LACTOSE: instruction for use

Lactose is the milk sugar.  It is a complex sugar which cannot be digested and absorbed by our gastrointestinal tract before being broken down into the two simple sugars it is made of: glucose and galactose.

For this to be able to happen, a proper amount of the enzyme lactase has to be present in our small intestine, otherwise lactose, once ingested, passes through the gut getting to the colon where resident bacteria turn it into hydrogen (a gas!) and into some organic acids.

Most of the problems involved in lactose intolerance from tiredness to flautulance, from headache to swelling till cramps are linked to the formation of these molecules. Diarrhea is actually caused by the water the undigested lactose brings to the gut.

How do we know whether we cannot tolerate lactose or we are suffering from some other disorder the symptoms are very similar to, like for example spastic colon?

Today a simple “breath test” can tell us the truth by measuring the amount of hydrogen present in our expired air right after having ingested lactose: in case of intolerance, the quantity will be very high.

We need to say that the lactase deficiency, unless it is an unborn factor or it is related to another disease, is a natural genetic event planned by our body.

This protein our organism start producing from the 23rd weeks reaches its highest peak at the birth and, after remaining costant during breastfeeding, begins a very subjective declining path from weaning onwards.

The fact that a large percentage of people have a lactase deficiency leading to seriours intestinal problems is a widespread phenomenon: the severity of the intolerance depends on both the amount of lactase still present in our intestine and, of course, the quantity of lactose consumed.

Nutritional advices vary within each individual: generally is raccomended to shorten the amount of lactose (small doses distributed over the day and consumed with other food) until problems are disappeared; to consume yogurt and calcium-rich-food in order to mitigate the missing one.

Lactose is found in the milk and not only: in fresh and cream cheese; in chocolate (even in the dark one); in butter and margarine; in cured pork meats in general; in wurstel; in products for children; in biscuits, candies and snacks. It is very important to read the labels of pre-packed foods!

It is not found in yogurt (just a little amount very tolerable), in matured cheese like Parmigiano or Grana; soy and rice milk; in every lactose free products. Be care because some drugs or vitamins may have lactose in minute amounts well tolerated by the organism.

Hoping we were of some small help, we would like to remind you that those are just advices for people suffering from CMT2A (and not only) with no medical purpose.  If you have something to share about the argument, do not hesitate to write us!

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