This diet is not for the faint hearted, nor for anybody who doesn’t need to follow it. It is not a weight loss diet, for example. So if you don’t have a problem with gluten and dairy, there’s no point in following a gluten dairy free diet.
That sounds like a sweeping statement, but let me qualify it a little. If you’re vegan and need to be gluten free, then (whatever anyone else may say about it), you need to follow a gluten and dairy free diet.
Newly diagnosed celiacs may also need to be gluten and dairy free, because the damage done to the villi in the intestine often prevents them from digesting milk products, as well as gluten, at least until healing has taken place – which can take more than a year.
Milk contains two proteins that may be problematic to some people, lactose and casein. Lactose is indigestible to 70% of the human population, although the proportion in areas where dairy products are a traditional part of the diet, mainly in the West, is lower than this.
Casein is another protein found in milk which can cause problems. It breaks down in stages in a similar way to gluten, and some individuals can’t complete this digestive process. The first stage of gluten breakdown produces an opioid peptide called gluteomorphin or gliadomorphin, and the first stage of casein is an opioid peptide called caseomorphin.
Caseomorphin and gluteomorphin are quite similar in structure, and in the presence of leaky gut syndrome* these opium-like chemicals can pass into the bloodstream, with predictable bad effects. Autism is one of the problems that may be caused by this.
*(Leaky gut syndrome has been controversial, but it appears that the mechanism for it has been discovered (in July, 2008) by researchers in Maryland.)
Many parents of autistic kids say that the GFCF (gluten and casein free) diet has resulted in great improvements in their children’s development. The GFCF diet is complicated by the fact that casein is sometimes added to non-dairy products, like soy cheese, to improve the texture.
If you add it all up, it appears that there may be more people who need to avoid both gluten and dairy products than need to exclude gluten alone, even without counting the huge number of undiagnosed gluten intolerants.
Some researchers suspect as many as 1 in 15 people may be suffering from some type of gluten intolerance, so the numbers could be enormous. If only 50% of them are also lactose intolerant, and you then add in those who have difficulty with casein, it’s obvious that manufacturers are going to have to change their practices and stop adding wheat flour or milk solids to almost everything.
Food intolerance has really only just begun to be taken seriously. Over the next couple of decades, you can expect to see much more importance given to diet by doctors who may in the past have denied its value.
Scientists know that if you feed crops incorrectly, or you plant them in soils that have the nutrients “locked up” so that they can’t be absorbed, you get a poor, sickly crop. It doesn’t take too much intelligence to realize that the same sort of thing applies to humans.