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All comments are welcome and will be posted, even if they are negative. You just can't promote other sites or products in them.

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Otherwise, this blog and my Lactose Intolerance Clearinghouse are now legacy sites, meaning that I am not updating them any longer. The basic information about LI is still sound. However, product information and weblinks may be out of date.

My old website can be found at

For quick offline reference, you can purchase Planet Lactose: The Best of the Blog as an ebook on or or or a whole lot of other places that Smashwords is suppose to distribute the book to. Almost 100,000 words on LI, allergies, milk products, milk-free products, and the genetics of intolerance, along with large helpings of the weirdness that is the Net.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

"Rubbish" Says Dr. Miriam

The kerfluffle started by Allergy UK's moronic poll alleging to prove that one-third of the total British population has food intolerances and allergies continues to roil nicely.

You can check back to my first post, How Sick Are You, Brits?, which said:

A new report from Allergy UK has found that 45 percent of common health complaints in Britain are directly caused by food intolerance.

and the first response, Brit Docs: It's All In Your Minds, which reported that:
"True food allergy is comparatively rare, affecting perhaps 8 per cent of children and 4 per cent of adults," [Food Intolerance Network co-founder Dr Howard Dengate] told FoodNavigator last year.

Today the doughty Dr. Miriam weighs in, sounding like a scolding nursery school teacher in an article in The Mirror:

I've never heard such rubbish. And this particular rubbish is masquerading as "science" in a survey published a couple of days ago by Allergy UK, a medical charity.

The report feeds into the current fashion for food intolerance. And it's dangerous because someone suspecting they have an intolerance will feel free to go on an exclusion diet, omitting important, nutritious foods without prior diagnosis and without supervision.

As you might suspect there's a commercial agenda.

There are a number of commercially available tests for food intolerance that their manufacturers claim will make the diagnosis for you. They're suspect, unreliable and scientifically unproven. The commonest intolerance - lactose (milk) - is due to a shortage of the enzyme lactase, needed to absorb lactose.


Let's keep a sense of proportion here. With food intolerance you can usually get away with simply cutting down on the offending food.

And resist celebs who endorse wheat-free or milk-free diets.

Well, go, Dr. Miriam, whoever you are.

I could just wish you had stopped while you were ahead.

Unfortunately, you messed up with this little gem:
[I]f babies aren't given milk after weaning, their intestines think lactase is no longer needed and intolerance is the result.

Bzzz. Wrong.

Lactase production is shut down when and if the gene sends out the signal to shut it down. Whether you have or don't have milk makes no difference at all. You may lose the good bacteria in the colon that helps digest lactose if you avoid milk, but those are quickly regained either by eating yogurt or taking probiotics.

But the rest is good stuff. Allergies are serious. Intolerances are less so. But most Brits don't have either problem when it comes to dairy products. You also have a greater range of alternative products than you used to, as shown on my U.K. and European Lactose News page on my website. Milk is not a big deal. Neither is avoiding milk. Just stop being frightened of you food.

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