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    Do you have questions about celiac disease or the gluten-free diet?

  • Scott Adams
    Scott Adams
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    How is lactose intolerance related to celiac disease?*

    Lactose intolerance is frequently a side effect of celiac disease. Celiacs who eat gluten become lactose intolerant after the villi and microvilli in their small intestine become damaged, and are no longer capable of catching and breaking down the lactose molecule. The problem usually disappears when celiacs remove gluten from their diet, which allows the damaged villi and microvilli to grow back. Lactose intolerance symptoms can continue for a long time after a celiac has gone on a 100% gluten-free diet. In some cases the villi and microvilli damage can take up to two years to heal completely, but in most cases it takes between six months and a year. Most people who are lactose intolerant can usually eat goat and sheep (feta) cheeses without any problems.


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    Guest Michelle Gwilliam

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    I was diagnosed with celiac disease 9 months ago, after suffering for 34 years with various unexplained health issues, but I was always lactose intolerant, and that problem has resolved since eliminating gluten! It's cool to realize why! Thanks

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    What I would like to know is additional info re: can the gut repair while still exposed to dairy or do you have to give up the dairy to heal; a longer article/more detail would be helpful.

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    What a shock to think that I might have lactose intolerance now after being diagnosed 8 years ago with celiac and being so careful with the diet. Too much milk and cheese in my diet??? Shelly's rating (#5) is asking what I would like to know also. . . is there more detail available??? Is repair possible?

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    I have been on a gluten-free diet for almost 3 years and it has not helped my celiac symptoms much. Until very recently, I was eating dairy products and thinking nothing of it. Well, I finally started taking a Lactaid tablet before consuming dairy and- voila!- much, much better now. Can't believe I suffered for so long without knowing I had become lactose intolerant due to the celiac.

    Best wishes to all gluten & lactose

    allergic folks out there. Don't give up HOPE!

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    I am very newly diagnosed with Celiac. I wanted to know if i need to avoid dairy for a while in the beginning.

    If you keep consuming dairy it won't affect your health but you'll have bad gas!

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    I have been on a gluten-free diet for almost 3 years and it has not helped my celiac symptoms much. Until very recently, I was eating dairy products and thinking nothing of it. Well, I finally started taking a Lactaid tablet before consuming dairy and- voila!- much, much better now. Can't believe I suffered for so long without knowing I had become lactose intolerant due to the celiac.

    Best wishes to all gluten & lactose

    allergic folks out there. Don't give up HOPE!

    I was diagnosed with celiac in 1990 and have had dairy for all these years until this past month. I decided to give dairy up for one month to see if it made any difference in the bloating I have after eating breakfast every morning. Sad to say I didn't find any change.

    However, for the pass 20 years since I've been diagnosed I feel very healthy and have been running in races for years, and yes! I'm a senior.

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    Wonder if anyone would have help for us here - my husband was diagnosed w/celiac 2 yrs. ago, and has done wonderful in eliminating gluten from his diet. About 2 weeks ago he began to have some of the same symptoms again - namely dermatitis herpetiformis & hearing loss -- only this time it is more widespread over his body. He is miserable and desperate for relief, which doctors. are working on - but wonder if anyone else has experienced the same relapse after being gluten-free for a couple of years and a complete cessation of symptoms?. Lactose & dairy haven't been a problem.

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    Wonder if anyone would have help for us here - my husband was diagnosed w/celiac 2 yrs. ago, and has done wonderful in eliminating gluten from his diet. About 2 weeks ago he began to have some of the same symptoms again - namely dermatitis herpetiformis & hearing loss -- only this time it is more widespread over his body. He is miserable and desperate for relief, which doctors. are working on - but wonder if anyone else has experienced the same relapse after being gluten-free for a couple of years and a complete cessation of symptoms?. Lactose & dairy haven't been a problem.

    I have had a similar experience with dermatitis coming back after a period of years. For me the skin rash seems to be closely connected to my difficulty to digest fat. I have had success with liver flushes causing me to get rid of many gallstones. My information came from Dr. Hulda Clark who has written many books. I am recently also adding more digestive aids to help with fat digestion.

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  • About Me

    In 1994 I was diagnosed with celiac disease, which led me to create Celiac.com in 1995. I created this site for a single purpose: To help as many people as possible with celiac disease get diagnosed so they can begin to live happy, healthy gluten-free lives. Celiac.com was the first site on the Internet dedicated solely to celiac disease. In 1998 I founded The Gluten-Free Mall, Your Special Diet Superstore!, and I am the co-author of the book Cereal Killers, and founder and publisher of Journal of Gluten Sensitivity.

  • Related Articles

    Scott Adams
    Untreated celiac disease can be life-threatening.
    Celiacs are more likely to be afflicted with problems relating to malabsorption, including osteoporosis, tooth enamel defects, central and peripheral nervous system disease, pancreatic disease, internal hemorrhaging, organ disorders (gall bladder, liver, and spleen), and gynecological disorders (like amenorrhea and spontaneous abortions). Fertility may also be affected. Some researchers are convinced that gluten intolerance, whether or not it results in full-blown celiac disease, can impact mental functioning in some individuals and cause or aggravate autism, Aspergers syndrome, attention deficit disorder (ADD), and schizophrenia. Some of the damage may be healed or partially repaired after time on a gluten-free diet (for example, problems with infertility may be reversed).
    Celiacs who do not maintain a gluten-free diet also stand a much greater chance of getting certain types of cancer, especially intestinal lymphoma.
    Untreated celiac disease can cause temporary lactose intolerance. Lactose is a sugar found in dairy products. To be digested it must be broken down by an enzyme called lactase. Lactase is produced on the tips of the villi in the small intestine. Since gluten damages the villi, it is common for untreated celiacs to have problems with milk and milk products. (Yogurt and cheese are less problematic since the cultures in them break down the lactose). A gluten-free diet will usually eliminate lactose intolerance. However, a number of adults (both celiacs and non-celiacs) are lactose intolerant even with a healthy small intestine; in that case a gluten-free diet will not eliminate lactose intolerance.
    Celiacs often suffer from other food sensitivities. These may respond to a gluten-free diet--or they may not. Soy and MSG are examples of food products that many celiacs have trouble with. However, it should be noted that these other sensitivities, while troublesome, do not damage the villi. As far as we know, only gluten causes this damage.

    Scott Adams
    Traditionally, gluten is defined as a cohesive, elastic protein that is left behind after starch is washed away from a wheat flour dough. Only wheat is considered to have true gluten. Gluten is actually made up of many different proteins.
    There are two main groups of proteins in gluten, called the gliadins and the glutenins. Upon digestion, the gluten proteins break down into smaller units, called peptides (also, polypeptides or peptide chains) that are made up of strings of amino acids--almost like beads on a string. The parent proteins have polypeptide chains that include hundreds of amino acids. One particular peptide has been shown to be harmful to celiac patients when instilled directly into the small intestine of several patients. This peptide includes 19 amino acids strung together in a specific sequence. Although the likelihood that this particular peptide is harmful is strong, other peptides may be harmful, as well, including some derived from the glutenin fraction.
    It is certain that there are polypeptide chains in rye and barley proteins that are similar to the ones found in wheat. Oat proteins have similar, but slightly different polypeptide chains and may or may not be harmful to celiac patients. There is scientific evidence supporting both possibilities.
    When celiac patients talk about "gluten-free" or a "gluten-free diet," they are actually talking about food or a diet free of the harmful peptides from wheat, rye, barley, and (possibly) oats. This means eliminating virtually all foods made from these grains (e. g., food starch when it is prepared from wheat, and malt when it comes from barley) regardless of whether these foods contain gluten in the very strict sense. Thus, "gluten-free" has become shorthand for "foods that dont harm celiacs."
    In recent years, especially among non-celiacs, the term gluten has been stretched to include corn proteins (corn gluten) and there is a glutinous rice, although in the latter case, glutinous refers to the stickiness of the rice rather than to its containing gluten. As far as we know, neither corn nor glutinous rice cause any harm to celiacs.

    Scott Adams
    Vijay Kumar, M.D., Research Associate Professor at the University of Buffalo and President and Director of IMMCO Diagnostics: If the tests are performed using well standardized tests with known positive and negative predictive values then you can make the statement that if the serological tests are negative celiac disease can virtually be ruled out. The problem is that some of these assays, especially the gliadin, can give you false positive results. In our laboratory we rarely see positive AGA results in the absence of EMA and ARA antibodies.

    Scott Adams
    For 100 units of whole grain wheat, about 70 units of white flour results from the milling process. The rest is separately sold as wheat bran or wheat germ. Those 70 units of flour are about 10%- 15% protein, thus about 7 to 10 units of protein for 100 units of whole wheat. The protein is about 80% gluten, thus about 6 to 8 units of gluten for 100 units of whole wheat. Since one typically sees wheat flour as an ingredient, applying the 70% factor implies 8 to 12 units of gluten per 100 units of wheat flour.

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