The frequency of primary lactose intolerances has probably hardly changed compared to the last few years. What has increased, however, are secondary lactose intolerances, which are acquired over the course of life and are a result of our lifestyle.
The difference between primary and secondary lactose intolerance
Primary lactose intoleranceThis form of lactose intolerance is present from birth. The reason for this problem is the missing enzyme lactase, which is responsible for breaking down the lactose contained in dairy products.
Secondary lactose intoleranceIn the case of secondary lactose intolerance, the body would basically be able to break down lactose.
However, due to inflammatory reactions, illness or dysbiosis in the intestine, the body cannot produce enough of the enzyme lactase.
The trigger for this secondary form can be, among other things, our lifestyle, a high level of stress, taking medication, drinking alcohol, smoking or the quality of food.
In athletes, an above-average amount of stress often leads to intolerance.
The symptoms of both forms are relatively identical: abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea and flatulence.
Secondary lactose intolerance in athletesThis secondary lactose intolerance occurs in athletes, especially during higher periods of exertion. If inflammatory processes in the intestine increase, then only very few of the splitting lactase enzymes that are responsible for breaking down lactose are formed.
Due to a lack of lactase in the brush border of the small intestine, undigested lactose ends up in the large intestine. Bacterial fermentation of the sugar occurs there, which can lead to problems in the gastrointestinal tract.
If you can identify the symptoms and avoid dairy products, you will hardly feel any negative effects. However, if the cause of the symptoms is unclear, milk consumption will continue to place considerable stress on the body.
It is important to be aware that the cause of secondary lactose intolerance is inflammation or dysbiosis in the intestines. Inflammation of any kind costs the body energy, which we actually need in full in order to perform optimally.
The effects on strength and endurance athletesTwo other reasons why many athletes suffer from secondary lactose intolerance are, on the one hand, the often too high protein consumption and, on the other hand, the increased oxidative stress.
A protein intake of over 3-4 g per kilogram of body weight is not uncommon, especially among strength athletes. The result is usually dysbiosis and an irritated intestinal mucosa, which can often lead to impure skin, migraines, headaches and severe flatulence.
Increased oxidative stress, an imbalance of antioxidants and oxidants, is more common among endurance athletes. Due to this imbalance, free radicals are increasingly formed. But the blood flow in the stomach also decreases during periods of stress.
Both damage our microbiome and leave negative changes at the cellular level.
What test options can be used to determine lactose intolerance?
The breathing gas testThis test variant can be used to determine whether lactase can be formed and whether lactose can be broken down accordingly. However, since the problem often only occurs during periods of high stress, the diagnosis is not always clear.
This method makes inflammatory reactions in the intestinal mucosa visible. The measured value for this is formed by sugar residues.
The genetic testThis test can only diagnose primary lactose intolerance.
Diagnosis: Secondary lactose intolerance -
What now?As already described, secondary lactose intolerance is often triggered by a wide variety of factors that affect our lifestyle. In order to achieve improvement, these stressors should be identified and therefore eliminated.
For athletes, the intensity of the exercise should be examined and regeneration should be placed more in the foreground. Particularly among ambitious amateur athletes, the balance between everyday working life, family and sporting ambition is not the same. Due to the lack of regeneration and the strong oxidative stress, a wide variety of health problems can occur. Among other things, lactose intolerance
Ways you can provide additional support for your body
- See a therapist who can help you change your diet
- Try to minimize existing inflammation (e.g. curcumin, a mucous membrane therapeutic or a multispecies probiotic are helpful)
- The OMNi-BiOTiC® 10 from our OMNi-BiOTiC® family can support your body with a reset
- The OMNi-BiOTiC® POWER and the OMNi-BiOTiC® SR-9 are particularly recommended for athletes in the long term