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Why are many people lactose intolerant now, more than ever?

Lactose intolerance is a digestive disorder that occurs when the body is unable to fully digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and dairy products. It is a common condition, affecting an estimated 65% of the global population. In the past, lactose intolerance was most prevalent in adult populations, but it is now being seen more frequently in children and young adults. There are several reasons for this increase in lactose intolerance, including genetics, diet, and changes in the way milk is produced and consumed.



One reason for the increased prevalence of lactose intolerance is genetics. Lactose intolerance is caused by a deficiency in the enzyme lactase, which is responsible for breaking down lactose in the digestive system. The production of lactase decreases as we age, which is why lactose intolerance is more common in adults. However, some people are born with a deficiency in lactase, which means they are more likely to develop lactose intolerance at a younger age.

Another factor that may contribute to the increase in lactose intolerance is the way milk is produced and consumed. In the past, milk was typically consumed raw, which meant that it contained higher levels of lactase. Today, most milk is pasteurized, a process that involves heating the milk to kill bacteria and other contaminants. While pasteurization is important for ensuring the safety of milk, it can also reduce the levels of lactase present in the final product. This means that people who consume pasteurized milk may be more likely to develop lactose intolerance.



Some studies suggest that the overuse of antibiotics may contribute to the development of lactose intolerance. Antibiotics can kill off the beneficial bacteria in the gut, which can disrupt the balance of the microbiome and lead to the development of digestive disorders like lactose intolerance.

In conclusion, several factors may contribute to the increase in lactose intolerance, including genetics, diet, lifestyle, and changes in the way milk are produced and consumed. People with lactose intolerance need to manage their condition by avoiding or limiting their intake of lactose-containing foods and beverages and by taking lactase supplements if needed.

  • Lactose intolerance is caused by a deficiency in the enzyme lactase, which is responsible for breaking down lactose in the digestive system. When there is not enough lactase present, lactose is not fully digested and can cause symptoms like bloating, gas, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

  • Lactase production typically decreases with age, which is why lactose intolerance is more common in adults. However, some people are born with a deficiency in lactase, which means they are more likely to develop lactose intolerance at a younger age.

  • The consumption of milk and dairy products has decreased in some populations, leading to a decrease in lactase production. At the same time, the consumption of non-dairy alternatives, such as almond milk and soy milk, has increased. This shift in diet may contribute to the development of lactose intolerance in some people.

  • Pasteurization is a process that involves heating milk to kill bacteria and other contaminants. While pasteurization is important for ensuring the safety of milk, it can also reduce the levels of lactase present in the final product. This means that people who consume pasteurized milk may be more likely to develop lactose intolerance.

  • There is some evidence to suggest that the overuse of antibiotics may contribute to the development of lactose intolerance. Antibiotics can kill off the beneficial bacteria in the gut, which can disrupt the balance of the microbiome and lead to the development of digestive disorders like lactose intolerance.

  • Lactose intolerance is a common condition, affecting an estimated 65% of the global population. People with lactose intolerance need to manage their condition by avoiding or limiting their intake of lactose-containing foods and beverages and by taking lactase supplements if needed.

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frequently asked questions :

why am I suddenly lactose intolerant ?

There are several reasons why someone may suddenly become lactose intolerant. One possibility is that the individual may have developed an autoimmune disorder, such as celiac disease, that affects their ability to digest lactose. Another possibility is that the individual may have developed an infection or disease that damages the small intestine, where lactose is normally broken down. It could also be a result of a recent surgery that might have affected the small intestine. Additionally, some people may be genetically predisposed to lactose intolerance and the symptoms may appear as they age. It is recommended that you see a medical professional for an evaluation and proper diagnosis.


How many people are lactose intolerant ?

Lactose intolerance is a common condition, affecting an estimated 30-50 million Americans. It is most common in people of African, Asian, Hispanic, and Native American descent, but it can affect people of any race or ethnicity. It is estimated that up to 75% of the world's population may have some degree of lactose intolerance. However, it is important to note that the prevalence of lactose intolerance can vary greatly depending on the population and the methods used to diagnose it.


Lactose intolerance by country ?

The prevalence of lactose intolerance varies widely by country and population. Here are some estimates for selected countries:


1) In the United States, it is estimated that about 30-50 million people are lactose intolerant.

2) In China, it is estimated that about 90% of the population is lactose intolerant.

3) In Africa, it is estimated that about 75-80% of the population is lactose intolerant.


4) In India, it is estimated that about 70-75% of the population is lactose intolerant.

5) In Italy, it is estimated that about 10-15% of the population is lactose intolerant.

6) In Northern Europe, it is estimated that about 5-15% of the population is lactose intolerant.


Is lactose tolerance a mutation ?

Lactose tolerance, also known as lactase persistence, is a genetic trait that allows individuals to continue to produce the enzyme lactase, which breaks down lactose, throughout their lives. This is in contrast to lactose intolerance, which is characterized by a reduction in lactase production and difficulty digesting lactose.


The ability to produce lactase into adulthood is thought to be a relatively recent genetic mutation, which likely occurred around 7,500 years ago in Central Europe. This mutation allowed early farmers to consume milk and other dairy products, which provided a valuable source of nutrition at a time when food was scarce. From there the gene that allows lactose tolerance spread rapidly among the population.


Why are so many people lactose intolerant ?

Many people are lactose intolerant because lactose tolerance is a relatively recent genetic mutation that has not yet spread to all populations. Lactose tolerance, also known as lactase persistence, is the ability to continue to produce the enzyme lactase, which breaks down lactose, throughout one's life. This mutation likely occurred around 7,500 years ago in Central Europe and allowed early farmers to consume milk and other dairy products, which provided a valuable source of nutrition at a time when food was scarce.

This gene spread rapidly among the population of Europe, but it has not yet spread to all populations around the world. For example, lactose intolerance is much more common in people of African, Asian, Hispanic, and Native American descent. This is because these populations did not have the same cultural practices of consuming dairy products and therefore did not have the same selective pressure for the lactase persistence gene to spread.

Another reason that many people are lactose intolerant is that lactase production naturally decreases as people age. So, even if a person has the lactase persistence gene, as they age, their ability to produce lactase may decrease and they may become lactose intolerant.


It's important to note that lactose intolerance is not a disease, but a normal condition and it is not harmful. It can be managed by avoiding or limiting the intake of lactose-containing foods, or by taking lactase supplements before consuming them.


What happens if you ignore lactose intolerance ?

If someone with lactose intolerance ignores their condition and continues to consume large amounts of lactose, they may experience a range of unpleasant symptoms. These symptoms may include:

  • Stomach cramps

  • Gas

  • Bloating

  • Diarrhea

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

These symptoms can vary in severity and frequency depending on the individual and the amount of lactose consumed. Some people may experience only mild discomfort, while others may experience more severe symptoms that can be debilitating.


Ignoring lactose intolerance can also lead to malnutrition if the person is not able to consume enough calories or nutrients due to their symptoms. Additionally, if the diarrhea is severe and frequent, it can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance, which can be dangerous.

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