Lactose is the first carbohydrate which we all taste. It is present in the milk of Mammals, a unique character to the species Mammalian. It is also known as â€˜The milk sugar’. Lactose is a disaccharide. It is composed of one molecule of Glucose and one molecule of Galactose combined to form a glycosidic linkage between the two. Lactose is the natural source of energy for infants, as they feed on Mothers milkonly. Our body cannot digest Lactose directly, but it is broken down into its component sugars first with the help of enzyme lactase and then absorbed by the body.
Lactose is the natural source of energy for infants and children.It is also needed for the proper functioning of brain of infants. Being present in the Mothers milk and Cow’s milk, it is the first source to provide energy to infants. Lactose is known not only as a source of energy but it has other benefits too.
According to Medical science, this disaccharide sugar promotes the growth of helpful bacteria in our small Intestine, like Bifidobacterium bifidum, the good bacterium .Bifidobacterium bifidum is also known as b.bifidum.It is the most common Probiotic bacteria present in our intestine. This bacterium aids in digestion and kills several pathogenic bacteria. It has the capability to fight with E.coli infections. That is why, b.bifidum is necessary for fighting with diarrhea and other intestinal infections in infants and children. Increasing the level of b.bifidum also increases the immunity level of the body. This helps in fighting with diarrhea, common cold, Candida infections in vagina and other yeast overgrowth.
In the same way, Lactose sugar promotes the growth of Lactobacillus bacteria in our Intestine. Lactobacillus is helpful in digestion and prevents diarrhea in infants and adults. This bacteria is also taken orally for preventing Colic disease, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammation of colon, UTI and other vaginal and yeast infections.
Lactose is the source of energy for both of these bacteria. Without Lactose these bacteria cannot grow in our small intestine naturally resulting in poor digestion, infections and malnutrition in children making them prone to many diseases. Lactose helps in the growth of healthy flora in Intestine, increasing our immunity. In this way,Lactose is necessary for the proper functioning and maintenance of the body.
One unique feature of Lactose that makes it beneficial over other types of sugar is its â€˜low glycemic index’. Because of its character it causes a slow, modest rise in the blood sugar level. Unlike other sugars like Sucrose and Fructose it does not increases the level of sugar considerably high blood. Intake of other sugars in excess may also lead to heart diseases and an increase in the amount of extra fat. Thinking from this perspective, Lactose may be considered as a safe sugar for use. Lactose may be used as an option where energy is needed while much sweetness is undesirable in blood of the patients like in diabetic patients.
This disaccharide is must for mineral absorption in infants. It is necessary for the absorption of Calcium (necessary for the formation of strong bones and teethes), Magnesium (for maintaining the rhythm of the heart, proper functioning of muscles and nerves), Manganese (for preventing dermatitis, hair pigmentation, pancreatic functions and functioning of thyroid hormone) and Zinc (which is must for the growth of a number of digestive and other enzymes which in turn help in maintaining proper metabolism of our body) respectively. Without the proper intake of Lactose sugar these minerals cannot be absorbed by the body, which may cause several other malfunctions and diseases.
Both of the two components of Lactose sugar i.e. Glucose and Galactose are believed to be important for our body.On one hand, Glucose is the instant source of energy for our body as well as for our brain. While Galactose is one of the 8 most essential sugars needed.Galactose is required for cell wall formation, cell development and for the formation of intra cellular matrix in human beings.
Lactose is added in approximately all the baby food supplements to match with the composition of Human milk.It is also added in making coating of food items and chocolates to increase their nutritional value. This sugar can also be turned and stored in the form of Glycogen by Liver. This Glycogen is further used as a source of energy during the days of fasting.
The worst part about the consumption of Lactose is a genetic disorder which is known as Lactose intolerance.Lactose intolerance is caused due to the absence of enzyme lactase .This enzyme is necessary for breaking down of sugar Lactose into its component sugars. In the absence of this enzyme, our body is unable to digest Lactose resulting in Stomach pain, diarrhea and other intolerance symptoms. These symptoms can be easily recognized in infants and children as they cannot digest milk and other dairy products. It leads to the infections, malnutrition, improper functioning of body and deficiency of both Calcium and Vitamin D.In the case of Lactose Intolerance supplements of Lactase enzyme like Lactose Intol may be taken with the advice of a suitable Medical practitioner.
If we leave the case of Lactose intolerance, we may conclude that Lactose sugar has so many benefits over other sugars. It is naturally available, maintains blood sugar level , promotes the growth of good bacteria, helps in fighting with infections,it is safe to use, aids mineral absorption and necessary for proper development of infants and children.Hence,Lactose can be categorized as a good and friendly sugar available for all of us.