Sunday, September 30

Think you're not lactose intolerant? Think again!

As discussed in this post, I found a very interesting book, Issues in Society: Vegetarianism. It is a book compiled of published material from all different sources. One of them had an interesting little section on the side effects of dairy consumption.

I already knew, and have already discussed on this blog, that 80% of humans are lactose intolerant. This is because only baby animals need lactase (the enzyme that digests lactose) to digest their mothers' milk, and at weaning age the body stops producing it because it is no longer needed. This is true of all mammals except for a freaky 20% of humans who continue to produce it. Why do they continue to produce it? Because humans are the only animals perverted enough to drink the milk of another animal, beyond weaning age I might add. It really is gross.

Anyway, so when people started drinking the milk of other animals, children started dying. This wasn't weird because most children never reached adulthood. However, children who had a mutation that allowed them to continue to digest lactose had a better chance of survival (if they weren't killed by something else) and so some descendants of these people can digest lactose beyond weaning age. The other 80% can't.

Then why aren't 80% of people up to their knees in vomit and diarrhoea? That's what people with a lactose intolerance are like isn't it? Well that's what people with a severe lactose intolerance are like, for the rest of us, we don't know that we're being negatively affected by the dairy we're eating because we've been doing it our whole lives. If someone who had never eaten dairy started to eat it, they'd tell you straight away how crappy it made them feel. We start feeding dairy products to our children when they are babies though, and they can't tell us that it makes them feel bad. We don't feel any different because this is all we've ever known. I didn't think I was lactose intolerant until I went vegan. The dramatic changes in my body assured me that I was, and had been all my life, I just hadn't known.

Anyway, this book discussed some of the side effects of dairy consumption. There were the ones we think of when we think of lactose intolerance, such as "chronic or occasional diarrhoea, bloating, flatulence and abdominal pains", but then there were the others. The ones we think are just part of the way we are, or due to some other cause, not our life-long consumption of something we are not made to eat:

"Intolerance to milk is the most common food allergy. Symptoms include asthma, eczema, skin rashes, chronic nasal and sinus problems, tonsillitis, ulcerative colitis, bowel irregularity, hyperactivity, depression, migraines and some forms of arthritis. Cow's milk can cause gastrointestinal bleeding in infants leading to anaemia and there is a proven link between milk consumption and cataracts in older people. Dairy products can account for half our saturated fat intake, making them a high risk factor in heart disease - [Australia's] biggest killer."

So there you go, scary stuff, but from my experience I can say that it's absolutely true. If you want to cut anything from your diet to improve your health, dairy would probably bump even meat down to second on the list (and meat is pretty #$@!* bad for you!). Try it and feel the difference!

Happy eating! :)

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