In 2008, when I was 63 years old, I developed an intolerance to both lactose and gluten! Why, after all those years, I don’t know, but apparently it’s quite normal for some of us as we age. Until this time I had enjoyed cheeses and bread of all kind, the darker the better. I was never a big milk consumer as an adult although I did enjoy it in baking etc.
After I had retired, (for the third time), I was eating cereal in the morning, with milk, for the first time in my adult life. When I was working, breakfast was alway something ‘on the go’. I developed severe IBS issues. When I saw my doctor she told me ‘to eat more fiber’ and suggested I take Metamucil. I did so but was still having milk on my cereal.
I was seeing a nutritionist to help me with my diet since I had just been diagnosed as a pre-diabetic. It was during one of these appointments that the dietician suggested I might be lactose intolerant and suggested I have my vitamin D checked. I did and I was severely deficient, no wonder I was soooo tired! I learned this is because with IBS your body does not absorb the nutrients from your diet. They go right through your system immediately upon being eaten. Who knew! So, thanks to my dietician I learned I was lactose intolerant and removed it totally from my diet.
By this time we had purchased a floral shop. When I didn’t bring my lunch I would run over to Whole Foods and purchase something. It was during this time I learned I was also gluten intolerant. After eating anything coated in flour and some breads I would feel nauseous. Now gluten was being eliminated.
Everyone is different in their journey through these intolerances. For myself, it is an ongoing situation. Sometimes I don’t feel well and don’t know why. I have to reexamine everything I’ve eaten in the past 48 hours. Sometimes symptoms present that late.
Another very import thing is the amount of fiber eaten. Too much or too little can produce the same symptoms. Bloating, cramping and diarrhea, or constipation are all a part of this ‘auto-immune’ deficiency.
I’m thankful I do not have celiac disease. That can be a lot more debilitating.
For anyone who has developed these symptoms later in life, start by eliminating milk products and see if that helps. Be sure to have your vitamin D levels checked regularly. Always check with your doctor before making any dramatic changes.
It can be managed but does take some thoughtful planning. For myself, I’ve discovered that I can eat some cheeses that have 0% sugar, such as aged cheddar, parmesan, mozzarella etc. There are so many dairy free options on the market now you can still enjoy milk products in the form of soy, almond, coconut, etc. The same variety is available for gluten intolerance.