Q I was diagnosed as lactose intolerant when I was first diagnosed with coeliac disease. Will I always be lactose intolerant?
Lactose intolerance happens when somebody has difficulty in absorbing and digesting lactose, a sugar found in milk. Symptoms are similar to coeliac disease, with bloating, nausea, stomach pain and diarrhoea commonly reported. Lactose is found in all animal milks and is broken down by an enzyme called lactase. Since lactase is found in the lining of the gut, those who are recently diagnosed with coeliac disease often find they are intolerant to lactose because of the damage to the gut caused by eating gluten.
This is generally a temporary condition, and once the gut has healed through following a gluten-free diet, the lactose intolerance is resolved too. If you think you might be lactose intolerant, you should speak to your GP before removing lactose from your diet, since doing so could reduce your calcium intake. They may suggest that you remove lactose from your diet temporarily in order to determine whether you are intolerant to it. Your symptoms should improve within a few days.
Most people with lactose intolerance can tolerate a small amount of lactose in their diet, so determining the right amount for you is important. Cheese and yoghurt contain less lactose than milk, so you may be able to tolerate a small amount of these foods but not milk. There are plenty of milk alternatives in the supermarkets including oat milk, nut milk, soya milk, rice milk and hemp seed milk. You can also buy lactose-free milk.
Vicki Montague is an acclaimed and well-followed blogger, recipe writer and teacher who found her calling after she was diagnosed with IBS. She was later to discover her daughter had coeliac disease. As well as creating recipes, Vicki offers unique cookery lessons too – from the comfort of your own home – via video linkup. She also has a number of videos on her YouTube channel, showing people how to make her simple and tasty dishes. www.freefromfairy.com
Do you need help with your free-from cooking, or do you have a nutritional query? Email your question to email@example.com to ask the experts for advice.