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Lactose sources, health risks

Thursday, October 05, 2017 by

Lactose is the sugar found in milk and dairy products. It is a sugar that naturally occurs in cow’s milk and is commonly found in products such as cheese, yogurt, and butter. It can be sometimes added in baked goods and other processed foods. It is a large sugar molecule that is made up of two smaller sugar molecules — glucose and galactose. The lactose first needs to be split into glucose and galactose for it to be absorbed from the intestine and into the body. The two sugar molecules are then absorbed by the cells lining the small intestine. Lactase, which is the enzyme that splits lactose into glucose and galactose, is located on the surface of the cells lining the small intestine. When lactase is absent or is not produced in sufficient quantity, lactose can cause intestinal disorders, such as lactose intolerance.

Harmful effects that can be caused by lactose

There are a few potential harmful effects of lactose. Lactose is harmful when a person is lactose intolerant. People who have this condition must avoid foods that contain lactose. If the body does not produce enough amounts of the enzyme lactase or if the body does not absorb it well, it is a sign of lactose intolerance. The stomach cannot deconstruct the milk sugar when a person consumes lactose, which would make the person feel bloated and cramped. As a result, the undigested lactose that makes its way through the bowels can cause diarrhea. Diarrhea can lead to burning and itching around the anus.

Lactose can also cause allergic reactions to some people, which can be life-threatening. If a person consumes lactose and his mouth starts to itch, eyes start to tear, or itchy hives start to develop, he is allergic to lactose. Other symptoms of lactose allergy include swelling, difficulty in breathing, coughing, and wheezing, which are dangerous and require immediate medication. Consequently, if untreated, a person could slip into anaphylactic shock which is a potentially fatal situation that compromises the heartbeat and breathing.

Body systems harmed by lactose

The body system that lactose harms is the digestive system. One of the effects of lactose is that it can cause abdominal pain. The pain may occur when the lining of the stomach becomes irritated from lactose. The irritation is caused by the breaking down of lactose in the stomach, which results to cramping of intestines.

Another harmful effect of lactose in the body is it can cause nausea, which can occur when the stomach becomes irritated from the milk lactose. Vomiting can be experienced along nausea.

Irritation of the lactose from cow’s milk can also cause gas in the digestive system. The stomach may get larger, your pants may feel tighter, and your belly may seem rounder. In connection with the increased gas in the stomach, a person may experience abdominal bloating. This is a side effect lactose consumption.

Lactose may also cause diarrhea, which happens when the intestines cramp and the waste are pushed out of the rectum quickly. The side effect will gradually stop as soon as you stop drinking cow’s milk.

Where to learn more


Lactose is the sugar found in milk and dairy products such as cheese, yogurt, and butter. Lactose can be harmful to people whose bodies produce little to no enzyme called lactase. Lactase splits lactose into glucose and galactose for digestion. Lactose can cause diarrhea, bloating, and abdominal pain to lactose-intolerant people.

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