Lactose intolerance is a digestive ailment in which you experience bloating, diarrhea, and gas after consuming lactose-containing meals or beverages. Lactose is a sugar that occurs naturally in milk and milk products such as cheese and ice cream. But did you know that a large number of people are lactose intolerant?
Lactose malabsorption affects approximately 68% of the world’s population, according to experts. Lactose malabsorption is more widespread in some countries than others.
What is the Prevalence of Lactose Intolerance?
While most children can digest lactose, many adults acquire lactose malabsorption, a diminished ability to absorb lactose, after infancy. Lactose malabsorption affects approximately 68 percent of the global population, according to experts.
Lactose malabsorption is more common in some parts of the world than in others. Lactose malabsorption affects the majority of individuals in Africa and Asia. Lactose malabsorption is less common in some locations, such as Northern Europe, where many people have a gene that permits them to digest lactose after infancy. Lactose malabsorption affects around 36% of people in the United States.
Lactose intolerance is caused by lactose malabsorption, although not everyone has lactose intolerance. (Source: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)
Who is More Prone to Lactose Intolerance?
If you are from, or your family is from, a region where lactose malabsorption is more widespread, you are more likely to have lactose intolerance. Lactose malabsorption is more common in the following ethnic and racial groups in the United States:
- Black Americans
- Native Americans
- Afro-Asian Americans
Because specific ethnic and racial groupings are more prone to lactose malabsorption, they are also more prone to lactose intolerance symptoms.
Lactose intolerance is the least common among Europeans or those with European ancestors. (Source: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)
What are the Side Effects of Lactose Intolerance?
Lactose intolerance can harm your health by preventing you from acquiring enough nutrients like calcium and vitamin D. Milk and lactose-containing milk products are essential for calcium, vitamin D, and other minerals.
Calcium is required for bone growth and health throughout your life. Your bones will become weak and brittle if you don’t receive enough calcium. This is known as osteoporosis. If you have lactose intolerance, you can modify your diet to ensure adequate calcium intake while simultaneously managing your symptoms. (Source: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases)
What are the Different Types of Lactose Intolerance?
Lactose intolerance is classified into three kinds, each with its own set of causes:
Primary Lactose Intolerance (a typical result of aging)
This type of lactose intolerance is the most prevalent form. Most people are born with sufficient lactase. Babies require the enzyme to digest their mother’s milk. The amount of lactase produced by a person may decrease over time. People eat a more varied diet and rely less on milk as they age.
Secondary Lactose Intolerance (due to illness or injury)
Lactose intolerance can be caused by intestinal infections such as celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), surgery, or damage to your small intestine. If the underlying condition is treated, lactase levels may be restored.
Congenital or Developmental Lactose Intolerance (being born with the condition)
Lactose intolerance is inherited in only a few cases. A faulty gene can be passed down from parents to children, resulting in a complete lack of lactase. This is known as congenital lactose intolerance.
In this instance, your baby will be lactose intolerant. They will experience diarrhea after being given human milk or a formula containing lactose. The disease can be fatal if not identified and treated promptly. (Source: Healthline)
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