“Yogurt improves lactose digestion” is one of the 10 evidence-based conclusions made by the YINI board about the health effects of yogurt… learn more below
Lactose maldigestion is normal
Lactose is a natural sugar found in milk and other dairy products. It can be broken down by the enzyme lactase in the small intestine into glucose and galactose, two simpler sugars that are readily absorbed into the bloodstream.
After weaning, our ability to digest lactose declines because we produce less lactase. Difficulty in digesting lactose due to this normal reduction in lactase production/activity is known as lactose maldigestion:
- Undigested lactose reaching the colon is broken down by the resident microbiota, resulting in the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) and gases. In most people, this maldigestion produces no noticeable symptoms.
- When lactose maldigestion gives rise to symptoms such as bloating, cramps, diarrhoea and flatulence, this is called lactose intolerance.
- Self-diagnosis of lactose intolerance is common, but it is often incorrect and in fact very few people have confirmed clinical lactose intolerance
- Suchy FJ, Brannon PM, Carpenter TO, et al. NIH Consensus Development Conference Statement: lactose intolerance and health. NIH Consens State Sci Statements 2010;27:1–27.
- EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA). Scientific Opinion on lactose thresholds in lactose intolerance and galactosaemia. ESFA Journal 2010a;8:1777.
- Lukito W, Malik SG, Surono IS, et al. From ‘lactose intolerance’ to ‘lactose nutrition’. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2015;24(Suppl 1):S1–8.
- Casellas F, Aparici A, Casaus M, et al. Subjective perception of lactose intolerance does not always indicate lactose malabsorption. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2010;8:581–6.
- Wilt TJ, Shaukat A, Shamliyan T, et al. Lactose intolerance and health. Evid Rep Technol Assess (Full Rep) 2010;(192):1–410.