Lactose intolerance: Thinking beyond mainstream milk options

October 12, 2019 4:45 PM

As we approach adulthood, we might be more willing to consume it for the nutrients, only to find out that milk doesn’t like us anymore!

milk consumption, lactose intolerance, lactose intolerance treatment, lactose intolerance causes, lactose intolerance symptoms in adults, lactose intolerance test, lactose intolerance diet, lactose intolerance meaning, how long do lactose intolerance symptoms lastOur small intestine produces an enzyme called lactase which breaks down the carbohydrate lactose present in cow and buffalo milk.

By Ishi Khosla

As kids, most of us are told to drink milk as it provides essential vitamins and minerals for strengthening the body. During our childhood, it is surprising how we manage to ingest and digest milk even if we don’t like it much. As we approach adulthood, we might be more willing to consume it for the nutrients, only to find out that milk doesn’t like us anymore! In other words, the body stops accepting milk. But, why? This is where lactose intolerance symptoms in adults need to be probed.

Lactose intolerance causes: Problems related to cow and buffalo milk consumption

Our small intestine produces an enzyme called lactase which breaks down the carbohydrate lactose present in cow and buffalo milk. The ability to digest milk is thus directly proportional to the secretion of the lactase enzyme. When we are younger, our body produces enough lactase (except for a few rare cases, where the body is unable to produce lactase enzyme since birth) to digest milk without any trouble. However, growing older, the enzyme levels go down in most cases and the body is unable to deal with the lactose in milk.

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In short, a lot of us become lactose intolerant as we grow older. In fact, about three-quarters of the world’s population is affected by lactose intolerance. Yet, how does one know that one has the complication for sure?

If you experience flatulence, cramps or diarrhea every time you consume milk, you may have lactose intolerance or lactose malabsorption. Even if you don’t have this problem, sometimes your body may react to milk due to its allergic properties. Thus, intolerant or not, you might start limiting the consumption of milk to negligible levels. This leads to calcium deficiencies and increases the chances of osteoporosis and bone fracture.

Lactose Intolerance Diet: Readjust your food choices

Growing up shouldn’t necessarily mean that one has to restrict one’s food choices to a selected few articles. Even if it does, you should readjust your food choices, so as to ensure that you don’t miss out on essential nutrients. Look around and you will find some brilliant alternatives that nature has to offer. Once you identify the one that works for you, you can alleviate problems related to food intolerances and achieve optimum health simultaneously.

Lactose Intolerance Treatment: Find alternatives to Milk

It might seem that you have arrived at a crossroads where you have to choose between an upset stomach and brittle bones. However, if you start thinking beyond the mainstream option of cow and buffalo milk, you won’t have to make the impossible choice between your health and food intolerance. Not all kinds of milk contain lactose, which is giving rise to the popularity of alternative options like plant-based milk or camel or goat milk. While these alternatives might not treat lactose intolerance, they can surely provide the nutrition that you were otherwise missing out on due to the complication.

Plant-based milk: These are free of hormones, pack nutrition and are much easier to digest than cow and buffalo. This makes them a safe option, especially for those who experience triggered skin problems like acne, by the hormones present in cow milk. It is easy to make a wide variety of vegan milk at home by simple processes of soaking, grinding and filtering. Some of these include coconut milk, rice milk, almond milk, soy milk, and oat milk, among others. These provide ample amount of magnesium, iron, and potassium.

Camel milk: Camel milk contains very low levels of lactose, which makes it the best alternative for those suffering from lactose intolerance. Moreover, the lack of A1 casein and beta-lactoglobulin makes it less susceptible to causing allergies. With thrice the amount of vitamin C and ten times that of iron, camel milk has higher calcium levels and is much more nutritious than cow or even vegan milk. It has a high concentration of mono-and polyunsaturated fatty acids and serum albumin. It is also rich in protective proteins like lactoferrin, immunoglobulins, lysozyme, and antioxidants. This makes it an immunity-boosting as well as an anti-aging food. Thanks to its low-fat content, it is also an effective option for those seeking to lose weight without foregoing body’s nutritional needs.

Goat milk: It has the goodness of dairy while being very easy to digest. Its lactose content is lower than cow milk and fat globules are smaller. The fatty acids in goat milk can also improve the health of your skin. It has a higher calcium content (33% of our daily mineral allowance) in comparison to cow’s milk (28%). It also contains iron, magnesium, and phosphorus which is absorbed very easily.

Ishi Khosla is Nutritionist, Advisor to Aadvik Foods. Views expressed are the author’s own.

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