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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Is there any way to prevent lactose intolerance?

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  • Joy Anderson

    Dietitian, Nutritionist

    Joy is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and Accredited Nutritionist, as well as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). She has a special interest in … View Profile

    This depends on the type of lactose intolerance you are referring to. For the mature-onset type, where the person naturally loses the capacity to produce the enzyme lactase once they are beyond early childhood (common in non-Caucasian people), the answer is no. This is genetically determined. It is a myth that continuing to eat lactose-containing foods will retain the ability to digest lactose. Similarly, the extremely rare form a baby might be born with (failure to thrive from birth without medical intervention) is also not preventable, as it is also genetic.

    Secondary lactose intolerance, for example the type commonly seen in infants, is caused by subtle (or not-so-subtle) damage to the intestinal lining, and could be considered preventable, as the causes include gastroenteritis, food allergy and food intolerance.

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