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Lactose Intolerance

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Lactose intolerance is a digestive problem characterised by the inability of the body to digest lactose; a type of sugar most commonly found in milk products, though occasionally also in other products that dairy may be added to, including sweets, salad dressings, and baked goods[1][5][8]. Lactose intolerance is typically caused by a deficiency of lactase, an enzyme produced in the small intestine to break it down[1][3][8].

The main symptom of lactose intolerance is stomach upsets that may cause bloating, flatulence, and diarrhoea[2]; the severity and onset of which will depend of how much lactose is consumed[2], and can also vary from person to person[1], as can the amount of lactose required to trigger them [2]. The amount of lactose contained in food can vary greatly; for example, fermented dairy products, such as hard cheeses, contain less than milk or cream[1].

As a rule, there are no long-term complications from lactose intolerance[1], however it is wise to try and limit the amount of lactose you consume[5]; be sure to read product information carefully so you know what you’re getting. Additionally, if you have a lactose intolerance then you may not be receiving the nutritional benefits of dairy, such as calcium, you should look into other sources or supplements[5][6].

Similar symptoms associated with lactose intolerance can also occur with other conditions however, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), milk allergies, and milk protein intolerance (MPI)[2][7][9], so if you are concerned that you or your child might be lactose intolerant, be sure to visit your G.P. to make sure.

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