1

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Has anyone actually reversed lactose intolerance/have YOU made it worse?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created March 22, 2012 at 5:09 AM

Positions on dairy in a "paleo" diet aside...

I am lactose intolerant, which I started noticing when I was in high school and my daily carton of milk gave me digestive upset (well, I was sure this was it - could have been my sandwich bread, too). There had been a lull between that and my elementary, when I drank lots and lots of milk every day (it was not "cool" in middle school to buy milk!). So at 16, I stopped drinking milk, but kept eating ice cream, yogurt, cheese, etc. and suffered from mild to moderate bloating when I did. I ended up wising up and purchasing lactase enzyme supplements at some point in college, and took a few whenever I ate ice cream, but when I started getting very worried about symptoms, particularly in social situations, I would take enzymes for ANY dairy, including hard cheese and yogurt. My punishment seems to be that I had a dish of ice cream a month ago, with no enzymes, and suffered such severe GI distress that I could only eat "gentle" foods (broth, eggs, etc.) for a few days. A few years ago in college, I probably would have only had a bit of bloating and a little gas.

If I drink pasteurized cow's milk (or ice cream, milkshakes, etc.), it seems that no amount of enzymes will keep my gut from rebelling, badly. Raw milk produces a few rumbles, but nothing really awful - without supplementing enzymes. I have been popping a cautionary lactase supplement whenever I eat hard cheese, but perhaps I am doing myself a disservice here since a couple of years ago I doubt it would have bothered me without the lactase.

So I guess my questions are - can supplementation make intolerance worse, and is it possible to reverse this course? I have heard the latter suggestion bandied around, but never encountered any solid anecdotes or research on the subject. I do love my aged cheeses and heavy cream - it doesn't give me acne; my blood lipid profile is excellent; and I am not at all overweight.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on April 05, 2013
at 02:47 PM

When I started drinking water kefir, I accidentally found I could tolerate some lactose. When I stopped for a while, I went back to being lactose intolerant. So, it works but only if I continue drinking the water kefir.

2a00b9a42e4cb6e489a0e69d20714576

(3043)

on April 05, 2013
at 01:29 PM

Hey Korion, I know this post is old but I have been testing out some Ray peat and my whole face broke out, terrible. Cystic acne, never had that before. My acne is usually under the skin and bumpy. Any advice would be much appreciated.

1296f5fecd084f101d7c5fbe013f07eb

(1213)

on June 08, 2012
at 10:45 PM

Interesting thoughts - I haven't had other ice cream without taking lactase in a long time, and I'm kind of loathe to find out. You may be right, though, because it seemed like it was an epic reaction beyond anything I had ever experienced. I am a fruit monster, so I'm with you on the fructose. No upset here.

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on June 04, 2012
at 06:26 AM

I think that's because jeni's ice cream uses tapioca products, so there is probably no fructose in their product. Fructose really improves my digestion, and I've heard several people say the same thing (despite the whole anti-fructose movement lately).

1296f5fecd084f101d7c5fbe013f07eb

(1213)

on June 04, 2012
at 05:48 AM

I definitely can't handle ice cream...epic doom! See http://paleohacks.com/questions/96173/lactose-binge-recovery-period. I'm sure it varies person to person, though. :-)

1296f5fecd084f101d7c5fbe013f07eb

(1213)

on June 04, 2012
at 05:47 AM

This is how I've found it is for me, to a lesser degree. Butter and cream - bring it on - but cow's milk is like death. Raw cow's milk I can drink a cup or so of and only get a few rumbles.

1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on June 04, 2012
at 02:15 AM

I have updated my response as well to include cows milk.

1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on June 04, 2012
at 02:14 AM

I haven't. I should try.

Ddfdaa75ac9f47e01fc71162dd0d38dc

on June 03, 2012
at 11:12 PM

Have you tried goat milk?

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on June 03, 2012
at 07:38 PM

I find ice cream really easy on the stomach, you should give it a try.

5759bd89db5f73cabe0a6e8f8e6e1cb9

(1467)

on April 02, 2012
at 08:52 AM

Update: I have kept up with the daily Kefir and now I can digest milk without any problem whatsoever!

1296f5fecd084f101d7c5fbe013f07eb

(1213)

on March 30, 2012
at 06:23 PM

This was one of my worst fears, which is why I refused to eliminate dairy. The aged cheeses and fermented dairy have never really bothered me, so I decided to keep them in. I wonder if you kept up with the kefir, maybe yogurt, etc., if you could reintroduce more dairy if you wanted. They do make cultured butter and cheese products.

1296f5fecd084f101d7c5fbe013f07eb

(1213)

on March 30, 2012
at 06:21 PM

Interesting thoughts. I do not have celiac, but I feel I might have been gluten intolerant based on overall digestive improvements after eliminating it.

1296f5fecd084f101d7c5fbe013f07eb

(1213)

on March 30, 2012
at 06:20 PM

Huh. I googled him up and he does have some interesting things to say. I think I buy his assertions because as I said in my response to Nance, since I have been eating lots more fermented foods (veg, kefir, kombucha, yogurt, etc.), I feel no digestive issues with dairy that I could usually count on to make me at least somewhat symptomatic.

1296f5fecd084f101d7c5fbe013f07eb

(1213)

on March 30, 2012
at 06:18 PM

I should clarify - no issues with hard cheese or yogurt - it is just that I started getting paranoid that they would cause me GI issues (and that this would happen on a date or something) - so I started taking enzymes for ANY dairy I ate, including the things I was tolerant to, and I wondered if this could make me MORE lactose intolerant by not letting my body handle the only dairy it still could.

1296f5fecd084f101d7c5fbe013f07eb

(1213)

on March 30, 2012
at 06:14 PM

Interesting. I have noticed, now that I've been Paleo for awhile and have been eating homemade yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and lacto-fermented veg that the glass of raw milk that gave me a bit of a stomach rumble (but nothing even close to what pasteurized milk would do) doesn't even register. Water kefir looks pretty tasty - I've seen some manufactured varieties at the store; I'll have to look into snagging a bottle and maybe adding it to my ever-growing list of things growing in my house.

1296f5fecd084f101d7c5fbe013f07eb

(1213)

on March 30, 2012
at 06:11 PM

Thanks for the links. I read through some of it, and he's not asserting anything particularly mind-blowing with regard to Ca, P, D, and PTH. The only novel thing there seems to be the idea that inflammation is responsible for the loss of lactase enzyme production, which is new to me - it makes sense on a gut (ha!) level, but I'll have to look into it. Thanks!

3eca93d2e56dfcd768197dc5a50944f2

(11697)

on March 22, 2012
at 08:08 PM

I second this about kefir. Kefir is more potent than yogurt, because its kinds of bacteria actually colonize the human gut. Also, if the poster above has problem with cheese, maybe it's casein to blame, in which case, he should try home-made goat/sheep kefir/yogurt/cheese. These animals' casein is different than cows, and easier to digest (more compatible with the human casein).

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on March 22, 2012
at 08:09 AM

Danny Roddy says he had success treating lactose intolerance with lots of calcium and aspirin : http://www.dannyroddy.com/main/2012/3/5/overcoming-lactose-intolerance-part-ii-calcium-aspirin.html

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10 Answers

4
4e184df9c1ed38f61febc5d6cf031921

(5005)

on March 22, 2012
at 07:58 AM

There is a topic on the Danny Roddy blog - something like "Lactose is not the problem - you are" which might be worth a read...

http://www.dannyroddy.com/main/tag/lactose-intolerance

I don't know if this will help at all.

I have seemed to be lactose intolerant for years (can manage butter and cream but even they give me digestive issues) but every now and then I give in and eat cheese. Then it isn't just stomach - asthma begins to kick in too. It's a b***er!!

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on March 22, 2012
at 08:09 AM

Danny Roddy says he had success treating lactose intolerance with lots of calcium and aspirin : http://www.dannyroddy.com/main/2012/3/5/overcoming-lactose-intolerance-part-ii-calcium-aspirin.html

1296f5fecd084f101d7c5fbe013f07eb

(1213)

on March 30, 2012
at 06:11 PM

Thanks for the links. I read through some of it, and he's not asserting anything particularly mind-blowing with regard to Ca, P, D, and PTH. The only novel thing there seems to be the idea that inflammation is responsible for the loss of lactase enzyme production, which is new to me - it makes sense on a gut (ha!) level, but I'll have to look into it. Thanks!

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on June 04, 2012
at 06:26 AM

I think that's because jeni's ice cream uses tapioca products, so there is probably no fructose in their product. Fructose really improves my digestion, and I've heard several people say the same thing (despite the whole anti-fructose movement lately).

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on June 03, 2012
at 07:38 PM

I find ice cream really easy on the stomach, you should give it a try.

1296f5fecd084f101d7c5fbe013f07eb

(1213)

on June 04, 2012
at 05:48 AM

I definitely can't handle ice cream...epic doom! See http://paleohacks.com/questions/96173/lactose-binge-recovery-period. I'm sure it varies person to person, though. :-)

1296f5fecd084f101d7c5fbe013f07eb

(1213)

on June 08, 2012
at 10:45 PM

Interesting thoughts - I haven't had other ice cream without taking lactase in a long time, and I'm kind of loathe to find out. You may be right, though, because it seemed like it was an epic reaction beyond anything I had ever experienced. I am a fruit monster, so I'm with you on the fructose. No upset here.

2a00b9a42e4cb6e489a0e69d20714576

(3043)

on April 05, 2013
at 01:29 PM

Hey Korion, I know this post is old but I have been testing out some Ray peat and my whole face broke out, terrible. Cystic acne, never had that before. My acne is usually under the skin and bumpy. Any advice would be much appreciated.

3
96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on March 22, 2012
at 03:10 PM

My lifelong dairy intolerance was apparently a matter of incomplete/incompatible gut flora.

History: As a child I didn't like the taste of milk; I used it in cereal with lots of sugar and I was okay with ice cream but actually preferred sherbet. I thought sour cream and cottage cheese tasted like spoiled food.

Result of deep nutrition: There was no change in the first 5 months. In the 6th month, I purchased water kefir grains and began drinking water kefir. In the 7th month I discovered I could eat yogurt with fruit and it tasted good--a definite first. I began making it at home and eating some every day or two, and now I can eat the yogurt plain as easily as with fruit. I've also tested ice cream and have no problem with it either.

The changes seem to involve my taste sense as well as my stomach and gut. What used to taste "spoiled" now tastes good. What used to cause stomach heaves and unhappy guts is now simply processed--although a serving of ice cream does cause a transient increase in gas.

I believe my new-found ability to handle yogurt and ice cream is directly attributable to drinking water kefir. If I were to stop drinking the kefir, I have to question whether I'd still be able to enjoy the cream/yogurt/ice cream.

3eca93d2e56dfcd768197dc5a50944f2

(11697)

on March 22, 2012
at 08:08 PM

I second this about kefir. Kefir is more potent than yogurt, because its kinds of bacteria actually colonize the human gut. Also, if the poster above has problem with cheese, maybe it's casein to blame, in which case, he should try home-made goat/sheep kefir/yogurt/cheese. These animals' casein is different than cows, and easier to digest (more compatible with the human casein).

1296f5fecd084f101d7c5fbe013f07eb

(1213)

on March 30, 2012
at 06:14 PM

Interesting. I have noticed, now that I've been Paleo for awhile and have been eating homemade yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and lacto-fermented veg that the glass of raw milk that gave me a bit of a stomach rumble (but nothing even close to what pasteurized milk would do) doesn't even register. Water kefir looks pretty tasty - I've seen some manufactured varieties at the store; I'll have to look into snagging a bottle and maybe adding it to my ever-growing list of things growing in my house.

3
D5d982a898721d3392c85f951d0bf0aa

(2417)

on March 22, 2012
at 03:08 PM

I was severely lactose intolerant before quitting gluten (this was pre-paleo). Quitting gluten let my poor abused celiac gut heal. Now I can eat dairy with abandon, although I notice that raw dairy doesn't congest me the way regular dairy can.

I also did some testing for casein intolerance at that time, and it turns out I do fine with casein. A lot of celiacs/gluten intolerant folk can't manage it.

1296f5fecd084f101d7c5fbe013f07eb

(1213)

on March 30, 2012
at 06:21 PM

Interesting thoughts. I do not have celiac, but I feel I might have been gluten intolerant based on overall digestive improvements after eliminating it.

3
93b5fc3a75c76817eed3f43831471cec

(140)

on March 22, 2012
at 09:27 AM

Have you checked out Art Ayers's (of coolinginflammation) work on food intolerance? Basically he regards most intolerances as a lack of the correct gut flora to digest that particular food, and that consequently you can overcome the intolerance by acquiring the appropriate gut bacteria. In the case of lactose this can potentially be done by regularly eating small amounts of yogurt or kefir which contain lactose-digesting bacteria. I'm simplifying here - you should definitely take a look at his blog if you haven't already.

Having said that, the lactose content of aged cheese is very low, so if that gives you problems, perhaps it isn't lactose but casein to blame?

1296f5fecd084f101d7c5fbe013f07eb

(1213)

on March 30, 2012
at 06:20 PM

Huh. I googled him up and he does have some interesting things to say. I think I buy his assertions because as I said in my response to Nance, since I have been eating lots more fermented foods (veg, kefir, kombucha, yogurt, etc.), I feel no digestive issues with dairy that I could usually count on to make me at least somewhat symptomatic.

1
Af29cd9f442eb1ecde0848295cccc864

on June 03, 2012
at 07:31 PM

I have been lactose intolerant for years. Decades. I had a direct reaction from eating a milk product to the toilet???in 20 minutes. Dizziness, bloating, gas, diarrhea, aches and pains every day of my life. Even a few fainting sessisons. Alright, now sit down for this one??? Cause if you are like me your life is about to change. I quit coffee one day for no particular reason. After the few mandatory days of headaches, I accidentally ate an ice cream without my lactaid pills around. Lo and behold, no diarrhea. I wrote it off as a good day. Next day yogurt. Nothing. No reaction. It has now been a month and my poopsters are hard as nails and I am loading up on lactose both to keep proving it to myself but also to make up for all the lost years of indulgence. No doctor or nutritional specialist caught this. I am an absolutely new man. Good luck???.

1
5759bd89db5f73cabe0a6e8f8e6e1cb9

(1467)

on March 22, 2012
at 02:36 PM

For me paleo has definitely made it worse. I have been lactose intolerant all my life but in the recent years i have been able to tolerate coffees with low fat milk (due to the added water), most cheeses, frozen yogurt and yogurt. Ice cream was definitely a no-no.

Then I went paleo and all it took was 10 days of no dairy to now be completely be unable to digest any diary apart from Kefir. I guess my body was screaming at me not to touch it anymore and if I really am dying for a milky coffee I go either bulletproof or digestive enzymes.

1296f5fecd084f101d7c5fbe013f07eb

(1213)

on March 30, 2012
at 06:23 PM

This was one of my worst fears, which is why I refused to eliminate dairy. The aged cheeses and fermented dairy have never really bothered me, so I decided to keep them in. I wonder if you kept up with the kefir, maybe yogurt, etc., if you could reintroduce more dairy if you wanted. They do make cultured butter and cheese products.

5759bd89db5f73cabe0a6e8f8e6e1cb9

(1467)

on April 02, 2012
at 08:52 AM

Update: I have kept up with the daily Kefir and now I can digest milk without any problem whatsoever!

0
A2813406c955c65a29352dcaf39d9aae

on April 05, 2013
at 01:16 PM

I can't answer your question about supplements but I used to be lactose intolerant also into my 20s but I love milk so much I'd force myself to drink it at that time. Eventually my body gave in and over several years I'm not intolerant AT ALL. Going on 14 yrs now I can drink milk all day and have no problem. I also saw it on tv recently that it can be reversed this way but I don't recommend it if you don't want to force yourself.

0
Ed0cb30f40daff568778b776b2a5a81d

(943)

on February 19, 2013
at 06:24 PM

I have no problem drinking raw cream and eating raw butter. What I've found after started doing this my mild lactose intolerance has become much better - very close to nonexistent.

It's the same I've heard from other people eating yogurt or other fermented dairy products as some of the bacteria/cultures are basically the same as in raw dairy products.

Bottom line. Have some raw cream. It also tastes way better than pasteurised!

0
96cfee41a3ab632ed8f681aeafbc0459

on February 19, 2013
at 03:58 PM

My sister did when she was younger. She was lactose intolerant and continued to eat the stuff. Whatever she wanted, practically. She would get sick...all the time. But she toughed it out and after a few months could eat whatever she wanted.

0
1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on March 22, 2012
at 06:30 AM

I am somewhat lactose intolerant. I am fairly sure it is staying for good. Butter is fine and some cream is good but cows milk of any kind (raw or otherwise) does not work so well...

1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on June 04, 2012
at 02:15 AM

I have updated my response as well to include cows milk.

1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on June 04, 2012
at 02:14 AM

I haven't. I should try.

Ddfdaa75ac9f47e01fc71162dd0d38dc

on June 03, 2012
at 11:12 PM

Have you tried goat milk?

1296f5fecd084f101d7c5fbe013f07eb

(1213)

on June 04, 2012
at 05:47 AM

This is how I've found it is for me, to a lesser degree. Butter and cream - bring it on - but cow's milk is like death. Raw cow's milk I can drink a cup or so of and only get a few rumbles.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on April 05, 2013
at 02:47 PM

When I started drinking water kefir, I accidentally found I could tolerate some lactose. When I stopped for a while, I went back to being lactose intolerant. So, it works but only if I continue drinking the water kefir.

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