Milk and other dairy products (including whey) tend to be absurdly nutritious, full of amazing numbers of growth factors. But not everyone can properly drink and eat it without having digestive problems. Especially when you get older. In this blogpost I’ll explain to you why that is.
This topic can be kind of nerdy to some of you but it will actually be important if you think of it from a demographic perspective. It will be helpful to a lot of you to understand what is going on here.
Lactose is the sugar found in milk and other dairy products and is a very complex molecule. Your basic digestive system, the stomach acids, are not able to properly break it down to a form that you can absorb into your bloodstream. For a lot of foods you stomach acids are enough to do that.
It requires an enzyme to do that. A special enzyme called lactase. All mammals, humans, cats, dogs, apes, cows, etc. they all require lactase. The reason is that mammals produce milk and give milk to their young.
Milk tends to be absurdly nutritious but because there is lactose in milk, (baby)mammals need to produce lactase in order to break it down and absord into your bloodstream.
What you will find is that most mammals stop producing lactase in the age range where they stop getting their mother’s milk. For the majority of humans it is usually happening by the age 3 to 5.
However, interestingly enough, humans are also the single most adaptable species on earth because in certain parts of the world we have been digesting milk for thousands of years. Raising cattle and drinking their milk.
Because of that, regions of the world where people have been consuming it for longer periods of time, more and more people are still producing the enzyme lactase as they get older.
The Lactose Intolerance Rate
It varies a lot though. It varies on ethnicity, where in the world your ancestors have been raised. This will roughly show the pattern in which it occurs.
Here are the two most extreme ends of it:
Caucasian people like myself only see lactose intolerance at a rate of around 13-14% of the population. The rest can actually consume it and properly break it down. They will keep producing lactase well into their adulthood. Interestingly enough, if you do develop lactose intolerance as a caucasian, it tends to be in your high teens or early adulthood.
Black people in Africa have the highest rate of lactose intolerance. The reason that it isn’t at a 100% is because some regions used cows milk for a while. Not necessarily long enough for large numbers of the population to continue to produce lactase, but enough to where you are starting to see a shift. So about 1% can handle it there of the whole continent, atleast sub-saharan africa further to the south.
While African-americans only have lactose intolerance at a rate of around 75%. So you can actually see a massive shift in the same demographic of people living in another continent for a few centuries. Other factors are involved but it is interesting of how that works.
These are the two most extreme groups, with everyone else floating somewhere in the middle depending on what part of the world you’re from.
The other thing is that when humans outside of European ancestory develop lactose intolerance, it tends to be while you’re still a child.
”Protein Farts”, something you hear quite often. It is not the protein that cause gas. It’s the fact that most protein powders are milk based and a lot of them still have too much lactose in it that wasn’t filtered out. The carbohydrates that are found in protein powder are lactose.
So, if you’re lactose intolerant and you’re buying the cheaper unfiltered (Whey Concentrate), I can assure you will have gas as a result of consuming lactose that you are not able to break down and absorb.
There is nothing bad about whey concentrate though, I use it myself as I have no problem with lactose. But if you are lactose intolerant, it is not the right fit. Try a Whey Isolate product which almost has no carbohydrates (lactose) left in it.
- Your basic digestive system, the stomach acids, needs the enzyme ‘lactase’ to properly break down lactose to a form that you can absorb into your bloodstream.
- Most people stop producing lactase as a child.
- If you’re lactose intolerance, try a whey isolate instead of whey concentrate.
- The rate of lactose intolerance is between 14% and 99%
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