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Is Dairy Safe on a Gluten Free Diet?

is dairy safe on a gluten free diet

Is Dairy Safe on a Gluten Free Diet?

Many people cut gluten out of their diet, yet decide to keep consuming dairy products. Is this good, bad or indifferent? Is dairy safe on a gluten free diet? This is one of the biggest questions we get! I wanted to talk about how cutting out gluten can be effective, but cutting out gluten and dairy can be even more effective. What are some of the reasons why people react to dairy?  

Read the video transcript here

A1 Casein

One of the big culprits for people who react to dairy is casein, it’s one of the primary proteins found in cows milk. Casein will often times mimic gluten. However, what many people aren’t aware of, is that it depends upon the type of casein, and the type of cow it comes from. There is a European descendant breed of cows known as a Holstein. This cow was brought to the United States predominantly for producing milk. Holstein cows pump out a lot of milk. Therefore, you get more milk from the cow than you can from other cows, or other breeds of cows. However, the problem with Holstein’s is that their genetics produce a type of casein called A1 casein. A1 casein looks a lot like gluten, and can produce a similar immune response to gluten in the body.

**A brief word on A2 Milk:

A1, again, it’s a type of milk that comes from cattle originating in Northern Europe (typically Holstein cow that can look like gluten. So when people drink that milk, that casein can potentially mimic gluten. Whereas, A-2 milk generally comes from older breeds of cow, typically Jersey.. A-2 milk does not contain the same type of casein. It is also free of the protein BCM-7 (beta casomorphin-7). Some people can tolerate raw A2 milk just fine, and it can actually be a nourishing, probiotic rich food!


Another potentially harmful protein found in milk is sub-protein found in casein known as casomorphin. Casomorphin looks and acts a lot like morphine, and can create a ‘feel good’ response to cow’s milk, even if the milk is causing inflammation. In essence, people can become addicted to dairy through the action of casomorphin, which acts like morphine. There is yet another protein found in grain called gluteomorphin that also has a similar opiate-like response, This creates the stage for a very, very addictive quality to the dairy. Are you are one of those people who feels really good about life and really happy when you have dairy? This is probably these proteins affecting your neurotransmission. There’s some newer research that shows, just like morphine is a pain reducer, that casomorphin, for those people with gluten sensitivity, actually hinders the pain. In essence, they’re eating the food that causes the inflammation that leads to the pain, but the morphine quality of the food actually suppresses the pain. Many people will say “You know what? I really don’t fee bad or have any pain when I eat dairy.” This is because of the morphine based proteins inhibiting the pain from the inflammation they are actually creating in the body. Therefore, you may be asymptomatic when you consume dairy, but it’s still creating inflammation. Dangers of Dairy on a gluten free diet

Microbial Transglutaminase, AKA ‘Meat Glue’

What is another reason that we might see dairy potentially being a problem? One of them is known as ‘meat glue’. Meat glue is a simpler name for microbial transglutaminase. MTG for short. MTG is a food additive that is used to process dairy. It is used as a thickening agent, to add texture to dairy such as cheeses and butter, and a shelf life extender. MTG is an enzyme made from bacteria that food manufacturers treat with with. number of studies have shown that foods treated with MTG cause an inflammatory reaction in people with gluten sensitivity. Therefore, people with gluten issues tend to react to the dairy products that are treated with MTG. Even if the dairy is organic. If you are sensitive to gluten, you will potentially react because of the way this enzyme interacts, mimicking gluten. If you are a big dairy fan and you’re on a gluten free diet, but you’re still struggling? You may want to consider removing dairy from your diet, so that you can make a full recovery.

Gluten in the Diet of the Cow

Why else may dairy be an issue? Another consideration to make, is gluten in the diet of the cow. Although there have not been studies done yet on cows, the studies done on human milk show that gluten proteins do pass from the mother’s diet into her breastmilk. Therefore, it is theoretically plausible that gluten may also pass through the milk of a cow.

Lactose Intolerance

I’m sure you’ve heard of lactose intolerance before. Lactose intolerance is the inability to break down the sugar in milk known as lactose. Humans make an enzyme called lactase, and that enzyme breaks down lactose so that we can digest it. However, as we age we make less and less of this enzyme. Therefore, lactose intolerance can develop as we get older. If we’re looking at somebody specifically with a gluten sensitivity issue, those people often have gut damage where the cells in the GI tract are damaged, and some of those cells have a brush border where enzymes are produced, and enzymes are created. Some of these enzymes like lactase that help you break down dairy. Years of gluten induced damage to the intestine can leave a person enzyme deficient, creating a lactose intolerance. If you eat dairy, and you get gassy, and you get bloated, and you have foul flatulence, and you struggle with constant constipation and diarrhea, irritable bowel, this is probably along the lines of what’s happening to you. Dairy is an equal opportunity destroyer for many people. In essence, you can be:
  • intolerant to the lactose
  • allergic to the dairy
  • reacting to the casein in the dairy because it looks like gluten
  • reacting to the BCM-7
  • reacting to the microbial transglutaminase being used to treat the dairy, because it makes the dairy look like gluten.
All of these different factors can play a role in why dairy is not necessarily this ideal food choice for you if you’re embarking on a healing diet. So when asking the question – is dairy safe on a gluten free diet? – remember that the answer for many is no.


1. Autoimmun Rev. 2016 Dec;15(12):1111-1119. doi: 10.1016/j.autrev.2016.09.011. Epub 2016 Sep 15. 2. Iran J Public Health. 2015 Jun; 44(6): 742–758. doi: 10.1016/j.autrev.2016.09.011 3. Nutr Rev. 2015 Aug;73(8):544-52. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuv011. Epub 2015 Jun 16. 4. Scand J Gastroenterol. 1998 Nov;33(11):1186-92. 5. Clin Exp Immunol. 2007 Mar; 147(3): 449–455.doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2249.2007.03298.x 6. Nutr J. 2016; 15: 35. Published online 2016 Apr 2. doi: 10.1186/s12937-016-0147-z

33 Responses

  1. Hi Dr. Osborne!

    When diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 1981, I had to eliminate milk. Now I understand. I have said more than once, I know how alcoholics must feel. I suffered and felt that as though I was going through withdrawals. This article gives me insight. It was nightmarish for me. Possibly applies to me.

    Thank you!

    Pamela Demarest (Erlandson)

  2. Any connection between CD and excema? In 12:1996 I nicked above my left knee a 5cent size abrasion. It turned. Into a 3″ grey mushroom looking scab,
    which eventually fell off. I then was covered with tiny very itchy red dots. As I was making dinner I was overcome by a extrem stomached ache. I called my
    Doctor and she said she would see me in the morning. I said there was something wrong with my body so she told me to go to the ER. I was there for three days
    When a colonoscopy revealed that cancer blocked the colon except for a pencil size hole. I servived cancer. Icontinued with bouts of cramps and diarrhea
    and constant eczema of one sort or another. I saw an article about celiac and asked my doctor to test me for it. She was surprised that it turned out positive. I
    Asked to be tested for dairy and the doctor said ” I was blowing off the chart.
    My problem now is I’m covered with one itchy rash after another. Any thoughts about eczema?

  3. My son has tested for gluten sensitivity and is a type one diabetic . He tested sensitive to dairy as well. Now functional dr wants him to give up diary for a month. He is already gluten free grain free. She thinks the constant mucous in his throats could be from the diary and that candida can hide live and thrive in this mucous in his throat. Will he always have to be dairy free and gluten free !!?so hard for him to give up gluten eggs and dairy !!

  4. Dr I recently gave up lactose because I know I have issues with it. I also have hashimotos thyroiditis. Do u think I’d be better off without out gluten as well?? I can’t lose weight and I’m always bloated despite being on Armour thyroid and having a good tsh level. Thanks

  5. what about goats milk ? we keep our own goats feed them as chemical free and gluten free as possible and only have the milk raw. I practically live on home made yogurt and kefir, and with type 1 diabetes plus muscle wasting from pesticide poisoning, plus MTHFR it is hard to find things I can eat. Now I have recently had a heart attack and a stent put in and I dont know what to believe

  6. How about milk from 100% grass fed cows? I am losing weight like crazy with this no grain and low oxalate diet i am on and cant afford to lose anymore.

  7. If someone is on a gluten, dairy and oil free diet, what is an oil replacement to use to cook with?
    Trying to cook for these friends and having trouble.

  8. Hi from Serbia!
    I have a daughter who is ten years old. Her skin is dry, rough, itchy. Most often they involve the lower legs, forearms, sometimes on the feet between the fingers, and on the upper part of the glutes. All year she has the same symptoms, but during the summer months it is less. When she was yanger , she had pain in stomach, but now, she dont have pain.
    Now , her simptoms are: sometimes cramps, and itching skin. She is scratching and making wounds. She dont have apetite, and refuse healty food. . We did a blood test of 20 foods last year and it turned out to be allergic to milk. By ejection of dairy products, the skin is a bit better but it still has itching.

    We have done genetic testing of DQ2 and DQ8. Result is positive for the Dq2.5 gene.

    At gliadin igA 0,4 Ref: neg <12
    At gliadin IgG 6,6 Ref: neg <12
    At Transglutamin IgA 1,8 Ref: neg <10
    At Transglutamin IgG 1,5 Ref: neg <10
    Endomisial EMA IgA <1:10 Ref: neg <1:10
    Endomisial Ema IgG <1:10 Ref: neg <1:10

    After that doctors performed a biopsy, and they didnt find celiac. Diagnosis is:
    Dg: Gastroenteritis et colitis non infectiva, non specificata
    Gastritis chronica superficialis inactiva abacteroalis
    Duodenitis chronica
    Anemiae sideropenicae aliae.

    What that means? Doctor told us that is normal, there is no bacteria. Gastritis like this everybody have.

    They told me to do nothing. There is no therapy. Only control every year, with blood test : At transglutamin and At antigliadin.

    Dr. Osborne, what is yours advice ?
    Thank you so much.


  9. Great information Dr Osbore Thank you. Can you give your opinion on colostrum from cows. does that also contain the same protein structure and is there a difference with colostrum form A1 and A2 trpe cows. Many many thanks

  10. I react with back pain to Gluten, grains, dairy, nightshade vegetables and legumes. All the high in lectin foods. Peeling squash and removing the seeds and soft flesh in seed cavity enables me to eat them twice a week. Some seeds and nuts I could not afford to drink Camel milk even if it did agree. Taking digestive enzymes has never made a noticeable difference

  11. I would like to know about the difference between milk and CREAM. I don’t do well with milk but cream seems to be OK. I use it in tea and pour it over desserts. Is it possible that cream has a different consistency from milk?

  12. Can you comment on Irish butter, Kerrigold, does it contribute to the same type of problems as Gluten.

  13. Milk may not be good on gluten free diet. But I want to share something interesting. Whenever I feel I have diarrhea, if I consume some milk, I feel better and then when I use the restroom, I can surely see a positive difference. And the quantity of milk would depend on how worse I would feel the diarrhea is. Does it mean that milk suits me and I should continue drinking milk?? But the same things happen with coconut milk or milk powder too. I mean they all seem to help with any diarrhea or stomach inflammation

  14. Dr. Osborne, two other people in the comments section have asked your opinion of goats milk with no reply. So I will ask a third time.

    1. Any dairy has to be consumed with great caution. This includes goat, camel, sheep, etc. Goat mild is A2, and that is one of it’s better qualities. The core issue is that many with gluten sensitivity don’t do well with any dairy at all because they no longer produce the enzymes that help digest it. Additionally, many with gluten issues react to dairy as a general rule. It is a much easier question to tackle when the appropriate testing is performed to identify dairy as an allergy as well as dairy intolerance. In my humble opinion, no grocery store derived dairy should be consumed.

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