Fermentation In Digestive Tract

An individual who is lactose intolerant experiences symptoms that are possibly bloating, gas, and diarrhoea after consuming milk or dairy products. The symptoms experienced as a result of lactose intolerance occur because the digestive system is unable to break down lactose. Lactose refers to the natural sugar that is contained in the milk obtained from mammals. Failure to absorb lactose can result from either lactose malabsorption or lactase deficiency (BNF). People with a lactase deficiency lack the required levels of lactase to break down lactose. On the other hand, lactose malabsorption refers to a condition where lactose is undigested in the small intestine and thus passes to the colon where it produces fluids and gas. Because the lactose is neither fully broken down nor absorbed under the two conditions, it ends up fermenting in the digestive tract and causing the symptoms of lactose intolerance. However, not every person who has lactose malabsorption or lactase deficiency exhibits the symptoms of lactose intolerance. The people who show the symptoms are the ones who are classified as lactose intolerant.

In addition to the inability to either fully break down or digestion, factors such as ethnic background increase the risk of being lactose intolerant. People of Asian, Hispanic, and African descent are found to be more likely to have lactose intolerance. Barling (2012) refers to a study that found Asian women to be more likely to osteoporosis compared to other ethnic communities based on their calcium intake. The early diets in the culture of these groups did not contain high levels of lactose and their digestive system may, therefore, lack the ability to produce sufficient lactase. Nausea, bloating, gas, abdominal pain, and diarrhoea are among the common symptoms that lactose intolerant people experience between half an hour and two hours after consuming dairy products. Lactose intolerance has a negative impact on the affected individuals due to the uncomfortable symptoms associated with it. The condition also makes it hard for the lactose intolerant to acquire vitamin C and calcium without dairy products. Lactose intolerance is diagnosed through a medical test and personal history and an individual with the condition manages it through diet. The dietary changes that a lactose intolerant individual makes depends on their level of tolerance for lactose. A nutritionist or dietician is involved to advise those who are affected on how their diet can improve their health. Assessing the role of diet in a lactose intolerant teenager is, therefore, necessary for learning how to manage the condition for all groups.

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Lactose intolerance is more likely to occur during adulthood or adolescence. Research indicates that an individual’s lactase levels and activity change with age. Teenagers who are lactose intolerance have therefore most likely experienced reduced enzyme activity in their post-infancy stages. While most teenagers might have been able to consume high lactose loads as infants, reports show that lactose digestion lowers as a significant number of them approach age 13 (NDDK 2014). For this reason, teenagers are less likely to be aware of their lactose intolerance until they start showing symptoms. The realization of lactose intolerance among teenagers is made even harder by the fact that most of them do not experience the symptoms when they consume small loads of lactose (GOSH 2014). Teenagers also experience symptoms that are mild when compared to adults. Mild abdominal pain, as well as possible flatulence, are the common symptoms among teenagers while diarrhoea is mostly experienced in adulthood. Adolescence, therefore, stands out as the point at which the digestion levels of lactose fall and lactose intolerance becomes a clinical problem. The unique differences in lactose intolerance in teenagers, therefore, make studying the dietary needs of this group significant.

Despite the severity of symptoms varying among lactose intolerant teenagers, the condition still affects the dietary and nutrition requirements of each of them. Milk and milk products contain nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D that essential for the growth and development in children and adolescents. The elimination of dairy products in an effort to avoid the symptoms of lactose intolerance is therefore not suitable for teenagers with this condition. A lactose intolerant teenager’s diet is influenced by their need for the nutrients in dairy products and their level of tolerance. The teenagers require the nutrients from milk and its products but also need to avoid the symptoms associated with the lactose intolerance that these foods bring (NDDK 2014). Various solutions that depend on diet are effective in achieving this goal. Such solutions include consuming foods in forms such as yoghurt since the fact that most of the lactose is broken down by bacteria makes some people tolerant of it. Other solutions include a diet that dissolves the lactose in dairy foods such that symptoms are reduced. The role of diet for a teenager who is lactose intolerant is therefore to regulate the nutrients gained from dairy products so that the symptoms are minimized and growth requirements are met.

Evaluation of Scientific Knowledge

Teenagers are at a stage where the rate of growth and development is high. Subsequently, the nutrients required to facilitate the rapid growth are needed in increased amounts. Apart from the amount, the type of nutrients that are required for growth are given a priority in the diet of an adolescent. According to the British Nation Foundation, the dietary needs of teenagers differ from other age groups in that they require nutrients such as calcium for the increased growth (BNF). Teenagers are expected to maintain a healthy diet that meets all nutrient requirements, not just for growth but also to avoid nutrition-related diseases. The nutrition requirements of a teenager are significant when considering lactose intolerance because it is a disease whose symptoms depend on the consumed nutrient levels.

Studies on the dietary requirements of teenagers have highlighted the nutrients that are of concern at this age. Iron is one of the nutrients required for growth and the development of muscles and teenager can gain it from meat sources or green leafy vegetables among other foods (BNF). Vitamin C from fruits helps teenagers experience the benefits of iron by aiding in its absorption. Failure to meet the iron requirements in a teenager’s diet may result in anaemia, which is witnessed in a significant number of girls of this age group in the UK (BNF). Calcium is another nutrient of concern for teenagers due to its important role in building bone mass as the young adult grows. The nutrient is mostly obtained from dairy products and some of the green vegetables and a lack of it can lead to bone deformities. Moreover, some studies have identified a deficiency in calcium to increase the risk of children developing fractures (Suchy et al. 2010). Such evidence makes clear a correlation between the nutrients that teenagers consume and their health. In addition to the nutrients of concern in this age group, higher intake levels of the nutrients that were required since birth are also witnessed as requiring attention to the diet of teenagers. Understanding the nutrient requirements of teenagers sets that path to discovering how the diet change when the person is lactose intolerant.

Milk, as well as its products, are among the main sources of vitamin D and calcium for most people. However, they contain the lactose levels that could affect the health of a lactose intolerant teenager. For this reason, a lactose intolerant teenager might choose to completely stay off the consumption of dairy products. Research experts, however, warn against completely eliminating milk and milk products from a teenager’s diet. According to the existing research, eliminating these foods might make the individual deficient in calcium and vitamin D. The specified nutrients are vital for growth in the teenage stage. Bayless et al. (2017) point out that another reason why calcium might be deficient is that teenagers drink less milk than they did in childhood. Failure to meet the sufficient requirements leads to complications such as osteoporosis due to poorly formed bones. The diet of a lactose intolerant teenager is thus helpful in regulating the lactose levels that are consumed to maintain a teenager’s health.

Based on the negative implications of eliminating dairy products from a lactose intolerant teenager’s diet, it is important that other solutions are identified. Studies have found that the milk causing lactose intolerance can be replaced with safer alternatives with the example of partially digested dairy products. The suggested products are scientifically proven to be well tolerated by the people in this group. For instance, yoghurts contain live cultures indicating that part of the lactose is already broken down when a teenager consumes it. Aged cheeses were also found to contain fewer amounts of lactose compared to the other forms of the products. The diet that is chosen for a lactose intolerance teenager, therefore, ensures that the necessary requirements are met and that the symptoms are minimized.

The relationship between Lactose Intolerance and Age

The dietary needs of an individual change with age as the body transitions from one stage to another. Studies on how body changes in relation to lactose intolerance reveal that lactase activity declines with age. Lactase non-persistence is the term used to describe how lactase activity declines after weaning. The non-persistence is observed to begin when one turns into a teenager or a young adult (Heine et al. 2017). According to this research, the majority of full-term infants have lactase levels that can be considered as high or normal. However, the enzymatic activity is seen to decline during early childhood stages of the children that are prone to lactose intolerance. By the time that the people at risk of developing lactose intolerance become teenagers, their lactose-digesting ability and lactase production has declined. The teenagers at this point might already have developed lactose intolerance even if some might not be aware of it. Adolescence, therefore, stands out as the age at which most lactose intolerant people develop the condition.

Research showing that lactose tolerance advances with age is significant in explaining the role of diet in managing lactose intolerance at a stage when the condition manifests itself. The realization that the symptoms of lactose intolerance begin to manifest in adolescence makes it easier to diagnose and manage the condition. Lactose intolerance is a nutrition-related disease and learning how a person with this condition is affected at different ages guides the appropriate dietary requirements. While the lactose intolerant individuals might have been able to consume large amounts of milk as children, the fall in lactase activity makes a similar practice impossible for some in adolescence (Bayless et al. 2017). Changing the diet to a tolerance level that maintains the health of a lactose intolerance person is informed by the decline of enzyme activity with age.

Dietary Habits of Teenagers in Relation to Lactose Intolerance.

Teenagers are considered to be a unique age group due to how the changes they experience physically and emotionally affect their decisions. Studies on this topic indicate that majority of the teenagers in the Western countries have a poor diet. The greatest concern from this study is that teenagers are taking fatty foods in higher proportions than they choose to consume fruits and vegetables. Vegetables and fruits contain essential nutrients for different bodily functions and a survey on teenage students in 2017 showed that they were not sufficiently consuming these needs (Zalewska & Maciorkowska 2017). While such data does not directly relate to the consumption of milk and milk products, it shows that the tendency of teenagers in making poor dietary choices. The aim of such research is to highlight how dietary choices affect a teenager's health. The purpose of the research is in line with assessing why the diet of a lactose intolerant teenager is important.

The national survey data from the British Nutrition Foundation also finds that the current intake of nutrients such as calcium is lower than what is recommended for teenagers. Calcium has already been established as necessary for the growth experienced by teenagers implying that the poor dietary habits put their health at risk. Investigations on the nutrition in reveals that the calcium intake among them was low (Cais-Sokolińska & Borski 2010). For a teenager who cannot tolerate lactose, the chances of poor health due to an insufficient calcium intake are higher than the possibilities for the rest of the age group. Lactose intolerant teenagers who avoid dairy products to manage the condition, therefore, need to ensure that they are already getting the nutrients from other sources. Poor dietary choices that do not contain the vital nutrients for a teenager are thus even more critical when the individual is lactose intolerant.

Statistics showing a rise in the poor nutrition choices among teenagers in the UK insists on the role of a diet in maintaining their health (Zalewska & Maciorkowska 2017). More importantly, it points to research on the recommended health requirements on teenagers. Lactose intolerant teenagers who are aware of the benefits of a healthy diet are less likely to experience deficiencies in some nutrients due to their condition. Information on how an individual can maintain a healthy diet is made available by nutrition experts with considerations for conditions such as lactose intolerance (NIDDK 2014). Dietary recommendations for lactose intolerant teenagers include conditions such as the tolerance levels and the alternative sources of calcium and vitamin D. It is thus evident that lactose intolerance individuals need to consider both their age and their conditions when making dietary choices.

Management of Lactose Intolerance through Diet

Managing the symptoms associated with lactose intolerance depends on what caused the condition and the extent to which the symptoms are felt. In the case of secondary lactase deficiency, the condition results from an underlying cause. Treating the cause, therefore, addresses the lactose intolerance that the patient is experiencing. For infants who experience lactose intolerance because of developmental lactose deficiency, the ability to digest lactose improves with age. Globally 70 per cent of the populations is estimated to have a primary lactose intolerance (GOSH, 2014). Teenagers with a lactase deficiency that is primary or congenital have no means of altering their lactose-digesting abilities. Instead, the symptoms of lactose intolerance in this group are managed through a change in diet.

Changing the diet to manage the clinical symptoms of lactose intolerance in teenagers also depends on the extent to which the person is affected. Since lactose that is not fully digested or absorbed is the cause of the symptoms that the teenagers' experience, changing the diet implies the restriction of foods containing the milk component (NIDDK 2014). Some lactose intolerant teenagers do not show any symptoms and thus do not need to restrict their lactose intake. Evidence also suggests that consuming a small load of lactose does not cause any symptoms in the teenager with the conditions. (Bayless et al. 2017). Such individuals manage their lactose tolerance by learning how much lactose their digestive systems can tolerate and not be exceeding the limit in their diet. The ability to have dairy products up to a certain limit is significant since no nutrients are lost through a diet restriction. Lactose intolerant teenagers who develop symptoms when they consume any amount of milk or its products might be forced to avoid the lactose products and rely on alternative sources of nutrients. In each of the management options available, the diet of the lactose intolerant teenager has the ability to control the symptoms that are experienced.

Research has found certain dietary meal plans to be suitable for the health of lactose intolerant people of different ages. In the UK, it is estimated that 20% per cent of the population suffer symptoms associated with food intolerance (Turnbull et al. 2015). Managing the symptoms through diet, therefore, emerges as a significant practice in the case of lactose intolerance. With the help of a dietician or nutritionist who considers all the significant factors of a person’s lactose intolerance, a dietary plan is set. The plan takes into consideration the personal history of a person and how it relates to their nutrition requirements. For a lactose intolerant teenager, the factors that affect them include their growth requirements and how tolerant they are to tolerance. The dietary plan helps achieve a balance between the nutrients that are required and the lactose tolerance levels.

The nutrients of interest in the dietary plan of a lactose intolerant teenager include the milk and milk products that both contain lactose and those that are lactose-free. For the dairy products, the dietary plan has one of the options to be introducing the lactose slowly so that the digestive system grows accustomed to it. Other options include a diet that comprises products such as hard cheeses and yoghurt since research shows that they are less likely to cause symptoms compared to other dairy foods (NIDDK 2014). Another dietary option for the group being studied is lactose-free products that have the nutrients required by teenagers but lack the component that triggers symptoms. Some food products also contain lactase, which helps in the digesting the lactose consumed in the diet.

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Bibliography

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  • Bayless, T.M., Brown, E. and Paige, D.M., 2017. Lactase non-persistence and lactose intolerance. Current Gastroenterology Reports, 19(5), pp. 23.
  • British Nutrition Foundation (BNF). Teenagers. BNF.
  • Cais-Sokolińska, D. and Borski, K., 2010. Intake of calcium contained in milk and dairy products in diets of children and teenagers in Poland in view of other European countries. Acta Scientiarum Polonorum Technologia Alimentaria, 9(3), pp. 351-362.
  • Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children (GOSH), 2014. Lactose intolerance. GOSH. Accessed 01 Aug. 2018.
  • Heine, R.G., AlRefaee, F., Bachina, P., De Leon, J.C., Geng, L., Gong, S., Madrazo, J.A., Ngamphaiboon, J., Ong, C. and Rogacion, J.M., 2017. Lactose intolerance and gastrointestinal cow’s milk allergy in infants and children–common misconceptions revisited. World Allergy Organization Journal, 10(1), pp. 41.
  • National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), May 2014. Lactose intolerance. National Institutes of Health (NIH), No. 14-7994, pp. 1-12. 01 Aug. 2018.
  • Suchy, F.J., Brannon, P.M., Carpenter, T.O., Fernandez, J.R., Gilsanz, V., Gould, J.B., Hall, K., Hui, S.L., Lupton, J., Mennella, J. and Miller, N.J., 2010. National Institutes of health consensus development conference: Lactose intolerance and health. Annals of Internal Medicine, 152(12), pp. 792-796.
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