Why do you develop more lactose intolerance as you get older?
Cheese is the ultimate comfort food, along with ice cream, milk, and butter. Is there anything these ingredients don’t make better? Unfortunately for our taste buds, dairy products can become more difficult to digest as we age.
If you find yourself unable to drink coffee with heavy cream or eat anything containing cheese without getting sick, you may have lactose intolerance — even if you’ve never had a problem before.
Lactose is a natural sugar found in dairy products. According to the American College of GastroenterologyOur bodies rely on a digestive enzyme called lactase to help break down lactose into simple sugars (called glucose and galactose). These elements are then absorbed by the small intestine and reach the bloodstream as nutrients.
If lactose is not digested properly, it travels to the colon and is broken down by fermentation. This results in uncomfortable symptoms such as abdominal pain or cramping, excess gas, diarrhea and/or a sudden urge to have a bowel movement.
About 75% of the world’s population loses their ability to digest lactose as they age. We consulted with experts to find out exactly why this happens, plus some tips on how to cope:
Why does lactose intolerance increase with age?
Drinking milk is essential to our survival…at first.
“In infants, humans produce large amounts of lactase to digest the lactose in breast milk,” he said. Jewels Citya Doctor of Physical Medicine at Sonoran University of Health Sciences. “Historically, once breastfeeding and solid foods were introduced, humans no longer consumed foods containing lactose.”
Because humans didn’t eat a lot of foods containing lactose, their bodies adapted and naturally began “producing less and less lactase enzymes over time, which means we’re unable to properly digest dairy,” Goelz said.
This “gradual decline” in lactase production is called lactase intolerance or acquired lactase deficiency. doctor. Janez Lustera “It’s a good choice,” said board-certified gastroenterologist and founder of Gut Theory Total Digestive Care, RThis is a “natural process that occurs in most people” after childhood.
You may notice these symptoms as a child, or they may appear in adulthood depending on how slowly your body’s production of lactase decreases. Or you could be part of the approximately 25% of humanity who don’t notice any change at all.
Your genes play a big role.
Ask your parents if they have become more sensitive to lactose with age, and this can give you an idea about your future. “The ability to digest lactose in adulthood depends on specific genetic variants inherited from parents, which influence the level of lactase activity present,” Laster said.
She explained that your body’s ability to digest dairy products depends on the person. She continued: “While some may have difficulty digesting fresh milk, they may find relief in consuming some dairy products such as cheese or yogurt, thanks to the fermentation process that breaks down a significant portion of the lactose.”
doctor. Minka Guptaa Nutra Nourish is indicated by a functional medicine physician That is lactose intolerance More common among Southeast Asiansand East Asian, West African, Native American, and Hispanic “because they are more likely to carry the gene mutation (APvegetOA2, MCM6).” However, it can happen to anyone.
There are other reasons for increased lactose intolerance.
Of course, your gut is complicated, and there could certainly be other reasons why you’re not digesting dairy products as well as you used to.
“External factors such as gastrointestinal diseases, accidents that result in injury to the small intestine, surgeries that affect the small intestine, or conditions such as Crohn’s disease can contribute to the development of lactose intolerance,” Luster explained. “After a gastrointestinal illness, there may be a temporary decrease in lactase stores in the body, affecting lactose tolerance.”
Other things that can cause an increase in lactose intolerance include infections, inflammatory or autoimmune diseases such as gastroenteritis, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, chemotherapy and antibiotics, according to Gupta. These “cause injury to the intestinal mucosa, known as leaky gut.”
You can manage the symptoms of lactose intolerance.
Although a natural decrease in lactase production cannot be reversed, there are ways you can help manage the symptoms of lactose intolerance.
Our experts recommend the following:
- Narrow down the dairy products that cause you the worst symptoms and eliminate those symptoms. Items such as hard cheese, butter, and margarine may be easier to digest because they contain less lactose than milk or ice cream.
- Limit the amount of lactose consumed at each meal.
- Eat fermented dairy products, such as probiotic-containing yogurt or kefir, to help break down lactose.
- Avoid known food sensitivities and allergens. For example, if your stomach is sensitive to hot sauce, eating it will reduce lactase production even further and may worsen your symptoms.
- Switch to vegetarian and non-dairy products when you can.
- Take probiotics, especially those containing Bifidobacterium, Saccharomyces, and Lactobacillus strains.
- Take a lactase supplement before eating dairy products to help relieve symptoms.
Keep in mind that nothing can truly “cure” lactose intolerance. “While changes in the microbiome may enable individuals to better tolerate different forms of fermented dairy, it is unlikely that changes in gene expression would occur that would significantly raise lactase activity to levels observed in childhood,” Laster said.
You should always talk to your doctor before starting any new supplements or if you are concerned about increasing your lactose intolerance. “It’s important to find out the cause of your lactose intolerance,” which can be done through various tests, Gupta said.
“Your doctor can recommend the appropriate course of action by either removing lactose from your diet or taking steps to improve your gut health,” she added.
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(tags for translation) Dairy products