: " In general, yogurts are well tolerated. We must not ostracize dairy products and exaggerate their intolerance, at the risk of having insufficient inputs, particularly calcium. Calcium is particularly needed in growing adolescents, as well as in the elderly, in the prevention of osteoporosis.
And if it was a transient intolerance?
Treatment with antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, or an infection of the gut such as gastroenteritis, can cause intolerance. It disappears once the bowel is functioning properly again, but it will be permanent in case of chronic diseases such as Crohn's disease or celiac disease.
Lactose intolerance or milk protein allergies: how to differentiate them?
The allergy to milk proteins is mainly concerned with infants, often disappears during childhood and only very rarely affects adults. Allergy is a disorder of the immune system and is manifested by digestive disorders (reflux, colic), respiratory (runny nose, sneezing, asthma) and cutaneous (eczema).
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