For most of us, a big bowl of fro yo with chocolate sprinkles or a thick milkshake and fries on "splurge day" is not only delicious, but consequence-free. The creaminess of dairy coats our tongues and fills our bellies with sweet goodness. And what about the assorted cheese plate at your favorite restaurant or fried mozzarella sticks someplace a tad more budget-friendly? Again, the majority of us can indulge with reckless abandon as the gooiness makes its way past our lips (and often onto our hips).
But for those suffering from lactose intolerance, the above details likely made them cringe with horror as they relived past pain and discomfort while doubled over on the toilet. Lactose isn't a thrill for everyone, and lactose intolerance is more likely than not the reason why.
So what is lactose intolerance exactly? According to WebMD, "Lactose intolerance means the body cannot easily digest lactose, a type of natural sugar found in milk and dairy products. This is not the same thing as a food allergy to milk. Some people who have lactose intolerance cannot digest any milk products. Others can eat or drink small amounts of milk products or certain types of milk products without problems."
Because the small intestine cannot produce enough lactase, the enzyme which breaks down lactose, sufferers deal with the symptoms associated with lactose intolerance. And these symptoms are no fun. When you're giving up hot fudge sundaes and cheesy fries, you know you've got it bad.
As per Mayo Clinic, symptoms include:
- Nausea, and sometimes, vomiting
- Abdominal cramps
WebMD notes that these symptoms generally show up about 30 minutes to 2 hours after consuming dairy products. If this is you, try eliminating dairy from your diet and see if the issues discontinue. Then be sure to consult a doctor to diagnose you and discuss new ways to get calcium, vitamin D, etc.
More interesting lactose intolerance facts to note…
You can develop lactose intolerance at any time. As per WebMD, becoming lactose intolerant becomes more common as we age.
Along with diarrhea, WebMD notes that you may also experience "foamy stool." Sounds delightful.
Some newborns are born with lactose intolerance, although this is a rarity, as per WebMD. Symptoms include severe foamy diarrhea, vomiting, diaper rash, dehydration, weakness, irritability, and slow weight gain.
According to Healthline, lactose intolerance is very common in adults, especially those of Asian, African, Native American, or Mediterranean ancestry. Close to 30 million Americans aged 20+ are lactose intolerant.