Crohn’s Disease and Dairy Products
It is highly advisable to avoid commercially produced dairy products if you suffer from Crohn’s disease.
Dairy has been linked to causing diarrhea, abdominal pain and gas in those with Crohn’s Disease and other problems with the digestive tract.
Milk and various other dairy products tend to worsen Crohn’s disease symptoms because of:
1. Lactose intolerance
Lactose intolerance is the inability to metabolize lactose, a sugar found in milk and other dairy products, due to the fact that the required enzyme lactase is absent or its availability is lowered. People with irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s disease have a reduced level of the lactase enzyme.
Without lactase, the lactose disaccharide in many dairy products cannot be absorbed through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream, so it remains in the intestines. Bacteria adapt to the relative abundance of this undigested sugar and quickly switch over to lactose metabolism, which produces copious amounts of gas by fermentation.
During a flare or a relapse of the illness, the digestibility, or perhaps lack thereof, of dairy products can cause the stomach to produce more acid, which will cause pain and inflammation of the stomach lining. Dairy foods high in fats, such as whole milk, butter, and cheese, will not be completely absorbed by the small intestine, which usually narrows during a Crohn’s flare. This can lead to gas and diarrhea.
Note: Lactose-intolerant Crohn’s disease patients often find that they can consume some dairy by using a product with lactase enzymes, such as Lactaid.
2. An infection of the bacterium Mycobacterium Para tuberculosis
Researchers point to a persuasive body of evidence linking the bacterium, called Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP), to Crohn’s disease and underscore the route of transmission into the human population through one of our most popular drinks–milk.
Scientists at the University of Liverpool have found how a bacterium, known to cause illness in cattle, may cause Crohn’s disease in humans. Crohn’s is a condition that affects one in 800 people in the UK and causes chronic intestinal inflammation, leading to pain, bleeding and diarrhea.
The team found that a bacterium called Mycobacterium Para tuberculosis releases a molecule that prevents a type of white blood cell from killing E.coli bacteria found in the body. E.coli is known to be present within Crohn’s disease tissue in increased numbers.
It is thought that the Mycobacterium make their way into the body’s system via cows’ milk and other dairy products.
MAP infection causes a debilitating disorder called Johne’s disease that commonly occurs in cattle throughout the world, including the United States. Cows with Johne’s share similar symptoms to people with Crohn’s. infected cows secrete the mycobacterium in their milk. Individuals with a genetic susceptibility to Crohn’s may thus pick up the disease. Supporters of the theory note that Crohn’s is most frequently found in developed countries where milk consumption is high, except in countries where milk is boiled prior to consumption–an extra measure of precaution that some suggest would be prudent today.
Since MAP is not classified as a human pathogen, meat, milk and other products from animals infected with MAP may be continually entering the human food chain. There is a wealth of evidence which appears to indicate that MAP is capable of surviving the food processing methods that we employ to protect us from disease, such as cooking and pasteurization.
An additional reason to avoid dairy products if you suffer from Crohn’s disease is that:
When milk is heated it becomes precipitated with minerals that cannot be absorbed, contributing to osteoporosis, as well as sugars that cannot be digested and fats that are toxic.
As an alternative to products made with cows milk try rice milk, soy milk, soy cheeses, soy ice cream and soy butter. Soy products such as soymilk, soy cheese, and soy ice-cream and all totally digestible, and just as delicious.
Soy products such as soy milk, soy burgers, soy meats, and soy cheese, tempeh and tofu, are excellent sources of protein and are ideal replacements for dairy.
In general, only commercially produced dairy products are problematic for those with Crohn’s.
Two dairy products that are generally well tolerated by Crohn’s patients are:
1. Raw milk products from grass-fed cows
RAW milk from healthy grass-fed cows is actually one of the more profound healing agents you can turn to when confronted with Crohn’s disease. Rather than cause it, raw milk can send your Crohn’s into remission. This is because if cows are raised properly and only fed grass, not immunized, given access to plenty of fresh air and sunshine, and not given antibiotics or harmful vaccines that impair their immune system, then they simply do not get sick or become colonized with these pathogenic bacteria in the first place. Thus there is no need to pasteurize their milk.
- Unpasteurized milk has a cortisone-like factor in the cream, which is heat sensitive. This aids in combating allergies.
- Unpasteurized milk has beneficial bacteria and lactic acids, which implant in the intestines and contribute to a balanced immune system. Unpasteurized milk also contains a LOT of probiotics
Note: Only raw milk from grass-fed cows is recommended, NOT “organic milk”
Raw milk is the one that directly comes from the source which may be a cow, buffalo or a goat. It is not heated or projected to any other treatment. Organic milk on the other hand undergoes a process called pasteurization. This means that the milk has been heated for a specified time period to kill the harmful bacteria that is supposedly present in the milk. Milk that is pasteurized for an even longer time is called Ultra pasteurized.
A list of sellers of raw milk can be found here: http://www.realmilk.com/where.html.
2. Goats milk products
Many people, who suffer from digestive disorders, and/or lactose intolerance, find that they can much better tolerate goat’s milk. This is due to the fact that:
- The protein chains in Goats milk are shorter so it sits in the intestines for much less time. In contrast, cow’s milk will take much longer to digest.
- The smaller molecules of goat’s milk are closer in size and composition to human milk, making it much easier to digest.
- Goat’s milk protein is substantially less allergenic than cow’s milk protein in susceptible individuals.
There is some evidence to suggest that goat’s milk might even have a positive effect on Crohn’s, and therefore should be consumed by Crohn’s disease patients.
Goat’s milk is a very good source of calcium, riboflavin, and biotin, and a good source of protein, pantothenic acid, vitamin D, and potassium
An excellent highly recommended dried goat’s milk product is Goatien , produced by Garden of Life USA. This product is made from goats that are fed only natural feed, and are free of all growth hormones. Goatien is a rich source of protein, nutrients, and enzymes.
Note: When trying to avoid dairy products, it is extremely important to read food labels very carefully. Lactose, one of the primary sugars in cow’s milk, and casein, one of the primary proteins in cow’s milk, are both added to a wide variety of foods. Lactose is added for flavor, while casein is often added for emulsification, texture and protein supplementation. Lactose is found in hot dogs, pudding, caramel, in many prepackage cake mixes, biscuits, muffins, and even chocolate.
Therefore, the only way to tell for sure whether it is added to a food product is to carefully read the food label. Look for the words milk, lactose, whey, casein, milk by-products, nonfat dry milk powder and dry milk solids. If any of these are listed on a label, the item contains dairy products and should be avoided.