Milk is a wholesome food containing carbohydrates, proteins, minerals and vitamins.
It is the sole source of nutrition for newborns and is a good supplement for other people. It is the only source of vitamin B12 in pure vegetarians and provides a good amount of calcium and vitamin D3. 90% of the milk is water and hence perse is insufficient to be a sole provider of nutrition for adults.
Lactose is the milk sugar and is digested by an enzyme Lactase which is present on the surface of the inner lining of the small intestine. Of all the enzymes in the small intestine, lactase is the least abundant.
Intolerance to lactose can be because of :
a) Absence of lactase which is a genetic anomaly – symptomatic from birth
b) Age-dependent switch off of the gene controlling lactase production leading to lactase deficiency – This manifests at varied ages depending on the ethnicity and isn’t absolute – there is always a volume of milk that is tolerated and symptoms start when consumed beyond that
c) Following a gastrointestinal infection which destroys the inner lining/mucosa – Transient and improves with the recovery of the mucosa.
Symptoms usually start after consuming milk, such as bloating, farting, stomach noise (borborygmi) and explosive diarrhoea.
For the people intolerant with lactose it is best to avoid milk, cream and Cheese.
Lactase enzyme supplements are available in the market and should be chewed before consuming milk.
Lactose-free milk & soya milk can be used as an alternative.
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