benefits of lactose

What is lactose and where does it come from?

What is Lactose? Lactose is a disaccharide found only in milk and is known as milk sugar. It is the most important type of carbohydrate in milk. Lactose is a substance that gives milk its flavor. Breast milk has more lactose than cow’s milk. In cases where cow’s milk should be given to children, care should be taken to ensure that the milk is rich in lactose. Lactose is a substance that contributes to the development of the baby. However, in bodies that are sensitive to lactose, the digestive system cannot fully fulfill its function and problems such as gas, diarrhea and colic may occur.

Lactose has many benefits for human health. These are

  • It meets the energy required for the body by being absorbed in the intestines.
  • Lactose is an important substance that prevents fatty liver.
  • It facilitates the absorption of many vitamins and minerals, especially calcium and zinc.
  • It positively affects the health of the small intestines. It makes the digestive system work more regularly.
  • Thanks to galactose in lactose, the brain and nervous system function regularly.

Lactose is a type of sugar that is commonly found in milk and dairy products. It is a disaccharide composed of two simpler sugars, glucose and galactose, linked together. Lactose is an essential source of energy, especially for infants, as it is the primary sugar in breast milk.

What is lactose and where does it come from

Lactose is produced by the mammary glands of mammals, including humans, and it serves as a source of nutrition for their young. In the context of human nutrition, lactose is primarily obtained from milk, including cow’s milk, goat’s milk, and sheep’s milk. It is also found in various dairy products such as yogurt, cheese, and butter.

To digest lactose, the body requires an enzyme called lactase, which breaks down lactose into its component sugars, glucose, and galactose, so they can be absorbed into the bloodstream. Some individuals may have a reduced ability to produce lactase, leading to lactose intolerance, a condition where the digestion of lactose is impaired, resulting in digestive symptoms after consuming dairy products.

Lactose and its role in nutrition are fundamental, particularly during infancy, but its importance can vary among individuals depending on their ability to digest it effectively.

What is lactose and in what foods?

Lactose is a sugar found in milk and dairy products. It is a disaccharide composed of two simpler sugars, glucose and galactose, linked together. Foods high in lactose include:

  1. Milk: Cow’s milk, goat’s milk, and sheep’s milk all contain lactose.
  2. Yogurt: Many yogurts contain lactose, although some yogurt products are lactose-free.
  3. Cheese: Most cheeses have lower lactose levels than milk and yogurt due to the fermentation process. Hard cheeses like cheddar, Swiss, and Parmesan have very little lactose.
  4. Butter: Butter contains very little lactose and is often well-tolerated.
  5. Ice Cream: Traditional ice cream is high in lactose. Lactose-free ice cream alternatives are available.
What is lactose and in what foods

Individuals with lactose intolerance may experience digestive discomfort after consuming foods high in lactose. To manage lactose intolerance, some people choose lactose-free dairy products or alternative milk options like almond, soy, or lactose-free milk. Additionally, lactase supplements are available to help digest lactose-containing foods more comfortably. It’s essential to read food labels and choose products labeled as lactose-free if you are sensitive to lactose or have lactose intolerance.

What is the function of lactose?

Lactose, a sugar found in milk and dairy products, serves several essential functions:

  1. Energy Source: Lactose is a source of energy. It is broken down into glucose and galactose in the digestive system, providing readily available energy for the body.
  2. Calcium Absorption: Lactose aids in the absorption of calcium from the digestive tract. This is crucial for maintaining strong bones and teeth.
  3. Gut Health: Lactose promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, contributing to a healthy digestive system. These bacteria help digest lactose and perform other important functions.
  4. Infant Nutrition: Lactose is a primary carbohydrate in breast milk, providing essential nutrients and energy for infants’ growth and development.
  5. Preservation: In dairy products, lactose helps preserve the freshness and taste of milk-based foods.

While lactose is beneficial for those who can digest it, some individuals are lactose intolerant, meaning they lack the enzyme lactase needed to break down lactose. In such cases, consuming lactose-containing foods can lead to digestive discomfort, and lactose-free alternatives are often preferred.

Legumes, green leafy vegetables and oilseeds also contain a small amount of lactose. For this reason, people with lactose intolerance are advised to be careful when consuming these foods.

Packaged foods are also high in lactose. The processing of lactose-containing foods and non-lactose-containing foods in the same production line may cause lactose to be present in those products. Foods such as sausages, salami, crackers, cakes, biscuits, cookies, sauces, margarine and chocolate contain high amounts of lactose. People who are sensitive to lactose should examine the content information of the packaged foods they buy.

Is Lactose Harmful?

Lactose intolerance is a condition in which the body reacts differently as a result of lactose not being fully digested. These people who consume dairy products experience cramps, gas, excessive bloating, nausea and diarrhea. Although lactose is an important substance for human health, people with lactose intolerance should use specially produced lactose-free milk and be careful when consuming processed foods. Different intestinal infections can also occur as a result of congenital lactose enzyme deficiency. Is lactose always from milk? >>