While cow's milk has long been prized in many parts of the world as an excellent source of protein, calcium and several other useful nutrients, a sizeable minority are unable to reap the benefits either because they have problems digesting milk and other forms of dairy produce.
These people have a condition called lactose intolerance. Their bodies are unable to metabolise lactose _ the naturally occurring sugar found in dairy produce _ and as a result they commonly suffer abdominal discomfort, bloating and/or diarrhoea after drinking milk or consuming milk products such as cheese and cream.
In order for our bodies to break down the lactose in cow's milk, we must first produce an enzyme called lactase, explained Assoc Prof Visith Chavasit. However, some people are born without the natural ability to produce lactase _ or to synthesise it in sufficient quantities _ and so they invariably have difficulty digesting milk products, he said.
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