This test determines whether or not an individual has inherited any of the common genetic changes that enable lactase persistence and decrease the risk of lactose intolerance.
What is lactose intolerance?
Lactose intolerance is the reduced ability to digest and absorb the milk sugar lactose, due to decreased production of the lactase enzyme. This causes digestive symptoms like gas, bloating and diarrhea. This may be a temporary reduction of lactase (e.g. after surgery or illness) or a permanent reduction, often due to genetic variation.
What is lactase persistence?
Lactase persistence is the opposite to lactose intolerance. Lactase persistent individuals are able to produce the lactase enzyme for their entire lives, meaning they can continue to consume dairy products right through adulthood.
How is lactose digested?
The lactase enzyme is responsible for the digestion of the lactose sugar found in dairy products. Lactase is produced in the small intestine and breaks down lactose into two smaller and more readily absorbable sugars – glucose and galactose.
Symptoms of lactose intolerance
Lactose intolerance causes undigested lactose to build up in the large intestine, resulting in the growth of gas-producing gut bacteria. Lactose intolerance symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain or cramps
- Gurgling and rumbling sounds from the abdomen