Have you been diagnosed with Celiac disease and discovered you are lactose intolerant on the same day? What a day, huh?
It’s not all bad news, though! Lactose intolerance is usually temporary. If you follow a gluten-free diet the lactose intolerance should go away after about 6 moths or a year of eating 100% gluten free. (Of course, this depends on each person’s body)
But why are Celiac disease and lactose intolerance connected?
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease. This means the body attacks and damages its own tissues, specifically the villi of the small intestine which leads to poor absorption of nutrients from food.
Untreated celiac disease produces a chronic inflammation of the small intestine mucosa, injuring the cells that ordinarily produce lactase, so while your villi is damaged you won’t tolerate lactose.
Once you are following a gluten-free diet, the gut is able to heal and you will be able to digest lactose again.
“In fact, some researchers recommend that patients who are lactose intolerant when they are first diagnosed with celiac disease should be retested for the condition after they’ve been gluten-free for a year. The gluten-free diet may have helped improve their lactase production to the point where they no longer need to avoid dairy products.” (About.com)
This is the good side of the story, there is another side to this story that might not be so good!
You should know a little bit about gluten cross-reactivity to understand why some people with Celiac disease still can’t digest lactose even after eating 100% gluten free.
When you have Celiac disease, your body creates antibodies against gluten and the same antibodies recognize proteins in other foods and treat them as invaders, as well. So even though you are 100% gluten-free, your body thinks you are still eating gluten.
So, what’s your case? Has you lactose intolerance disappeared after you went 100% gluten-free and had your gut healed? Or is lactose intolerance still a problem for you?