Dairy and Digestion

Dairy and Digestion

It is an unfortunate fact of life that, seemingly overnight, your body develops issues when digesting dairy. Bloating, wind, cramps, and diarrhea are all very common symptoms of lactose intolerance.

Lactase and Lactose

Lactose is the sugar that is found in dairy, and to be effectively digested it needs the help of an enzyme named lactase. If there is not enough lactase to meet the amount of lactose that has been consumed, the body becomes intolerant of the lactose level and produces the above-mentioned symptoms.

Why do Lactase Levels Decrease?

People suffering from Primary Lactose Intolerance often have no reason for the decline of their lactase production- it simply reduces over time. These people may have a dairy ‘threshold’ where they can eat a certain amount before symptoms appear. Unfortunately, even this threshold often gradually decreases. 

Secondary Lactose Intolerance occurs when injury, illness or surgery interrupts the lactase production of the small intestine. The good news is that production is often restored as the body heals.

Is There a Cure?

While there is no cure, lactose intolerance can be easily managed.

Eat smaller amounts of dairy however try not to eliminate it completely as this can make your lactose intolerance more severe.

Hard cheeses, butter and probiotic yogurts are all naturally lower in lactose and may be better tolerated.

Lactase enzyme supplements may help with dairy digestion. These can be found at your local pharmacy.