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Your Lactose Intolerance Might Be All In Your Head

Italian researchers found that the physical pain and symptoms a person experiences might actually be related to psychological factors.

Milk Bottles

Photo: Anastacia Haddon (flickr)

The study finds that folks' tummy troubles didn't have to do with a lactose problem but rather a psychological one.

Researchers have found that many people who claim to have lactose intolerance might only be anxious, stressed or depressed.

According to WebMD, lactose intolerance happens when the body cannot easily digest lactose, a type of natural sugar found in milk and dairy products. Symptoms include gas, belly pain, and bloating.

Mind Over Matter

The study shows that some people “should not blame lactose for symptoms of lactose intolerance,” says Dr. Guido Basilisco.

While the physical pain may feel real, researchers found that it might actually be related to psychological factors.

The study gave 102 patients who thought they were lactose intolerant a breath test, which is commonly used to identify lactose intolerance, and a survey to look at their levels of anxiety and depression.

They found that with most of the subjects, their tummy troubles didn’t have to do with a lactose problem but rather a psychological one. Those people reported multiple problems in different areas of the body, such as faintness or weakness of a body part, but no physical cause could be found.

Don’t Have A Cow

Just like stress can cause headaches, it can also cause stomach aches. Basilisco says that people should not be as quick to cut out all dairy products and should focus on the real cause of the problem.

Cutting out dairy products could lead to calcium deficiency and osteoporosis.

Read More:

  • Lactose intolerance may sometimes be in the head, not the gut (USA Today)
  • Why ‘intolerance’ to dairy foods may be all in the mind (Daily Mail)
Katie Dawson

Katie Dawson is a sophomore at IU majoring in journalism and Spanish. Currently she lives in Bloomington, IN but is originally from Indianapolis. She enjoys cooking, eating and sometimes exercising.

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