Do you know someone who is unable to consume milk or milk-based products? The disorder is not rare and is graded as lactose intolerant.
Lactose is the principal carbohydrate or sugar present in the milk, and milk products in varying quantities including milk, ice cream, soft cheeses, and butter. The effect of lactose intolerance is a failure to digest lactose in the small intestine.
The only time a person would ever ingest lactose would be when they were infants getting milk from their mothers. During their adult lives, milk was never consumed. Only with the invention of agriculture has milk become readily available to adults. Lactose is unique in that only in milk does it exist as a free form, unattached to other molecules.
What are the symptoms of lactose intolerance?
- Milk abdominal discomfort
- Excessive wind to severe abdominal cramps
Causes lactose intolerance
Lactose is digested in the small intestine by an enzyme called lactase. This enzyme allows the body to break down the lactose into two simple sugars, glucose and galactose. These are quickly absorbed by the intestine and provide energy for the body. The level of the lactase enzyme varies between individuals, as does the severity of the symptoms caused by lactose intolerance.
Substitutes for lactose-containing foods
Lactose intolerance is usually not severe, and some simple changes in your diet will regulate it. The dietary changes for lactose intolerance should include avoiding certain foods that have the highest lactose content. There is now a wide range of fresh soy milk, yogurts and ice creams which are lactose-free and calcium-enriched. Most dairy products still have little or no lactose so you can still enjoy it.
Soy-based products are on the rise for very healthy reasons. The humble soybean boasts some extraordinary benefits. Lactose-free, soy protein is a "complete protein" which contains all 9 essential amino acids in the right balance to meet your body's needs. Soy protein is the only plant protein that is complete. This makes it a great substitute for many types of meat, allowing you to eliminate more saturated fat and cholesterol from your diet.
While soybeans have much to offer from a protein perspective, it is because they contain so many nutrients, such as isoflavones, that they are now the center of so much attention. Soy protein enhances the body's ability to retain and better absorb calcium into the bones. Soy isoflavones help by slowing bone loss and inhibiting bone breakdown.