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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 23, 2019

5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

In the journey of growth, there are times when we grow and excel. We are endlessly driven and hyped up, motivated to get our goals.

Then there are times when we stagnate. We feel uninspired and unmotivated. We keep procrastinating on our plans. More often than not, we get out of a rut, only to get back into another one.

How do you know if you are stagnating? Here are some tell-tale signs:

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  • If you have been experiencing chronic procrastination on your goals
  • If you don’t ever feel like doing anything
  • If you keep turning to sleep, eating, games, mindless activities and entertainment for comfort
  • If you know you should be doing something, but yet you keep avoiding it
  • If you have not achieved anything new or significant now relative to 1 month, 2 months or 3 months ago
  • If you have a deep sense of feeling that you are living under your potential

When we face stagnation in life, it’s a sign of deeper issues. Stagnation, just like procrastination, is a symptom of a problem. It’s easy to beat ourselves over it, but this approach is not going to help. Here, I will share 5 steps to help you move out of this stagnation. They won’t magically transform your life in 1 night (such changes are never permanent because the foundations are not built), but they will help you get the momentum going and help you get back on track.

1. Realize You’re Not Alone

Everyone stagnates at some point or another. You are not alone in this and more importantly, it’s normal. In fact, it’s amazing how many of my clients actually face the same predicament, even though all of them come from different walks of life, are of different ages, and have never crossed paths. Realizing you are not alone in this will make it much easier to deal with this period. By trying to “fight it”, you’re only fighting yourself. Accept this situation, acknowledge it, and tell yourself it’s okay. That way, you can then focus on the constructive steps that will really help you.

2. Find What Inspires You

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Stagnation comes because there isn’t anything that excites you enough to take action. If you don’t have a habit of setting goals, and instead just leave yourself to daily mundanes, it’s not surprising you are experiencing stagnation. What do you want to do if there are no limitations? If you can have whatever you want, what will it be? The answers to these questions will provide the fuel that will drive you forward.

On the other hand, even if you are an experienced goal setter, there are times when the goals you set in the past lose their appeal now. It’s normal and it happens to me too. Sometimes we lose touch with our goals, since we are in a different emotional state compared to when we first set them. Sometimes our priorities change and we no longer want to work on those goals anymore. However, we don’t consciously realize this, and what happens is we procrastinate on our goals until it compounds into a serious problem. If that’s the case for you, it’s time to relook into your goals. There’s no point in pursuing goals that no longer inspire you. Trash away your old goals (or just put them aside) and ask yourself what you really want now. Then go for them.

3. Give Yourself a Break

When’s the last time you took a real break for yourself? 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? Never? Perhaps it’s time to take a time-out. Prolonged working can cause someone to become disillusioned as they lose sight of who they are and what they want.

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Go take some extended leave from work. A few days at bare minimum; a few weeks or months will be great. Some of my ex-colleagues have quit their jobs and took months out to do some self-reflection. Of course, some of us might not have that luxury, so we can stick to a few weeks of leave. Go on a trip elsewhere and get away from your work and your life. Use this chance to get a renewed perspective of life. Think about your life purpose, what you want and what you want to create for your life in the future. These are big questions that require deep thinking over them. It’s not about finding the answers at one go, but about taking the first step to finding the answers.

4. Shake up Your Routines

Being in the same environment, doing the same things over and over again and meeting the same people can make us stagnant. This is especially if the people you spend the most time with are stagnant themselves.

Change things around. Start with simple things, like taking a different route to work and eating something different for breakfast. Have your lunch with different colleagues, colleagues you never talked much with. Work in a different cubicle if your work has free and easy seating. Do something different than your usual for weekday evenings and weekends. Cultivate different habits, like exercising every day, listening to a new series of podcasts every morning to work, reading a book, etc (here’s 6 Proven Ways To Make New Habits Stick). The different contexts will give you different stimulus, which will trigger off different thoughts and actions in you.

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When I’m in a state of stagnancy, I’ll get a sense of what’s making me stagnate. Sometimes it’s the environment I’m in, sometimes it’s the people I’ve been hanging out with, sometimes it’s my lifestyle. Most of the times it’s a combination of all these. Changing them up helps to stir myself out of the stagnant mode.

5. Start with a Small Step

Stagnation also comes from being frozen in fear. Maybe you do want this certain goal, but you aren’t taking action. Are you overwhelmed by the amount of work needed? Are you afraid you will make mistakes? Is the perfectionist in you taking over and paralyzing you?

Let go of the belief that it has to be perfect. Such a belief is a bane, not a boon. It’s precisely from being open to mistakes and errors that you move forward. Break down what’s before you into very very small steps, then take those small steps, a little step at a time. I had a client who had been stagnating for a long period because he was afraid of failing. He didn’t want to make another move where he would make a mistake. However, not wanting to make a mistake has led him to do absolutely nothing for 2-3 years. On the other hand, by doing just something, you would already be making progress, whether it’s a mistake or not. Even if you make a supposed “mistake”,  you get feedback to do things differently in the next step. That’s something you would never have known if you never made a move.

More to Help You Stay Motivated

Here are some resources that will help you break out of your current phase:

Featured photo credit: Anubhav Saxena via unsplash.com

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