Why Am I Sensitive to Dairy? The Genetics of Lactose Intolerance

Did you know that only us humans have the capacity to digest lactose as adults?

Lactose intolerance is defined as the inability of the body to digest lactose which leads to various gastrointestinal issues within half an hour of consuming milk or other dairy products. Lactose is a sugar found in milk and many people are not able to digest it.

Milk is a very nutritious food and contains micronutrients, carbohydrates and a fair amount of calcium, but some of us are intolerant to lactose and thus are unable to digest milk without experiencing diarrhea, bloating and abdominal cramps. Why does it happen to some people? Lactose intolerance, in most cases is hereditary which means some genes are responsible for transferring this trait from our parents to us.

Let us take a look at the connection between lactose intolerance and genetics.

Lactose Intolerance and Genetics

There is a large amount of lactase, an enzyme needed to digest milk, produced by our body when we are infants, thus enabling us to digest milk. Most of us, however, become lactose intolerant as we reach our teens. The main reason behind this intolerance is a variation found in a gene called MCM6 which governs the production of lactase. There are two variants of this gene.

CC Variant: Having a CC variant MCM6 gene means you are lactose tolerant and can easily digest milk and other dairy products even in adulthood

TT Variant: The levels of lactase are reduced if you have a TT variant MCM6 gene. This makes a person unable to digest dairy products and cause digestion problems if taken

Are You Lactose Intolerant?

You can easily find out if you are tolerant to lactose or not using these two ways.

Symptomatic Testing: The symptoms of being lactose intolerant are not necessarily the same in all cases, but there are some common symptoms that are experienced by most of the people who have reduced amount of lactase in their body. The symptoms include cramping, abdominal bloating, diarrhea, vomiting and nausea. If you feel any of these symptoms within 30 minutes to a couple of hours every time you drink milk or take any other dairy product, you are lactose intolerant.

Genetic Assessment: Nowadays, there are a number of simple, easy and quick methods of genetic testing available that can help you in determining whether or not you are lactose intolerant. There is also an option to conduct a nutrigenomics testing that can help people understand how their body reacts precisely to what they eat.

If you are lactose intolerant, it doesn’t mean you cannot drink milk or eat chocolate. All you need to do is swap the dairy products high in lactose with the one that have low amounts of lactose.

Learn more about how your body reacts to certain beverages and dairy products by opting for a nutrigenomics test offered by Pathway Genomics. Get in touch with us at 877 505 7374 or email at clientservices@pathway.com.