One of the fondest childhood memories most people recall having is the ability to enjoy ice cream after yelling, ’I scream! You scream! We all scream for ice cream!’ But if your child is lactose intolerant or has an allergy to it, does this mean you should rob your child of this happiness and completely ban bringing home any products with lactose?
Find out why it might be more harmful to completely steer clear of lactose products than to educate yourself about its benefits and understand why it’s necessary for your child’s development.
Lactose is important for kids
A recent survey of 100 mothers* revealed that many mothers were not well informed on the source of lactose and more importantly the functions and benefits of lactose. Read on to find out why lactose plays an extremely important role in your child’s life and development.
*Nestle telephone survey of 100 mothers with children aged above 6 months old.
Is your child getting enough? Because lactose is important for her.
Lactose and its functions
Lactose is the sugar (carbohydrate) found in milk and milk products. It is present in the milk of all mammals, but miraculously cannot be found anywhere else in nature. Here are three ways lactose functions positively in one’s body, which make it crucial for anyone and everyone to have:
1. Lactose aids the absorption of calcium and phosphorus.
2. It supports the growth of friendly bacteria in the human gut. The growth of friendly bacteria helps promote a healthy digestive system.
3. Galactose, the simple sugar found in lactose, carries a role for the development of the brain and nervous system.
Lactose, in breastmilk, is a natural and sole source of carbohydrate which provides a significant supply of energy.
Why lactose is important
Lactose is important for our diet, because it aids the absorption of calcium and phosphorus. It is thought to support the growth of friendly bacteria needed to fight undesirable organisms and promote health in the human intestine. Lactose is derived from the condensation of galactose and glucose.
Benefits of galactose in a baby’s life
Galactose, a simple sugar that comes from the breakdown of lactose, is essential in the production of galactolipids which are vital for a healthy brain and nerve tissues.
Galactose can be found in some foods, but for a baby, milk containing lactose may be his/her only source of galactose during what is an important stage of brain development.
In fact, the effect of long term use of lactose-free formulas (which does not provide a readily available source of galactose) on babies’ brain development is yet to be fully studied.
The importance of glucose in an infant’s life
Glucose, the other simple sugar that bonds with galactose to form lactose in milk, provides a major source or energy (calories) in a baby’s diet.
Glucose is essential for growth, energy and for cell development. Without glucose in the diet, a child will start to use body fat as a source of energy and will lose weight. A steady supply of glucose is critical to maintain their daily metabolism for growth and development.
So how does one save their child from harm’s way and introduce glucose into their life?
Introducing glucose with lactose–free formula
Glucose can be found in most foods including lactose-free milk. Lactose-free formulas contain the same type of protein and fat as standard formulas. But the lactose is replaced with corn syrup or table sugar. One can consider using lactose-free formula to make sure they are getting the sufficient amount that they need to remain healthy.
Important reminder: But bear in mind, prolonged use of a lactose-free formula may deprive your baby of the ability to absorb calcium effectively from milk.
Lactose-free formulas are sometimes recommended for temporary use, following infant diarrhea. They may help to settle these gastrointestinal symptoms. However it is important to remember that these formulas are often only necessary as a short-term measure.
Never assume that your baby is lactose intolerant, thus removing lactose from your baby’s diet. Lactose is the preferred choice of carbohydrate in milk formula.
Removing lactose from milk is like stripping your child of the milk’s powerful brain-growth properties. Any removal of lactose should only be done when necessary and only under close medical supervision. Always check with your doctor if you are unsure before keeping your child completely off lactose formulas.
Nestlé Start Healthy Stay Healthy™ helps mothers nurture happy, healthy babies, one baby at a time.