Lactose intolerance

People with lactose intolerance experience digestive sầu problems when they eat dairy, which can have sầu a negative sầu effect on chất lượng of life.

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Lactose intolerance is a digestive disorder caused by the inability khổng lồ digest lactose, the main carbohydrate in dairy products.

It can cause various symptoms, including bloating, diarrhea & abdominal cramps.

People with lactose intolerance don’t make enough of the enzyme lactase, which is needed to digest lactose.

Lactose is a disaccharide, meaning that it consists of two sugars. It is made up of one molecule each of the simple sugars glucose và galactose.

The lactase enzyme is needed khổng lồ break lactose down into lớn glucose and galactose, which can then be absorbed inlớn the bloodstream và used for energy.

Without sufficient lactase, lactose moves through your gut undigested và causes digestive sầu symptoms (2, 3, 4).

Lactose is also found in breast milk, & almost everyone is born with the ability to digest it. It is very rare khổng lồ see lactose intolerance in children under the age of five.

Currently, about 75% of the world’s population is lactose intolerant. The risk varies greatly between countries, as shown on this map:


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Bottom Line:

Lactose intolerance is the inability lớn digest lactose, the main carbohydrate in dairy. It is caused by reduced production of the enzyme lactase in your gut.


There are two main types of lactose intolerance, which have different causes.

Primary Lactose Intolerance

Primary lactose intolerance is the most common. It is caused by a decrease in lactase production with age, so that lactose becomes poorly absorbed (5).

This size of lactose intolerance may be partially caused by genes, because it’s more common in some populations than others.

Population studies have estimated that lactose intolerance affects 5–17% of Europeans, around 44% of Americans và 60–80% of Africans & Asians (1).

Secondary Lactose Intolerance

Secondary lactose intolerance is rare. It is caused by illness, such as a stomach bug or a more serious issue like celiac disease. This is because inflammation in the gut wall can lead khổng lồ a temporary decline in lactase production (6).

Bottom Line:

Primary lactose intolerance is common & involves reduced lactase production with age. Secondary lactose intolerance is caused by inflammation in the gut, secondary to lớn an infection or disease.


If not managed properly, lactose intolerance can cause severe digestive sầu problems.

The most comtháng symptoms are (3, 7, 8):

Abdominal crampsGasDiarrhea

Some people also experience urgency to lớn go to lớn the nhà vệ sinh, nausea, vomiting, pain in the lower belly & occasionally constipation.

Diarrhea occurs due lớn undigested lactose in your small intestine, which causes water to move inkhổng lồ your digestive sầu tract.

Once it reaches your colon, the lactose is fermented by the bacteria in your gut, forming short-chain fatty acids & gas. This causes the bloating, flatulence and pain.

The severity of symptoms can vary, depending on how much lactose you can tolerate & how much you have eaten (9).

Bottom Line:

Lactose intolerance can cause digestive sầu problems. The main symptoms are bloating, gas, abdominal cramps & diarrhea.


Dairy is the term used khổng lồ describe milk or products made from milk.

Dairy products are highly nutritious và important sources of protein, calcium & vitamins like A, B12 & D (10).

This nutrient combination is great for your bones (11).

Including dairy in your diet is linked to lớn higher bone mineral density, which may help reduce the risk of bone fractures as you get older (12, 13, 14).

Dairy products have also been linked with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity (15, 16, 17, 18).

However, people with lactose intolerance may need to lớn cut back or remove dairy products from their diets, potentially missing out on some nutrients (19, đôi mươi, 21, 22).

Bottom Line:

Dairy is high in many nutrients, & is the world’s best source of calcium. Removing dairy means you need lớn get these nutrients from other foods instead.

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Lactose is found in dairy foods và products that contain dairy.

Dairy Foods That Contain Lactose

The following dairy products contain lactose:

Goat’s milkIce cream

Foods That Sometimes Contain Lactose

Foods that have sầu some size of dairy as an ingredient may also contain lactose, including:

Foods made with a milky sauce, like quicheBiscuits & cookiesBreads and baked goodsCakesInstant soups và saucesReady mealsSauces and graviesDesserts and custards

Other Names for Added Dairy

You can kiểm tra if a sản phẩm contains dairy by looking at the label.

On ingredients lists, added milk or dairy products can be described as:

MilkMilk solidsMilk powderWheyMilk caseinCurdsMilk sugarButtermilkCheeseMalted milkDry milk solidsSour creamWhey protein concentrateMilk byproducts

Don’t be confused if a sản phẩm contains lactic acid, lactalbumin, lactate or casein. These ingredients aren’t lactose.

Bottom Line:

Dairy products contain lactose. It’s important to lớn kiểm tra the label of manufactured foods to see if they contain any hidden lactose.


All dairy foods contain lactose, but this doesn’t mean they are totally off limits for people with lactose intolerance.

Most people with lactose intolerance can tolerate small amounts of lactose. For example, some people can tolerate the small amount of milk in tea but not the amount you would get from a bowl of cereal.

It’s thought that people with lactose intolerance can tolerate up lớn 18 grams of lactose, spread throughout the day (23).

In fact, research has shown that many people with lactose intolerance can tolerate up to lớn 12 grams of lactose in one sitting, which is approximately the amount in 1 cup (230 ml) of milk (2, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27).

Some types of dairy are also naturally low in lactose when eaten in their usual portions. Butter, for example only contains 0.1 grams of lactose per 20-gram portion.

Certain types of cheese also have sầu less than 1 gram of lactose per serving. This includes cheddar, Swiss, Colby, Monterey Jaông xã và mozzarella.

Interestingly, yogurt tends lớn causes fewer symptoms in people with lactose intolerance than other types of dairy (28, 29, 30, 31).

Bottom Line:

Most people with lactose intolerance can tolerate small amounts of lactose. Dairy products like butter, yogurt & some cheeses are often tolerated better than milk.


Dairy foods are excellent sources of calcium, but eating dairy isn’t essential.

It’s still possible khổng lồ have sầu a very healthy diet without dairy foods. You just need khổng lồ include other foods that are high in calcium (32, 33).

The recommended intake for calcium is 1,000 mg per day.

Some good non-dairy sources of calcium include:

Here’s a danh sách of lactose-không tính tiền foods that are high in bioavailable calcium:

Fortified non-dairy milk: 300 mg calcium in an 8 oz (240 ml) servingCooked collard greens: 200 mg of calcium in a một nửa cup servingDried figs: 100 mg calcium in five sầu figsTempeh: 75 mg calcium in a một nửa cup servingCooked bok choy or mustard greens: 75 mg calcium in a một nửa cup servingAlmond butter: 75 mg calcium in 2 TablespoonsTahini: 75 mg calcium in 2 TablespoonsBottom Line:

If you remove dairy from your diet, you need to replace it with suitable alternative sầu sources of calcium.


If you don’t want to give sầu up dairy, then there are a few natural treatments that can help.

Enzyme Supplements

It’s possible lớn buy enzymes khổng lồ help digest lactose. These are tablets you swallow or drops you add to lớn foods và drinks.

However, the effectiveness of these products seems lớn vary from person lớn person (34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41).

Nevertheless, lactase enzyme supplements may be very effective sầu for some people.

One study examined the effects of three different types of lactase supplements in lactose-intolerant people who took đôi mươi or 50 grams of lactose (42).

Compared to placebo, all three lactase supplements improved overall symptoms when taken with đôi mươi grams of lactose.

However, they weren’t effective sầu at the higher dose of 50 grams of lactose.

Lactose Exposure

If you are lactose intolerant, regularly including lactose in your diet could help your body adapt to lớn it (43).

So far, studies on this are few & far between, but initial studies have shown some positive sầu results (44, 45, 46).

In one small study, nine lactose-intolerant people experienced a threefold increase in their lactase production after 16 days of eating lactose (47).

More rigorous trials are needed before definite recommendations can be made, but it may be possible khổng lồ train your gut khổng lồ tolerate lactose.

Probiotics & Prebiotics

Probiotics are microorganisms that provide health benefits when consumed (48).

Prebiotics are types of fiber that function as food for these bacteria. They feed the beneficial bacteria you already have in your gut, so that they thrive sầu.

Both probiotics and prebiotics have been shown to lớn reduce symptoms of lactose intolerance, although most studies so far have been small (49, 50, 51).

Some types of probiotics & prebiotics may be more effective sầu than others for people with lactose intolerance (52).

One of the most beneficial probiotics is thought lớn be Bifidobacteria, often found in probiotic yogurts & supplements (53, 54).

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Bottom Line:

There are several ways to reduce lactose intolerance, including enzyme supplements, lactose exposure and eating probiotics or prebiotics.


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