Monday, April 11, 2011

Gluten in cow’s milk?

Heidi asks: “If gluten passes through into human breast milk (, couldn't it also pass into cows milk? Any thoughts?

Reply: “Yes, I have been asking this question for a decade - but too scared to get the research done! Yes, gluten does get through breast milk. As do cow’s milk protein and all other food proteins.

And in cows? Yes, almost certainly the same goes for cow's milk. With the focus on high production, in NZ, cows are now routinely fed barley and wheat grain. There is gluten in their feed, and so, yes, some gluten proteins will get through into the milk/dairy food chain. So, yes, that will make gluten sensitive/ celiac people sick. Yes, we need to think about it. Yes, research is needed. Then there will be a big market for not-fed-gluten-grain-dairy-cows.

This is another reason why gluten sensitive people should avoid cow’s milk if they are still getting symptoms and/or their blood tests remain abnormal. This is a subtle cross-contamination of the food chain with gluten

Cheers, Dr Rodney Ford

PS – a comment on t eh web stated: “Gluten is from wheat/grain… why would it be added to any milk?
 Well, it is already in the milk via the cows being fed gluten grains.

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  1. I suspected that might be the case. Now, if gluten had a flavor like broccoli that is easy to detect, we might not find this so hard to believe. When I breast-fed one of my babies years ago, I had to avoid eating anything in the broccoli/cabbage family the whole time or that child would not eat well. The other baby never seemed to notice.

    Pat @ Elegantly, Gluten-Free

  2. This possibility would explain why often many who are gluten intolerant are also dairy intolerant. Milk seems kind of like a cross-reactive food to gluten.

  3. So does that explain eggs too? Are chickens fed gluten grains or is the problem just the GMO corn?

  4. Thanks. Don't know about eggs, but needs to be looked into. Less likely for gluten in chicken's blood (via eating grain) to get into developing egg - but needs testing.

    1. I had never even thought of eggs possibly being gluten contaminated-so I found this article which may interest you.
      thank for the heads up!!

  5. I have stared some more inquiries in the dairy industry to see what research has actually been done. Can't find references yet. Has anyone had any luck on getting the "hard" data? - will keep you posted.

  6. Ive been interested in this too... especially about the eggs (as I have coeliacs and now react to dairy and eggs as well)... Ive heard of people who feed their chickens fish and the eggs taste I guess there must some element of truth in the grain/egg thing too...

  7. I have argued with Ped's and 'experts' for years about the wheat being passed through my breast milk, to no avail! I breast fed my son for a year and treated him for 'colic' that year. His diagnosis of celiac did not come until he was 10. So many "Aha's" came at that time, and one being the breast milk! My grandchildren suffered with breast milk also, FINALLY a pediatrician changed his thoughts and # 6 should be safe from gluten, his mom will not eat wheat while nursing. --- This new wrinkle on cows milk is logical, destressing but logical! Thanks so much!

  8. I thought the same thing and went to a great deal of trouble to have some milk samples analyzed. The cows had been fed wheat and barley, and we checked for broken-down gluten but nothing was detected. Later some work was done showing (in a small sample) that half of those tested with CD had a reaction to casein (a milk protein)


  9. One thing to consider is that because cows are ruminants there is an extra digestion step. So this may mean that the gliadin is not present in their milk and the reactions people have is simply due to the casein.

  10. There are certainly people who have children who react to gluten in their breastmilk but for other intolerances it is not always clear and consistent, so maybe it isn't for gluten either. My first baby reacted to milk with immediate ezema when I tried her on a whey product but was fine when I was breastfeeding her - hmmm except for the diarrhoea which we put down to something else.
    My third was allergy to any soy in her diet even traces but was fine with me drinking soy whilst breastfeeding her. However, I couldn't drink any cow's milk whilst feeding her.
    Its all such a tangled web.

  11. Re Katrina: Proteins in cattle feeds are digested by the microbial community of the animals’ forestomachs before they have a chance to enter the animal’s bloodstream. It is highly unlikely that gluten proteins survive digestion by the forestomach microbes. The proteins that enter the small intestines of cattle are the proteins of the microbes that grow in the forestomachs as they digest the complex carbohydrates and other plant constituents consumed by the animals.

  12. Anybody down with the idea of cross contamination from grains touching udders?