Update Post: December 4, 2023 11:32 pm
Anatoly Ulyanin, a gastroenterologist, insists that everyone include dairy products in the diet. Photo courtesy of Health and Nutrition
These statistics, provided by the International Society of Food Intolerance, were announced at the symposium “Lactase deficiency in Russia: modern scientific and market data” as part of the 18th All-Russian Congress of Nutritionists and Dietetics, initiated by Health&Nutrition (ex-Danone) . Let us make a reservation that such high rates of lactase deficiency in the world are caused by representatives of the Negroid race (80%) and the Mongoloid race (more than 90%). This problem affects Europeans to a lesser extent.
The situation is the same with the peoples of Russia: it partly depends on a person’s belonging to one or another ethnic group, that is, we are talking about a genetic predisposition. Scientists have found that among the Eastern Slavs (Russians, Belarusians, Ukrainians) the frequency of lactose intolerance is 42.8%, 1.5 times higher than the average for the European population. At the same time, among the peoples of Western Asia, Siberia and Central Asia, lactase enzyme deficiency is even more common. And the largest number of people with this genetic characteristic live in North Ossetia, the Chechen Republic, Dagestan, Kabardino-Balkaria, Buryatia, Yakutia and the Tomsk region. The lack of lactase, the enzyme necessary to break down milk sugar, is the least common in the Trans-Baikal Territory. This risk of developing food intolerance does not depend on gender.
Meanwhile, as studies show, in the pursuit of a healthy lifestyle, Russians have gone a little overboard and undeservedly “cornered” dairy products as harmful and unnecessary. As a result, lactose fell into the category of avoided nutrients. Approximately in the same “backyards” of nutrition and for the same reason, because of people’s desire to be safe, is gluten, an intolerance to which a small number of people on the planet suffer: 1.4% according to blood tests and 0.7%. % based on biopsy results.
Nutritionists went deeper
Lactose is milk sugar, the main carbohydrate in milk. As Anatoly Ulyanin, doctor at the Department of Chronic Intestinal and Pancreatic Diseases of the Propedeutics Clinic of Internal Medicine, Gastroenterology and Hepatology, explained at the symposium. V.kh. Vasilenko Federal State Autonomous Educational Institution of Higher Education “First Moscow State Medical University named after him. THEM. Sechenov”, lactose is not digested due to a decrease in the activity of the enzyme lactase in the intestines. Because of this, a person may experience unpleasant symptoms. The appearance of these symptoms is called lactose intolerance and the decrease in enzyme activity is called lactase deficiency.
Lactase deficiency can cause digestive disorders such as abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, watery diarrhea, myalgias, arthralgias, weakness and headaches.
Despite the high reported percentage of people suffering from lactose intolerance, congenital lactase deficiency is the least common: around 40 cases reported! This is a decrease or absence of the activity of the lactase enzyme from birth due to a genetic mutation. Most often, lactose intolerance appears in adolescence or old age. Sometimes in premature babies. Even less frequently, due to the abuse of antibiotics, chemotherapy or the development of serious diseases (celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, etc.). In such cases, people are recommended to follow a special diet that temporarily or partially replaces lactose-containing foods and choose lactose-free or low-lactose alternatives. Many manufacturers, including Health&Nutrition, are willing to offer them. Doctors may also prescribe medications to help maintain gastrointestinal health.
Breathe, don’t breathe… hydrogen! And drink milk!
The existence or not of lactase deficiency is determined by a special test (analysis of metabolites in exhaled air using an analyzer, microbial metabolism of carbohydrates with the formation of hydrogen, which enters the bloodstream). The lactose malabsorption test is considered positive if the breath hydrogen level increases >20 ppm from baseline. And, if the problem is concerning, it is much wiser to get tested than to limit one’s own diet, in which dairy products play a key role. Giving up milk is far from harmless, as people think. For children, adolescents, pregnant women and citizens over 50 years old, it is simply dangerous.
Furthermore, the scientist who participated in the symposium stressed that a person, even with a confirmed lactase deficiency, can calmly drink a glass of milk and nothing will happen to him. An average asymptomatic person can consume up to 12 g of lactose per day (100-250 ml of milk), but it is important to spread this amount throughout the day rather than ingesting it all at once, and eating products containing lactose together with other food. .
What are the risks without milk?
People who avoid dairy products (especially children) have low bone mineral density (BMD). The risk of hip fracture in adults increases three-fold and the risk of wrist fracture doubles.
There is evidence that each additional serving of milk per day reduces the risk of hip fracture by 8%. For bone health, experts recommend consuming three servings of dairy products a day, regardless of a person’s ability to digest lactose.