Gluten Free Diet But Not Getting Better – Lactose Intolerance | Allergy

Gluten Free Diet But Not Getting Better – Lactose Intolerance

by Allergy Guy

A gluten free diet the only way to treat celiac disease.  Recovery should start quickly, although it can take a while for full recovery.  What happens if you aren’t getting better? Lactose intolerance is one possibility.

One of the biggest complaints of “classic” celiac disease symptoms is diarrhea.

Its pretty frustrating if your bowel problems continue after you’ve been on a gluten free diet for a while.

One of the complications of celiac disease could be the answer.  This very same complication also can happen quite independently of celiac disease.

Lactose intolerance means that you can not digest lactose, a kind of sugar, found in milk.

This is not the same as a milk allergy (an allergic reaction to proteins in milk).

Symptoms include diarrhea and gas.

There are two causes of lactose intolerance, both related to lacking the enzyme lactase, which is required to digest lactose.

Celiac Disease and Lactase Enzyme Production Failure

The first cause is the effect of gluten on the villi in the gut.  This is where the  lactase enzyme is manufactured in the body.

When you first go on a gluten free diet, your body will start to recover, but it takes some time before the villi are able to produce the lactase enzyme again.

Mean while, milk and milk products will cause gas and diarrhea.

Lactose Intolerance

Roughly 25% of the population can not digest milk, even without having celiac disease.  This figure varies a bit with race, higher in some genetic backgrounds, and much lower in others. 

Many people are genetically programmed to stop producing the lactase enzyme after a certain age.

If you happen to be celiac and lactose intolerant, very likely given the high proportion of lactose intolerant people, then a gluten free diet will not cure your lactose intolerance.

Managing Lactose Intolerance

Managing lactose intolerance could mean avoiding all dairy products.

Many people are able to take lactase enzyme in pill form, allowing them to consume dairy.  This is true of temporary lactose intolerance in recovering celiacs, and genetically lactose intolerant people.

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