Lactose intolerance (1)

Lactose intolerance (1)

By OLUFUNKE

I got text messages like “What is Noni” after the second part of the article on Noni was published.

That question was confusing. I did not know what reply to give because the articles were detailed enough. Some sent “What is the Yoruba name of Noni”. I have said a million times that not all herbs have names in our local languages. So, if I discuss any plant and the local names are not added, that means it is a non-indigenous plant with no local names.

All these brought back memories of the nasty text messages I announced that I got from a reader in 2021 because he disagreed with me that not all herbs have local names. If you have not forgotten, it took an influx of words of encouragement from you all before I healed properly. The messages and the impact they left on me were just too disturbing. I do not need a re-enactment of such.

 Efinrin has Igbo, Hausa, and Yoruba names but the Noni plant is not native to Africa so it does not have names in our local languages. We are just lucky that it is planted here. What I expected was, “Please, give me the number of the Noni plant grower you mentioned” and not “What is the Yoruba, Igbo, and Hausa name of the Noni plant?” What is in a name anyway? Please, let us move forward and not drag ourselves backward.

 In the early 80s, my mother had one of my siblings, and being the first child, I was excited at the addition. It turned out that this particular baby was always vomiting each time the baby formula was given to her. It was quite strange because the others before her did not do so. We used to have a neighbour who worked at Kingsway Stores then and my mother had given money to her to buy some tins of baby formulas but because the vomiting persisted, the baby formulas were given out to people. Looking back now, I now know she suffered from lactose intolerance which is the inability to fully digest the sugar (lactose) primarily found in milk and dairy products.

People with lactose intolerance are unable to fully digest the sugar (lactose) in milk. As a result, they have diarrhoea, gas, and bloating after eating or drinking dairy products. The condition, which is also called lactose mal-absorption, is usually harmless, but its symptoms can be uncomfortable.

Too little of an enzyme produced in your small intestine (lactase) is usually responsible for lactose intolerance. You can have low levels of lactase and still be able to digest milk products. But if your levels are too low, you become lactose intolerant, leading to symptoms after you eat or drink dairy.

Normally, lactase turns milk sugar into two simple sugars, glucose and galactose, which are absorbed into the bloodstream through the intestinal lining. If you are lactase deficient, lactose in your food moves into the colon instead of being processed and absorbed. In the colon, normal bacteria interact with undigested lactose, causing the signs and symptoms of lactose intolerance.

There are three types of lactose intolerance:

  1. Primary lactose intolerance

This is the most common type of lactose intolerance. Most people are born with enough lactase. Babies need the enzyme to digest their mother’s milk. The amount of lactase a person makes may decrease over time. This is because as people age, they eat a more diverse diet and rely less on milk. The decline in lactase is gradual.  This type of lactose intolerance is more common in people with Asian, African, and Hispanic ancestry.

  1. Secondary lactose intolerance

This form of lactose intolerance occurs when your small intestine decreases lactase production after an illness, injury, or surgery involving your small intestine. Diseases associated with secondary lactose intolerance include intestinal infection, celiac disease, bacterial overgrowth, and Crohn’s disease. Treatment of the underlying disorder might restore lactase levels and improve signs and symptoms, though it can take time.

  1. Congenital or developmental lactose intolerance

It is possible, but rare, for babies to be born with lactose intolerance caused by a lack of lactase.

This disorder is passed from generation to generation in a pattern of inheritance called autosomal recessive inheritance, meaning that both the mother and the father must pass on the same gene variant for a child to be affected. Premature infants can also have lactose intolerance because of an insufficient lactase level.

Factors that can make you more prone to lactose intolerance include:

Increasing age: Lactose intolerance usually appears in adulthood. The condition is uncommon in babies and young children.

Ethnicity: Lactose intolerance is most common in people of African, Asian, Hispanic, and American Indian descent.

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