Living Gluten Free · The In's and Out's of Celiac Disease

Is There A Link Between Celiacs and Lactose Intolerance?

As if having Celiac Disease isn’t challenging enough when you are first diagnosed . . . imagine now adding more foods to eliminate to that list. Many celiacs face this dilemma much more frequently than you would expect. In fact, from all of the Celiacs I know, thanks to social media, I’d say about 90% of them have developed additional allergies and intolerances as a result.

One of the most common? Lactose Intolerance.

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The Celiac Link

What gives? There are a number of different opinions on why this occurs in 20% of celiacs across the globe.

Our inability to digest lactose, a sugar found within dairy products, can develop as a result of intestinal damage. We can blame gluten for this.

Thanks to our least favorite “g-word”, many celiacs lost lots of lactase when they consumed gluten prior to uncovering the autoimmune disease. Lactase is an enzyme that breaks down lactose, which like gluten, can’t naturally be absorbed by our bodies.

Another popular theory points to “leaky gut” syndrome. This refers to intestinal permeability. Let me break this down for you in layman’s terms.

There are these gates if you will that keep toxins out of our bloodstream. When you have a leaky gut, those gates are open, and they let all kind of harmful things into your body. No bueno.

Many believe that gluten damage built up over time can cause those with celiac disease to develop leaky gut syndrome. This, in turn, can cause our body to develop allergies and intolerances to some of the staples in our diets (AKA milk and other dairy products).

Interestingly enough, one studyΒ even found that dairy proteins can impact celiacs in the same manner that gluten does to our bodies. In fact, according to the report, “a mucosal inflammatory response similar to that elicited by gluten was produced by cow’s milk protein in about 50% of patients with celiac.” Crazy right?!?

What’s a Celiac to Do?

First and foremost, listen to your body. As when you were first diagnosed, keep a food diary tracking how you respond to the intake of products like milk, cheese, and yogurt.

For me, I have an intolerance. Luckily, with my intolerance I can handle yogurt and occasionally a little bit of cheese. Milk, however, is bad news bears. I avoid it like the plague. However each person is different. Some can handle more than others.

Keep in mind, if you eat dairy and still notice similar symptoms to these types of foods, it may be more than just an intolerance. In fact, you may have an allergy. If that’s the case, do not hesitate to speak to your doctor. You can and should get tested.

We all remember life pre-celiac. Do not, I repeat do not continue to self-harm your body intentionally. There are plenty of alternatives to dairy for great sources of calcium. It’s not worth it.