What is Lactose Intolerance?
Lactose Intolerance is the inability to digest the sugar in milk, lactose. This inability results from a shortage or lack of the enzyme lactase, which is normally produced in the small intestine. Lactase breaks down the milk sugar lactose, so the body can easily digest it. When there is not enough lactase to digest the amount of lactose consumed, the lactose does not get broken down where it should and makes it all the way to the colon where it is then fermented and broken down by intestinal bacteria into short-chain fatty acids and gas. Once this happens your body will begin to react and cause nausea, gas, cramps, loose stool, diarrhea, bloating and vomiting. Symptoms tend to occur anywhere from thirty minutes to two hours after eating or drinking foods containing lactose. One's severity of symptoms and tolerance levels varies person to person. As an infant, your body produced a large amount of lactase, which broke down lactose from your mother's milk. However, many people lose the ability to break down lactose in adulthood. In fact, about 75% of the world's adult population is unable to break down lactose.