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Diary Got You Down?

Do you often find that you are experiencing pain in your lower abdomen followed by intense feelings of bloating and nausea after consuming dairy products? This could be for a multitude of reasons. You could be experiencing a milk allergy, lactose intolerance, or just general sensitivity. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), it is estimated that about 68% of the world’s population has some aspect of dairy intolerance. 


On the surface, it may seem easy to establish which foods may be causing you discomfort. But the reality is, if your diet is not consistent, there can be overwhelming causes as to why your abdominal discomfort is happening. Getting to the root of the cause is important seeing as the treatments may differ. If you are experiencing persistent discomfort, it is recommended to make an appointment with your healthcare provider before conducting your own treatment plan or making any restrictions to your diet.


It is important to know the difference between lactose intolerance and lactose malabsorption. According to the National Library of Medicine (NIH), lactose malabsorption is defined as a common condition that occurs when there is a lack of lactose in the small intestine. When the enzyme is not fully functional, lactose cannot be properly broken down after it is consumed due to lactase non-persistence. This typically occurs after your early years of development as the small intestine makes less lactose over time. Because it passes through the small intestine undigested, it is ready to wreak havoc once it reaches the large intestine. This could be why you are experiencing shooting pain and in extreme cases, diarrhea after eating something high in lactose.


On the other hand, lactose intolerance is a bit more nuanced due to the various possible factors to consider.  Lactose intolerance is caused by lactose malabsorption, meaning it reaches the point of intolerance when physical symptoms begin to occur. Symptoms of lactose intolerance include but are not limited to bloating, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, etc. Factors such as the amount of lactose ingested, specifics of gut microbiome and genetics are all considered when determining intolerance. 


Despite what is happening internally, there can also be some external factors that can present themselves when determining sensitivity to dairy, such as acne. In some cases, high consumption of dairy products can lead to breakouts. This is because when you digest the proteins in dairy products, certain hormones such as IGF-1 are released. This hormone in particular is known to cause acne. 


If you believe this may be the cause of your discomfort, there is genetic and endoscopic testing available to identify the genetic factors causing lactose malabsorption and intolerance. Not to mention, we offer various coaching services here at Naturna in order to better understand your body chemistry and relationships to certain foods! Consider booking an initial nutrition consultation with one of our practitioners or head to our website for more information here:



Misselwitz, B., Pohl, D., Frühauf, H., Fried, M., Vavricka, S. R., & Fox, M. (2013, June). Lactose malabsorption and intolerance: Pathogenesis, diagnosis and treatment. United European gastroenterology journal. Retrieved July 13, 2022, from 

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Definition & Facts for lactose intolerance. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Retrieved July 13, 2022, from 

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Symptoms & causes of lactose intolerance. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Retrieved July 13, 2022, from 

Watson, K. (2018, March 26). Dairy and acne: Are dairy products the cause of your acne? Healthline. Retrieved July 13, 2022, from