Lactose intolerance is common in the USA; indeed it is the norm outside of Northern Europe and populations derived from Northern European stock. It is much less common (about 3%) in Ireland, the UK and Scandinavia. It is primarily a genetic issue.
This simple test uses a DNA sample – a simple swab of your saliva or spit – which is then screened in a specialized DNA lab (you need to post the sample away). However, this test is only for use by people of primarily European origin or heritage – as different genes are involved in other parts of the world..
What is lactose intolerance?
Lactose intolerance arises when there is insufficient lactase enzyme to digest lactose, which is the main sugar in milk. Instead the lactose is fermented by the bacteria and yeasts in the intestinal tract, giving rise to gas and intestinal symptoms. It’s not a disease, just a fact. If you are lactose intolerant, foods rich in lactose – like cow’s milk – cause problems, but many other dairy products won’t.
The term ‘lactose intolerance’ has come into popular usage (probably via US TV sitcoms) to describe any type of milk-related digestive issues. In fact, lactose is only one possible cause of these. Alternatively, symptoms may be due to Cow’s Milk Protein Intolerance (CMPI) or Cow’s Milk Allergy (CMA). The different conditions have different implications for your diet.
Lactose-free or dairy-free?
If you suffer from lactose intolerance, you will still tolerate low-lactose dairy produce – including cheese, yoghurts, ‘lactose-free‘ milk, chocolate or ice-cream.
If you suffer from the other 2 conditions – CMPI or CMA – any dairy produce, with or without lactose, can add to your symptoms. This test will help you determine if you are one of the 3 in every hundred who are lactose intolerant.
• The lactose Intolerance test costs €67.00
• Uses a saliva swab (provided)
• Results go directly to you, or your designated health professional
• Simple yes/no answer
If your result is negative, you will want to look at intolerance reactions to cow’s milk proteins. The Food Detective test includes this. If you have issues with cow’s milk proteins you may cross-react to milk from other mammals, like goat’s milk. If you have already purchased the lactose intolerance test, you will be entitled to an €8 discount off the Food Detective price.
Can you be temporarily lactose intolerant?
There are situations - known as secondary lactose intolerance - where another health issue causes lactose intolerance. For example, coeliac disease also damages the intestinal cells that produce the lactose-digestinglactase enzymes. Adopting a coeliac diet allows these sufferers to repair their lactase-producing cells.
Another possibility is antibiotic treatment. Some of our lactase enzyme is produced by our intestinal bacteria. If they are killed off, it may take up to 6 weeks for normal service to resume – another reason to be sparing in our use of antibiotic treatments.