Is Dairy an IBS Trigger?

  • Yes! Dairy is high in fat, lactose (milk sugar and a FODMAP), plus casein and whey (dairy proteins). All of these are difficult to digest and likely severe IBS triggers.

    • Dairy can cause painful spasms, diarrhea, and constipation in people who don't even have IBS. Imagine what it can do to you.

  • Lactose intolerance or IBS? These are two different disorders.

  • You can be lactose intolerant and have IBS.

  • You can also not be lactose intolerant and have IBS, and dairy will still cause trouble.

    • Why? Because dairy is an IBS trigger even if you're not lactose or FODMAP intolerant.

  • What about yogurt? It's still dairy, and it's still a likely IBS trigger.

  • Yogurt is fermented, which reduces lactose levels. But it still has milk fat, and even non-fat versions have whey and casein.

  • Get the benefits of live cultures with a non-dairy yogurt instead, or a non-dairy probiotic supplement.

  • What about Lactaid? It only affects lactose. This is not about lactose intolerance, it's about IBS, which means a likely dairy intolerance.

  • Use soy, rice, almond, oat, flax, or hemp substitutes for milk, cheese, ice cream, and cooking. Try different brands and flavors - many are delicious!

  • Don't use coconut milk or cream - that is too high in fat to be safe for IBS.

    • As always with IBS, the key here is substitution, never deprivation.

    • Overwhelmed at the thought of a life without dairy? Hang in there, it's easier - and tastier - than you think. Get help from a dairy-free IBS cookbook for simple ideas and safe recipes.

Tip Takeaway: There's really no such thing as dairy that doesn't have IBS triggers: fat, lactose, casein, and whey. Completely eliminating dairy from your diet can make a huge difference!

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