Do you suffer from a bloated stomach? You could be presenting one of the major warning signs of a lactose intolerance.
Think about this for a moment…
Did you know that we are the only animal on earth that consumes milk post-infancy? AND the only animal that drinks milk from another species?
Have you tasted cheese?! Haha yes, it’s super tasty (and addictive) but what happens when your body fights against this foreign milky substance?
To find out, let’s start with the basics…
What is Lactose?
Milk contains a specific type of sugar called lactose.
Just as fruit contains a form sugar called fructose and table sugar can otherwise be called sucrose.
(it’s just the way the molecules are chemically held together)
When we consume milk, the lactose sugars in the milk are broken down within our small intestine into glucose and galactose (simple sugars) via the enzyme lactase.
Virtually all infants and young children have the lactase enzymes that can process and divide lactose into these simple sugars. But, as we age some of us can lose this ability. (1)
Lactose intolerance can vary between countries and ethnicities, but it is estimated that approximately 65% of us may be lactose intolerant. (2)
What are the Symptoms of a Lactose Intolerance?
If lactose isn’t digested properly, it can cause a variety of uncomfortable symptoms within your colon and throughout the body. Symptoms of a lactose intolerance can include: (3)
- Gas and flatulence
- Bloated stomach
- Stomach cramps and pains
- Stomach rumbling
- Headaches or Migraines (4)
- Tiredness and lethargy
- Acne (5)
- and/or Excema (6)
Symptoms of a lactose intolerance can present themselves anywhere from 30 minutes to 48 hours after the consumption of dairy and can range from mild to severe.
If you present any of these symptoms, I recommend going to see your local doctor to get checked for a lactose intolerance.
It may also be beneficial to remove dairy from your diet for two weeks to see if any of these symptoms subside.
Complications of Leaving a Lactose Intolerance Unchecked
Milk contains several nutrients that are necessary for good health such as calcium, vitamin B12 and protein.
If symptoms of a lactose intolerance go unchecked, it can be difficult to absorb these nutrients from your food.
Lack of nutrient absorption can put you at risk of developing complications such as osteoporosis, osteopenia and malnutrition. (7)
Treating Your Lactose Intolerance
There is no cure for lactose intolerance but limiting your intake of dairy, and switching to dairy-free alternatives, can reduce the severity of your symptoms.
That said, lactose-free products can still contain other ‘cow’s milk nasties’ such as antibiotics and IGF-1 (a hormone which can increase the risk of breast, colorectal and lung cancer). (8)
Instead, I recommend switching to natural, plant-based sources of calcium such as almond milk, almonds and almond butter, collard greens, beans, figs, tofu, okra, broccoli, kale and bok choy. (9)
It can also be beneficial to include other bone protective measures. These include: aiming to get at least 30 minutes of sunshine daily for a fantastic vitamin D boost and eating foods rich in vitamin K such as kale and spinach which can aid calcium absorption. (10)
Doing at least 30 minutes of low impact exercise daily (jogging is fantastic), and reducing your intake of alcohol and salt can also help to improve bone health.
How To Heal
Removing dairy from your diet could help to lessen your headaches, improve your skin and give you more energy; AND with my gluten free, dairy free diet plan, giving up dairy it isn’t such a sacrifice.
Want to find out how you can easily remove dairy from your diet, lesson the bloat and feel fantastic? Click here for more information.