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You can Cure Lactose Intolerance

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You can actually cure yourself of lactose intolerance. All it takes is a little dedication to change the microflora in your gut. Drink a bit of milk, then drink some more.

Lactose is a special disaccharide sugar, meaning that it’s made up of two sugars – Glucose and Galactose. The bond between the sugars makes it slower to digest than other sugars as it requires an enzyme called Lactase. The enzyme Lactase breaks the bond to allow the sugars to be fully digested.

This does not mean that lactose is not good for you. In fact there are good reasons why lactose is a healthy sugar. You can read my previous blog posts about the health benefits of lactose or my fact sheet about lactose intolerance.

Certain people groups have a predisposition to digesting lactose as they have the gene to naturally produce more lactase. Most know that people of European decent can digest lactose, but there are actually people groups worldwide that also have the gene. The Massai in Africa, and Indians in Asia are a few examples of people practically existing on dairy products. Lactose tolerance has been shown to be less genetic, and more cultural in nature.

For people who have the gene, Lactase production declines as a person gets older. But it is not just the gene that produces the enzyme lactase. The microorganisms in your digestive system also can produce the enzyme. If you nurture these bacteria, you can regain your ability to digest milk.

You can cure lactose Intolerance

The basic problem for lactose intolerant people is that they are not producing enough of the lactase enzyme to properly digest all the lactose in milk. This often results in intestinal bloating and discomfort.

You only need to work to regrow the bacteria in your gut that produce lactase.

A recent study has been done by Andrew Szilagyi, a gastroenterologist at McGill University, in Quebec, Canada in 2015. Szilagyi notes that you can alter and change the composition of bacteria in your gut over time. (Source)

Szilagyi’s suggestion is simple. Most lactose-intolerant folks avoid dairy, and therefore have somewhat different populations of gut bacteria to lactose-tolerant people. Thus, he thinks that if the lactose-intolerant were to regularly consume small quantities of the sugar that causes them problems, they could gradually improve their tolerance to it over time. This would alter the composition of the bacteria in their guts, such that it more closely resembles that of lactose-tolerant people. (Source)

Interestingly, there have been studies on animals such as pigs and rats and their disposition in digesting lactose. Researchers noticed metabolic shifts in the microflora in the gut with each meal. What they ate affected and changed the bacteria in their stomachs. (Source)

What to do

Start with half a glass of milk a day and move up from there. Consume milk regularly to let your body begin to regrow the necessary bacteria. You can regrow the bacteria with minimal discomfort.

The US National Institutes of Health has found that most lactose intolerant people can handle 12g of lactose without noticing symptoms. Symptoms from lactose intolerance don’t usually appear until 6g of lactose has been consumed.

Most lactose intolerant people can handle 12g of lactose without noticing symptoms.

In his research, Szilagyi suggests ‘training’ with 5g of lactose per day, based on studies of similar training exercises with another sugar, oligofructose. To put that into perspective, there are 5g of lactose in 100ml, or about a half cup of milk. (Source)

Lactose intolerance symptoms don’t usually appear until 6g of lactose has been consumed… There are 5g of lactose in a 1/2 cup of milk

It has been found that supplementing probiotics will also help alleviate symptoms of lactose intolerance. One study found that supplementation of probiotics modified the amount and metabolic activities of the colonic microbiota and alleviates symptoms in lactose-intolerant subjects. (Source)

Remember that lactose is essentially a prebiotic. Eating prebiotics like lactose and galactose have been shown to act as a prebiotic in your digestive system and help beneficial microbes grow and flourish.

Some additional notescure lactose intolerence

Don’t misdiagnose yourself – There are so many reasons why a person may have intestinal discomfort. Lactose is one of the most well-known reasons so dairy is often the first to go. But there are many other conditions that can cause lactose-intolerant like symptoms. An alternative reason for lactose-intolerant like symptoms could include Candida Albicans overgrowth.

If you misdiagnose yourself, and the problem is not digesting lactose, you may lose the ability to digest milk over time. If you come back a year later, your gut microflora will be much different than it was the day you stopped drinking milk.

You can still eat cheese and yogurt

Lactose intolerant people still should be able to eat cheese and yogurt. The bacterial cultures in the cheese and yogurt actually use lactose as their food source. The bacteria in cheese and yogurt use almost all the lactose leaving very little left.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4555148/

http://milkgenomics.org/article/training-your-body-to-digest-lactose/?utm_source=Newsletter_November2015&utm_campaign=SPLASHoct2015&utm_medium=email

http://lactoseintoleranceforeverone.blogspot.com/

10 COMMENTS

  1. I became lactose intolerant around the age of 16. I believe I was in my junior year of college. I became a vegetarian for maybe 2 and a half years. When I was 19, I went vegan (without dairy) for about 11 months. Its been over 1 years since I’ve been eating dairy and my previous symptoms of lactose intolerance have decreased to almost unnoticeable. I believe I was still affected for a while and still felt I had to take lactase pills. But now I don’t really have to worry about eating dairy and going out in public afterwards.

  2. Thanks for your article. I consume lots of dairy products with absolutely no tummy issues, so I guess I have healthy gut Flora, which obviously produces enough of the enzyme, lactase, to digest all the lactose. Two years ago, I stopped consuming all refined sugar, and reduced how much fruit I eat, as well as refined carbs and starchy vegetables. I believe that those carbs and sugars (sucrose and fructose) reduce, or even damage the lactase and good gut bacteria, which is why, before I eliminated these foods from my diet, I had
    bloating and discomfort when I ate dairy products. This is the same with my husband as well. Now I understand…the other foods we eat can effect whether we can digest lactose or not.

    • Thanks for sharing your story – I had a similar experience with Candida from eating to much sugar and carbohydrates. Most people when they have digestive problems automatically assume dairy, but I think its cause by the other foods we eat causing our gut bacteria to get out of balance. I’m glad that you were able rebalance your microbiome and get healthy again

  3. I don’t ever remember having issues with dairy until maybe my 30’s when i would notice the cramping in my sleep after eating bagels with cream cheese not long before bed. My issue is that a little more than half the time i have a lactose attack, once i start going to the bathroom i start getting major asthma attack symtoms. I feel like my entire body has an allergic reaction. My lungs close up and so does my nose and the mucous in my nose turns to glue. It is truly horrible. Takes close to an hour to finally go away and this is after a couple hits of my albuteral which i solely have for this situation. I rarely feel asthma otherwise and if i do one hit of albuteral fixes it right up.

    Anyone ever heard of something like this or have any idea what it could be?

    • I am sorry to hear of your problem, that is not something anyone should have to deal with. The breathing problems and asthma symptoms sound like an allergic reaction. It has nothing to do with lactose but instead, could be a milk protein allergy. Your body’s immune system is reacting to certain milk proteins. You can have your doctor test to confirm.

  4. When I have dairy…..I am usually headed to the bathroom. The reaction I have is diarrhea. I literally sit on the toilet for sometimes 20 minutes empting my bowels! The doctors seem to not know why this happens. Some say it could be leaky gut. But still anytime I have milk or ice cream……..my stomach can’t handle it. Doesn’t seem to be as bad with cheese or yogurt?

    • Many people today have imbalanced microbiomes and confuse dysbiosis with lactose intolerance – I can’t diagnose you but I would try lactose-free milk and see if there is a difference. Yogurt and cheese do not have lactose so those should be fine. If you continue having the symptoms, then you can rule out milk as the cause.

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