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Living With Lactose Intolerance

By on September 1, 2015

Is it true Black people are predisposed to being lactose intolerant? How many of your friends and family members have trouble digesting milk products like ice cream, yogurt, or even cheese? From testing, to symptoms, here are the facts!

Three diagnostic tests measure the absorption of lactose in the digestive system:

  • Lactose tolerance test. This test measures the absorption of lactose in the digestive system. This is a blood glucose test indicates how well the body is able to digest lactose.
  • Hydrogen breath test. The patient drinks a lactose-heavy beverage, and the breath is analyzed at regular intervals to measure the amount of hydrogen. Undigested lactose in the colon is fermented by bacteria, resulting in the production of various gases, including hydrogen. When high levels of hydrogen are present in the breath, improper digestion of lactose is diagnosed.
  • Stool acidity test. This test, used in infants and young children, measures the amount of acid in the stool.

The most common symptoms after consuming foods or beverages containing lactose include nausea, cramps, bloating, stomach pain, gas, and even diarrhea. 

According to Johns Hopkins medicine website, there are at least thirty to 50 million Americans (adults and children) are lactose intolerant.


The disorder affects some populations more than others:

  • Seventy-five percent of all African-American, Jewish, Mexican-American, and Native American adults are lactose intolerant.
  • Ninety percent of Asian-American adults are lactose intolerant.
  • Lactose intolerance is least common among people with a northern European heritage.


The National Dairy Council has this pocket guide to lactose intolerance dairy-friendly foods.


Content for this article courtesy of Johns Hopkins website, the National Institutes for Health, and the National Dairy Council.