When the small intestine doesn’t make enough lactase, the enzyme needed to digest lactose, the sugar in milk and dairy products- the gut protests. Bloating, stomach cramps, flatulence and diarrhea are the result of lactose intolerance.
Lactose is the sugar in milk. An enzyme called lactase is needed to digest lactose; without it bloating, cramps, flatulence and diarrhea result.
Lactose intolerance is common: Two-thirds of the world’s population suffers from lactose intolerance, with the highest numbers in Asia and Africa. In Europe, lactose intolerance ranges from about 2% in Scandinavia to about 70% in Sicily.
Certain probiotics including Lactobacilli and Streptococci assist in digestion of lactose. Lactose in yogurt is better tolerated than the same amount of the sugar in raw milk. Yogurt can actually reduce the symptoms of lactose intolerance because the probiotic cultures in yogurt can metabolize the lactose into lactic acid.
Further reading on lactose intolerance and probiotics: