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    Can Lactose Intolerance Be Genetic?

    Love dairy products but can’t eat them? Your intolerance to lactose could be genetic.

    People with lactose intolerance cannot digest the sugar found in dairy products which can lead to some unpleasant symptoms. 

    According to recent research, genetics may play a role in your inability to digest dairy products.

    But don’t worry, you’re not alone. Nearly 65% of the world population shares this affliction.

    Keep reading to learn more about lactose intolerance and what it may have to do with your DNA.

    What Is Lactose Intolerance?

    Lactose intolerance is no walk in the park. For many people, having a sensitivity to dairy products will mean missing out on beloved food and treats like ice cream, yogurt, cakes, and much more.

    If you are sensitive to lactose, it is important to understand the differences between the types of lactose intolerance.

    • Primary Lactose Intolerance: This is the most common type of dairy sensitivity. Most people with this are genetically predisposed to it. It is possible that your symptoms may not become apparent until you are an adult.
    • Secondary Lactose Intolerance: This is a type of intolerance that stems from an injury or an illness. Some medications that prohibit the production of enzymes can also cause this intolerance. The most common culprits are Crohn’s disease and Celiac disease.
    • Congenital Lactose Intolerance: Lactose intolerance of this type happens when a child is born with no lactase production in their small intestine. This form of intolerance is rare and is tied to a genetic disorder. Both parents have to have the gene in order to pass it to their child.
    • Developmental Lactose Intolerance: Most often, you will see this in babies who are born preterm. Once the child’s small intestines are able to fully form, it usually clears up.

    As you can see, not all types of lactose intolerance are the same. Some stem from genetic disorders, while others can come from your environment.

    Do your research to understand your specific kind of lactose intolerance so you can know how to best treat the symptoms. 

    How To Know If You Are Lactose Intolerant

    You might not know if you are lactose intolerant so it is important to make a detailed record of any symptoms you feel after consuming dairy products.

    This will greatly help you and your doctor to pinpoint what is causing your issues.

    Common symptoms include:

    1. Nausea 
    2. Stomach pain 
    3. Bloating
    4. Diarrhea
    5. Vomiting
    6. Gas
    7. Cramps

    These unpleasant symptoms can be disruptive to your day and affect your meals.

    If you experience these symptoms, be sure to talk to your doctor to see if you may be suffering from lactose intolerance.

    What Is The Cause?

    The most common form of lactose intolerance is primary lactose intolerance, which shares a direct link with your genetics.

    Inside your chromosome 2 is the MCM6 gene that helps to moderate the LCT gene.

    Your ability to handle lactose stems from this from the type of MCM6 variant you possess as it is the one to give instructions to the LCT gene.

    If this gene does not produce enough lactase to digest milk, then you will suffer the consequences. 

    The other type of lactose intolerance that shares a link to your DNA is congenital lactose intolerance.

    Here, the MCM6 gene presents with little to no lactase production at birth. This causes the baby to be unable to tolerate dairy. 

    While some people inherit their lactose intolerance from their parents, others get it from their environment, illness, or other factors.

    Risk factors for developing the four different types of lactose intolerance include: 

    • Aging
    • Injury 
    • Surgery
    • Chemotherapy
    • Antibiotics
    • Crohn's disease
    • Celiac disease 
    • And more

    Keep an eye out if you are at risk for any of these factors. Watch how your body responds to dairy products and react as necessary.

    Keep in mind that any injury or illness that has a negative impact on your small intestine can trigger your sensitivity to dairy.

    Primary lactose intolerance, the most common type, can appear later in life once you reach adulthood. 

    How To Manage Lactose Intolerance

    If you have lactose intolerance, do not despair. There are many treatments out there that you can explore to help ease and calm your symptoms.

    Here are some helpful ways to manage your intolerance to lactose: 

    • Avoid dairy products at all costs. Today, there are many dairy-free kinds of milk, yogurts, and other substitutes available in almost any grocery store. 
    • If you can tolerate small amounts of lactose, try balancing those meals with other non-dairy products.
    • There are some supplements available that help to calm your body’s reaction to lactose. Be sure to do your research and find a brand you trust.
    • Talk to your doctor about your type of lactose intolerance. Read testimonials online and engage with others to learn helpful tips and tricks. 

    Unfortunately, there is no cure for lactose intolerance.

    However, with a little effort, you can help to manage your symptoms, and for some, even enjoy dairy products. 

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    For better or for worse, we genetically inherit what our parents pass down to us.

    If you have the most common dairy sensitivity, primary lactose intolerance, then you can likely thank your parents in part for that.

    Don’t worry, though, with a little effort and some research, and you should be able to easily manage your symptoms and live a healthy life.