The inability to digest lactose is the poster child of food intolerance. But did you know that there are different versions or “types” of lactose intolerance?
That’s right. The way lactose intolerance develops lands it in one of three or four categories (depending on how you’re counting). Here they are.
1. a decrease in lactase production over time
The first type of lactose intolerance is also the most common. This primary lactose intolerance takes place when an individual slowly loses the ability to digest lactose as they age. This gradual process is estimated to impact as much as two-thirds of people around the world.
Typically, babies and young toddlers are fine. However, by the age of three, as a child weans off of breastmilk or formula, they begin to lose their ability to digest lactose.
2. losing lactase production for a specific reason
The second form of lactose intolerance comes from a specific cause or event. This could be a variety of things, including:
- Celiac disease
- Crohn’s disease
- Ulcerative colitis
Surgery and medications can also be culprits. For instance, extended doses of antibiotics can impact your ability to create lactase. At times, this secondary form of lactose intolerance is temporary. However, depending on the circumstances, it can also be permanent.
3. congenital lactose intolerance starts at birth
A less common form of lactose intolerance is congenital lactose intolerance. When the lactase enzyme is either deficient or missing from birth, it means an infant cannot even breastfeed without digestional issues.
Inherited lactose intolerance is a very rare disorder with an unknown frequency. However, Medline Plus reports that it is the most common in Finland, where 1 in 60,000 infants suffer from the condition.
4. developmental lactase deficiency is usually temporary
Finally, there is developmental lactase deficiency. This can occur in children who are born prematurely (i.e., before 37 weeks of pregnancy).
In this case, the issue doesn’t lie in a genetic inheritance of an intolerance. Instead, it simply stems from the fact that a child hasn’t developed the ability to digest lactose yet. It usually improves as babies grow.
addressing lactose intolerance with Intoleran
While some forms of lactose intolerance are more common than others, all of them revolve around a lack of the lactase enzyme. This is an issue that can be partly addressed by limiting lactose foods. However, there is no lactase food to take their place.
Remember the lactase meaning. It is a digestive enzyme. If individuals want to replace this lacking enzyme, they can do so with dietary enzyme supplements. These are effective and adaptable digestive solutions. Intoleran’s lactase drops, for instance, are safe to use at any age. (As always, check with your healthcare professional before use!)
Whether you’ve developed a lactose intolerance over time or had it from birth, lactase enzymes can help your digestive tract stay strong and healthy …and even allow you to enjoy your dairy products along the way.