Do Probiotics help Lactose Intolerance?

What is Lactose Intolerance?

Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose properly, a type of sugar found in some foods (mainly dairy products).1 The most common form of lactose intolerance is known as acquired lactase deficiency. This is the form of lactose intolerance we will be discussing here.

Usually, an enzyme called lactase produced in the small intestine helps us to digest lactose. Those lactose intolerant do not have enough of this enzyme, which causes difficulty digesting it.2

Symptoms include:1

  • Excess gas
  • Diarrhoea
  • Bloating
  • Stomach cramps
  • Stomach pain
  • Stomach rumbling
  • Nausea

Symptoms can range in severity for each individual and throughout their lifetime. Usually, lactose intolerance gets worse with age due to the natural decline of lactase in the body. Those who may never have experienced symptoms before may develop symptoms later on in life.2

What are Probiotics?

Probiotics are good bacteria and/or yeast that live naturally in your gastrointestinal tract.3 Probiotics can be consumed through fermented foods or supplementation to add new species of good bacteria into the gut microbiome.

The gut microbiome contains trillions of good and bad bacteria, and maintaining balance and diversity within the gut is essential for health. As probiotics add new species of good bacteria into the gut, they can increase the diversity of the gut microbiome, therefore improving the gut's health. 

The more good bacteria there are, the less room there is for bad bacteria to disrupt the balance and cause issues.4 An unbalanced gut can lead to dysbiosis, which has been associated with many illnesses and diseases, such as IBS, IBD, obesity, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.5 

Can Probiotics Help Lactose Intolerance?

Lactose intolerance is a digestive issue, meaning that the symptoms associated with lactose intolerance are gut related. Evidence has shown that probiotics can help to alleviate the symptoms associated with lactose intolerance.6

Those with lactose intolerance generally can digest fermented dairy products (that contain both lactose and probiotics) more easily than dairy products that do not contain probiotics. A theory for this is that fermented foods can delay gastric emptying, meaning the lactose can be broken down more thoroughly in the small intestine before it moves into the colon.7

A study into the impact of probiotic supplementation on the microbes in the colon focusing on lactose intolerant participants had positive results in proving a correlation between improvement in lactose tolerance and probiotics.8

They found that the probiotics Bifidobacterium longum and Bifidobacterium animalis improved the metabolic activity in the colon, helping to improve symptoms of lactose intolerance.8

Conclusion

So, the evidence is looking promising! It seems lactose intolerance symptoms can be alleviated by consuming certain strains of probiotics. 

Our product Gut Care contains Bifidobacterium - the strain most studies point to as the best probiotic for this particular ailment. If you are lactose intolerant, why not add Gut Care to your routine and monitor your improvement? We’d love to hear from you if you do! 

References → 1

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