Lactose intolerance means that the body can not properly process lactose – the natural sugar found in milk and dairy products. If lactose does not decompose during digestive processes and travels to the large intestine, it can cause discomfort such as abdominal pain and bloating.

1. Lactose Intolerance – What is it?

Lactose is a milk sugar consisting of galactose and glucose . Its highest content is recorded in sweet sheep’s milk (5.1 / 100 g) and cow’s milk (4.6-4.9 / 100g). Lactase is responsible for the breakdown of lactose. Lactose intolerance is a food disorder that arises as a result of lactase deficiency. This results in unpleasant ailments of the digestive system .

Most Europeans or people with European roots have an adequate level of lactase in the body. This is caused by a diet rich in cow’s milk . This makes the body produce more lactase. In Western and Northern Europe, lactase deficiency reaches 20% of the population. Inhabitants of Africa or Asia are characterized by a much worse result, which is about 70-100%. In Poland, approximately 25% of adults and 1.5% of infants suffer from lactose intolerance.

2. Lactose Intolerance – Types

After birth, the activity of lactose in the intestines is high. In the first years of life, it drops by almost 90%. Lactose intolerance can be divided into two types:

  • Primary intolerance – in the first years of life is inactive. Her first symptoms can be seen after the age of two, but usually affect teenagers and adults. It is most often caused by hereditary deficiency of lactase. Sometimes it can be the result of illnesses;
  • Intrinsic intolerance – an extremely rare kind of lactase intolerance. A newborn baby suffering from this type of illness must be fed with food that does not contain milk sugar.

3. Lactose Intolerance – Causes

Lactose intolerance occurs when sufficient quantities of an enzyme called lactase, which is necessary for the digestion of lactose, are not produced in the digestive tract . This condition can be hereditary. It happens that the problem is already present in newborns .

Then the child can not consume any products containing lactose. Temporary lactose intolerance may occur in premature babies because their bodies are not yet able to produce lactase. The problem usually disappears spontaneously when the process of producing this enzyme begins in the gut.

Lactose intolerance is promoted by diseases such as:

  • Celiac disease ;
  • Parasites of the digestive tract;
  • Whipple’s disease ;
  • Bowel syndrome;
  • Cystic fibrosis ;
  • Duhring’s disease;
  • Food allergy ;
  • Gastrointestinal infections.

Also some medicines, such as antibiotics and anti-inflammatories, areresponsible for problems with lactose tolerance .

4. Lactose Intolerance – Symptoms

Symptoms of lactose intolerance may vary from mild to severe depending on the amount of lactase produced by the body. Symptoms of lactose intolerance usually appear 30-120 minutes after ingestion of milk or its products. These are most often: bloating , spasmic abdominal pain, excessive gas , loose stools or diarrhea , vomiting and “splashing” in the abdomen.

5. Lactose Intolerance – Diagnosis

In order to diagnose lactose intolerance, tests such as:

  • Stool pH test – acidic pH indicates lactose intolerance. Undigested lactose affects faecal acidification;
  • Hydrogen breath test – consists in giving the tested person lactose, and then measuring the hydrogen concentration in the exhaled air. During the fermentation of lactose in the large intestine , hydrogen is released, whose body gets rid of via the airways;
  • Oral administration of lactose – the blood glucose level is determined when the patient is given lactose ;
  • Elimination test – the patient uses a lactose-free diet for 14 days. Observation of symptoms helps to establish lactose intolerance;
  • Endoscopy – this is a very effective invasive method. It consists in taking a small bowel slice to assess the lactose content;
  • Molecular examination – to confirm or exclude hypolactasia in adults.

6. Lactose Intolerance – Treatment

Unfortunately, healing is impossible. People suffering from lactose intolerance should exclude it from the diet or limit it. You can also take tablets containing lactose. In patients with illnesses, the appropriate diet adjusted to the severity of the disease is crucial.

7. Lactose Intolerance – Diet

Although there is no drug for lactose intolerance , thanks to dietary changes, you can significantly reduce the symptoms of this problem. A lactose-free diet requires the elimination of fresh milk, sweet cream and buttermilk. However, the total abandonment of dairy products is not recommended, because the child’s body needs a sufficient amount of calcium .

In order to avoid a shortage of this mineral, it is necessary to ensure that the following products are included in the child’s menu:

  • Yogurts, kefirs and sour milk – are well tolerated by most children with lactose intolerance; these products contain live bacterial cultures that produce lactase, which increases their tolerance in the child’s body;
  • Yellow cheese , sour white cheese and soy milk products – can be given to a child with lactose intolerance, but in reasonable quantities;
  • Almonds , nuts and egg yolks – these are excellent sources of calcium for people with lactose intolerance;
  • Leguminous vegetables;
  • Fish (especially for those suffering from lactose intolerance, sprats are recommended).

In the diet of a child with lactose intolerance, other changes are also indicated. In order for the child not to experience digestive problems, it is recommended to give up not only fresh milk and cream, but also mayonnaise, creams based on cream or milk, chocolate , ice cream, pudding, cakes, marshmallows, butter biscuits, biscuits and pancakes. 
It is worth remembering that powdered milk is often included in breakfast cereals, chips, crackers, protein bars and spaghetti sauce.

Dairy products can also be used as flavorings for processed meats : sausages, sausages and preserves. In dietary management in people with lactose intolerance, it is worth helping with proven Probiotics for children .

8. Lactose Intolerance and Milk Intolerance

Lactose intolerance is not the same as milk intolerance. In case of milk intolerance, allergy to milk protein is responsible for unpleasant symptoms. The immune system in contact with this allergen causes known ailments. Symptoms associated with milk intolerance may occur more than a dozen hours after ingestion.


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