Why do we drink milk?
As children, we are taught to acknowledge that drinking milk is healthy for the body. Drinking milk is not limited to any kind of age – every one of all ages can consume it. The common reason we drink it is because it is rich in vital nutrients like calcium, protein, potassium, vitamin D and more.
The drop in milk consumption
Even with all the benefits we can get from milk, its consumption has declined tremendously in recent years. In the United States, more than half of the population has cut off drinking milk from their diet completely. While there are many factors that is causing this, one of the most common is lactose intolerance.
The rise of lactose intolerance
Based on statistics, about two-thirds of the global population especially in adults are unable to breakdown lactose. The condition varies largely between ethnicities and countries, but it is noted that a lesser percentage of adults with lactose intolerance are Caucasians in Northern Europe. The bigger half, however, are people who are Asians.
Lactose intolerance is characterized by the body’s inability to completely and properly digest lactose. Lactose is a natural sugar that is commonly found in milk. When people who have low tolerance on lactose consumes milk or dairy products, it would result to a gastrointestinal reactions in the stomach. These adverse reactions would usually be diarrhea, bloating and gas.
The types of lactose intolerance
Lactose Intolerance consists of three types and have distinct causes:
- Primary Lactase Production Deficient
This type of lactose intolerance is common and it is developed as a person ages. As infants, we are born to naturally produce sufficient amounts of lactase so we are able to digest mother’s milk. However, overtime as a person’s age increases, the amount of lactase in the body also decreases. That is because the older we get, our diet significantly changes which causes us to depend on milk.
This type of lactose intolerance develops gradually. It is more common in Asians, Native Americans, Africans and even Mediterranean.
- Secondary Lactase Production Deficient
In this type, the decrease in lactase production is usually caused by an injury or certain kinds of illness that affects the gastrointestinal area in the body. Injuries can come in the form of surgery or trauma. For illnesses, certain types that can affect the digestive system include celiac disease or Crohn’s disease and even bacteria overgrowth. When treatment is administered, there’s a chance that the production of lactase may be restored.
- Congenital or developmental Lactase Production Deficient
This type of lactose intolerance is commonly contributed by genetics and inheritance. Although rare, when a person with this condition can pass on to the next generation. The passing on will create an inheritance pattern which is known as autosomal recessive. This may pose a problem for children born from parents with lactose intolerance because of their inability to consume milk. An infant’s chance of survival would usually depend on a mother’s milk.
How can you tell if you are lactose intolerant?
Once a person with low tolerance for lactose consumes products that contain dairy, the symptoms would usually start within 30 minutes. The symptoms would continue up to two hours. These clear signs includes:
- Frequent diarrhea and dehydration
- Painful cramps around the abdomen
- Feeling nauseous and even result to vomit
- Constant bloating and stomach ache
Suffering from lactose intolerance is not life-threatening. However, people who are worried about not getting enough calcium in the body should make some necessary changes. This is especially when they cannot digest lactose normally. Once these symptoms appear, it is best to make a doctor’s appointment to get the best recommendations. However, there are alternative natural treatments to help manage the symptoms of lactose intolerance.
Natural remedies to help reduce symptoms of lactose intolerance:
- Change of diet and choosing what foods to eat
When a person has low tolerance for lactose, it is necessary to avoid any products that contain lactose altogether. The foods which usually contain lactose includes:
- Cream soup
- Cakes and cookies
- Scrambled eggs
- Milk chocolate
There are also foods that may contain “hidden lactose” that you might want to look out for like:
- Certain breakfast cereals
- Salad creams and dressing
- Processed meats like sliced ham
- Muesli bars
- Consuming apple cider vinegar regularly
It is no surprise that apple cider vinegar is an age old remedy that can help treat any kind of tummy ailments. This pungent-sweet liquid helps neutralize the acids in the stomach and reduce symptoms.
Just mix one tablespoon of vinegar in a glass of water and drink once every day.
- Adding saffron
This is a popular herb that is widely used for medicinal purposes in recent years. Saffron has the potency to create a protective coating around the membranes surrounding your colon, small intestine and stomach. Its essential oils like terpinen, cineole, pinene, and borneol acts as a purifier of the blood. Adding saffron into your tea can help promote good digestion and prevents gas formation in the stomach.
- Peppermint or Chamomile Tea
Both of these type of teas have calming properties that can help in managing the pain from lactose intolerance. Chamomile helps in neutralizing acids forming in the stomach and the menthol from peppermint can boost healthy gallbladder and gastrointestinal functions. Both are simple and effective natural remedies you can find at home to help manage lactose intolerance. Just boil the tea leaves and drink it regularly for a soothing sensation.
- Ginger Tea
Ginger is another common herb that is easily found in the kitchen. Research has shown ginger’s effectivity in managing symptoms of lactose intolerance. This is because of its ability to help relieve your body from gastrointestinal problems caused by low lactose tolerance. It also helps soothes the body and reduces pain from cramps around the abdominal area.
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