As soon as you drink milk, you have diarrhea, is it lactose intolerance or milk allergy?

The problems of the former stem from the digestive system, while the latter stem from the immune system.

Many friends do not drink milk, according to themselves, they are allergic to milk, drink intestinal discomfort, diarrhea. 

However, in most cases in daily life, the problem is not actually milk allergy, but lactose intolerance. 

There is still a big difference between lactose intolerance and milk protein allergies. 

First, the problems of the former stem from the digestive system, while the latter stem from the immune system; second, lactose intolerance occurs less in infants than in adults; in contrast, milk protein allergies are relatively more common in children than in adults.

Lactose intolerance from the digestive system

Lactose is a disaccharide widely found in mammalian milk. Every 100 milliliters of milk contains about 4.5 grams of lactose. Lactose is broken down by lactase into glucose and galactose in the human small intestine before it can be absorbed. 

Babies usually synthesize lactase normally, so they can digest and absorb lactose in breast milk. After weaning, the synthesis of lactase in the body will gradually decrease. 

If there is a lack of this lactase in the small intestine for a variety of reasons, a large amount of undigested lactose can reach the large intestine smoothly. Some bacteria in the large intestine ferment lactose to produce a large amount of gas, which can lead to abdominal distension, diarrhea, and farting and other symptoms. This is lactose intolerance. 

Lactose intolerance varies greatly from race to race. White people in Europe and the United States usually have less lactose intolerance, while the proportion of Chinese with lactose intolerance is as high as 93%. 

Moreover, there are significant individual differences between people who are lactose intolerant. Most people suffer from intolerance only after ingesting a certain amount of lactose. As a result, people with lactose intolerance can still eat a small amount of milk. 

Only a handful of people, like Leonard (Lenard) in TBBT, have serious problems with a small amount of lactose.

Milk allergies from the immune system. 

Milk allergies, or rather, allergies to proteins in milk. Every 100 milliliters of milk contains about 3 grams of protein, including casein and whey protein. Both proteins can cause allergies. 

When the immune system mistook the normal intake of milk protein for the enemy of the invasion, it triggered a series of immune responses against the “enemy.” As a result, it can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, skin redness, asthma and other symptoms. When the immune response is too strong, the rescue is not timely and may even lead to death. 

Babies are more likely to be allergic to milk protein than adults because their immune systems are not yet mature. About 3% of babies are allergic to milk protein. 

Moreover, babies who are allergic to milk proteins are usually allergic to proteins from the milk of other animals, even to proteins in breast milk. 

In addition to milk protein, protein in eggs and peanuts is often a baby’s allergen. 

In most cases, the allergy problem disappears after a few years. Of course, there are a few people who have been allergic to certain proteins even as adults, such as Howard (Howard), who is severely allergic to peanuts in the TBBT.

How do you deal with lactose intolerance and milk allergies?

Although lactose intolerance is rare in infants, there are still some infants who have congenital lactase deficiency, in which case, Lactose-free infant formula, which has hydrolyzed lactose into glucose and galactose, needs to be used under the guidance of a doctor. 

In the case of lactose intolerance in adults, symptoms can be alleviated by drinking milk in small amounts at a time and multiple times. Because the digestion and absorption of the main nutrients in milk are mainly in the stomach and small intestine, even if there is slight lactose intolerance, it will hardly affect the digestion and absorption of nutrition. 

Interestingly, bacteria in the large intestine break down undigested lactose, which increases osmotic pressure in the large intestine, increases mineral solubility, and thus increases the absorption of minerals, especially calcium and magnesium. 

In other words, lactose intake is conducive to calcium absorption, even if lactose tolerance, there will be a small amount of lactose into the large intestine. For people who are lactose intolerant, more lactose enters the large intestine, which actually promotes calcium absorption. 

Some dairy products, such as yogurt and cheese, in which lactose has been partially or completely broken down by lactic acid bacteria, so eating these dairy products can supplement calcium without causing lactose intolerance. 

In addition, there are now products on the market that have hydrolyzed lactose in milk in advance, and ads have even been inserted into a large American film. 

Babies who are allergic to milk protein but do not have access to breast milk can eat formula using soy protein under the guidance of a doctor, or choose an anti-allergy formula that has hydrolyzed the protein into peptides. 

In addition, the European Society for allergic response and Clinical Immunology and the European Society of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition have issued a joint statement recommending that infants be breastfed for the first four to six months in order to reduce the risk of food allergy in the future. So if conditions permit, it’s best to breastfeed for six months. 

For adults who are allergic to milk protein, the only way is to avoid all foods that contain milk ingredients. Since 2005, the European Union has required food companies to make mandatory labels on foods containing ingredients from milk to facilitate choices for consumers allergic to milk protein.

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