Do You Have the Dairy Gene?

lactase persistence cow dairy imageAccording to Dr. John Hawks, a professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, we are all still evolving and quite rapidly. Although it might take 10,000 years for these genetic changes to be measurable, we are no doubt actively adapting to this new and crazy world.

In genetic terms, it was quite recently – within the last 10,000 years – that we started to ingest dairy.

Almost every mammal loses the ability to digest lactose (the sugar found in milk) shortly after being weaned.

Many humans, however – particularly in Northern Europe and America – have stopped turning off the lactose digesting enzyme after being weaned and are genetically able to digest dairy products into adulthood. According to research, this happened somewhere in the course of the last 400 generations (around 10,000 years).

This is called “Lactase Persistence,” where the gene that turns off the dairy digesting enzyme lactase doesn’t turn off. Let’s take a glimpse at who has gotten this lucky gene.

  • 96% of Scandinavian countries (1)
  • 25-50% Mediterranean countries (1)
  • 20% Africa (1)
  • 10% Asia and South East Asia (1)
  • 88% European Americans (2)
  • 45% Mexican American (Males) (2)
  • 0% Native Americans (2)

What if you are Lactose Intolerant with Lactase Persistence?

It is quite possible that the inability for many to digest dairy is not due to true lactose intolerance. Here is a simple test! Lactose converts to lactic acid when the dairy is made into cheese, so if you can tolerate cheese your problem is likely not lactose intolerance. It must be dairy’s other culprit – casein, dairy’s hard-to-digest protein.

A strong stomach acid is required to break down the casein in dairy, which many folks don’t have. Thus, a lack of hydrochloric acid (HCL) production in the stomach may be responsible for many dairy intolerances.

Boost the Dairy Digesting Fire

  1. Building up the digestive fire is a process. Consider trying the following:
  2. Drink 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with a cup of water with meals.
  3. Chew 2 dime-sized slices of ginger sprinkled with lemon juice and salt before a meal.
  4. Sip hot water with a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of salt before a meal.
  5. Drink a big glass of water 20 minutes before a meal to pre-hydrate the stomach’s bicarbonate acid buffer, which is 80% water.
  6. Try Warm Digest, which is a triad of black pepper, ginger, and long pepper. Take one capsule 20 minutes before a meal with a big glass of water.

 

References

1. http://www.no-lactose.com/pg,geographical-distribution,is,5.jsp
2. http://wikipedia.org/lactasepersistence

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