Lactose Intolerance

Lactose intolerance is a condition in which the body is not able to easily digest foods that contain lactose-the natural sugar that is found in dairy products. People who are lactose intolerant have a shortage of lactase enzymes that break down lactose into their simpler sugar forms.

What are the symptoms of lactose intolerance?

Even though lactose intolerance is not a dangerous health condition, the symptoms can be very uncomfortable:

  • Stomach cramps
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Diarrhea

The severity of symptoms differs from each person to another and depends on how much lactose a person can tolerate.

What causes lactose intolerance?

Lactose intolerance usually develops slowly over time. In many cases, the body begins to produce less lactase enzyme for around two years of age, and this continues until the ability to produce lactase is lost completely, years later.

How is lactose intolerance diagnosed?

Two tests are available to determine lactose intolerance:

  • Blood lactose tolerance test
  • Stool acidity test (pH)

How can the symptoms be treated?

  • Taking lactase enzyme supplements
  • Consuming products with low lactose content
  • Avoiding foods containing lactose

Following is a list of foods that are high in lactose and should be avoided in lactose intolerant patients:  

  • All kinds of dairy products including milk, ice cream, butter, cheese, sour cream, yoghurt, whipping cream, coffee creamer, labaneh and jameed
  • Bread and other baked goods, processed breakfast cereals
  • Omelets and scrambled eggs
  • Instant potatoes
  • Instant soup
  • Lunch meats (cold cuts)
  • Salad dressings
  • Milk chocolate and other snacks
  • Pancakes, biscuits and cookies

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