Lactose intolerance affects an estimated 65% of the global population, and that number could be higher since the condition is more uncomfortable than harmful, meaning many cases go undiagnosed.
So, it may be beneficial to be aware of telltale signs that you’re lactose intolerant so you can limit your dairy intake and discomfort.
You have bloating, gas, stomach pain or diarrhea after eating dairy
Dairy intolerance symptoms are typically abdominal pain, gas, bloating or diarrhea, presenting about 30 minutes to two hours after eating lactose-filled foods and beverages, says the Mayo Clinic.
The symptoms occur because of the body’s inability to fully digest lactose, creating gas buildup in the colon, according to research by the Department of Gastroenterology at the Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in London.
Taking lactase enzymes makes you feel better
If you suspect you’re lactose intolerance, test your hypothesis with a digestive enzyme supplement the next time you eat dairy. If it curbs the aforementioned symptoms, it could confirm your belief.
Lactase, for example, is a digestive enzyme that helps you digest lactose.
“If you don’t have lactase, the undigested lactose goes to the colon, which leads to more fluid entering the colon and more gas produced by bacteria in the colon. That creates bloating, flatulence, and diarrhea,” Dr. Kyle Staller, a gastroenterologist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.
You become constipated after consuming lactose
While the more aggressive symptoms like diarrhea, bloating and gas are most common, constipation is also a possibility for lactose intolerant people.
A 2006 study in the American Journal of Physiology-Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology found that some people experienced from constipation post-lactose due to the production of methane gas in their guts. It also caused food to travel more slowly though their digestive systems.
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