From childhood, we were encouraged to drink milk because it was a great source of protein and calcium. So, we drank it. We didn’t have a choice anyway. Most Nigerian parents will not want to hear that milk, which the whole world drinks, dey do you one kind for the body.
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As far as they are concerned, if they work hard to provide the food, the least you can do is to eat it. But the reality is that some people cannot digest lactose which, by the way, is the sugar in milk. It is this set of people that are referred to as lactose intolerant. They have a low lactase level. Due to their inability to digest milk, they may notice any of the following symptoms each time they take it:
The expulsion of gas through the anus is normal. But when it happens each time you take milk, then you are probably lactose intolerant. The colon microflora in the lactose intolerant is good at fermenting lactose into acids and gases. However, the amount of gas produced differs from person to person due to differences in the efficiency of the microflora as well as the rate of gas reabsorption by the colon. Anyways, the good thing about lactose induced flatulence is that even when it sounds like thunder or a machine gun, it usually has no odour.
Lactose induced diarrhoea is common in babies and children. Now, in the lactose intolerant, there is an increase in the volume of water in the colon; this water increases the volume and liquid content of the stool. When the child passes more than 200grams of stool in twenty-four hours, he is said to have diarrhoea. However, not all diarrhoea in babies and children is caused by lactose intolerance. Therefore, you must be patiently observant so that you can find out if lactose is what triggers diarrhoea in your little one.
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Abdominal Discomfort and Cramps
If you experience bloating, stomach pain or cramps within half an hour to two hours after consuming dairy products then you are lactose intolerant. It must however be noted that the severity of pain varies between individuals and it has no relation with the amount of lactose consumed. It is the individual’s sensitivity to distention that determines the volume of pain that he experiences.
This is not a common symptom of lactose intolerance; it is usually found in people with irritable bowel syndrome. It is believed to be caused by an increase in methane production in the colon. Methane is thought to slow down the time it takes food to move through the gut. This is what causes constipation in most people.
Some people feel nauseous after ingesting milk. If they manage it well, it goes away after a while like the other symptoms. But if it doesn’t, nausea may result in vomiting. Nausea and vomiting are extreme symptoms of lactose intolerance.
Finally, the symptoms of lactose intolerance are uncomfortable but harmless. They will disappear if you remove lactose from your diet for two weeks. However, milk and other dairy products are good sources of calcium. Therefore, consult a doctor before removing them from your diet.
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