Health Questions and Answers

Question: What is the most common disorder of carbohydrate digestion in humans?

Answer:

Lactase deficiency. Lactase-deficient adults retain 10-30% of intestinal lactose activity and develop symptoms (diarrhea, bloating, and gas) only when they ingest sufficient lactose. Symptoms result from the colonic bacteria metabolizing lactose to methane, CO2, and short-chain fatty acid.

Reference: Sleisenger MH, Fordtran JS (eds): Gastrointestinal Disease: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, and Management, 7th ed. Philadelphia, W.B. Saunders, 2003.

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