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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 November 5, 2019

How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

Assuming the public school system didn’t crush your soul, learning is a great activity. It expands your viewpoint. It gives you new knowledge you can use to improve your life. It is important for your personal growth. Even if you discount the worldly benefits, the act of learning can be a source of enjoyment.

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” — Mark Twain

But in a busy world, it can often be hard to fit in time to learn anything that isn’t essential. The only things learned are those that need to be. Everything beyond that is considered frivolous. Even those who do appreciate the practice of lifelong learning, can find it difficult to make the effort.

Here are some tips for installing the habit of continuous learning:

1. Always Have a Book

It doesn’t matter if it takes you a year or a week to read a book. Always strive to have a book that you are reading through, and take it with you so you can read it when you have time.

Just by shaving off a few minutes in-between activities in my day I can read about a book per week. That’s at least fifty each year.

2. Keep a “To-Learn” List

We all have to-do lists. These are the tasks we need to accomplish. Try to also have a “to-learn” list. On it you can write ideas for new areas of study.

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Maybe you would like to take up a new language, learn a skill or read the collective works of Shakespeare. Whatever motivates you, write it down.

3. Get More Intellectual Friends

Start spending more time with people who think. Not just people who are smart, but people who actually invest much of their time in learning new skills. Their habits will rub off on you.

Even better, they will probably share some of their knowledge with you.

4. Guided Thinking

Albert Einstein once said,

“Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.”

Simply studying the wisdom of others isn’t enough, you have to think through ideas yourself. Spend time journaling, meditating or contemplating over ideas you have learned.

5. Put it Into Practice

Skill based learning is useless if it isn’t applied. Reading a book on C++ isn’t the same thing as writing a program. Studying painting isn’t the same as picking up a brush.

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If your knowledge can be applied, put it into practice.

In this information age, we’re all exposed to a lot of information, it’s important to re-learn how to learn so as to put the knowledge into practice.

6. Teach Others

You learn what you teach. If you have an outlet of communicating ideas to others, you are more likely to solidify that learning.

Start a blog, mentor someone or even discuss ideas with a friend.

7. Clean Your Input

Some forms of learning are easy to digest, but often lack substance.

I make a point of regularly cleaning out my feed reader for blogs I subscribe to. Great blogs can be a powerful source of new ideas. But every few months, I realize I’m collecting posts from blogs that I am simply skimming.

Every few months, purify your input to save time and focus on what counts.

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8. Learn in Groups

Lifelong learning doesn’t mean condemning yourself to a stack of dusty textbooks. Join organizations that teach skills.

Workshops and group learning events can make educating yourself a fun, social experience.

9. Unlearn Assumptions

You can’t add water to a full cup. I always try to maintain a distance away from any idea. Too many convictions simply mean too few paths for new ideas.

Actively seek out information that contradicts your worldview.

Our minds can’t be trusted, but this is what we can do about it to be wiser.

10. Find Jobs that Encourage Learning

Pick a career that encourages continual learning. If you are in a job that doesn’t have much intellectual freedom, consider switching to one that does.

Don’t spend forty hours of your week in a job that doesn’t challenge you.

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11. Start a Project

Set out to do something you don’t know how. Forced learning in this way can be fun and challenging.

If you don’t know anything about computers, try building one. If you consider yourself a horrible artist, try a painting.

12. Follow Your Intuition

Lifelong learning is like wandering through the wilderness. You can’t be sure what to expect and there isn’t always an end goal in mind.

Letting your intuition guide you can make self-education more enjoyable. Most of our lives have been broken down to completely logical decisions, that making choices on a whim has been stamped out.

13. The Morning Fifteen

Productive people always wake up early. Use the first fifteen minutes of your morning as a period for education.

If you find yourself too groggy, you might want to wait a short time. Just don’t put it off later in the day where urgent activities will push it out of the way.

14. Reap the Rewards

Learn information you can use. Understanding the basics of programming allows me to handle projects that other people would require outside help. Meeting a situation that makes use of your educational efforts can be a source of pride.

15. Make Learning a Priority

Few external forces are going to persuade you to learn. The desire has to come from within. Once you decide you want to make lifelong learning a habit, it is up to you to make it a priority in your life.

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Featured photo credit: Paul Schafer via unsplash.com

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