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Explain the use of lactase in the production of lactose-free milk
- Milk naturally contains a disaccharide sugar called lactose.
- During the normal digestion of milk, the enzyme lactase (made by yeast cells found in milk) breaks lactose into its two monomers: glucose and galactose.
- Both monomers are small enough to pass through the lining of the small intestine to be absorbed by the bloodstream. Lactose, however, is too large to pass through the intestinal lining.
- Some individuals are lactose-intolerant; as lactose passes through their digestive tracts it can cause irritation and diarrhea.
- Lactose intolerance is common in Southeast Asia where people evolved without milk in their diets.
- In Europe and the Middle East, by contrast, human populations have consumed milk for millennia and have therefore evolved the ability to tolerate lactose.
- Lactose-intolerant people can drink milk that has had lactase added to remove the lactose.
- The lactase added to “lactose-free” milk is obtained from a type of yeast called Kluveromyces lactis.
- Kluveromyces lactis is cultured by biotechnology companies that extract and purify the lactase. The purified lactase has the following applications in the dairy food industry:
Latest page update: made by boultont
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