The Lactose Intolerance Clearinghouse Has Moved.

My old website can be found at www.stevecarper.com/li I am no longer updating the site, so there will be dead links. The static information provided by me is still sound.

For quick offline reference, you can purchase Planet Lactose: The Best of the Blog as an ebook on Smashwords.com or Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com 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.

I suffer the universal malady of spam and adbots, so I moderate comments here. That may mean you'll see a long lag before I remember to check the site and approve them. Despite the gap, you'll always get your say. I read every single one, and every legitimate one gets posted.


Friday, November 30, 2007

Intolerance of Intolerance: Follow-up

Opinions have consequences, as Jay Rayner has discovered. I posted yesterday's Cheese and Lactose about his screed in the British Guardian newspaper, full of uninformed opinions and dubious alleged facts. Commenters continue to eviscerate him for as much how he said it as for what he said, and he's posted a defense which I'll get to.

First, I have to introduce to you Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne. She's a chef and the co-author of the formidable Leiths Techniques Bible, an 800-page "ultimate cookery reference book."

More specifically, however, she's the author of the piece in the Guardian's food section that put Rayner on the high horse that he is in the process of the long fall down from.

The article told of Lucinda's experience as a mother of two sons, the first who had egg and dairy allergies, the second who grew out of those allergies only to face a lifetime with gluten intolerance.



The result was, of course, a book, detailing the recipes she developed for kids with multiple food allergies, How to Cook for Food Allergies: A Guide to Understanding Ingredients, Adapting Recipes and Cooking for an Exciting Allergy-free Diet. You can find the book on Amazon.co.uk. The book is technically available on the American Amazon.com but not deliverable before Christmas. [Added 12/2: It's the British edition of the book that can be ordered through Amazon now. The American edition, from Reader's Digest books, will be launched in January.]

Lucinda listed a number of dairy substitutes in her newspaper article that are sensible, if basic for more experienced readers.

· Use soya or rice milk with cereal and to make white sauce, batters and mashed potato.

· Use olive oil instead of butter for frying, grilling and roasting.

· Use 2 tbsp vegetable oil to replace every 40g butter for making a roux to thicken soups, sauces and stews.

· Use dairy-free hard-baking margarine instead of butter in cakes, dough and crumbles.

· Use soya single cream instead of whipping or double cream in homemade ice cream.

· Use mayonnaise as a base for dips and sauces.

Rayner, meanwhile, is in deepest doo-doo for his infelicitous, not to mention brain-dead, line, "I suspect the vast majority of coeliacs are actually attention-seeking frauds, as with so many of the people claiming food intolerances and allergies," which followed the smarmy "where were all the coeliacs when we were kids? Where were these battalions of people who couldn't eat bread or pasta because it made their tummies hurt? Locked up in their parents' attics?" It's incredibly hard to eliminate gluten from the normal British or American diet. Wheat is in everything. (More so than lactose, but thanks for the thought, Lucy.) I tried a gluten-free diet back in the days when my IBS hadn't been properly diagnosed, let alone mitigated, and it was a trial I was happy not have to endure for more than a few weeks. I imagine that not even the trendiest of food faddists would gladly voluntarily pretend to have coeliac disease just to posture at posh parties.

Rayner has the tiniest smidgen of a point, though. I posted How Sick Are You, Brits? almost a year ago, when Allergy UK reported that more than a third of the population believed itself to have food intolerances. I haven't let up since. (See Brit Docs: It's All In Your Minds and "Rubbish" Says Dr. Miriam and even Doctors: Learn to Diagnose Celiac Disease!)

In a comment on the comments, Rayner tries to distinguish between his disdain for the faddists and for those with genuine illnesses:
I feel for anybody who is genuinely Coeliac or who suffers from a genuine food allergy. Happily I have none of these serious conditions and I can eat anything I like. For food, that most comforting of things, to be the very cause of pain, distress and illness is terrible.

...

There are people out there regularly claiming food intolerances they don't have. I regularly meet people who tell me they can't eat dairy, or eggs or chocolate or coffee or, sod it, the whole bottom half of most peoples' fridges. ... It is faddism of the worst kind and if I was one of the people who has come on to this site spitting tacks because they are a genuine sufferer I would also hate them.

I feel the same way. Or I would if I thought there existed the number of people making these complaints that Rayner imagines. We must live in worlds even more violently different than I would have taken for granted, however, because I never seem to encounter these fakes. Perhaps my table manners prevent me from getting invited to the sort of parties that Rayner frequents, but here amongst the common folk, people don't avoid major food groups unless they are forced to by genuine suffering.

Can Rayner and I settle our differences, since we seem to agree on the main point?

Not hardly. He also went on to write this magnificent piece of bent wisdom:
(Don't get me started on the lactose in cheese thing; we'll have to agree to disagree).

Pistols at dawn, Rayner!

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Cheese and Lactose

Lately it seems as if I've found at least one anti-food ailment crusader spreading his or her whine about cheese across the internet. Today's was Jay Rayner's I refuse to tolerate food intolerances on The Guardian's food page.

I suspect the vast majority of coeliacs are actually attention-seeking frauds, as with so many of the people claiming food intolerances and allergies. How many times have you heard someone claim at dinner that they couldn't eat cheese because they are 'lactose intolerant'? When, as the great American food writer Jeffrey Steingarten has pointed out, there is no lactose in cheese. The very process of cheese making removes the lactose.

I don't know who Jeffrey Steingarten is because I avoid food writers as assiduously as Rayner avoids fussy eaters, at least fussy eaters who aren't his type of fussy eater. I bet Rayner can be a terror at a dinner, sneering at the arugula or scorning the foie gras or smiling as a truffle he had nosed out of the ground earlier now appears shredded delicately over a quail's egg.

I do know that Steingarten is wrong. Not as wrong as Rayner would have him, however, but still wrong. Since unlike Rayner I do research everything I write, I found Steingarten's original statement. It's from his book The Man Who Ate Everything: And Other Gastronomic Feats, Disputes, and Pleasurable Pursuits.

I know several people who have given up cheese to avoid lactose. But fermented cheeses contain no lactose! Lactose is the sugar found in milk; 98 percent of it is drained off with the whey (cheese is made from the curds), and the other 2 percent is quickly consumed by lactic-acid bacteria in the act of fermentation.


It's true that most cheese comes from the protein-heavy curds after the lactose-laden whey is drained off. The process of aging cheese yields a hard cheese that normally has much of its lactose removed. So much so that a few cheese makers can advertise a true milk-based lactose free cheese. See the examples on my Reduced-Lactose Milk Products page on my Product Clearinghouse site.

There's a contradiction between all cheese being lactose free and only a very few making this a selling point by billing themselves as such. The reason is simple. Most cheeses are not lactose free.



(I need to make a quick side point here. Several brands of cheese that I don't list on my Reduced-Lactose page claim on their labels that they have 0 grams of lactose per serving. That claim is true but possibly misleading. U.S. law allows manufacturers to claim 0 grams of an item by rounding down from an actual value of less than 0.5 grams per serving. That doesn't sound like much. However, a serving of cheese in those cases is 1 ounce or 28 grams. If you assume that 0.4 grams of lactose remain, the lactose percentage of the serving is 1.4%. Not large, but not negligible either. How do I know that the actual amount is not really 0.3, 0.2, or 0.1 g per serving? I don't. I wish I did, but that specific number is not going to be made available to me or you or any consumer. I'm positive that the actual number is not 0.0. That's because another U.S. government regulation mandates that any food on whose package appears the words lactose free must be completely lactose free. If they could say it they would. It would be great for sales. Since they don't...)

Now, four reasons why the claim that all cheese is lactose free is wrong.

1) Not all cheese are made from curds. There are whey-based cheeses, the most familiar of which is ricotta, brown Norwegian cheeses like brunost, and German quarg. All are soft cheeses and are likely to have a lactose percentage approaching those of some liquid milks.

2) Some cheeses are not aged or hardened and produce familiar smooth or curdish cottage cheese, and cream cheese in the U.S. and has variants as paneer in India and Queso Blanco in Mexico. All of these soft cheeses normally have 3-4% lactose contents.

3) Even hard, aged cheeses show remarkable variation in lactose percentage when formally tested. I have a page I call the Really BIG List of Lactose Percentages in the Dairy Facts section of my web site. Cheese ranges were taken from Samuel A. Matz: Ingredients for Bakers, McAllen, TX: Pan-Tech International, 1987. A few averages I couldn't find in Metz appeared in Newer Knowledge of Milk and Other Fluid Dairy Products, rev. ed., National Dairy Council: 1993. As you can see for yourself, virtually every cheese shows a range of lactose from 0.0% up to a remarkable 5.2%, as high as the whey cheese ricotta.

Mozzarella, the pizza cheese often eaten in mass quantities, shows a range of 0.0-3.1% lactose. Some quick Googling found that the standard cheese pizza slice has 12-13 g of protein. Multiplying by 8 slices yields a minimum of 100 grams of cheese, maybe not far from a quarter pound if a generous hand was used, leading to the inescapable conclusion that a large pizza contains about 3 grams of lactose. I won't overstate that quantity, but I will remind people that cheese is also often added to the sauce and butter to the dough. 3 grams of cheese can cause someone sensitive to lactose to have a sore and mightily complaining intestinal track for the rest of the evening.

4) Nor does that eliminate all the cheesy comestibles. Americans have cheese food. We are entering a a realm that reinvents foods the way the witness protection program reimagines mob families.

Steve Ritter at the Chemical & Engineering News is our source scholar.


For pasteurized process cheese, the final product can have a maximum moisture content of 43% and must have at least 47% milkfat. An interesting twist is that the product alternatively can be labeled as pasteurized process American cheese when made from cheddar, colby, cheese curd, granular cheese, or a combination of these; when other varieties of cheese are included, it must be called simply American cheese.
[My Note: American cheese can have a truly wide spread, anywhere from 0.0-14.2% lactose. That's a concentrated lactose cheese product packing three times the lactose of a glass of milk per equal serving.]

Here are some of the other definitions:


Pasteurized process cheese food is a variation of process cheese that may have dry milk, whey solids, or anhydrous milkfat added, which reduces the amount of cheese in the finished product. It must contain at least 51% of the cheese ingredient by weight, have a moisture content less than 44%, and have at least 23% milkfat.



Pasteurized process cheese spread is a variation on cheese food that may contain a sweetener and a stabilizing agent, such as the polysaccharide xanthan gum or the Irish moss colloid carrageenan, to prevent separation of the ingredients. The cheese must be spreadable at 70 F, contain 44 to 60% moisture, and have at least 20% milkfat.

Pasteurized process cheese product is process cheese that doesn't meet the moisture and/or milkfat standards.

Imitation cheese is made from vegetable oil; it is less expensive, but also has less flavor and doesn't melt well.

For the record, Velveeta is pasteurized process cheese spread and Velveeta Light is pasteurized process cheese product. Cheez Whiz is labeled as pasteurized process cheese sauce, although that type isn't noted in the Code of Federal Regulations. A Kraft spokeswoman confirms that the word "sauce" just seems to be an add-on.

Eating heavy amounts of lactose may not occur very often in a formal cheese tasting among cubes of hard cheese. That may be the world of Steingarten and Rayner.

It's not mine. I know that much cheese served for the American palate has been cheapened by the use of oils or of milk fats and milk solids, each designed to return a dairy sort of taste to the final product.

Jay Rayner may never deign to enter American food blow-outs. Steingarten may choose to keep his innocence hid about the mysteries of the foods sucked down by the plebeians. Maybe the expensive, hand-labeled, personally-shipped delicacies of the garden that are dropped upon his massive center table, round and with arrow scars that carry stories that go all the way back to Guenevere and Lancelot even if the table truly was distressed by a pair of Welsh in the back of a furniture shop, maybe the good stuff sits there alone and distresses nobody.

Only Jay Rayner does. For he is a snob, and an ignorant snob at that, and worse, an ignorant snob who appears not to have learned a single thing over the past two or three years since he wrote his original column he thought so much of it and us that he reprinted it now.

Those giving him comments are giving him hell. I don't see any of the wounds doing more than glancing off, but collectively they may give him a belly ache that he'll open some comfort food for, perhaps a big can of beans on toast.

Don't tell him about Beano. It would just confuse the poor lad.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Milk: No Mucus, No Asthma

Today I found not one but two separate and independent articles debunking some of the myths that are associated with milk (and sometimes deliberately promulgated by the anti-milk community). Good going, newspapers: there may be hope for you yet.

One was from Australia's FoodWeek.com.au.

The National Asthma Council has teamed up with Dairy Australia to encourage people with asthma to dip into dairy this summer and bust the myth that dairy foods can trigger or exacerbate asthma.

"The fact is, dairy foods do not cause asthma," said the council’s director, Dr Janet Rimmer, a respiratory physician and allergist from Sydney.

"There is no medical evidence to connect the two – but despite this, some people with asthma cling to the old wives’ tale and may restrict or completely remove dairy foods from their diet.


And in the U.S. Contra Costa Times, Ed Blonz knocks down the oft-repeated nonsense that milk causes a buildup of mucus.
There was a study in the February 1993 issue of the journal Appetite that tested for a milk-mucus effect in 169 people, 70 of whom believed that milk produces mucus. The scientists compared milk with a soy-based drink that tasted identical. (They had done a pre-test to establish that people could not identify the different beverages.) They found that there was no difference in the subjects' perception of mucus production. The scientists concluded that it was the sensory characteristics of the beverage -- and not the presence of milk -- that gave rise to the sensation of coating of the tongue and throat.

Skip ahead to December 2005, and a supplement to Journal of the American College of Nutrition focusing on many aspects of the relationship between dairy consumption and health. One of the articles in this issue reviewed evidence that milk consumption might lead to an increased production of mucus, or that it might contribute to asthma. All participants were prescreened for a milk allergy. The paper concluded that there was no support for a connection between milk and mucus production, or milk and asthma.


Meanwhile, back in Australia:
"What tends to happen is that people confuse the coating that milk can leave on the back of the throat with mucus," Dr Rimmer explained.

Simple confusion, and another myth debunked.

A good day's work for all.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Ah, Soyabella


Making soymilk is not the easiest process at home. Of course, these days there are gadgets that will do anything for your except pick up your socks.

The Soyabella Soymilk Maker by Tribest is designed to make making soymilk quick and easy, so its ad copy says.

The Soyabella Soymilk Maker is the elegantly easy way to make fresh soymilk and a variety of other delicious recipes in your own kitchen. Simply add soybeans and water to the Soyabella Soymilk Maker and you get fresh soymilk in about 15 minutes. Soyabella is also great for making milk from a wide variety of beans, as well as for making fresh rice milk, rice paste, sesame paste, and porridge. It can even be used as a coffee grinder and mill by using included accessories. Plus, the Soyabella Soymilk Maker is extremely easy to clean.

Tribest, the site I linked to, is the maker of the Soyabella. It can be purchased there for $129, but a quick Google search shows that it is available elsewhere for less.

Tribest contact information:
Toll-Free (888) 254-7336
International +1 (714) 879-7150

You can also go to the Tribest site and find information about distributors in Germany, the UK, Canada, South Africa, and New Zealand.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Lactose-Free Airline Food

Not that long ago, anyone traveling with lactose intolerance had to trust to luck and a pocket full of lactase pills.

Today's travel is much easier, at least with regard to that small aspect. TravelBite.co.uk noted that:

Singapore Airlines comes top for the most diverse range of meals, boasting 14 different categories, including kosher, Muslim, Hindu, vegetarian, diabetic, fat-free, gluten-free, low sodium, low calorie, non-carbohydrate and lactose free.

Admittedly, short hub trips within the U.S. normally don't serve any meals at all these days. However, longer in-country trips and almost all overseas flights will include meals.

Make sure you contact the airline before your flight and inquire about food options. (Well before, not last minute.) If lactose-free or dairy-free is not a direct option, ask about kosher, Muslim, vegan, or gluten-free meals. One of the alternatives will probably work.

If not, trust to luck and a handful of lactase pills.

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Gluten-Free Vegetarian Kitchen


The Gluten-Free Vegetarian Kitchen: Delicious and Nutritious Wheat-Free, Gluten-Free Dishes is a new paperback by Donna Klein. Its list price is $18.95.

Book Description
Tasty and easy-to-prepare meals-without meat, wheat, or gluten-from the author of The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen.

Whether due to food allergies, celiac disease, or dietary preferences, many people want to eliminate gluten from their diet. Now it can be done without losing the zest. Limiting or cutting out grains can seem daunting, but The Gluten-Free Vegetarian Kitchen makes good use of other vegetarian foods that don't contain gluten-like fruits, vegetables, eggs, dairy, tofu, beans, oils, legumes, rice, and gluten-free flours. With appealing recipes and food options, vegetarians can maintain a satisfying, well-balanced diet.

The Gluten-Free Vegetarian Kitchen provides:

- More than 225 gluten-free recipes from appetizers to desserts
- Tips for successful gluten-free cooking and baking, with explanations and definitions of terms and ingredients
- Nutritional analysis of calories, protein, saturated fat, total fat, cholesterol, carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and sodium
- Vegan and low-carb options


You can find The Gluten-Free Vegetarian Kitchen on the Wheat & Gluten-Free Books page in my Milk-Free Bookstore. Klein's The PDQ (Pretty Darn Quick) Vegetarian Cookbook: 240 Healthy and Easy No-Prep Recipes for Busy Cooks, along with her The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen and Vegan Italiano: Meat-free, Egg-free, Dairy-free Dishes from Sun-Drenched Italy are all listed on my Vegan Books and Cookbooks page.

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Pizza Fusion Goes Green

No, not that kind of green pizza. Save that for St. Patrick's Day.

Environmentally green.

A press release from the Pizza Fusion chain announces that:

Over the next six months, Pizza Fusion, the leader in environmentally sustainable restaurant practices, will be opening several new locations throughout the south and northeast United States, including Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, Atlanta, Georgia, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and northern New Jersey; introducing all four states to their first ever LEED certified restaurant establishments. Through several area development and individual franchise deals, entrepreneurs are finding value into bringing Pizza Fusion's sustainable approach to organic food service to their communities.

What's LEED?
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System™ encourages and accelerates global adoption of sustainable green building and development practices through the creation and implementation of universally understood and accepted tools and performance criteria.

LEED certification provides independent, third-party verification that a building project meets the highest green building and performance measures. All certified projects receive a LEED plaque, which is the nationally recognized symbol demonstrating that a building is environmentally responsible, profitable and a healthy place to live and work.

But it's pizza. Why should we care? Because Pizza Fusion offers:
health conscious alternatives for people with selective diets and food allergies, including gluten-free, vegan and lactose free options.

Those include:

Gluten-Free Pizza
We cater to many customers with Celiac Disease with our gluten-free crust that is not only wheat-free, but also dairy-free. We use a mixture of garbanzo bean, fava bean and rice flour to make our gluten-free pizza crust, and our sauce and cheese are gluten-free as well. Our Celiac friends are always happy to know that they can order almost any topping gluten-free, excluding only barbeque sauce and sausage. Our gluten-free pizza is one of the best on the market. Its great taste is a reflection of our dedication to using quality ingredients and spending the time and energy to perfect our products.

We also serve a variety of salads and melt-in-your-mouth gluten-free brownies to accompany your gluten-free pizza, as well as offer a gluten-free beer made from Sorghum instead of barley. There are many options at Pizza Fusion that fit the special dietary needs of the Celiac community.

Vegan & Vegetarian Options
We proudly offer a truly vegan soy cheese that is casein-free to accompany our wide variety of organic veggie toppings. Our sauce and dough is always Vegan. We make vegetarian wraps and sandwiches, salads, and breadsticks, and we have vegan brownies for dessert that are oh so good!

Lactose-Free Cheese
Our vegan cheese is dairy and casein-free, making it a tasty option for those with lactose intolerance or anyone looking to cut dairy out of their diet. It is soy-based, and we get rave reviews from adults and kids alike on its great taste.

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Friday, November 23, 2007

How Religious Curbs Lead To Great Food

Fascinating article by Vikram Doctor in The Economic Times, titled How religious curbs lead to great food.

In it he talks about the culinary restrictions put on foods by members of the Jewish and Jain religions, and how over the centuries members of those religions have adapted local foods to meet their religious needs.

I'm not concerned at the moment with the logic of these bans, just their results, which have been detailed in two excellent books.

The Jain book is Dadima No Varso, which translates as grandmother’s legacy. ... There’s a Gujarati-English glossary of ingredients, illustrations of all the traditional cooking utensils, cooking tips, sample menus and, most impressive of all, a set of two page photo spreads that detail not just the finished dishes but all the regularly used ingredients as well.

...

The working out of these varieties of Jewish food is the subject of one of the most fascinating food books ever written — Claudia Roden’s The Book of Jewish Food. ... Roden’s roots, in Egypt, were with the southern Sephardim, and it is their cooking, from their communities on all the shores of the Mediterranean, and their even more exotic offshoots in Arabia, Iran, Georgia and India that form the heart of her book.

In each country the same pattern is played out, with local ingredients and recipes being adapted to kosher rules. In India, for example , the two Western Indian communities of Cochin Jews and the Bene Israeli of Maharashtra made much use of coconut milk to replace milk – making a kheer of coconut milk, for example.


Docrtor gives an example of a butter and flour free orange-almond cake, from Roden's book. It wouldn't work for Jains, because eggs are involved, but it is vegan and dairy-free.

Unfortunately, his description of the recipe omits the number of eggs that are needed, although he gives all the rest of the ingredients. I'm therefore asking for your help. I'll post a version of the recipe here and hope that someone can comment with the proper number of eggs.

Orange-Almond Cake

Eggs
grated rind of 2-3 oranges
Juice from the oranges
2 tsp cinnamon
400 g (2 cups) sugar
100 g ground whole almonds
100 g ground blanched almonds
(To blanch almonds, boil for five minutes, then slip off the skins)

Mix the egg yolks with 200 grams (1 cup) of sugar, the orange rind, the cinnamon, and all the almonds.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff, then use a spatula to fold them into the yolk-almond mixture.

Pour into a greased, paper lined cake pan and bake, first in a hot oven, then with reduced temperature.

It will take about an hour to firm. When firm, remove and let cool.

Mix the orange juice with the other 200 grams (1 cup) of the sugar and heat in a pan until the sugar is dissolved. Use a toothpick to poke holes all over the cake, then pour the orange syrup onto the cake and let it soak.

Can anyone help fill in the holes in the recipe?

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

New Labeling Rules Proposed in the UK

The UK's Food Standards Agency (FSA) announced new regulations it proposes for the labeling of baby formula, according to an article on NutraIngredients.com by Alex McNally.

The FSA said under the guidelines only a small number of health and nutrition claims will be permitted on packaging for formula milk.

Lactose only, lactose free, added long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCP), reduced risk of allergy to milk proteins and nutrition linked to nucleotides, taurine and oligosaccharides will be the only claims allowed.

Restrictions on marketing and promotion will outlaw directly targeting formula to new parents. Promotional material for infant formulas will not be able to feature text or images relating to pregnancy, including pictures of children under six months of age or images inciting a comparison to breast milk.

Rosemary Hignett, the FSA's head of nutrition, said the measures would protect mothers and babies.

She said: "The guidance provides clear direction to industry on the action they must take in order to comply with the new regulations. The new controls will provide the protection that mothers and babies need and deserve."

Despite the precautions, an activist breastfeeding group, Baby Milk Action, denounced the regulations as "an inadequate response and will continue to put UK mothers and babies health at risk in favour of the interests of the formula milk industries."

Activists in many parts of the world continue to battle makers of formula for trying to persuade new mothers to discontinue breastfeeding for the "ease" of using formula. I'm certainly sympathetic to this cause. I've always championed breastfeeding for any mother capable of doing so.

However, I'm perhaps more sensitive than the breastfeeding activists to those mothers whose babies' allergies, diseases, surgeries, or other ailments prevent them from breastfeeding and require them to rely on formula. Complete and completely informative labeling on those formulas are a must.

If the rules proposed are inadequate in this regard, then by all means work to change them. But get the labeling on the formula first before you argue about the larger policies.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thanksgiving Looms...

...and Christmas isn't far off. (Boycott any radio station that goes all-carols in November, though.)

And that means the annual reminders about special holiday foods and recipes.

Try:

Dairy free "root soup" and pumpkin soup recipes at FoodConsumer.org

Sky's Pumpkin Cheesecake Delight, Kim's Groovy Gravy , Sunny's Muffin Madness, and Jenae's Smashing Mashed Potatoes from the VeganVixens. (More on them coming soon.)

Orange chocolate-chip biscotti from the Associated Press.

Lemony Risotto with Asparagus and Shrimp from the Bend Weekly News.

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Blackwell's Gelato By Mail

Last year I told you about Blackwell's Organic Gelato and Sorbetto. Blackwell's is a "maker of 'soy gelato and fruit sorbetto, which are organic, vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free desserts.'" Their products were found in organic and specialty food stores. Which may have been good for those stores, but hardly made the products easily available to the general public.

This year Blackwell's has remedied that by launching a web online store, GelatoByMail.com.

You can get both their gelato and sorbetto there.

Blackwell's Organic soy gelato comes in a variety of flavors; chocolate, coffee, peanut butter, peanut butter & chocolate swirl, and vanilla.

Blackwell's Organic fruit sorbetto flavors are all made with fresh fruits. Flavors include lemon, mango, orange, pineapple, raspberry and strawberry.

And it's all good for us.
All of our customers appreciate delicious good food. Many of our customers have dietary restrictions or food allergies: some are lactose intolerant, some are vegan, some have celiacs (gluten allergies), others prefer a cholesterol free diet or a vegan lifestyle.

All of our frozen desserts are certified organic, 100% vegan, dairy free, cholesterol free, gluten free and preservative free.

It's definitely not cheap, but shipping and handling - packed in dry ice and delivered by FedEx - is included in the price.

More contact info:

Blackwell's Organic, LLC
9 Catherine Street, Unit D
Red Bank, NJ 07701
732.229.8899 (ph)
732.876.0358 (fax)

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Vegan Organic Chocolate

Press release time.

A package arrives on your doorstep. You open it to discover an assortment of elegantly packaged truffles, boxed chocolates, and gold-foil bars. A closer look reveals that these are more than just pretty chocolates; they are certified organic and non-GMO. One lucky winner of the contest at www.godairyfree.org will be so lucky.

Just in time for the holidays, Sjaak’s Organic Chocolate has launched their new website complete with convenient online shopping to sell direct to consumers. In addition to their already diverse selection, they have four different holiday and Christmas themed boxes of chocolates for less than $10 each.

In honor of their new website, and the holiday season, Sjaak’s is giving away a large gift package of their vegan chocolates (bars, truffles, and chocolates) to one chocoholic via the informational website Go Dairy Free. To enter to win, simply sign up with your name and a valid email (they must have a way to contact you if you win) for the free e-newsletter at www.godairyfree.org by November 19, 2007.

As an extra bonus, Sjaak’s is offering a 10% discount on your entire online order from now until January 15th, 2008. Simply enter the coupon code “dairyfree10” upon checkout at www.sjaaks.com.

Above and beyond in quality, Sjaak’s runs a gluten-free and lacto-vegetarian operation, which means there are no eggs or gelatin in their factory. They also produce a large dairy-free / vegan line that includes boxed truffles, chocolates, and six varieties of chocolate bars. Beyond the company’s own facility, Sjaak’s was recently awarded fair trade certification. Visit www.sjaaks.com to learn more and order some chocolate.

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Court Squashes Anti-Milk Class Action Suit

Some of you may remember that the militant vegan group, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), launched a truly world-class nutjob suit against dairy producers for not putting warnings against lactose intolerance on their milk. I wrote about it in Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine Anti-Milk Campaign and PCRM Loses Nutty Anti-Milk Case in Court.

In the latter post I said:

The judge dismissed the lawsuit. PCRM issued a statement that they will appeal the ruling.

My prediction? That will get dismissed as well.

Guess what. A D.C. Circuit Court judge just did exactly that. Or so says a message from the future about the past.

OK, it's just a posting dated November 19 (for some press release sort of reason, I suppose) about last week's court decision. (Checks clock on screen. Yes, it's only November 17.)

Anyway, Howard J. Bashman supplies the summary of the case for law.com.
After the case had been removed to federal court, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed the lawsuit for failure to state a claim. First, the trial court ruled that the plaintiffs' tort claim under local D.C. law was pre-empted by the federal Nutrition Labeling and Education Act. And second, the trial court ruled that even if federal law did not pre-empt the plaintiffs' tort claim, no duty to warn existed because the health consequences of being lactose intolerant are well known.

In affirming the trial court's dismissal of the case, the D.C. Circuit ruling relied solely on the second of these two bases in dismissing the suit. According to the appellate court, "we hold as a matter of law that a reasonable consumer today would be well aware that milk may adversely affect some people." The appellate court concluded its rejection of the plaintiffs' tort claim under D.C. law by stating: "the risk that milk will cause temporary gas and stomach discomfort to lactose-intolerant individuals who do not yet know of their condition cannot support a failure-to-warn tort claim under D.C. tort law."

As a result, the appellate court found it unnecessary to resolve whether the pre-empting effect of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act also required the dismissal of the suit. And the court also observed that even if the risk of drinking milk were not widely known, the fact that the alleged harm is temporary and limited might nonetheless defeat any failure to warn claim.

Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh wrote the D.C. Circuit's opinion on behalf of a unanimous three-judge panel. His opinion reveals that he is no stranger to potential food-related causes of stomach upset: "A bout of gas or indigestion does not justify a race to the courthouse. Indeed, were the rule otherwise, a variety of food manufacturers as well as stadiums, bars, restaurants, convenience stores, and hot dog stands throughout the country would be liable to millions of would-be plaintiffs every day. Plaintiffs' novel claim falls far short of what D.C. law requires."

I am entirely for the new warning labels required on ingredients lists that must state whether certain known major allergens are present in food. Allergies, and the possible anaphylaxsis that may result, are of an entirely different class of illness than lactose intolerance.

Ingredients lists should certainly exist and should obviously reflect all dairy products in them. However, few people today can possibly be unware that milk is a dairy product and may trigger lactose intolerance. The suit did not target manufacturers who add lactose to a processed food under the guise of whey. The PCRM had no motive involved other than wanting to force the dairy industry that it hates to add a potentially scary "warning" to its packaging.

This is the politics of fear, pure and simple. Although fear-mongering works all too well in today's world, information works far better. There was no reason for this suit, no public waiting to be helped. It was an attack on all people who didn't think like they did.

Before anybody starts denouncing judicial activism, BTW, Kavanaugh is a conservative judge appointed by the current President Bush and was writing for a unanimous court. Though I can't imagine what kind of ideology a judge could have to let this idiocy go forward.

It's not germane to the case, but I really like Bashman's concluding line:
Because the D.C. Circuit's ruling ... had to be finalized for publication, it is too soon to know for certain whether the nation's baked-bean manufacturers are celebrating the decision's outcome.

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Why I Love the Internet

I broke the Internet. Do I win a prize?

OK, I do vanity searches on my name. It's not complete vanity on my part since sites that use my name are often sites that I have a professional interest in, but vanity searches are not the most misleading term in the universe.

Technorati used to be the leading blog search engine. It seems to have fallen off in recent months, becoming harder to use and navigate. I'm pretty sure that having only two hits with my name in them is fewer than accurate. Especially since neither of them points to my blog.

But one of the hits caught my eye. It was the August 28, 2007 posting to a blog about Tummy Tuck and Liposuction Therapy.

Not my specialty. Yet there I am, obviously me and not any of the other Steve Carper's in the world. (A good thing, judging by this R.I.P. Mr. Carper entry.)


No Thanks for the Mammary
The Journal Group Online - New York-based science fiction and tummy tuck and liposuction surgery fantasy writer Steve Carper plunged himself into earnest research after learning in 1978 that milk, dairy products and tummy tuck and liposuction surgery milk-laced food wouldn t agree with his tummy. He learned a lot more about the quaint

All together now. Huh?

There was a source: www.journal.com.ph

This is the online version of a leading Philippine tabloid newspaper. Mostly in Tagalog. And the site's search engine is not working.

It's not fair to leave a man balanced on one toenail this way.

It wasn't until later, when I turned to Google Blog Search, that a ray of tagalogian light broke the spell. I found 47 hits for Steve Carper, mostly from this blog. And this wonderful post from April 19, 2007.
No Thanks for the Mammary
New York-based science fiction and fantasy writer Steve Carper plunged himself into earnest research after learning in 1978 that milk, dairy products and milk-laced food wouldn’t agree with his tummy. He learned a lot more about the quaint condition he suffers from. By 1996, he had turned up a volume, a 330-page straight-teller called Milk is Not for Everybody (Living with Lactose Intolerance) that is a joy to read.

The rest of the post by Dong Ampil de los Reyes is equally laudatory.

Obviously, the tummy tuck blogger finds (or steals) tummy references for his blog and cuts and pastes in tummy tuck and liposuction surgery every time the word tummy is mentioned. Leading to the sort of surrealism that I thought went only with meetings of the Kansas state school board.

Need I mention that de los Reyes is Filipino? The Journal must have picked up his blog entry - or maybe he's affiliated with it in some way: he also posts in both Tagalog and English - and the Tummy Tuckers (band name!) filched, er, referenced it in their own uniquely special way.

I couldn't be happier if I caught my name in a Mars blog. I love the Internet. It never stops entertaining and amazing and mystifying. And it is the greatest dissimulator of ignorance the world has ever known.* I have a function for life.

*But not from you, Dong Ampil de los Reyes. Your post is absolutely the best article on my book and work that I've ever seen. Thank you. I'm glad that I could have helped someone who gained so much from my efforts. You've made my day.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Studentz Ar Dumm

Good grief. Patricia Kirk of WebMD.com reported on a new study by the University of Michigan Health System (UMHS). It found that 42% of students with a known food allergy still ate foods that contained that ingredient.

Why?

[R]esearchers were given answers such as: "I thought I could eat around it," "The food item did not contain enough to cause a reaction," "I knew it could be treated," or "I've outgrown my allergy," says Matthew Greenhawt, MD, a pediatrician and fellow in the division of allergy & clinical immunology at UMHS.


Greenhawt added that:
"Many of these students are accustomed to their parents being in charge of their health care. Now that they're in college, they have to take this responsibility for themselves."

How big doofuses are these students?
Only 22% of students who reported a history of allergic reaction said they possessed a self-injectable device, such as an EpiPen or Twinject, to treat a severe reaction. About 28% of those who have one say they always carry it with them. Of the 55 students reporting a severe reaction to a food allergen in the past, 27 of them did not have the device.

Blame all around on this one. Parents, schools, doctors. And the doofuses themselves, who if they are old enough for college are old enough to know better.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

4th International Dairy-Free Conference

Here's a big something I missed while my computer was visiting the land of nod. The 4th International Dairy-Free Conference in London.

What does one do at such a fete? Take a peek at what the movers and shakers spent their companies' money on:

Programme

Day 1 (1 November 2007)

Global Category Growth of Dairy-Free - Mr. Gerard Klein Essink, Director, PROSOY Research & Strategy (The Netherlands)

What’s hot in the global dairy-free market? Which markets are the shakers and movers? What are the key trends and industry developments? In this presentation you will be updated on global market trends, industry trends and developments and positioning & communication.

How to Apply Growth Trends in Healthy Marketing - Mr. Neal Cavalier-Smith, Managing Director, Healthy Marketing Team (United Kingdom)

What are the key category trends? New insights from the Health Focus European consumer surveys will be shared. How have these insights been applied? Case studies will be discussed.

Dairy and Dairy-Free in Sweden - Ms. Ethel Lindroth, Category Manager, ICA (Sweden)

The largest retailer in Sweden, ICA, offers dairy-free products in the dairy category as the number of dairy intolerant consumers in Sweden is very large. What are the consumer awareness and attitudes towards dairy-free in Sweden? What are the market developments: importance of communication and private label? How is the category of dairy and dairy-free positioned?

Growth in Fresh Soya Yogurts in Central Europe including Austria - Ms. Helga Tomann, Marketing and Communications Manger, Mona Naturprodukte GmbH (Austria)

In the past year the dairy-free market in Austria and other Central European countries has grown substantially. Joya has been one of the key brands behind this market growth. How is Joya positioned in the Austrian market? How are/were categories (fresh/ambient) developing in Austria? How did Joya manage to evolve from a national brand to a multinational brand? What are the similarities and differences between the Austrian market and south-eastern European markets?

From Science to Market. The Story of Oat Milk - Mr. Rickard Öste, Marketing Director, Oatly AB (Sweden)

The positive news about the health benefits of oat is getting more and more known amongst consumers. The consumption of oat beverages and desserts is very high in Sweden when compared to other European countries. What are tke key success factors for consumers acceptance in Europe? How does oat fit into the total dairy-free category, which includes also soya and rice? How will the market develop in the coming years?

Dairy-Free Products, Soya and Sustainability - Mr. Jochen Koester, CEO, TraceConsult (Switzerland) (On behalf of World Wildlife Fund Germany)

What are the aims of the global initiative international Round Table on Responsible Soya Association (RTRS) to maintain the integrity of the rainforests? How can dairy-free
manufacturers work with the RTRS and what are the aims of the RTRS as a multi-stakeholder dialogue and participatory process in respect of economically viable, socially equitable and environmentally sustainable soya? To what degree does the aspect of GM-free soya play a role?

Innovation in The Dairy-Free Category - Mr. Bernd Drosihn, CEO, Tofutown.com (Germany)

The dairy category consists of a large number of products for various eating moments. The Tofutown company has innovated in this category with many different products. In this presentation you will learn more about:
- Technologic challenges in developing aerated whipped cream, coffee creamer, soya cheese.
- Target groups for these new products
- Marketing opportunities

Conference Network Dinner at the Via Bar & Restaurant


Day 2 (2 November 2007)

Global New Product Development Overview in Dairy-Free Beverages - Mr. David Jago, Client Director, Mintel (United Kingdom)

Dairy-free beverages are one of the fastest growing categories world-wide. What are the major trends in the various markets and how do they compare to each other? Are there crossmarket concepts in new products in the category?
Key product claims and attributes of new products launched?

Sensory and Functional Advances in Processing of Vegetable Protein to More Effectively Replace Dairy - Mr. Will Black, Solae (Switzerland)

Recent advances in vegetable protein processing and application are enabling food designers to overcome flavor and functional issues in foods that have traditionally contained dairy ingredients. These new technologies and innovations are allowing more reduced-dairy and dairy free foods to be developed across a number of popular food categories, addressing consumer trends and needs.

Rice Milk: New Innovations Opportunities - Mr. Jeroen Ingelbrecht, Area Sales Manager, Remy Industries NV (Belgium)

Healthy rice-based beverages and desserts are getting more and more popular consumer products. What are consumer perceptions and awareness of rice? Which FMCG product positionings are used? Which products should a rice-based product range consist of? What are the challenges in product development?

Mineral Fortification & Health Claims - Mr. Gerhard Gerstner, Senior Technical Service Manager, Jungbunzlauer Ladenburg GmbH (Germany)

Fortification is an important requirement for dairy-free products. The EU legislation on health claims has also impacted the situation with regard to the suggested health benefits of minerals. What are the nutritional benefits of fortifications? What are the key market trends in mineral fortification? What are the developments in scientific research and EU health claims?

New Innovation Opportunities for a Better Health: The Collagen Case - Ms. Véronique Fabien-Soulé, Regulatory Affairs Director & Mr. Paul Stevens, Technical Support Manager, Rousselot (France)

A new EU health claim for collagen is underway. What are the consumer benefits and what is the basis of the scientific research? How can manufacturers position new products with collagen? How applicable is the claim for dairy-free products?

The Challenges in Flavouring Dairy-Free Products - Mr. Andrea Cavallero, Flavourist - Project Manager & Ms. Fidelma Crowe, Sensory Manager Europe, Mastertaste Spa (Italy)

The growing market for dairy-free beverages and desserts creates opportunities for further product development and flavour differentiation.In the flavouring of soya-, rice- and oat-based products it has proven key to understand the inherent flavour profile of the natural source. Depending on the product matrix, different flavour systems can be used to flavour the soya ingredients and deliver the required flavour direction.

Plant sterols for Dairy-Free and Dairy-Free Beverages & Desserts: Background and New Opportunities -
Mr. Declan Roche, Director of New Technology Platforms


The statistics about cardiovascular diseases (CVD) among the global population are staggering. Despite the medical advances made during the past several decades, coronary heart disease continues as the leading cause of death around the world. Among the various risk factors that predispose one to CVD, the link between total- and LDL-cholesterol levels and the development of heart disease remains strong. The need for cholesterol reduction is clear. Phytosterols can assist in inhibiting the uptake of cholesterol.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

LI Celebrity Alert: Scott Burns


You may know Scott Burns as a producer of the Oscar-winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. Sharp-eyed credits-watchers will remember him as a co-writer of the screenplay of The Bourne Ultimatum.

But he has a greater claim to fame - or possibly infamy - than either of those. As Neil Justin writes in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

After graduating from the University of Minnesota with a degree in English, he went into advertising, a career his father had dabbled in. He made an impression, first in Chicago and then across the country, helping Major League Baseball revitalize its image after the 1994 strike, hiring local musician Leo Kottke to provide voiceovers for a series of Washington Post ads and, most notably, contributing to the team that came up with "Got Milk?" campaign for the California Milk Advisory Board.

That was not Burns' proudest moment. First off, he doesn't believe that milk is all that healthy for adults. Secondly, he's lactose intolerant.

Fortunately, he's kicked the advertising habit for the world of movies.

A film he directed, "PU-239," will debut on Sunday on HBO.

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Milk Allergies May Last For Years

Major, major news from a new study just out in the November issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Volume 120, Issue 5, Pages 1172-1177. The natural history of IgE-mediated cow's milk allergy, by Justin M. Skripak, Elizabeth C. Matsui, Kim Mudd, and Robert A. Wood.

Background
Cow's milk allergy (CMA) is the most common food allergy in infants and young children, affecting 2% to 3% of the general population. Most studies have shown the prognosis of developing tolerance to cow's milk to be good, with most outgrowing their allergy by age 3 years.

Objective
To define the natural course of CMA and identify the factors that best predict outcome in a large referral population of children with CMA.

Methods
Clinical history, test results, and final outcome were collected on 807 patients with IgE-mediated CMA. Patients were considered tolerant after they passed a challenge or experienced no reactions in the past 12 months and had a cow's milk IgE (cm-IgE) level <3 kU/L.

Results
Rates of resolution were 19% by age 4 years, 42% by age 8 years, 64% by age 12 years, and 79% by 16 years. Patients with persistent allergy had higher cm-IgE levels at all ages to age 16 years. The highest cm-IgE for each patient, defined as peak cm-IgE, was found to be highly predictive of outcome (P < .001). Coexisting asthma (P < .001) and allergic rhinitis (P < .001) were also significant predictors of outcome.

Conclusion
The prognosis for CMA in this population is worse than previously reported. However, some patients developed tolerance during adolescence, indicating that follow-up and re-evaluation of CMA patients is important in their care. cm-IgE level is highly predictive of outcome.

Clinical implications
The increasing potential for persistence of CMA, along with cm-IgE level's effect on prognosis, should be considered when counseling families regarding expected clinical course.

A more concise statement was provided by study author Dr. Robert Wood in a CNN story by Sharona Schwartz.
Researchers found a "significantly different natural history of milk allergy than what had been reported in virtually all of the previous studies. ... They would have said that the vast majority of milk allergy is outgrown by age 3 and if not by 3 certainly by 5 or 6," Wood said.

According to the study, which examined children who had been sent by a doctor to a pediatric allergy center, "the prognosis for developing tolerance [to milk] is worse than previously estimated."

The study found that 19 percent of the group outgrew their allergy to milk by the age of 4; 42 percent by the age of 8; 64 percent by the age of 12. The study found that 79 percent of the group outgrew their allergy to milk by the age of 16, which means one in five did not outgrow the milk allergy by that age.

The authors said that the character of cow's milk allergy "has changed over time ... and may now truly be a more persistent disease."

"One of the huge frustrations for parents of milk-allergic children is that they will typically find that someone with peanut allergy gets lots of respect and lots of precautions taken and the same respect is almost impossible to get for milk allergy," Wood says. Examples of precautions are cleaning school lunch tables well or placing children with peanut butter at a separate table. "Whatever precautions need to be in place for something like peanut allergy, need to be in place for milk allergy as well," says Wood.

The study also found that even though many did not outgrow the allergy by age 3, some patients were able to outgrow it "well into adolescence," indicating that "there is no age at which outgrowing CMA (cow's milk allergy) is impossible."

One very important caveat. The children in this group all have been referred to a pediatric clinic, and 91% had at least one other allergy besides that to dairy. Therefore, these children may be abnormally sensitive or prone to allergies.

And unfortunately, neither the article nor the abstract gives any indication of what parents can do, other than wait and hope that the allergy goes away. However, the study does give some diagnostic techniques may identify which children will have permanent allergies and which won't.

All in all, not very good news for parents of small children with dairy allergies.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sustenex Probiotic

I've written a lot about the Digestive Advantage firm, most recently in Digestive Advantage Update and The Power of Probiotics.

So when I kept seeing ads for a new probiotic in the sunday coupon section I decided to check up on it.

The new product is called Sustenex and even has its own website to talk all about it.

Sustenex is an all new, natural supplement developed to help you maintain a healthy, balanced digestive system and boost your body’s immune system. Sustenex™ contains GanedenBC30, a probiotic or “helpful” bacteria that is beneficial to your overall intestinal health.*

*Even the best probiotics are no substitute for good eating habits which can promote intestinal health.


The site, which is too extensive to cite, attempts to make the case for using a probiotic rather than relaying on yogurt:
The Problem with Probiotics:

▪ The cells don’t survive high heat and pressure inherent in the manufacturing process.
▪ The cells die quickly while on the shelf.
▪ The cells cannot survive stomach acids to populate the colon.
▪ The cells are very sensitive to bile and various enzymes in the gut.

Yogurts

In recent years, yogurt and other cultured dairy drinks have become a popular source of potential probiotics. The challenge is, cultured dairy drinks using traditional probiotics have some of the lowest counts of viable cells. Furthermore, the lactic acid cultures added to aid in the fermentation of the milk components offer little residual benefit. Even fortified probiotic yogurts that add significant levels of bacteria after fermentation have a problem surviving in significant numbers. For example, Consumer Reports did a study in 2006 showing that less than 1% of the bacteria in a leading probiotic yogurt survived to reach the colon. This was considered good when compared to others yogurts and fortified products.

A review on the Walgreens.com site makes an interesting point:
I usually have bad side effects when taking antibiotics, nausea, diarrhea. I had to take a ten day course of antibiotics and took one Sustenex each day. I had absolutely NO side effects the entire 10 days!!! It was wonderful

Doctors often tell patients to eat yogurt to counter the effects of antibiotics, but this had only partial success for me the last time it was necessary. A product that would do better would be a comfort.

Please let me know your experiences with this product so I can share them.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Lactose Makes You Sleepy?

It was just a throwaway line, a "tip for falling asleep" in an article by Jomay Steen in the Rapid City Journal about adapting your body clock to the changes caused by going off daylight savings time.

Eat or drink milk products, which have moderate amounts of carbohydrate in the form of lactose, which raises our serotonin levels and causes us to feel sleepy.

Really? It's the lactose in milk that causes this?

I found a similar statement on GoAskAlice, the health service question forum from Columbia University.
If you're having trouble falling asleep, try a small snack of carbohydrate-rich food. Warm milk may work for the psychological comfort, but also because milk contains a moderate amount of carbohydrate in the form of lactose (milk sugar).

Why does this work? Alice explains:
Carbohydrate-rich meals often increase serotonin levels. However, manipulating serotonin levels through food may be very difficult to achieve because serotonin's properties may have varying effects in different people. Some people may experience a temporary lift in mood after a carbohydrate-rich meal, while others may become relaxed or sleepy. Certain foods that increase serotonin levels aren't the healthiest choices either. Believe it or not, candy and sweets, which are simple carbohydrates, have the greatest impact, but the effect will only last 1 - 2 hours. Complex carbohydrates (rice, potato, pasta) may increase serotonin levels, but not to the same extent because the protein content of these foods might actually inhibit serotonin production.

Here's a brief explanation of the mechanism behind the effect of food on serotonin levels: after consumption of a carbohydrate-rich meal, the hormone insulin is secreted, which causes a lowering of the blood levels of most amino acids (the building blocks of protein), with the exception of tryptophan, which is a precursor to serotonin. When there are high blood levels of tryptophan in relation to other amino acids, it enters the brain at a higher rate, thus synthesizing more serotonin. To make matters more interesting, tryptophan is present in many protein-rich foods, which have been found to prevent serotonin production. So, you can see how intricate and complex this system is.

From that explanation, it's not at all clear why milk - which contains proteins equal to the lactose content - would work at all.

And even more than the qualifiers it already gives, the page reminds us that "The carbohydrate - tryptophan - serotonin pathway is simply a hypothesis at this point."

Soy milk also contains carbohydrates, though, and I've never heard of anyone recommending warm soymilk before bed. Does lactose make us sleepy? I'd say unproven at best for the time being.

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Friday, November 09, 2007

Dairy-Free Diet Can Help GERD

Gastroesophageal reflux disease is GERD, a problem that used to be diagnosed mostly in adults but now is being recognized as something that hits millions of children.

An article by Janice Billingsley on HealthDay.com gives the background:

Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) is a normal physiologic process that can occur throughout the day in healthy infants and children. Most episodes are brief and are typically confined to the lower esophagus, explained Dr. Aeri Moon, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.

However, GER can worsen and become GERD when the stomach's contents move into the upper esophagus. While its prevalence has been noted among adults in recent years, GERD is frequently overlooked in youngsters, despite the fact that it affects as many as 7 million children, according to the Pediatric/Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association.

As with colic, GERD hits many babies under three months of age, but instead of stopping at that point GERD symptoms can last until the toddler is 15-18 months. Continuing vomited past the age of three months is a sign you should ask your doctor to consider GERD as a cause.

What happens then?
Diagnosing GERD first involves eliminating other conditions with similar symptoms, such as testing for milk or food allergies, colic or inflammation of the esophagus, and finding out if there is a family history of GERD. Further tests include screening of the esophagus and a test that measures acidity in the esophagus.

If a young child has GERD, therapy includes introducing a dairy-free diet and/or a hypoallergenic baby formula. Overfeeding can also exacerbate the condition.

The Pediatric/Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association (PAGER) has a site you can turn to for more information about GERD at reflux.org.

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

Specialty Gift Baskets

I can always tell when the Christmas season is upon us by the thickness of the pile of catalogs in the mail. Several zillion of those catalogs sell food of all types and varieties, and at prices that are high, ridiculous, and absurd. Yet, the contents are sometimes wonderful and the cost, well, it's a gift, after all.

But how many of those gourmet foods are edible by those of us with special diets?

Julie Wiener of the Associated Press did some investigating. Some of what she found should be of interest.

- Allison's Gourmet (http://www.allisonsgourmet.com)

Allison Rivers Samson specializes in vegan sweets (no animal products, including dairy and eggs) such as cookies, brownies, fudge, chocolates, caramels and coffee. Everything also is organic. She also offers cookie- and brownie-of-the-month clubs. From $27.95 to $115.80.

- Carriage House Gifts (http://www.gluten-free-gifts.com)

Twenty years of catering to her husband's gluten-free diet has armed Kay Crow with plenty of experience for assembling specialty baskets for those with wheat and gluten allergies. Among the eight baskets she offers (as well as a build-your-own option) are Pasta Lover's Basket, Kids' Zone (featuring gluten-free mac and cheese) and The Sweeter Side (with muffins, cookies and candy). From $15.95 to $39.95. [Note that while gluten-free, not all the baskets are dairy-free.]

- Divvie's (http://www.divvies.com)

Frustrated that her severely allergic son, Benjamin, always had to bring his own nut-free, dairy-free and egg-free goodies to birthday parties, Lori Sandler, of South Salem, New York, developed a line of food allergy-friendly baked goods and treats. Gift baskets featuring cookies, brownies and a variety of flavored popcorns range from $28 to $72.

- KosherGiftBaskets.com (http://www.koshergiftbaskets.com)

Whether it's Hanukkah or a bar mitzvah, this company has a gift basket for the occasion. Basket choices include smoked salmon, bagels and baked goods, as well as numerous healthy and organic packages. From $16.95 to $259.95.

- Well Baskets (http://www.wellbaskets.com)

In addition to low-fat, sugar-free, gluten-free and other healthy food gifts, the site sells packages designed for folks with Alzheimer's, cancer, insomnia, even depression, anxiety and fertility issues. The fertility basket includes plenty of folate-rich foods such as broccoli soup, lentil soup and spinach pasta, as well as chamomile tea for relaxing.

Founder Tamara Doherty assembles her baskets based on research and consultations with dietitians. From $19.99 to $125.

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

I'm Back - And Not a Moment Too Soon

C'mon, world. I was only gone for a week. How could everything have gone to hell so quickly?

You know my usual rants about reporters not getting it right. Here's a world-class example from Jen Braaten of the Grand Forks Herald:

With age comes the susceptibility to anemia, or inadequate iron. Anderson also notes that the lactose enzyme gets smaller within the body, making it more difficult to digest milk or milk products.

The lactose enzyme gets smaller? Is it like The Incredible Shrinking Man? Why not just say straightforwardly - and correctly - that our bodies tend to make less of the enzyme as we grow older?

Blogs. Well, what can you say about blogs? On November 1, Jimmy Moore posted a screed against high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in his Atkins Diet blog, Livin' La Vida Lo-Carb. Numbers are not his strong point, though.
This is a scary thought for me personally because I used to consume the equivalent of 16-20 cans of Coca-Cola on a daily basis before I started livin' la vida low-carb. That's about 45g sugar, all in the form of high fructose corn syrup, per can. So I was guzzling down--BRACE YOURSELF--upwards of 900 grams of fructose just in my soda consumption before the Atkins diet. And we won't even talk about the HFCS that was in all those snack cakes I used to eat, too! EEEEEEK!

Sigh. High fructose is not at all the same thing as all fructose. HFCS comes in several varieties, but the type normally used in soft drinks is about 55% fructose and 45% glucose. That cuts the number of fructose grams down to just under 500. Still a lot, but 400 g - nearly a pound - less than he stated.

In addition, his screed against fructose has the basic problem that all sugar has about 4 calories per gram. So Moore was consuming a whopping 3600 grams/day of calories just from colas. That's in addition to those snack cakes. And presumably everything else he ate all day long.

So why blame the fructose? He doesn't list even a single thing wrong with his body that he himself attributes to fructose.

Although lack of understanding of all processes with sugar is a severe problem in this country, I wouldn't bother with this blog if Moore didn't also mislead with a more directly relevant comment:
Many people also have fructose intolerance, similar to lactose intolerance with milk-based products...

Not too terribly similar, though. It can't be. Lactose intolerance results from the lack of an enzyme to split the complex sugar lactose into simpler sugars. Fructose is itself a simple sugar, however. No enzyme needs to be manufactured by the body. The two conditions are similar only in that undigested lactose or fructose may cause gastrointestinal symptoms. Most doctors put hereditary fructose intolerance in the category of "rare" diseases, with no more than 1 in 20,000 affected. Lactose intolerance affects more than 15,000 in 20,000 worldwide.

Avoid screeds. They're bad for your health.

One more example before my blood pressure gets too high.

Reporters aren't responsible for headlines, so when I saw that the headline "Soy milk may be as effective as skim in promoting weight loss" over a story by Mike Danahey at the CourierNewsOnline.com wasn't backed up well, if at all, by the actual article I could have shifted the blame upward. But then...

The study is in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association's October 2007 issue. Volume 107, Issue 10, Pages 1811-1814 (October 2007) "Preliminary Study: Soy Milk as Effective as Skim Milk in Promoting Weight Loss," by Judith M. Lukaszuk, Paul Luebbers, and Beth A. Gordon.
The 56-day study followed 14 overweight women, ages 18 to 45, from the DeKalb area. They randomly were assigned to include about three cups a day of either soy or skim milk in their calorically restricted diets.

Those on soy milk also were given a soy protein supplement so that the protein intake levels would be similar. The diet was made up of 45 percent carbohydrates, 30 percent protein and 25 percent fat.

"They then maintained the lifestyles they had when they started the study," said Lukaszuk. That included a woman who enjoys getting a latte every morning, but substituting soy milk and skipping the whipped cream.

All the women lost weight, decreased body fat percentage and went down in waist size, and the greatest losses were seen in those with high dairy intake, the study found.

However, the journal abstract said that:
There were no significant differences in weight, fat percent, abdominal circumference, and fat-free mass between groups.

One group did lost a pound more than the other, but that was not a statistically significant amount, so the greatest losses were due to dairy statement is misleading and shouldn't have been included in the article.

I have to note that the study put all the women on diets that served them 500 calories/day less than they usually ate. It's the calorie restriction that helped account for the loss in weight. However, the study, limited as it was, attempted to determine whether it was the protein in milk rather than some other property that accompanies weight loss. This very preliminary evidence indicates that any equivalent protein intake will work. Vegans and others on soymilk diets, take note.

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