Gluten and Lactose Intolerance

by Sam Malone

A person is said to have food intolerance when he or she cannot eat a particular type of food without developing an adverse reaction. The symptoms of food intolerance will vary depending on the type of food intolerance. People with food intolerance need to avoid eating foods lest it trigger off an adverse reaction. For example, those suffering from gluten and lactose intolerance need to have a gluten and lactose free diet.

Lactose intolerance is caused by the inability to digest milk and dairy products. It results from a lack of lactase, an enzyme that is secreted by cells in the intestine. Lactase is necessary to break down lactose, the sugar found in milk, converting it into a form that can be absorbed by the blood. Lactose intolerance can cause discomfort but is a relatively benign disorder and does not result in any permanent damage to the body.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Gluten intolerance, also known as celiac disease or gluten sensitive enteropathy (GSE) is caused when gluten from these foods attacks the lining of the small intestine, interfering with the digestive process and increasing the risk of diseases such as anemia and intestinal cancer. It is a much more serious condition than lactose intolerance and can even prove fatal.

Estimates put the ratio of people affected by gluten intolerance to be approximately 1 in 133 people in the USA. The disease is considered to be genetic, with the gene being triggered when the person consumes gluten. The gene may also be triggered by factors such as stress, trauma and viral infection. Those suffering from gluten intolerance should never consume gluten in any form.

The symptoms of wheat gluten intolerance include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Indigestion
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Weight loss
  • Anemia
  • Fatigue
  • Pain in the bones
  • Muscle cramps
  • Constipation
  • Constipation alternating with diarrhea
  • Osteoporosis
Some of these symptoms such as the abdominal bloating and indigestion are similar to those experienced by those who are lactose intolerant. For this reason it is important to consult a doctor if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.

A list of lactose and gluten free foods would include:


  • Gluten and Lactose Free Grains: These will include gluten free grains such as wild rice, rice, corn, millet, sorghum, buckwheat, amaranth and teff. While these grains are also free of lactose, food products made from them may contain lactose from sources other than the grain. For this reason, it is important to check the labels on any food products that you purchase.
  • Gluten and Lactose Free Proteins: Red meats, poultry, eggs, beans and fish that have not been processed are free of gluten. Processed meats need to be chosen carefully as the may contain binders and fillers that contain lactose. Once again, it is necessary to check the labels of any food products that you purchase.
  • Whole Fruits and Vegetables: These food types do not contain lactose and are safe to eat. Whole fruits and vegetables such as apples, grapes, peaches, tomatoes, carrots, cabbage and lettuce are free of gluten and can be safely consumed.
  • Lactose Free Milk: Nowadays, there are many alternatives to milk and other dairy products. Of the many gluten and lactose free milks and cheeses available, soy products such as soy milk are considered to be the safest for lactose and gluten intolerant persons. Once again,it is necessary to check the product labels.
If you are trying a food product for the first time and are unsure about it, try consuming a small quantity and checking for any adverse reactions. This is important because it is still not mandatory for food products to use the term “gluten free” on their labels. Check with your doctor about any other dietary restrictions that may be required.

References:

  1. http://life.umt.edu/curry/Health%20Topics/Celiac%20Disease/default.php
  2. http://www.uvm.edu/extension/?Page=news&storyID=13675&category=extension

Warning: The reader of this article should exercise all precautionary measures while following instructions on the home remedies from this article. Avoid using any of these products if you are allergic to it. The responsibility lies with the reader and not with the site or the writer.
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