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5 Things You Need to Know About Milk and Gluten

By Contributor

Milk is Gluten-Free

Eating gluten-free requires a strict avoidance of all products that contain gluten (a derivative of wheat). Unfortunately, gluten can be found in almost all packaged products and wheat-based foods, which can make adherence to the diet difficult. Luckily, gluten is not found in natural milks or common milk products. Milk is a vital source of calcium, vitamins and protein, and studies have even shown that a daily serving of milk supports gradual weight loss and a healthy lifestyle. Healthy living is crucial for anyone following a gluten-free diet, so drinking milk daily can help support immune function, bone health and aid in controlling weight.

Watch for Additives

Although gluten is not found in natural milks, it can be added to a wide variety of dairy products to extend shelf life and enhance flavor. It is important to buy milk that is certified organic or states "gluten-free" on the label, which includes soy, almond and rice milks. Aim to stick to milk that is not flavored or full of sugary processed ingredients, and choose plain yogurt, cottage cheese and block cheese as well. Always check the labels on any milk product before buying to make sure the ingredients and manufacturer are truly gluten-free.

Test for Sensitivities

A gluten-free diet can improve the health and digestion of a wide variety of people, but is most commonly associated with celiac disease. Celiac disease is an auto-immune condition whose symptoms are induced by the ingestion of gluten, resulting in a fragile and damaged intestine. Due to the harmful effects of celiac upon the digestive system, many patients are advised to avoid milk and dairy products until their stomachs are healed. It can take a year or more for the stomach to fully repair itself, so consider eliminating milk from the diet for a few months if celiac symptoms do not completely subside. Symptoms may improve because milk is often difficult for the damaged stomach to process, although it can eventually be reintroduced to the diet at a later date.

Watch Out for Allergies

In many cases of celiac disease a dairy or casein allergy may go hand in hand with gluten intolerance. In this case, milk products should be avoided completely, although calcium is still a concern to aid in strong bones and repairing the body. Try seeking calcium from dark green vegetables such as broccoli and spinach, calcium-fortified soy milks, as well as taking a gluten-free certified calcium supplement daily.

Keep Milk Interesting

It is important to get daily servings of milk in any well-rounded diet, but it can be even more important for gluten-free eaters. Since wheat is eliminated from their diet at all times, it is imperative to continue enjoying milk to ingest a wide array of beneficial vitamins and nutrients. Try adding milk to daily meals by blending in a tropical smoothie with fresh fruit, or pouring atop gluten-free cereal in the morning. Milk can even be used as a tasty dessert by adding 1 to 2 oz. of melted chocolate and stirring into a chilled glass.

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