It’s Time Someone Asked the Million-Dollar Question: Is Lactose Intolerance Just a Fad?

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It’s Time Someone Asked the Million-Dollar Question: Is Lactose Intolerance Just a Fad?

Illustration: Akshita Monga

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icture this: Your mom, with great difficulty, agrees to cook for some of your friends and decides to dazzle them with a three-course menu, all inspired by Masterchef Australia. You keep the menu a closely guarded secret in the hope of wowing the hell out of your dinner guests, especially that girl you’re crushing on. The day arrives, and as you serve course after course, you gradually learn one of your friends has a celiac disease, which means even a whiff of wheat can do him in. Another is a Jain, and the apple of your eye is lactose intolerant, which means the single-origin Madagascar vanilla ice cream you wanted to serve with the hot lemon curd soufflé could very well be the last meal she eats. As your diners look on in disappointment, you realise the slowly deflating soufflé is the perfect metaphor for your derailed dinner, and that your mom is going to have your ass for dessert!

Your mom believes clearly believes that food allergies are the new CrossFit, and it pisses her off that our generation has decided to diagnose itself as gluten allergic and lactose intolerant. “Hipsters,” she snarks while throwing the belan at you, and you wonder if she has a point.

We do seem to have become intolerant to the very foods that used to be household staples – butter, cheese, milk, and rotis. We now have entire aisles in supermarkets devoted to “free-from” products, reports The Guardian. And quinoa is having an immensely lucrative moment in the sun. Has something truly changed, or are we really just running out of ways to push up our cool quotient now that tattoos are passé?

The answer, it turns out, is surprising.

Lactose intolerance is a big word for what is simply our inability to digest the sugar, called lactose, in milk. Which basically means, you may love milk but your body doesn’t. The way your body shows this disdain for milk is by suggesting, through bloating or abdominal pain, that you need to stop consuming it. So if you’ve asked your barista at Starbucks for a soy milk latte, and he messes up and gives you a regular milk latte, you could have a bout of gas setting in anywhere from half an hour to two hours from that first sip. This could lead to an unfortunate bout of gas during your presentation with the CEO. It’s hardly the stuff great careers are made out of.

Proponents of the anti-dairy movement suggest that even if you’re not an athlete, it’s just wiser to run a mile from milk.

The bad news is that a surprisingly large percentage of people are unable to digest the lactose in milk. While some are unable to do so from birth, many of us start facing issues as we grow older, because the ability of our bodies to produce the enzyme that digests lactose, called lactase, diminishes. So there’s no guarantee that it won’t show up at some stage of your life. There are tests you can take to find out for sure, maybe you track your daily diet or you can just play it safe and avoid dairy altogether. Ask anyone who is careful about what they put into their bodies (athletes, body builders), and they will tell you take the safe path and avoid dairy. Proponents of the anti-dairy movement suggest that even if you’re not an athlete, it’s just wiser to run a mile from milk.

Whatever you decide, the good news is, it’s not all that difficult to avoid lactose. There are plenty of plant-based alternatives such as soy or almond milk, delish vegan ice-cream options, and for those who aren’t ready to give up dairy just yet, there is Epigamia’s Lactose-Free Artisanal Curd, which gives you all of the chaas, but none of the gas.

So, the next time you do succeed in convincing your mom to cook for your so-called “hipster” friends, hand her an Epigamia for her soufflé, but for God’s sake… hide the belan.

This post is sponsored by Epigamia.

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