Excess consumption of lactose by a portion of the human population can result in symptoms of gastrointestinal (GI) distress, including excessive flatulence, diarrhea, and intestinal pain. Those who are susceptible to lactose intolerance are defined genetically and are commonly called lactose maldigesters. This genotype is the “normal” mammalian type and includes approximately three-fourths of the world's population and a quarter of the U.S. population. Factors that affect the ability of lactose to cause GI symptoms include intestinal lactase activity, GI transit time, lactose consumed with other foods (dilution effect), the lactose dose, and regular consumption of dairy foods, which likely adapts the colon bacteria to assist in lactose digestion. Avoiding dairy foods while consuming a Western diet limits intake of calcium, riboflavin, vitamin D, and ...

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