Lactose intolerance is a health dysfunction commonly found in adults, and in some cases among infants. You may wonder how lactose intolerance comes to be.

First let us understand what lactose intolerance is from a simple and the least complicated angle; it is simply intolerance of milk and any food containing milk.

Knowing that people who are lactose intolerant once lived on breast milk as babies without showing any signs of intolerance leaves you even more confused as to the cause.

In some parts of the world, as many as 90 per cent of the population have some level of lactose intolerance. It occurs more often in Native Americans and people of Asian, African, and South American descent than among people of European descent.

This condition is caused by the lack of a particular enzyme in the body, called lactase, which is necessary for the breakdown and digestion of the sugar – lactose.

Lactose intolerance occurs when the small intestine is unable to produce enough lactase. When food containing the undigested lactose gets into the larger intestine, discomforts ensue.

A major reason why adults experience lactose intolerance is because their bodies stop to produce enough lactase enzymes.

Symptoms in people usually manifest 30 minutes to two hours after ingesting milk. The following are the symptoms of lactose intolerance:

  • Bloating
  • Pain or cramps
  • Gurgling or rumbling sounds in your belly
  • Gas
  • Loose stools or diarrhoea
  • Throwing up


Know about it: People who suffer lactose intolerance often think it is only when they drink milk that they get it; it is important to research and know various products that contain lactose. Always check the product labels, and don’t forget that foods like salad dressings, pancakes, candy, hot dogs, soups and frozen dinners often contain lactose.

Take Lactase: Since lactose intolerance is caused by a deficiency in lactase to break down lactose, adding lactase to your system can be very helpful. You can get lactase enzyme powder or lactase tablet and add it to your dairy products (namely milk) and let it digest the sugar before you consume it.

Understand your body: Everyone has some level of intolerance or reacts to certain foods, so understanding your limitations is key. Once you know your body better, you can organise your diet to fit within those guidelines.

Reduce consumption: if you suffer from lactose intolerance, you could reduce the unpleasant symptoms by monitoring your portions. Don’t drink a gallon of milk, at the same time, don’t be afraid to acclimate your body to small amounts of dairy products, allowing the body to digest the sugar in small chunks, rather than large portions.

Ginger: Ginger is an excellent way to aid the stomach, reduce nausea and cramping, and also stimulate more efficient digestion. Ginger based drinks or ginger extract can all be highly effective for keeping your stomach feeling normal, even if you eat a bit too much lactose.

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Author: Dotun Obatuyi

My name is Dotun Obatuyi (Dotunoba), I hail from Osun state, a public health scientist (monitoring and evaluation specialist), my keen interests are researching, critiquing and writing feature articles on health, science and technology as well as issues around the globe.