Demystifier : ED Original where the content is written in such a way that it is knowledgeable and easy to comprehend at the same time.
Three out of four Indians have no milk tolerance. Are parents listening?
Not everyone can digest everything. Some can’t digest the truth, others can’t digest secrets. But we are looking at a more grave problem here that majority of Indians might not actually be familiar with – lactose intolerance.
Yep, that’s the word. It’s not as monstrous as it sounds. Just requires a little understanding from us.
Lactose intolerance? What rocket science?
It’s not. Food intolerance means when someone is not able to digest certain intake of nutrients from their diet. Lactose intolerance is the most common food intolerance. People having this cannot digest the high amount of sugar present in milk, called lactose, because they don’t have enough secretions of lactase (an enzyme to break down this sugar). Hence they can’t digest milk or milk products.
It isn’t an Indian thing. Purely Western.
Could’ve agreed on that, but can’t when statistics shout that almost 70% of Indians are lactose intolerant. The incident of lactose intolerance is higher in southern Indian than in the North. This is because of the Central Asian origins of North Indians. People in Central Asia had been dairying for a long period of time, so they are more accustomed to milk products.
How do you know you are lactose intolerant?
The vividest sign you can get about lactose intolerance is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). IBS is a belly discomfort and change in the pattern of bowel habits occurring together. Symptoms are diarrhoea, constipation, cramps usually in the lower half of the belly or bloating. Get yourself tested, and after confirmation, give up milk and dairy products from his/her diet. As simple as that.
But wouldn’t I become weak because of no calcium intake?
That is true. The most prevalent long-term health consequences a lactose intolerant patient suffers from is calcium deficiency and Vitamin D deficiency. But even when you were taking milk, your body was still unable to break lactose to provide nutrients. So it doesn’t make much of a difference.
How do I tackle it?
There are a lot of alternatives. Milk is NOT THE ONLY product that provides calcium. Here’s a catch: all milk from mammals contain lactose. So, go dairy-free like almond milk or soy milk. Opt fish for calcium. Vegetables like spinach and broccoli have high levels of calcium too. Amul provides lactose-free milk which has less than 0.1% lactose content and is replete with proteins and minerals. Problem solved.
Protein and calcium are always required by our body, even though the level of intake might differ with age. Lactose intolerance is a problem towards which most Indians will remain ignorant because the traditional idea of nutrition doesn’t wither away from the lives of most people of the country. And milk is the central component of it.
Since this problem remains unrecognized throughout the country, it prevails in your youth and adulthood, because of the commonly held belief of it being a “Western myth”.
This ignorance towards lactose intolerance also suggests another big issue – how people blindly follow traditional knowledge without realizing that as the world ages, new diseases, disorders and medical conditions develop due to changing times. Always relying to archaic treatments or beliefs surely does no good.
Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.