Resolving a misconception: is gluten-free food also lactose-free?

What gluten and lactose are

Gluten and lactose are two food components that can cause problems for those with certain diseases or intolerances. However, although they are often confused or associated, it is important to understand that they are not the same thing.

Gluten is a protein found in several grains such as wheat, barley, and rye. It is responsible for the springy texture found in many foods, such as bread, pasta and pizza. For those with celiac disease, which is a permanent intolerance to gluten, consuming foods that contain it can cause damage to the small intestine. Therefore, people with celiac disease must follow a strictly gluten-free diet to avoid gastrointestinal symptoms and health damage.

On the other hand, lactose is a sugar found in milk and its derivatives. To digest lactose, the body needs an enzyme called lactase, which divides it into glucose and galactose. People who do not produce enough lactase to digest lactose properly suffer from lactose intolerance. This disorder can cause a range of gastrointestinal symptoms, such as bloating, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps, when foods containing lactose are consumed.

Relation between celiac disease and lactose intolerance

Celiac disease and lactose intolerance are two separate digestive conditions, but they often go together or can occur simultaneously due to several reasons.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder in which the small intestine is damaged by the intake of gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. This damage makes it difficult for the body to absorb nutrients properly. Lactose intolerance, on the other hand, is the inability to digest lactose, the sugar found in milk and dairy products, due to insufficient production of the enzyme lactase that digests it.

The reasons why these two conditions may be associated are different. Celiac disease can cause inflammation and damage to the small intestine, including decreased lactase production. As a result, many people with celiac disease may also experience lactose intolerance. In addition, both conditions may have common genetic causes and thus run in families or individuals with genetic predisposition.

Increasingly related, but not always.

It is important to note that celiac disease and lactose intolerance are two distinct conditions and can affect people without necessarily being related. A person may have only one of the two conditions or both. If you suspect that you have celiac disease or lactose intolerance, it is critical to consult a physician to get an accurate diagnosis and follow an appropriate treatment plan.

Now, it is common to think that if a food is gluten-free it is also lactose-free. This misconception can lead to misinterpretation and can be potentially harmful to those with celiac disease or lactose intolerance.

Ingredients with gluten and lactose are different.

There are foods that can contain both gluten and lactose, and gluten-free foods can also contain lactose. For example, gluten-free bread can be made with flours that contain lactose. Similarly, milk may be gluten-free but may contain lactose. Therefore, those with both intolerances need to be careful about what they eat and read food labels carefully.

However, there are many foods that are both gluten-free and lactose-free, making it easier for people with these intolerances to follow a diet that suits their needs. This includes fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, eggs, legumes, rice, potatoes, and many other foods that are naturally gluten- and lactose-free.

Suitable for intolerants does not exactly mean ‘healthy’.

Over the past few years, there have been more and more gluten-free and lactose-free alternatives developed for common foods. For example, gluten-free and lactose-free pastas, breads, cookies, and even cakes are now available. This has made the lives of those with these intolerances much easier, allowing them to enjoy a healthy, balanced diet without giving up the flavors they love. Nevertheless in many case they are industrial product.

At Verlessio, we are not only careful to avoid these two components, but we limit ourselves to using only the bare minimum of ingredients and the least processed (with flours and cheeses, for example, being naturally compliant).

Follow an appropriate diet for your specific intolerances

Also remember that not everyone who follows a gluten-free diet must also avoid lactose, and vice versa. Intolerances are very individual and not everyone is affected by both.

Therefore, consulting a physician or dietitian is essential to properly assess one’s dietary needs.In conclusion, gluten-free foods are not automatically lactose-free. While gluten is a protein found in some grains, such as wheat, barley, and rye, lactose is a sugar found in milk and its derivatives. Those with celiac disease must follow a strictly gluten-free diet, while those who are lactose intolerant must avoid foods that contain this sugar.

Although gluten-free and lactose-free foods exist, it is important to read food labels carefully and consult a physician or dietitian to determine one’s individual dietary needs. Only through careful dietary management can gastrointestinal symptoms be avoided and a healthy, balanced lifestyle maintained.

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