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Lactose Intolerance & Gluten Intolerance

Lactose intolerance and gluten intolerance can be inconveniences, but living with either of these conditions is manageable. If you are diagnosed with one or both of these conditions, talk with your health care provider about what to avoid and what to include in your diet.

Lactose is a sugar that is naturally found in milk and milk products. When the body cannot digest lactose at all or cannot digest it efficiently, lactose intolerance may be diagnosed. This condition occurs because there is not enough of an enzyme called lactase in the body, which breaks down lactose into forms that are more easily digested. Most people with some form of lactose intolerance can have small amounts of lactose in their diets. Symptoms of the condition include abdominal pain or bloating, gas, diarrhea and nausea.

Living with lactose intolerance does not have to be difficult; you can make many dietary changes without having to sacrifice too much. You may be able to better tolerate small amounts of milk or milk products when consumed with meals. The extent of dietary modifications depends on how much lactose you can tolerate before symptoms occur. Lactose-free milks and milk products are available in supermarkets, and lactase enzyme medications are available that can help you better tolerate lactose. It is important to make sure you are still getting enough calcium and vitamin D if you are lactose intolerant; a supplement may be necessary.

Gluten intolerance and celiac disease are two different conditions, although individuals with celiac are gluten intolerant. Gluten intolerance is a broad term for any kind of sensitivity to gluten. It is possible to be gluten intolerant yet test negative for celiac disease; individuals who test this way are usually termed non-celiac gluten sensitive. Gluten is a protein that is mainly found in three grains: wheat, barley and rye. When individuals with gluten intolerance eat anything containing gluten, they may display various symptoms, including headaches, weight gain or loss, compromised immune function and skin problems.

Individuals with gluten intolerance should avoid anything containing gluten. This may sound easy, but many foods may contain gluten in various forms. You need to avoid anything with the following ingredients: barley, bulgur, durum, farina, graham flour, kamut, matzo meal, rye, semolina, spelt, triticale and wheat. Gluten-free foods such as fruits, vegetables, most dairy products, rice, potatoes and fresh meat, fish and chicken are all safe for the gluten-intolerant individual. Many gluten-free products are sold in stores, including gluten-free pastas and breads, and there are websites that sell food for gluten-intolerant individuals. If you are gluten intolerant, it is important to make sure you are getting enough vitamins and minerals, including iron, calcium, fiber, niacin, riboflavin and folate.

Photo Credits:

  • Container of milk. Plastic milk bottle image by L. Shat from Fotolia.com

This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.