Research Identifies Dairy as a Problem For Those With Gluten Sensitivity
Many people embarking on a gluten free diet continue to consume milk, butter, cheese, and other dairy products without considering the correlation between dairy and a gluten free diet and the potential for having an inflammatory reaction. However; researchers have identified that dairy proteins can affect as much as 50% of those with gluten problems. This is one of the reasons I recommend both a gluten and dairy free diet for those diagnosed with gluten sensitivity. A summary of the research findings is listed below:
Patients with coeliac disease (CD) on a gluten-free diet may still have gastrointestinal symptoms. On clinical grounds, cow’s milk (CM) protein sensitivity may be suspected…A mucosal inflammatory response similar to that elicited by gluten was produced by CM protein in about 50% of the patients with coeliac disease. Casein, in particular, seems to be involved in this reaction. Source: Clin Exp Immunol. 2007 Mar;147(3):449-55.
Why You Should Consider a Gluten and Dairy Free Diet
In my clinical experience with patients, dairy is one of the biggest problems contributing to persistent symptoms of disease. The study above identifies the protein, casein, as the biggest culprit. 50% of the study participants had an inflammatory reaction when exposed to dairy.
There are many research findings and clinical observations as to why this can happen:
- Processing of dairy alters the casein protein creating a molecule that resembles gluten, thus creating an inflammatory response.
- Eating dairy processed with the enzyme, microbial transglutaminase (AKA meat glue), can increase inflammation and cause an immune reaction in people with gluten sensitivity.
- Cows are supposed to eat grass, hay, etc. They are not designed to process the huge quantities of corn and grain based foods that they are fed. Some would speculate that these grain based proteins might make their way into the milk, thus creating an inflammatory reaction.
- Leaky gut – gluten can cause intestinal permeability. When this happens, people often times become allergic to the staple foods in their diet. As milk is a major staple used by those on a gluten free diet, many develop an allergic response to dairy.
- Digestive enzyme deficiencies – those with gluten induced intestinal damage of long standing nature tend to lack the capacity to be able to break down the sugars and proteins in dairy (AKA – dairy intolerance). This type of problem can cause tremendous GI distress, gas, distention, bloating, and pain. The undigested dairy materials can putrefy (become rotten) while in the gut. This in turn can create secondary inflammatory reactions. This can also lead to disruption in the healthy bacterial counts of the gut. As these bacteria are largely responsible for regulating immune response and inflammation, disrupting their numbers is a common cause of GI disturbance.
There are a number of problems with mass produced modern dairy products.
- The food for the cows are GMO (primarily corn and other grains)
- Recombinant bovine growth hormone
- Cows kept in tight quarters, little exercise, and exposed to massive quantities of antibiotics and hormones
- Ultra pasteurization of the dairy denatures and destroys much of the protein and nutritional value.
- For a more comprehensive breakdown on the topic click here ->> Is Dairy Safe On a Gluten Free Diet
Should You Be on a Dairy and Gluten Free Diet?
I would encourage those with gluten sensitivity to be on a gluten and dairy free diet for at least 6 months when initially going gluten free. This will allow for the prevention of allergy development, but also allow for reduced digestive stress on the GI tract. Humans lose the ability to digest dairy as they age. If you want to use dairy with your gluten free diet, I would encourage you to follow these rules:
- Insist that your dairy sources are grass fed only
- Comes from animals who are not drugged with antibiotics and other stimulating hormones
- Use dairy that has not been altered by the industrial enzyme, microbial transglutaminase
- Buy from a local farmer
- Buy dairy in the raw form. If you want to pasteurize it, you can do so on your own stove top.
What Can I Eat on a Dairy and Gluten Free Diet?
Eating dairy and gluten free doesn’t have to feel restrictive. It is important to pay close attention to food labels while shopping. Anything that has ingredients saying “natural flavors”, may be hiding dairy or gluten based ingredients. With that said, there are food items that are naturally dairy and gluten free. Fruits, vegetables, meat, seafood, legumes, nuts, and seeds are all excellent options. As always, be cautious of cross contamination.
Tips for your journey
In order to eliminate gluten and dairy from your diet, you have to understand what kind of symptoms they can cause if you have an intolerance and where they are most commonly found in everyday foods. It is extremely important to continue to educate yourself on the foods that work for your diet and the foods that don’t. This will help you make better choices when you are eating in, shopping, or eating out at a restaurant.
It is also important that you aren’t afraid to tell others your dietary needs. Communication is key when you are eating somewhere that isn’t your own home. Expressing your dietary needs to your friends, family, and restaurant staff will help ensure that you are eating foods that will support your diet. Plus, it will help you avoid any painful symptoms if cross contamination or mistakes occur.
Lastly, it is important that you monitor your symptoms to ensure that this diet is working for you. If you are recording your symptoms, you will be able to tell whether or not going gluten and dairy-free is working for you and that the cause of your symptoms isn’t something else. It may take a few weeks for you to see a difference, but after a few weeks if you are still having symptoms, it may be time to reevaluate your diet. If those symptoms are still occurring, you may have to start eliminating different foods until you find what works for you and your body.
Always looking out for you,
Dr. O – The Gluten Free Warrior