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  • Jefferson Adams

    How is Lactose Intolerance Related to Celiac Disease?

    Jefferson Adams
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    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

      Once the damaged villi and microvilli to grow back, and the gut heals, the sensitivity to lactose often disappears.


    Many newly diagnosed celiacs cannot digest lactose for a while. Image: CC BY 2.0--Senado Federal
    Caption: Many newly diagnosed celiacs cannot digest lactose for a while. Image: CC BY 2.0--Senado Federal

    Celiac.com 03/12/2020 - Lactose intolerance is one of the most common food intolerances. Many people with celiac disease also have lactose intolerance, especially at the time they are first diagnosed.

    Lactose intolerance happens when the gut fails to produce enough lactase, and enzyme that breaks down the lactose sugar in milk. Lactose intolerance can be inherited, but it can also happen as people get older and their bodies produce less lactase. Studies consistently shows that only about one in three people worldwide can digest lactose beyond seven or eight years of age.



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    Celiacs who eat gluten can become lactose intolerant after the villi and microvilli in their small intestine become damaged, and can no longer intercept and break down lactose molecules. 

    However, most people recover on a gluten-free diet. Once the damaged villi and microvilli to grow back, and the gut heals, the sensitivity to lactose often disappears. This can take time.  In most people, full gut healing takes between six months and a year.

    In some cases the villi and microvilli damage can take up to two years to heal fully. In any case, once the gut heals, lactose intolerance issues should disappear.

    Also, most people who are lactose intolerant can eat goat and sheep products, such as milk, yogurt and cheeses, such as feta and pecorino Romano, without any problems. Many people with lactose intolerance can also consume raw, unpasteurized dairy without symptoms. 

    Links to Goat, Sheep, and Raw Cow Milk Products 

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    Guest Michelle Gwilliam

    Posted

    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

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,500 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.


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