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The Possible Role of Dairy in Celiac Disease and Type 1 Diabetes (and some Dairy-Free Roasted Butternut Squash Soup)

I love autumn, it’s my favorite time of the year.  The crisp, cool air just begs for a mug of warm soup or hot apple cider to accompany the beauty of the surrounding fall foliage.

Well, in theory anyway.  My leaves are still green here in the desert southwest!

You can find my recipe for this delicious, belly warming Dairy-Free Roasted Butternut Squash Soup on the HealthNOW Medical Center website.

And while you’re there, be sure to check out Dr. Vikki Petersen’s Gluten Blog, it’s packed with great scientific information but written in a way that those of us who aren’t scientists can easily understand.  If you or anyone in your family has been affected by Type 1 diabetes, I highly recommend checking out Dr. Vikki’s recent article: Gluten Intolerant Report: If you have diabetes, read this!.

Type 1 diabetes frightens me, more so than the 5 autoimmune diseases I’ve already been diagnosed with.  The elevated risk of my son Sam developing Type 1 diabetes was the single biggest influencing factor (at the time) for me putting him on a strict gluten free diet when he was 5, even in the absence of a positive intestinal biopsy for celiac disease (his celiac blood panel was positive however, for both tTG and EMA, plus he was beginning to suffer from symptoms and he is also a celiac gene carrier, HLA-DQ8 to be specific).

The risk of developing Type 1 diabetes is also one of the many reasons I eliminated dairy from Sam’s diet (his IgG casein blood test was through the roof).  According to a 2002 study which tested the serum of 519 subjects, including 71 patients with Type 1 diabetes, 33 patients with celiac disease, 100 patients with latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA), 50 patients with autoimmune thyroid disease (ATD), 50 patients with Type 2 diabetes, 24 patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), and 3 different groups of controls, the highest antibody response to beta-casein was found in those with Type 1 diabetes and celiac disease, and to a lesser degree in LADA (see Antibodies to bovine beta-casein in diabetes and other autoimmune diseases).

You can read the study, Mucosal Reactivity to Cow’s Milk Protein in Coeliac Disease, which Dr. Vikki referred to in the above video, by clicking here.

It is also important to note that cow’s milk protein is also capable of causing villous atrophy of the small intestine, the same type of damage that gluten incites in patients with celiac disease (see Cows’ milk protein-sensitive enteropathy).

Doesn’t it make you wonder how many gluten-free food manufacturers actually do consumer research before developing their products full of dairy? 😉

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  1. Well, your fears are warranted because type one diabetes sucks (I'm not usually so blunt). My daughter (18) was diagnosed with it when she was 9. It's a daily tight rope walk for sure. My mama's heart breaks still.

    My side of the family has a hodge-podge of autoimmune: Hypothyroidism, celiac, lupus, type 1 diabetes. It's enough to make your head spin let alone try to figure out the connection. My daughter has been tested for celiac, lupus, and hypothyroidism even though I've never seen the exact tests that were ordered but I've been told they are negative. I have Hashimoto's and was diagnosed with Celiac last year. My allergy panel came back with dairy on the moderate reaction. I get no symptoms from anything I eat. My daughter did recently notice an issue with dairy and benefits greatly from lactose pills before consuming it. She also was diagnosed with fibromyalgia though not classified as autoimmune.

    I did read the article. Obviously, it's too late to prevent diabetes in my daughter but I need to be more diligent and figure out if I can prevent anything else. Not sure since testing has come back negative thus far. Thank you for posting. Much food for thought.

  2. Thanks for sharing this very important information. I found out that I was allergic to dairy when I was 28 years old. After being dairy free for over ten years I still suffered from gut problems. I decided 9 months ago to go gluten-free and it has really helped me. I created a blog to share the recipes that I was creating for me and my son, who is also GF/DF and a lot of other things free. is my blog. I have had the Dr.'s check my son's blood sugar but they said it was in the normal range. We did have a testing kit for a weekend and at one point he had a reading of 204. I know that he has big changes in his blood sugar because he can get really mean really quick and if I get food in him it helps after about 10 minutes or so. I wish I could get the doctors to see what we see. Thanks again.

  3. Jackie Emm says

    I so appreciate all the information you post. More than once I have been reduced to tears because this is all new and overwhelming to me. I feel pretty alone because no one in my immediate surroundings is going through such a drastic diet change with their children. I have 2 boys 8 and 10 who were recently diagnosed with Celiac – one who was pretty sick and one who is in the earlier stages (at least according to his test and his symptoms). We are all gluten free, but still finding every day things we hadn't thought about and were still consuming etc… Now the thought of going DF too is more than my brain is willing to ingest right now. Although I have been thinking this is probably next. I realize everything has to be taken in steps because that is the only way to do it. If you are a family that drinks cow's milk, what is the first thing you would do? Is lactose free milk ok or raw milk? I also find cheese difficult. Finding cheese substitutes are far and few between and expensive. Thanks for listening – feeling a bit overwhelmed.

  4. Thanks for posting all this information. My brother was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 12 — I had no idea milk could contribute to type 1 diabetes!

  5. This information is very helpful and I thank you for bringing it to the forefront of your post yesterday. My son, who is now 17 and thriving, was not officially diagnosed at 15 1/2 with celiac disease, but was immediately put on a gluten-free, dairy/casein free diet when our physician saw how sick my son was at the time. We went from pre-appt having never heard the word gluten, to post-appt 1 hour later walking out with absolutely all gluten and dairy off the table, literally. Without a single day's wavering, minus the couple of hidden gotchas, my son has not had gluten or casein/dairy of any kind since. What an amazing turn around, in just a month I might add. I, too, am now 100% gluten/dairy/casein free diet, as I've discovered these unknowingly contributed to my poor gut issues in the past. For us, going "cold turkey" was the only way to go. It was an complete paradigm shift in the beginning, but with clear and conclusive, and timely results. But it sucked at first. I now embark on learning all I can about the connection between the potential diabetes development and gluten and dairy intolerance and celiac disease.

  6. OH NO……I cant even bare to watch the video, right now. I cant cut another thing from my diet. Skim milk is currently my main protein source and butter the only fat my body will even remotely tolerate. Im down to almost nothing right now and my doc has been of absolutely no help (thankfully i see a new one in a few weeks), rice, sugar, milk, butter, pears (Vit C fortified pear juice) and coffee is currently my entire diet. How long before my immune system stops attacking everything??? Ive been trying to be Gfree for almost a year (it still seems to sneak in sometimes, darn ninja gluten) anyone else have their system completely short circuit like this?

    • I was going to comment separately but since you asked if anyone else has experienced a similar situation, I thought I would reply. It has been a whirlwind 10 months for myself and my 18 y/o daughter. I have been suffering with GI problems since my early 20's living with the IBS diagnosis and I'm now 47. Approximately 10 years ago I was diagnosed with microscopic colitis but negative for celiac disease. I was treated with numerous drugs which didn't help at all. I specifically asked the GI if he thought going gluten free would help and he said no. I continued to suffer with horrific GI problems(diarrhea, gas, bloating, cramps) with no help for years and eventually was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and Grave's disease and Hashimoto's. I finally couldn't take it any longer and started doing lots of research on my own and realized that I probably have Leaky Gut Syndrome so I had testing done and immediately went gluten, dairy and soy free. The testing came back and showed an intolerance to eggs and yeast as well. This happened in January of this year. I cut myself back to eating Paleo style diet with no grains and very limited sugar and finally started to get some relief but not until all grains including rice were eliminated and additionally nightshade vegetables and sugar using stevia only for sweetener. I slowly started to get some relief from the pain although my thyroid is still active with high antibodies and my gut is still a mess although getting better. I've been told by a naturopath that it can take upwards of a year for Leaky Gut to heal and for gluten to clear your body. I only eat whole foods I have cooked and very rarely eat out for fear of cross contamination or worse.

      If dealing with all of this isn't enough, my beautiful 18 y/o daughter ended up in Children's Hospital with type 1 diabetes 4 days after her birthday and days before graduating from high school earlier this summer. She had absolutely no symptoms of autoimmune disease, was athletic, thin and was completely healthy until she developed extreme thirst. She tested negative for celiac and thyroid disease however I had her tested for gluten sensitivity on my own as well as genetic testing showing she carries a celiac gene(DQ8) and showed gluten sensitivity with malabsorption. We immediately incorporated a gluten free diet in addition to doing finger sticks 10-15 times a day, 5-7 insulin shots a day and attempting to follow a diabetic friendly diet. It is very difficult to try to educate a young adult who has just had her world turned upside down as she is heading off to college. I cannot begin to tell you how horrific this has been and the guilt that I deal with daily. My gut (pun intended) is that she should eliminate dairy as well but eating in dining halls and a dorm room several hours from home is so difficult with these diseases. As I write this I can't even form thoughts because I'm so overwhelmed by it all. She is doing her best to try and follow her diet based on both diseases but she gets angry and feels like a "freak" at times. She should be having the time of her life but her main focus is dealing with dangerous blood glucose lows, reading labels and asking ingredient lists to strangers in dining services who we can only hope are giving accurate information, special ordering her food in advance, counting carbs, administering insulin and avoiding so many social events that involve pizza (and of course beer) I pray for an answer through the research being done so this beautiful girl has a chance at living a normal life. AUTOIMMUNE. DISEASES. SUCK.

  7. Thanks for sharing such an informative video by Dr. Vikki. It is interesting as when my son first got diagnosed with his allergies earlier this year, and was suffering from an inflamed digestive system, he was also found to be allergic to casein. Once we took him off of gluten and dairy products, as well as a bunch of other things, he felt so much better. By the way, checked out your butternut squash soup and it sounds perfect for the fall.

  8. Very informative read about the type 1 diabetes. I am afraid my brother was developing type 1. Its a good advice to stay away from dairy products. Thanks a lot, great work.

  9. Thanks for sharing this Heidi! I had read some information a while ago about a possible link between milk and diabetes, but recently also had a mom inquiring about this.

  10. Thanks, again, for sharing! This was GREAT information. It needs to shared as so many people are suffering unnecessarily due to lack of knowledge about things such as how what we eat truly affects the way we feel and if we'll contract an auto-immune disease or two or three…. I have five children. One was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 4. Our chiropractor noticed his distended belly and told us dairy was a contributing factor so we removed it from his diet. His blood sugar levels became more stabilized as a result – ie, less mood swings and behavioral problems as well 🙂 Unfortunately, his endocrinologist never informed us of the celiac and dairy connection with Type 1 and, subsequently, his diet should also include the elimination of wheat and dairy. (Nor were we told that the entire family should be tested for Celiac for it turns out we all carry the genes – but that's another story.) So much of his pain and suffering – ie, inability to focus in school so that he gets failing grades despite very high standardized test scores, mood swings which tend to get in the way of relationships for others don't understand how he can act one way one moment and be totatly different another, way too many sick days from school and work, and ER visits at 3AM, etc… – could have been diminished or eliminated had we known what Dr. Vikki and now Heidi are educating us about. Food can be our medicine. It can lead us to health – we just need to heart the right information. Thank you for helping know the truth!

  11. It's interesting, I've had Type I diabetes since age 12 (or, that's when I was diagnosed!). Now, 35 years later, I've been diagnosed with celiac disease. The celiac disease has made the diabetes feel like a walk in the park, even though it isn't, of course. I'm on an insulin pump, which has made controlling things a little easier. At least with the diabetes, I can fix the high or low blood sugars, and generally know what caused them. With the celiac disease, it seems like trial and error with new food sensitivities constantly emerging and never really knowing why I feel bad. I guess it's kind of useless now to look back and think if I hadn't had the gluten and dairy as a kid, maybe things would be a whole lot less dramatic these days! I hope all the diet changes we've made as a family will spare my own children similar struggles with autoimmunity.


  1. […] never know how difficult it is to manage multiple autoimmune disorders like his mother, especially Type 1 diabetes.  As long as Sam is eating the right foods, he is completely “normal.”  In fact, he […]