Picture this: You’re on a first date with someone special, someone with whom you share incredible chemistry. It’s the kind of someone who appears maybe once in a lifetime, if you’re lucky. Magic is in the air. You don’t want to jump to conclusions, but all signs point to this date leading somewhere remarkable. You feel it in your gut.
After a perfect dinner, you skim the dessert menu and decide to try the gelato sample platter. The company, the conversation, the delectable treats—it’s intoxicating.
Neither you nor your date want the night to end, so you both decide to be spontaneous and take in the late-night showing of the rom-com that critics say reinvents the genre. You make the obligatory popcorn purchase and get the perfect isolated seats in the dimly lit theater. Romance is in the air.
Then something happens, something that fills you with dread, something that could change the course of the entire evening—your abdomen starts to swell like a hot air balloon. Desperate for relief, you surreptitiously undo the top button on your designer jeans, but your stomach continues to inflate. No longer able to focus on your date, no longer able to enjoy the movie, your thoughts turn solely to your distending belly and the fact that all of the gestating gas inside you needs to vacate your body posthaste. You excuse yourself to use the restroom, where you spend the majority of what might otherwise have been a promising night.
Was it a cruel twist of fate, or was it the gelato platter?
Dairy might be the cause
If you’ve experienced anything like this, you know it can be no laughing matter. Bloating and gas can be terribly embarrassing, uncomfortable or downright painful. If you’ve experienced bloating and flatulence 30 minutes to two hours after consuming dairy milk or ice cream, you might suffer from lactose intolerance—an inability to break down lactose, the sugar found in human breast milk, and cow’s milk (1).
65% of the human population are lactose intolerant, and it comes with a variety of dreadful symptoms, bloating and farts being among them. The reason this happens is that most people lack the enzyme lactase, which prevents the body from properly digesting lactose. The result can be a range of symptoms that can be severe and affect your quality of life, including cramping, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting and headaches.
If you’re wondering why you don’t produce enough lactase, don’t worry. It’s perfectly normal for the amount of lactase a human being produces to drop precipitously once we stop breastfeeding and reach mid childhood—around five years of age, the age when most humans have been weaned off of breast milk (2). Even for those who aren’t currently lactose intolerant, there’s a high likelihood they could be at some point, which is why consuming lactose into adulthood, let alone the lactose from another species, is not what Mother Nature intended.
What you can do
If you think you might be lactose intolerant, stop consuming dairy for 30 days to see if symptoms subside, or check with your healthcare provider for confirmation. Lactose intolerance symptoms are awful. Bloating and gas are awful. Bloating and gas from ingesting something the human body isn’t meant to ingest, absolutely unnecessary.
Try a plant-based alternative
Finally, the great news is that you don’t have to consume lactose. There is an abundance of plant-based alternatives that taste absolutely amazing. You no longer have to feel bound to a food choice that comes with a hefty cost to your health and wellbeing. You can continue enjoying all of the foods you’ve always loved, without the plethora of consequences that come with consuming dairy.
Eager to find out if your flatulence is caused by lactose intolerance?