10 Mind Blowing Facts About Lactose Intolerance

Posted in Dairy-Free Living June 16, 2014

lactose intolerance

Bernt Rostad via Flickr CC

Lactose is a sugar that is primarily found in milk products.   Lactose is larger than what are known as “simple sugars”, ones that are absorbed into the blood stream.  Our bodies typically produce an enzyme called lactase that breaks up lactose into smaller sugars, glucose and galactose.

Lactose intolerance is a common affliction in people around the world.  More common than you may even guess.  Here are ten interesting facts about lactose, giving a compelling case for a dairy-free lifestyle.

  1. Most people are not allergic to lactose, which would mean the immune system reacts.  Lactose intolerance is a reaction from the digestive system.
  2. Between 30 and 50 million Americans are considered to be lactose intolerant.
  3. Over 60% of adults world-wide experience lactose intolerance, compared to 4% of people considered to be allergic to milk.
  4. Population groups without a traditional diet that includes dairy are more likely to be intolerant
  5. Individual intolerance levels vary. Some symptoms may be minor enough that they go unnoticed.
  6. Lactase deficiency, the cause of lactose intolerance, can be cause from an injury to the small intestine (infection, disease or other injuries).
  7. Symptoms of lactose intolerance can include bloating, nausea, abdominal pain, gas, heartburn, headaches or diarrhea.
  8. Lactose intolerance most commonly appears around age two, but can begin later in life.
  9. Some people experience irritability or mood swings.
  10. 90% of northern Europeans retain the ability to digest lactose after childhood, compared to 5% of eastern Asians.

So how do you know if you are lactose intolerant? Your doctor can help you determine for sure, but it’s never a bad idea to take a two week dairy-free challenge and take notes on any changes in your digestion.  For those of you living dairy-free already, share in the comments about your experience.  Do you feel better? Have our products given you access to the foods you missed? Let us know in the comments!

For more information about lactose intolerance, see our sources: