Does Gluten-Free Mean No Dairy?
by Karen Bakies RD LD FAND
You don’t have to give up your favorite dairy foods to go gluten-free! Most individuals following a gluten-free diet can safely enjoy dairy.
Gluten is a protein composite found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye). From a medical standpoint, a gluten-free diet is primarily used to treat celiac disease.
When people with celiac disease eat foods containing gluten, it causes inflammation in their small intestines. Eating a 100% gluten-free diet helps people with celiac disease control this issue, prevent symptoms and disease-related complications.
Some people who don’t have celiac disease may have similar symptoms when they eat gluten, which is called non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and they may also benefit from a gluten-free diet.
The good news is that most dairy foods are naturally gluten-free!
The good news is that most dairy foods are naturally gluten-free! Keeping dairy foods in your diet assures that good sources of calcium, vitamin D and protein are maintained for overall good health.
Dairy foods such milk, yogurt and cheese can add flavor to gluten-free foods, including pasta, rice, granola, cereal and breads. Single-serve dairy foods — think string cheese, yogurt and yogurt-based smoothies — are easy and nutritious gluten-free snacks.
Use caution with some dairy foods: Some dairy-based foods (foods where milk or dairy is not the only component) may have flavorings or additives that contain gluten, so it’s important to read the ingredient label. If you are still in doubt, call the manufacturer or visit their website.
In some cases of celiac disease, there could be damage to the intestinal lining, causing temporary difficulty digesting lactose, which is the natural sugar found in milk. But this doesn’t mean dairy has to be avoided — lactose-free dairy foods are great options, too! Try drinking lactose-free dairy milk, eating natural cheeses, such as cheddar and Swiss which are naturally low in lactose, and enjoying yogurt, which has active cultures that help digest lactose.