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Can a Lactase Enzyme Help with Milk Digestion?

old message Can a Lactase Enzyme Help with Milk Digestion Darrell Miller 04/27/11


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Date: April 27, 2011 03:49 PM
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Subject: Can a Lactase Enzyme Help with Milk Digestion

Lactase enzyme is the compound necessary for the breakdown of lactose. As such, deficiency in this enzyme results in the impaired capacity to metabolize milk and other dairy products. This is quite common in Asian and African countries, where the majority of their populations do not rely on milk-based animal products. Consumptions of lactase supplements have been reported to aid milk digestion.

Lactose Intolerance

Human beings are believed to have lost the ability to process lactose in adulthood a few thousand years ago. The primary source of lactose of early human populations was breast milk, which is only provided by mothers during the early stages of childhood in general. This practice has continued in Asian and African communities, the reason why these groups are predominantly lactose intolerant.

On the other hand, European communities have considered milk as an important source of food and nutrition since the introduction of the agricultural practices of raising livestock. It is now postulated that the early inhabitants of Europe who relied so much in dairy products underwent a genetic mutation that enables them to continue the biosynthesis of the enzyme lactase into adulthood.

Lactose Maldigestion

Whereas much of the global population is lactose intolerant, people with European ancestry are capable of digesting milk well into their adult years. That being said, people who are not lactose intolerant are not necessarily well equipped for the digestion of dairy products. In fact, many adults suffer from lactose maldigestion, which causes gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea and indigestion as well as allergies and sinus problems such as infections.

Lactose maldigestion has a higher incidence worldwide than lactose intolerance. It is a fact that the genetic expression for the enzyme lactase as produced and released in the digestive tract is down-regulated the human body with age. This may not result in lactose intolerance, but depleting levels of lactase will no longer be able to effectively digest into old age food products that contain lactose.

Lactase Supplements

The absence of the enzyme lactase may result in a variety of digestive problems when milk is taken together with other foods. In some people, even the smallest amounts of lactose upset digestion and produce common symptoms of lactose intolerance such as indigestion, diarrhea and sinus inflammation. If you want to avoid these problems but still love dairy products, you may want to choose hydrolyzed lactose.

Lactase supplements have been documented to produce desirable results. Most nutraceutical companies make use of eukaryotic microorganisms that possess the genes needed to synthesize this enzyme, such as Kluyveromyces fragilis, Kluyveromyces lactis, Aspergillus niger, and Aspergillus oryzae, among others. These supplements are formulated for individuals with lactose intolerance, but also benefit those who are suffering from symptoms tied to lactose maldigestion.

The enzyme lactase works on the principle of breaking down lactose into smaller compounds, galactose and glucose, and supplementation of lactase does exactly that.







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