Lactose, or milk sugar, is one of the most important disaccharides, without which the human body can not do.
The effect of this substance on the formation of saliva and the digestive process explains all the benefits. But sometimes a disaccharide produces a harmful effect on people suffering from lactose intolerance.
What are the benefits and hazards of the substance?
General information about lactose
In nature, there are various compounds, among them are monosaccharides (one: for example, fructose), oligosaccharides (several) and polysaccharides (many). In turn, oligosaccharide carbohydrates are classified as di- (2), tri- (3) and tetrasaccharides (4).
Lactose is a disaccharide, which is popularly called milk sugar. Its chemical formula is as follows: C12H22O11. It is a residue of galactose and glucose molecules.
The indigenous references to lactose are attributed to the scientist F. Bartoletti, who in 1619 discovered a new substance. The substance was identified as sugar in the 1780s thanks to the work of the scientist K.V. Scheel.
It should be noted that approximately 6% of lactose is present in cow's milk and 8% in human milk. Disaccharide is also formed as a by-product in cheese production. Under natural conditions, it is a compound such as lactose monohydrate. It is a white crystallized powder, odorless and tasteless. It is well dissolved in water and practically does not interact with alcohol. When heated, the disaccharide loses a water molecule, therefore it turns into anhydrous lactose.
Getting into the human body, milk sugar under the influence of enzymes is split into two components - glucose and galactose. After some time, these substances enter the bloodstream.
Some adults experience discomfort due to poor digestion of milk due to a deficiency or deficiency of lactase - a special enzyme that breaks down lactose. In this case, children, this phenomenon is quite rare. The explanation of this phenomenon goes back to antiquity.
It is known that livestock were domesticated only 8,000 years ago. Until that time, only babies ate breast milk. At this age, the body produced the right amount of lactase. The more mature a person became, the less his body required lactose. But 8,000 years ago, the situation changed - an adult began to use milk, so the body had to reorganize in order to produce lactase again.
The benefits of milk sugar for the body
The biological value of milk sugar is very high.
Its function is to influence the consistency of saliva in the mouth and improve the absorption of vitamins B, C and calcium. Getting into the intestine, lactose increases the number of lacto-and bifidobacteria.
Milk is a well-known product for everyone that should be present in the diet of every person. Lactose, which is part of it, performs the following vital functions for the human body:
- Source of energy. Once in the body, it is metabolized and releases energy. With a normal amount of lactose, protein reserves are not consumed, but accumulated. In addition, the constant intake of carbohydrates contributes to the preservation of reserves of proteins that accumulate in the muscle structure.
- Weight gain If the caloric intake per day exceeds the amount of calories burned, lactose is deposited as fat. This property must be taken into account by those who want to get better, as well as those who want to lose weight.
- Improve digestion. As soon as lactose is in the digestive tract, it breaks down into monosaccharides. When the body does not produce enough lactase, a person experiences discomfort when consuming milk.
The usefulness of milk sugar can not be overemphasized. The substance is used in different fields. Most often, lactose is used in such industries:
- cooking food;
- analytical chemistry;
- production of microbiological environment for cells and bacteria;
It can be used as a substitute for human milk in the manufacture of infant formula.
Lactose intolerance: symptoms and causes
Under lactose intolerance understand the impossibility of the body to break down this substance. Dysbacteriosis is manifested by extremely unpleasant symptoms: flatulence, abdominal pain, nausea and diarrhea.
If you confirm the diagnosis of "lactose intolerance" will have to abandon dairy products. However, the perfect failure entails new problems such as vitamin D deficiency and potassium. Therefore, lactose must be consumed together with various food additives.
Lactose deficiency can occur for two main reasons such as genetic factor and bowel disease (Crohn's disease).
It is necessary to distinguish intolerance and lactose deficiency. In the second case, people practically do not experience problems with digestion, they may be disturbed by a little discomfort in the stomach area.
A common cause of lactose intolerance is the growth of a person. Over time, his body’s need for a disaccharide decreases, so he begins to produce a smaller amount of a special enzyme.
Different ethnic groups need lactose differently. Thus, the highest rate of intolerance to the substance is observed in Asian countries. Only 10% of the population consumes milk, the remaining 90% cannot digest lactose.
Regarding the European population, the situation is observed with accuracy and vice versa. Only 5% of adults have difficulty digesting a disaccharide.
Thus, people get harm and benefit from lactose, because everything depends on whether the body absorbs the substance or not.
Otherwise, it will be necessary to replace milk with food additives in order to receive the required dose of milk sugar.
Diagnosis of intolerance and treatment
If a person has dyspepsia after drinking milk or its derivative, you should check if he has lactose intolerance.
For this purpose, some diagnostic measures are carried out.
Biopsy of the small intestine. It is the most accurate research method. Its essence lies in taking a sample of the mucous membrane of the small intestine. Normally, it contains a special enzyme - lactase. With a reduced enzyme activity, an appropriate diagnosis is made. Biopsy is performed under general anesthesia, so this method is not used in children.
Respiratory hydrogen test. The most common study in children. First, the patient is given lactose, then he exhales the air into a special device that determines the concentration of hydrogen.
The use of lactose straight. This method can not be considered sufficiently informative. In the morning, blood is collected from the patient on an empty stomach. After that, he uses lactose and gives blood a few more times within 60 minutes. Based on the results obtained, a lactose and glucose curve is constructed. If the lactose curve is lower than the glucose curve, then we can talk about lactose intolerance.
Analysis of feces. The most common, but at the same time inaccurate method of diagnosis among young children. It is believed that the normal level of carbohydrates in the feces should comply with the following indicators: 1% (up to 1 month.), 0.8% (1-2 months.), 0.6% (2-4 months.), 0.45%. (4-6 months) and 0.25% (older than 6 months). If lactose intolerance is accompanied by pancreatitis, steatorrhea occurs.
Coprogram. This study helps to identify the acidity of feces and the level of fatty acids. Intolerance is confirmed with increased acidity and a decrease in acid-base balance from 5.5 to 4.0.
When confirming the diagnosis, the patient will have to exclude dairy products from the menu. Treatment for lactose intolerance involves taking the following tablets:
Each of these funds contains in its composition a special enzyme-lactase. The price of these drugs may vary significantly. Detailed description of the medicinal product is indicated in the package insert.
For infants used Laktazabebi in the form of a suspension. The effect of the drug is similar to insulin in diabetics or Mezim in patients with chronic pancreatitis. Reviews of most mothers indicate the efficacy and safety of medicines.
Lactose information is provided in the video in this article.