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Can Probiotics Solve Lactose Intolerance

Is there a role for probiotics in solving lactose intolerance? 

Ever feel bloated after drinking or taking food containing milk? If so, you, like a growing number of people, may have a lactose intolerance.

According to the Center Of Food Allergies there are 50 million Americans who have a lactose intolerance and nearly two thirds of the worlds population have difficulty digesting cows milk.

The two ethnic groups with the highest rates of lactose intolerance are African Americans (97% – 100%) and Asians  (90% – 100%) whereas, Northern European (1% – 5%)  and North American (7% – 15%) Caucasians having the lowest levels.

What Is The Cause Of Lactose Intolerance

A lactose intolerance is caused by your bodies inability to digest lactose – the sugars –  contained within milk. Lactose cannot be digested in its original from and for that reason your body relies on a digestive enzyme called lactase.

Lactase is produced by the body and secreted from cells within the lining of the stomach. The lactase enzymes break down the lactose into the digestible sugars galactose and glucose.

When babies are born they have ample reserves of lactase enzymes in order to digest breast milk and other forms of milk that predominantly make up their diet. However, when the body ages the production of the lactase enzyme declines making it harder for our bodies to digest milk.

Many people think that a lactose intolerance is an allergy to milk, but it is not.

Although though dairy products and milk have lactose the vast majority of processed foods also contain some form of lactose, which is often used as an additive. Even foods you wouldn’t even think contain lactose, do, for example,  breadcrumbs, hot dogs, spam, and artificial sweeteners.

As these foods predominantly make up the modern Western diet it really is no surprise that increasing numbers of people are becoming intolerant to lactose.

What Are Lactose Intolerance Symptoms

With a lactase  deficiency undigested milk enters the lower intestinal tract and irritates the lining of the smaller intestines.  Lactose can also draw more water into the gut leading to increased bouts of diarrhea and flatulence. A lactose intolerance can also create a build up of the gas hydrogen, causing bloating and flatulence

Other symptoms can include;

  • abdominal pains
  • nausea
  • stomach cramps

Can Probiotics Stop Lactose Intolerance

Probiotics are living microorganisms that do not occur naturally. They are created through fermentation and added to foods such as yoghurt. There are many strains of probiotics and only certain strains are believed to have a beneficial affect on people with a lactose intolerance.

Certain lactobacillus strains have the same enzyme characteristics as lactase and galactosidase in breaking down  lactose. The belief is that ingesting foods containing these probiotic strains can alleviate the symptoms of a lactose intolerance.

A number of scientific studies were undertaken in the 1990’s to identify the affects of eating fermented and probiotic foods and their affect on digesting lactose.The problem with these studies is that they did not record the specific probiotic strains used.

However, certain yogurts have been eaten by people with a lactose intolerance but they show no signs or symptoms.

There two main bacteria that is the basis of probiotic yogurts are the strains Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus. Of these two Lactobacillus bulgaricus had the most beneficial affect on lactose intolerance.

Streptococcus thermophilus is another strain that has also been identified as helping to breakdown lactose. So, the next time your in the supermarket looking for the best probiotics for lactose intolerance symptoms make sure your check the label for these two strains.

The Problem Probiotics

Manufactured probiotic bacteria have a notorious reputation for being very fragile, sensitive to high temperatures and having a short shelf.

Also, the journey to the intestinal tract can be a dangerous one, especially if the intestinal tract is already inflamed and overrun with harmful bacteria. This means many probiotics are not going to reach their desired destination.

That’s why you need prebiotics.

According to an article published in the The American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition;

“prebiotics may be more efficient than probiotics in both achieving colonic bacterial adaptation and affecting lactose intolerance.”

Prebiotics are soluble fibers found naturally in fruit and vegetables. They play a vital role in supporting a balanced digestive system by feeding your own probiotics and stimulating their growth.

Whether you are taking a probiotics for lactose intolerance they will have a greater affect if you obtain plenty of prebiotics.

One of the most convenient ways of doing this is by taking a natural prebiotic supplement each day. We recommend and use MX Kiwi Biotic because it is made from kiwifruit – one of the most nutritious and prebiotic rich foods on the planet.


American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition – Prebiotics or probiotics for lactose intolerance: a question of