Welcome to "Lactase Network"

. . . The online lactose knowledge source about lactose intolerance, which is also known as lactose intolerant; lactose intolerance, lactase deficiency, milk intolerance congenital disorder consisting of an inability to digest milk and milk products; absence or deficiency of lactase results in an inability to hydrolyze lactose.

Lactose Network is on a mission of providing lactose intolerance information, explaining what it is, symptoms, how it's diagnosed and treated. Lactose intolerance means you have trouble digesting foods containing lactose. Lactose is a type of sugar found in milk, dairy products and food products made with milk, or with milk by-products, such as whey.

Causes of Lactose Intolerance

Lactose intolerance and lactase deficiency occurs when the small intestine does not make sufficient quantities of lactase. Enzymes help the body absorb foods. Not having enough lactase is called lactase deficiency or shortage. Babies make this enzyme so they can digest milk, including breast milk which is one reason working with a newborn baby is known as being a lactation specialist.

Lactose Intolerance

  • About Lactose Intolerance
  • Dealing with Lactose Intolerance
  • Lactase Deficiency Resources

About Lactose Intolerance and Lactase Deficiency

Does your stomach churn after you drink milk? Do you have diarrhea soon afterward? If so, you may be lactose intolerant.

Lactose intolerance means that you cannot digest foods with lactose in them and has a lactase deficiency. Lactose is the sugar found in milk and foods made with milk. You cannot digest lactose because your small intestine does not have enough of an enzyme called lactase.

Symptoms of lactose intolerance usually begin within a half hour to two hours after eating or drinking foods that contain lactose. Symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Bloating
  • Gas

Lactose intolerance is not the same as milk allergy.lactose intolerance Milk allergy is due to a problem with your body's defense system, called the immune system. In contrast, lactose intolerance is caused by not having enough lactase. Symptoms of milk allergy start right after drinking milk. But symptoms of lactose intolerance take longer to develop.

Lactose intolerance is more common in some ethnic groups—in particular, blacks, Hispanics, Asians and Native Americans. The condition is also more common in older people, since our bodies produce fewer lactase enzymes as we age.

Dealing with Lactose Intolerance

Although it is uncomfortable, the condition is not serious. One way to avoid symptoms is to eat less food with lactose. Besides milk, lactose is also in:

  • Ice cream
  • Sherbet
  • Cream
  • Butter
  • Some cheeses (including cottage cheese)
  • Yogurt

Lactose is also added to some prepared foods, such as:

  • Breads and other baked goods
  • Cereals
  • Mixes for cakes, cookies, pancakes, and biscuits
  • Instant potatoes, soups, and breakfast drinks
  • Lunch meats
  • Frozen dinners
  • Salad dressings
  • Margarines

If you plan to eat foods with lactose, you can try taking a lactase tablet just before eating. The tablet supplies your body with the lactase that it's missing. Another option is to drink lactose-reduced milk. It contains the same nutrients as milk, including calcium and vitamin D, but less lactose.

Add lactase enzyme, in tablets or drops, to milk before drinking. The milk will taste slightly sweeter because added lactase breaks down the lactose in milk into simpler, sweeter sugars.

You can eat your favorite dairy foods, it you use a lactose supplement to chew or swallow before eating lactose-rich foods without discomfort.

Some people with lactose intolerance find that they can eat a small amount of some foods with lactose. For instance, they may be able to eat yogurt or aged cheeses, like cheddar or Swiss. Others find that they can tolerate milk if they drink it in small amounts or drink it at meals.

Luckily, many food products have been developed to help people with lactose intolerance issues enjoy food which they normally couldn't eat. Some products are lactose-reduced, while others contain added lactase, the enzyme that digests milk sugar and is often deficient in people with lactose intolerance.

Look for lactose-treated milk and other dairy foods. Lactose-reduced milk has 70% less lactose than regular milk and lactose-free milk is virtually free of any lactose.

If you cannot tolerate any amount of milk or milk products, it would be advisable to find other ways to get enough calcium. Calcium is needed for healthy bones and teeth. Please pay a visit to Cancer Organization to read a list of foods rich in calcium and other healthy foods, including the top cancer fighting food. Also, ask your doctor if you should take calcium supplements.

Call your health care provider if:

  • You have an infant younger than 2 or 3 years old who has symptoms of lactose intolerance.
  • Your child is growing slowly or not gaining weight.
  • You or your child has symptoms of lactose intolerance and you need information on food substitutes.
  • Your symptoms get worse or do not improve with treatment, or you develop new symptoms.

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