What is lactose intolerance?


What is lactose?

The lactose is the sugar (or carbohydrate) in milk. It is a complex sugar (disaccharide), which is only digestible if it is converted into simple sugars (glucose + galactose).

This transformation is achieved by the enzyme lactase (in the small intestine) and makes the lactose (broken down into lactic acid) available to the digestive tract.

When we talk about lactose, we think of dairy products, but also of the difficulty that some people have in digesting them. Many of us are indeed lactose intolerant and suffer from varying degrees of symptoms. To better understand lactose intolerance, it is important to understand what lactose is and what it does to our bodies.

Lactose: definition

First of all, lactose must be distinguished from lactase. Lactose is a sugar while lactase is an enzyme.

More precisely, lactose is the sugar in milk. It is a so-called "complex" sugar that can only be properly digested if it is broken down into two simple sugars: glucose and galactose. To do this, our body needs an enzyme: lactase. This enzyme is produced in the small intestine so that when we consume products containing lactose, it can be absorbed by the digestive tract.

What is the action of lactase on lactose?

Lactase is an enzyme produced by humans and all mammals in the small intestine. Lactase transforms lactose into simple sugars that our body can easily digest. Lactase is therefore essential for the proper digestion of milk.

In the body of a newborn, lactase is at its highest level. As we grow, the amount of the enzyme gradually decreases to a residual level of only 5 to 10% in adulthood.

Why does our body have difficulty tolerating lactose?

As you can see, the older we get, the less lactase our bodies produce. This makes it more difficult to assimilate the lactose present in dairy products in particular. This lactose intolerance is in fact the norm since we know that our prehistoric ancestors no longer produced lactase after weaning. 10,000 years ago, the peoples of the Caucasus began to consume milk from their farms. Gradually, these people became more tolerant of lactose and passed on this genetic mutation to their descendants. Today, intolerance is still the majority. Also, in an adult population, lactase production is marginal. There are 75% lactose intolerant people worldwide, you are not alone!

How to identify and avoid lactose in case of intolerance?

Lactose is of course present - in varying levels - in dairy products. However, it is also found in processed products or in certain medicines and in 100% contraceptive pills, for example. We do not always suspect it, but cold meats can contain lactose (lardons, pâtés, merguez, white pudding, sausages, etc.).

It can be difficult to manage lactose intolerance on a daily basis, but you should know that the law requires all products to be labelled with all allergens including milk in bold. To consume products containing lactose with complete peace of mind, you can opt for the lactase supplementation offered by Lactolerance.

What is lactose intolerance?

It is the inability to digest lactose, the carbohydrate in milk, because the body no longer produces enough lactase, the digestive enzyme that breaks down lactose into simple sugars that can be digested.

In people withlactose intoleranceThe unbroken lactose will ferment in the digestive tract and cause discomfort and inconvenience due to poor digestion.

What are the symptoms of lactose intolerance?

From symptoms may appear, depending on the amount of lactose These include: borborygma (stomach rumbling), abdominal bloating, stomach pain (heartburn, abdominal cramps), bloating and flatulence, diarrhoea - sometimes also nausea and vomiting, even gastro-oesophageal reflux, constipation, chronic fatigue and migraines

These digestive problems generally appear between 15 minutes and 4 hours (sometimes up to 24 hours) after drinking milk drinks (a glass of fresh milk, whole or semi-skimmed milk, including powdered milk, goat's milk in small quantities or breast milk, but sometimes a simple chocolate milk is enough) or ingesting products containing lactose (fresh cheeses, ripened cheeses, hard cheeses, industrial yoghurts, as well as cold meats, ice creams - and even certain medicines that use lactose as an excipient!).

Interview with Lactolérance for the website Santé sur le Net

Where does lactose intolerance come from?

In our prehistoric ancestors, as in mammals in general, the body normally stopped producing lactase after weaning. No one was therefore lactose-tolerant in adulthood and lactose intolerance was therefore the norm!

10,000 years ago, with the domestication of cattle, the Caucasian populations became accustomed to consuming milk, and their organisms adapted to these new eating habits by continuing to produce the enzyme lactase in adulthood. These individuals thus became lactose tolerant.

Today, the prevalence of lactose intolerance is estimated at 70% in the world population (50-80% of the population in South America, 60-80% in Black Africa and 95% in Asia). L'lactose intolerance is therefore 'normal' worldwide, but is in the minority in Europe, where lactose intolerant people represent about 40% of the population.

In France, 5 million people are bothered in their daily lives.

What is the difference between lactose intolerance and lactose allergy?

Intolerance (non-assimilation of lactose), which may be hereditary, should not be confused with cow's milk allergy, which requires a strong immune system reaction to an attack.

Lactose intolerance must also be distinguished from other diseases of the digestive system such as irritable bowel syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease and other food allergies (gluten allergy) or food intolerances (gluten intolerance).

What is Lactolerance?

Lactolerance is a food supplement based on the enzyme lactase, which facilitates the digestion of lactose. No more gastrointestinal problems and diets, you can finally eat what you want without any questions asked!