Lactose Intolerance History






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Lactose Intolerance History .....In ancient times, animals were milked and milk products were an important part of the Neolithic diet. It’s believed that most of the milk was in the form of mature cheeses and; therefore, mostly lactose-free.




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Hunting Scene, from the V...
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Hippocrates, ancient Greek physician, was first to note gastrointestinal and skin problems in some people who drank milk.

Roman authors wrote that the people of northern Europe, especially Great Britain and Germany, drank raw milk as apposed to the Romans, who ate mostly milk in the form of cheese. This corresponds to modern people of Great Britain, Germany and Scandinavia having a good tolerance to lactose, while people of southern Europe, especially Italy, having a poor tolerance.

In ancient China people didn’t consume milk, while nomads along the borders did. This corresponds with modern Chinese being highly intolerant and in Mongolia and the Asian steppes people drink horse milk regularly.


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Mongolia
Etienne Dehau
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The African Fulani are of a nomadic origin and their culture revolved around sheep, goat and cow herding. This again correlates with about 77% of the population being tolerant.

Lactose intolerance was noted in the 1950s and 1960s when various organizations like the United Nations became involved in famine relief efforts in countries outside of Europe. As symptoms increased they couldn’t be attributed it to spoilage of milk in transit or inappropriate preparation.

Originally it was believed that E.Coli, bacteria in the gut, produced the enzyme lactase, which was needed to split lactose so that humans might digest it. In the 1970s, it was discovered to be untrue. It was found humans produce their own lactase.

In 1998, scientists were able to transfer the gene for lactase to the intestinal lining cells of lactose intolerant rats, which resulted in them becoming lactose tolerant.

In 2006, it was noted that about 70% of the world population couldn’t tolerate lactose in adulthood.

It’s now possible to test the DNA of individuals to make a diagnosis of lactose intolerance, but it’s an expensive test.


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DNA
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