Americans love dairy products. It’s no surprise that staple meals of the American diet are comprised of Mac n cheese and pizza. And, while foods such as these are clearly drenched in the presence of dairy, many other popular foods of the American diet such as ice cream, chocolate, milk, yogurt, some soups, bake mixes, and sauces all contain some amount of dairy. These foods are consumed by the majority of Americans every single day.
Therefore, it is interesting to note that according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, about 30 to 50 million Americans are lactose intolerant. Cornell recently published a study that links lactose intolerance to people whose ancestors were not primarily from places where dairy herds were raised safely, such as in Europe.
The study elaborates on this implication saying that because people who had really available, safely made, dairy available to them were the people who developed an ability to digest milk, whereas people whose ancestors came from Africa or Asia where dairy was not as readily available, lost the ability to digest lactose.
Another interesting example of why this may be the case is that people of Northern European descent tend to retain the ability to produce the enzyme lactase and can healthily drink milk all their life while about 60 percent of people with primarily African and Asian descent stop producing lactase as they mature.
And while the population of Americans appears to be largely lactose intolerant, there is not a foreseeable future of America getting rid of all dairy products. So, for the time being, if you find yourself having mostly negative responses to dairy containing foods, don’t feel bad. Many people are lactose intolerant. Luckily, there are some pills on the market to help aid dairy digestion.