Understanding Lactose Intolerance

La Mère Poule February, 2013

Lactose intolerance is the body’s inability to digest lactose, the sugar in milk, due to the absence of an enzyme of the intestine called “lactase”. This enzyme normally separates lactose in two molecules (galactose and glucose), allowing them to enter the blood to provide energy. Without lactase, lactose is fermented by the action of bacteria in the intestine which causes digestive discomfort such as diarrhea and bloating.

 

Take the test

Normally, it is estimated that an adolescent or an adult can ingest up to 12 g of lactose, the equivalent to a glass of milk of about 1 cup (250 ml), even he is intolerant. Unfortunately, there is no scientific evidence to suggest a quantity of lactose not to exceed in any children that are lactose intolerant. If you have any doubts because your child has symptoms, even by the ingestion of a small quantity of dairy products, it would be advised to pass a test to confirm the presence of this intolerance. Many other health problems can be related to intestinal problems and present symptoms similar to that of lactose intolerance: Crohn’s disease or irritable bowel syndromes are just a couple of examples.

 

To each his tolerance

Intolerance remains a very individual issue, that is to say that each has its own level of tolerance to lactose. To help your child enjoy the pleasures dairy foods, you could do check his tolerance level by offering him a glass of milk and check for symptoms. Then try with yogurt and cheese as these foods contain less lactose and thus often better tolerated. In the long term, continue to provide small amounts of lactose that will help him maintain his level of tolerance. Completely eliminating lactose could have a reverse effect and increase his intolerance symptoms and prove dangerous if consumed inadvertently. Knowing your child’s the level of intolerance is a must.

 

Tasty alternatives

Dairy desserts such as sundae, cream caramel or rice pudding are sure crowd pleasers but there also exist many ways to enjoy sweet treats while putting aside lactose:

– A fruit salad, sprinkled with a dash of maple syrup or melted chocolate;

– A “smoothie” with frozen fruit and 100 % pure fruit juice. You can add tofu to give a creamy consistency.

– A sorbet made from real fruit (mango, pears, and raspberries) such as Mother Hen organic sorbets that are sure to satisfy your child’s taste buds.

– A rice pudding, cake or cookies prepared with fortified soy beverages for special occasions

 

Finally, if your child wants to get some ice cream with his friends, have him take lactase tablets, or, notify the parents of the friends he is visiting. I am pretty sure these parents will be able to find a compromise so your little love one will not be at a disadvantaged in front of his friends.

 

Reference: N

IH Consensus Development Conference:Lactose Intolerance and Health, February 22–24, 2010, Bethesda, Maryland

Categories : Allergies

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