New research revealed in a conference this week shows that lactose intolerance (60% of adults in this world can’t digest dairy) is not well understood.  But the research also looked at whether the gut issues involved with lactose intolerance could be something else…that’s where celiac comes in.

The research discussed and published with the National Institutes of Health shows that that many people struggle or think they struggle with lactose intolerance.   Researchers say there is one thing that can be done to give you more information about how your body reacts to dairy:  drop lactose from your diet — at least temporarily.

“Dairy exclusion diets may decrease gastrointestinal symptoms (bloating, cramps, flatus, and diarrhea) in symptomatic individuals who have lactose malabsorption or lactose intolerance. The degree of relief is likely related to the level of expression of lactase and the quantity of lactose ingested.”

If the pain goes away then you should discuss this further with your doctor and you may want to consider discussing how to get calcium and other important nutrients into your body, whether it’s through supplements or diet.  The big question with regards to celiac and many other health issues happens when the pain doesn’t go away:

“People who remain symptomatic on a dairy exclusion diet may have other causes for their gastrointestinal symptoms, such as irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, or small bowel bacterial overgrowth.”   National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Conference: Lactose Intolerance and Health

A Celiac Connection to Lactose Intolerance

Why look at celiac disease as a possible cause?  As many of us know, when the villi in our small intestine is blunted, undiagnosed celiacs often become lactose intolerant. It is only when the villi grow back that many of us can tolerate it again — thus helping us absorb calcium, and other nutrients again. Nancy Lapid explained this well in a post from last year.

Bottom line is doctors should treat lactose intolerance or malabsorption seriously, but they should also consider looking beyond the gut pain as only being caused by lactose intolerance.  Something else could be the root cause like celiac disease. Also, be sure you are getting proper nutrients during this time– whether you get it through food or supplements.

*Note, I am not a medical professional, you should always consult your doctor with any of your health concerns.

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