A sudden change of acid reflux with dairy. Whats going on??

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Regular Member

Date Joined Dec 2010
Total Posts : 48
   Posted 2/15/2011 1:38 PM (GMT -6)   
My GI doctor had me on  a 2 week dairy free diet to check for lactose intolerance.
After the 2 weeks i did not see much improvement and made my constipation worse. He said i must be lightly lactose intolerance since i became more constipated without diary products. I went back to eating dairy and the first day i ate a sandwhich with cheese and gave me heartburn like never before and neausea for a few hours. A few days later i ate mozzarella cheese with little discomfort. Yesterday i ate yogurt and felt really sick and messed up my stomach all day.
Please can somebody tell me what could be happening? before the dairy free diet i was able to eat cheese and yogurt with no symptoms. Why now?
Notes: milk gives me cramps and diarrhea (symptoms of lactose intolerance) but cheese and yogurt never gave me a problem before. And now its severe heartburn and nausea, but NO SYMPTOM of lactose intolerance
I am very sad to think that i will have to avoid cheese.

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 7180
   Posted 2/15/2011 6:43 PM (GMT -6)   
Sorry to hear you're having so many problems with your eating. Have you tried lactaid pills to see if that helps at all?

I'm sure you've looked at lactose intolerance information, but just in case...

Good luck...hope you find a way to comfortably eat milk products again!
Take care,

Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2008
Total Posts : 37
   Posted 2/17/2011 2:05 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi there!
oh, dairy is tough! I completely sympathize with you! I was raised on milk, I drank it more than water. I was also a fan of cheese, yoghurt, etc.

It definitely sounds like you are lactose intolerant. A lash-back of symptoms after reintroducing it following an avoidance period is a trademark sign of a food intolerance. The fact that your intolerance grew stronger after avoiding it might indicate that your digestive system was previously too weakened to signal the intolerance. It might have just been working hard at eliminating it however means possible (sometimes loose stool, quick bowel movements, gas, cramps, vomiting, etc). After some "rest" your body is reacting more violently to it. It could be a lactose (milk sugar molecule) intolerance, but it could also be that your are intolerant to the casein in milk (this is the protein molecule).

A little background on enzymes and milk: As we get older, our bodies (specifically the pancreas) reduce the amount of enzymes secreted to break down food (there are several types of enzymes: for breaking down fats, carcbs, proteins, sugar, etc). Lactaid (used to break down lactose in milk) is one of the first enzymes we stop producing because our body thinks we will only need the enzymes during our growth period (think of how long you are breast fed - breast milk is designed to make you grow in the early stages of life. Now think of a cow. Cow's milk is designed to put tons of weight on a baby calf - think of how quickly a calf grows up on breast milk alone. Once the calf is at a certain size, they no longer drink milk from the mother - they graze the land like the grownups - no more milk forever after). Humans are the same. In theory, we stop "growing" after our teenage years so we really don't need milk anymore (or so one theory goes). In any case, less enzymes = no break down of the molecule = fermentation of dairy molecules in stomach = bloating, gas, cramps, vomiting as the body tries to expel the dairy. GERD can also be triggered as an allergic reaction (essentially it is inflammation and inflammation in an immune response to a foreign substance in the body or an attempt to heal an injured site). Essentially, your body is still trying to expel the substance because it is unable to properly digest it. This is one interpretation of what can be going on.

A few suggestion:
- Try lactaid pills as Denise suggests below
- Try lactose free milk and products.
- Switch to goat milk products. Goat milk has a smaller protein and sugar molecule - much closer in structure to breast milk (the easiest milk to digest) than cow milk.
- Switch to almond, coconut, or soy milk
- Stop dairy altogether (I went diary free and don't miss it much with all the alternatives out there. When I really need a cheese fix, I go for goat - they make mozzarella, cheddar, soft style goat cheeses that are wonderful!)
- There is also an alternative medicine solution to food allergies: NAET (Nambudripan Allergy Elimination Technique). They have had success with food allergies and intolerances, IBS, and are doing a pilot for Celiacs after many success stories. Still very new to the world of alternative medicine, but for those who are in dire straights.... :-)

Best of luck to you!

Regular Member

Date Joined Dec 2010
Total Posts : 48
   Posted 2/18/2011 12:55 PM (GMT -6)   
Dencha: i havent tried lactaid pills but i have tried lactaid milk once and it didnt help much. That is why it makes me doubt that i am lactose intolerant.
Gerdo: Wow thank you so much for explaning that, it makes a lot of sense.  Like ive mentioned before, i have tried lactaid milk and it didnt help. My dr said that if it doesnt help, then its likely that i am not lactose intolerant. But then i dont know why i am having trouble with cheese and yogurt now. And weird thing is that i dont get cramps or the usual lactose intolerance symptoms. I just get severe heartburn which causes nausea.
I will talk to my dr and mention the things you have told me.
Once again, thank you :)

Veteran Member

Date Joined May 2010
Total Posts : 8384
   Posted 2/18/2011 2:48 PM (GMT -6)   
there is more than lactose in milk (and dairy) that can be causing problems. The casein protein is also linked to digestive problems. I am no expert, but I believe the reason goat's milk is considered "easier" to digest is because it has the B-type of casein. Cow's milk can have A1 or A2 - in New Zealand this has become enough of an issue that now dairy farmers are breeding milk cows for A2-type protein only and label their milk that way. In the US there is no way to find out what kind of protein your milk or cheese has in it without going to the farm and testing the cow you're milking.  The science behind this theory of casein intolerance is pretty weak.

There is a simple hydrogen test to see if you are lactose intolerant. It doesn't require a 2 week elimination diet. The elimination diet strategy can identify protein intolerance I guess - I know when I was a breastfeeding mom, lots of my peers went dairy free because the casein in the cow's milk THEY were consuming was bothering their breastfed babies. It would typically take 2-3 weeks of mom being completely dairy free to resolve the nursling's issues.
48 yrs old, IBD diagnosis in spring '01. Proctitis, gastritis, ileitis.
Currently taking Pentasa (3g/day), Sulfazine (1.5 g/day), Prevacid, folic acid, vit. D (2K iu), flax seed oil (2 tsp/day), mesalamine enema as needed.

Post Edited (kazbern) : 2/18/2011 1:55:19 PM (GMT-7)

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