Lactose intolerance symptoms

Often when you are diagnosed with celiac disease you may also find that you are suffering from lactose intolerance symptoms.

Steering clear of lactose may only be necessary temporarily, until your body has healed from the damage gluten has caused before your diagnosis.

What is lactose intolerance?

Lactose is a sugar, or disaccharide, that is found in milk. Normally, during digestion our bodies produce an enzyme, lactase, that breaks down the lactose into simple sugars that we can absorb.

However, if we do not produce enough lactase we can suffer some nasty effects.

If the lactose is not broken down within the small intestine it passes further through the gastrointestinal (GI) system, to the colon where bacteria feed on it. This can cause gas and toxins to build up, which in turn can cause flatulence, abdominal pain and diarrhoea.

So what would cause us to have a lactase deficiency?

  • For some the condition is inherited.
  • For others it may be due to a previous GI infection, malnutrition or celiac disease

Basically damage to the lining of the small intestine, such as that which happens when a person with celiac is not following a gluten free diet, can temporarily cause a lactase deficiency.

It can be difficult to diagnose as the symptoms are common to a number of other conditions, including of course celiac.

Lactose intolerance symptoms can vary in their severity for a number of reasons. Perhaps the main one depends on how much food containing lactose a person is ingesting.

So what foods does someone with this condition need to avoid?

Food containing lactose

Lactose is found in animal milk and the one that most adults consume is of course cows milk. However, it is also present in human milk, which can cause a problem for infants with this condition.

This means that dairy products need to be eliminated, or at least reduced (some people with lactose intolerance symptoms can tolerate a small amount of milk in their diet).

By dairy products, we would be talking about the following...

  • Milk
  • Butter
  • Cream
  • Cheese*
  • Yoghurt*
  • Ice cream**

*Hard cheese and yoghurt can sometimes be eaten by people with lactose intolerance without causing ill-effects.

** You can make your own lactose free ice cream with my recipe

Ingredients to watch out for

Lactose however, like gluten, can be difficult to spot in an ingredients list, due to the other names by which it goes under. These include...

  • Casein
  • Dry milk solids
  • Dried milk
  • Caramel flavouring
  • Curds
  • High protein flour
  • Natural flavouring

  • Non-fat milk
  • Soured cream
  • Whey
  • Lactoferrin
  • Lactoblobulin
  • Lactate

Foods to avoid

So what foods might include these ingredients?

  • Biscuits (cookies)
  • Bread
  • Chocolate
  • Crisps (chips)
  • Hot dogs
  • Instant mashed potato
  • Processed meats
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Canned soups
  • Fish in batter
  • Pancake mix
  • Salad cream
  • Stock cubes
  • Candies and sweets

Substitutes for products containing milk

There are a number of non-dairy milk substitutes available including...

  • Rice milk
  • Nut milk (see this recipe for almond milk)
  • Soy milk
  • Hemp milk
  • Darifree (made from potatoes)
  • and Oat milk (for non-celiacs only!)
  • Coconut milk

You will also need to find an alternative for margarine and butter. There are a number of dairy-free spreads available now, many made from soy that are acceptable. Talking of soy, Tofu, made from soy beans, is also a useful ingredient.

It is also possible to use Trex or other white vegetable fats, and oils. Coconut oil (which is solid) is a wonderful option to consider, both for cooking and spreading on gluten free bread and crackers.

You may also like to look at vegetarian cheeses, although do check the ingredients.

Getting enough Calcium

For those cutting dairy out of their diets it is important to ensure that you gain enough calcium and vitamin D from what you do eat. You can find calcium in other foods such as...

  • baked beans,
  • dried fruit,
  • eggs,
  • fish and seafood (especially tinned fish such as salmon with soft bones included),
  • green vegetables
  • nuts

It may be necessary to top up your calcium intake by taking supplements, especially if you are a post menopausal woman, breast feeding or getting on in years. Calcium deficiency can lead to osteoporosis, a condition to which you can already be susceptible if you have celiac disease.

When cutting out dairy you may also need to ensure you get enough protein, so do check out this list of high protein foods that are also suitable for celiac vegans.

If you suspect that you are suffering from lactose intolerance symptoms, please do go to see your doctor for tests. It is not wise to cut out all milk products "just in case".

- - Lactose Intolerance Symptoms


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