How does lactose intolerance relate to diet in IBD?
Many people with IBD have an intolerance to lactose. Lactose intolerance can be the result from insufficient breakdown of the sugar lactose by the enzyme lactase. The result is gas and bloating; thus, people with lactose intolerance avoid dairy products that contain lactose.
Alternatives in the diet
Alternatives to cow’s milk exist. For example, coconut milk and almond milk provide alternatives for eating cereal and cooking. However, care must be taken to provide enough protein and calcium in the diet when these are substituted for cow’s milk, which supplies more of these nutrients.
I tolerate lactose well – does the fiber in my diet help?
I think my ultra-high-fiber diet may be the reason I have no trouble tolerating lactose in dairy products. We know that the presence of healthy colonies of good gut bacteria help with the breakdown of lactose.1 We know that fiber in the diet helps promote the growth of good gut bacteria (see section entitled “Fiber Feeds Good Bacteria). Thus, it follows in my mind that the fiber in my diet does help me with the digestion of lactose in the dairy products I love.
de Vrese M, Stegelmann A, Richter B, et al. Probiotics–compensation for lactase insufficiency. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2001;73:421S.