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What Is Lactose Intolerance And What To Do If You Have It

What Is Lactose Intolerance And What To Do If You Have It

Digestive problems seem to be common these days. Lactose intolerance is one of the longer-known problems, perhaps before the commonly heard ‘gluten intolerant’ or ‘celiac’. Lactose intolerance is one of the most common digestive issues, and affects between 30 million and 50 million Americans today. Generally we know that the problem occurs when we consume dairy, yet beyond that, what is actually happening within the body when a person has such an intolerance? How does the milk we consume affect our digestive system in such a negative way? And how can we best remedy such a condition?

What is Lactose Intolerance?

People with lactose intolerance are most commonly advised to avoid milk and dairy products. This is because dairy contains a natural sugar that the body cannot tolerate – If the body is lacking a particular enzyme that is necessary to break down the sugar found in lactose products. This enzyme is called ‘lactase’ and resides in the lining of the small intestine. In order for the nutrients in lactose to be absorbed, the human body needs this enzyme. Lactose intolerant individuals are lacking this.

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Lactose moves through the body and into the large intestine and when it makes its way through without being properly digested, for intolerant people there can be painful and uncomfortable side effects such as cramping, bloating, gas and stomach pain. The intensity of these symptoms can vary, though on any scale none of them are pleasant. Some lactose intolerant victims can tolerate small amounts but other people have more severe reactions and can tolerate no dairy products at all.

The Challenges of Lactose Intolerance

African-Americans, Asians, and American Indians are most commonly associated with lactose intolerance. People who are lactose intolerant face the challenge of creating a diet that is dairy free, but also that accumulates enough calcium for the body that keeps their bones healthy and strong. Although milk is said to be the number one source of calcium there are actually other nutritious foods that are a high source of calcium – and that won’t affect the body in any negative way. These include sesame seeds and sesame products, leafy green vegetables, almonds and fish. You can also take calcium supplements, though be sure to see a doctor first to advise on new health regimes.

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How Do We Know if we are Lactose Intolerant?

So you think you are lactose intolerant? First – check your symptoms. If they align with the symptoms of lactose intolerance (cramping, diarrhoea, abdominal bloating, gas)  then it is time to see your doctor. This way you can rule out other significant digestive issues – or confirm that it is indeed lactose that is the culprit.

Cheese, because of its fermentation process, can sometimes be an exception to the lactose-intolerant rule. The harder the cheese, the less lactose it has. Extra sharp cheddar, Parmesan, Pecorino and aged gouda are good cheeses to try if you think you may be lactose intolerant. By process of elimination you can begin to read your body and understand what ails it and what is okay for it.

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The doctor can perform a few simple tests to discover if it is lactose that is causing you grief. These include a blood test – where they give you a drink containing lactose before hand. Also a breath test, where they test for high levels of hydrogen. The doctors can also test your stools for high levels of undigested lactose that is being expelled from the body.

However you can do a DIY version. This involves filling up a huge glass of milk, knocking it back, and then documenting the after effects for your health professional. If you experienced the above-mentioned side effects, chances are you are lactose intolerant. But never fear – there are over-the-counter pills you can take to help aid in your discomfort. These pills help replace the missing enzyme momentarily, and thus allow you to consume dairy and have your body act as a fully-functioning digestive system should. And you may not even need to avoid dairy altogether. “Many lactase-deficient people ‘can tolerate small amounts of lactose,” says Stephen Bickston, an American Gastroenterological Association fellow and professor of internal medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University.

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So stay in tune with your bodies! And remember – if pain persists, see a doctor.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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