Do you know anyone who can’t consume milk or milk-based products? The condition is not uncommon and these people are classified as lactose intolerant.
Lactose is the main carbohydrate or sugar found in milk, and in varying quantities in dairy products made from milk including yoghurt, ice cream, soft cheeses and butter. Lactose (milk sugar) intolerance results from an inability to digest lactose in the small intestine.
Back in the cave-days, the only time a person would ever ingest lactose would be when they were infants getting milk from their mothers. During their adult lives milk was never consumed. Only with the invention of agriculture has milk become readily available to adults. Lactose is unique in that only in milk does it exist as a free form, unattached to other molecules.
What causes lactose intolerance?
Lactose is digested in the small intestine by an enzyme called lactase. This enzyme allows the body to break down the lactose into two simple sugars, glucose and galactose. These are quickly absorbed by the intestine and provide energy for the body. The level of the lactase enzyme varies between individuals, as does the...