Genetic Lactose Intolerance

Most of the world’s population (about 75%) are lactose intolerant and can’t consume milk or milk products without feeling ill. This is because they lack the enzyme lactase, which digests the milk sugar lactose.
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Lactose intolerance
Lactose tolerance arises from a genetic mutation
Previous tests for lactose intolerance were time-consuming and invasive. Recently, researchers at the Canterbury Health Laboratories in Christchurch have devised a simple genetic test for lactose intolerance. This test determines whether a subject has the cytosine (C) or thymine (T) nucleotide in their DNA close to the lactase gene.
This test uses a number of common molecular biology techniques including polymerase chain reaction, restriction enzyme digests and gel electrophoresis – see the steps below:

Will I need to do anything to prepare for this test?

To prepare for either type of test, you will need to:
Fast (not eat or drink) for eight to 12 hours before the test
Stop taking antibiotics for two to four weeks before the test
Not smoke or exercise strenuously the day before the test
If you are having a breath test, you may need to brush your teeth or rinse out your mouth shortly before the test

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Additionally, children’s reference ranges are designed to provide more accurate pediatric nutritional evaluations. Identifying metabolic blocks that can be treated nutritionally allows individual tailoring of interventions that maximize patient responses and lead to improved patient outcomes.
Milk and other dairy products contain a sugar called lactose. This sugar is broken down by a protein, an enzyme called lactase. In people who are lactose intolerant, lactase either does not work properly or is not produced in sufficient quantity to break down lactose. Lactose tolerant people are said to be “lactase persistent” as they continue to produce lactase. Lactose that is not broken down and absorbed by the body is converted into acids and flatulence in the large bowel causing the symptoms of lactose intolerance.

Many people, particularly those from Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Southern Europe, as well as in Indigenous Australians, produce less lactase after infancy. The lactase required to break down lactose had been produced during infancy when it was needed, and then stops being produced as the child matures. This is a normal process. People who continue to produce lactase throughout their lives typically have a genetic variation that tells the body to continue producing it. They are said to be “lactase persistent”.

What are lactose tolerance tests?

Lactose tolerance tests measure your body's ability to break down lactose. Lactose is a type of sugar found in milk, cheese, ice cream, and other dairy products. Normally, an enzyme called lactase breaks down lactose into simpler sugars. These sugars are absorbed by the body and turned into energy. If your body doesn't make enough lactase, you won't be able to properly digest foods that contain lactose. This is known as lactose intolerance.
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