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, May 30, 2008

The 30-Day Diabetes Miracle Cookbook

You certainly can't tell from the title that The 30-Day Diabetes Miracle Cookbook: Stop Diabetes with an Easy-to-Follow Plant-Based, Carb-Counting Diet by Bonnie House, Diana Fleming, Linda Brinegar, and Linda Kennedy is a vegan cookbook, so I thought it would make sense to share that news with you.

At least I think the recipes are vegan. That's what Library Journal says, but the publisher's description reads vegetarian and vegan.

Anyway, here's the pertinent information.



Product Description
The indispensable companion to The 30-Day Diabetes Miracle, featuring more than 200 recipes to help stop diabetes and reverse many of its effects.

With more than 200 vegetarian and vegan dishes, and an emphasis on “good carbs,” plus menus, helpful tips and advice, and full nutritional information, this cookbook will help people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes eat and live well. From breakfast dishes to desserts, every recipe has been created to be low glycemic, low fat (and trans-fat-free), low sodium, and cholesterol-free. Also included are: substitution charts to help readers make the transition to a plant-based diet, a glossary of cooking equipment, an appendix of cooking terms and techniques, and a list of uncommon ingredients with brand name recommendations.

About the Authors
Bonnie House is a chef and teacher at LCA. Diana Fleming, Ph.D., L.D.N., Director, Nutritional Services, was a cooking consultant for Wellesley and Harvard University. Linda Brinegar is an experienced food service director. Linda Kennedy, directs the Culinary Arts program at LCA. Ian Blake Newman is a journalist and professor, and co-author of The 30-Day Diabetes Miracle.


Perigee Trade Paperback
336 pages
List price: $19.95

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Creationist's Appalling Anti-Science

Earlier this month I wrote 43 Reasons to Mock Intelligent Design. The 43 reasons are the 43 variations of the mutated gene that allows for lactose tolerance. It would be a very strange intelligent designer, I argued, who would require 43 separate tries to allow one-third of the population the ability to drink milk as adults.

You might wonder what the proponents of ID have to say on the subject of lactose tolerance. Wonder no longer. Casey Luskin of the Discovery Institute posted a long, if mostly incoherent, screed on their website. The Discovery Institute is the sinkhole for all religious propagandists who started out preaching creationism as a deliberate device to attack science and promote what they saw as Christian values.

The Wedge document, a widely circulated 1998 internal memo, laid out Discovery's original, ambitious plan to "drive a wedge" into the heart of "scientific materialism," "thereby divorcing science from its purely observational and naturalistic methodology and reversing the deleterious effects of evolution on Western culture." The two governing goals of the Wedge document are:

• To defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies

• To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God


When straight-out Creationism became discredited, rejected by too many courts, and repellent to any but the truest of true believers, the Institute started calling it Intelligent Design so that they could insist it be taught in science classes. ID was literally Creationism in disguise. In the court battle over the threatened use of an ID-believing textbook in Dover, PA, Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial, the court decision showed how the word creationism had been simply replaced by the words Intelligent Design in the purported science textbook, Of Pandas and People.

Having been squashed so thoroughly and magnificently by Judge Jones in that decision, the ID crowd is trying another tact. A documentary starring Ben Stein, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, is being hustled to believing audiences in another disquieting attempt to link evolution with imperialism, the Nazis, and the Holocaust.

Alan Boyle of MSNBC wrote a highly negative review of the film, setting off Luskin's response.

Somewhere along the way Luskin trips over the lactose tolerance mutations issue. He claims Boyle cites it in his article, although I don't find it there. But he tackles the science head-on:
Boyle cites to a study which makes the trivial finding that some humans have slightly different biochemical or genetic mechanisms for digesting milk. Interestingly, the article assumes that "[h]uman adults were not designed to digest milk," and therefore "[i]t took a genetic mutation to enable humans to tolerate lactose." But what if human adults originally were designed to digest milk, and the fact that some humans have different biochemical mechanisms for lactose digestion, and that some have lost that ability, simply reflects variations or degeneration upon the original design? This evidence might show that evolution is only good at degenerating or destroying function rather than creating it.


What if, indeed? There is not now and never has been a particle of evidence that humans were originally designed to drink milk. Nobody on the planet believes this, as far as I can tell. Luskin pulls that notion out of his ass for one reason and one reason alone: a desperate attempt to deflect real science with a pathetic smokescreen of speculation.

His second paragraph shows no better understanding of the science.
Moreover, there are 2 reasons to understand that this study did not really document the evolution of something "new." Note that the article states "human adults" cannot digest milk. This is because most children can digest milk, and lactose intolerance is typically caused by environmental conditions, i.e. the less milk you drink as you age, the more likely you are to become lactose intolerant. In fact, lactose intolerance takes place when your small intestine does not make enough lactase, an enzyme used to break down lactose in milk. So the difference between a lactose intolerant person and a lactose tolerant person is not the presence of a new enzyme, but the production of more of a pre-existing enzyme.

There is no truth to the statements that the less milk you drink the more likely you are to become lactose intolerant or that lactose intolerance is typically caused by environment conditions of any kind. LI is purely genetic. You are programmed from birth to have decreasing lactase production at a certain age and nothing is know to alter that. Of course, anything that is based on genetics is anathema for a charlatan like Luskin.

Luskin's attack is pure anti-science. It is designed to confuse, to obfuscate, and to insult. He knows nothing of what he writes, except to know that real science must be discredited at all costs because it time and again shows up the pettiness, ignorance, and blindness of their narrow beliefs. They fail, constantly, as anyone who takes the time to examine even the most basic aspects of our world can understand. Although they constantly rail at atheists, it is those whose religious beliefs compel them to use the brains they were gifted with who are their natural enemies, who should be most appalled at their hate-filled mis-application of religion.

You cannot take these creatures seriously, yet somehow we must because they are dangerous to the most precious of all human abilities: thought itself. Fight them all.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Cool Whip's New Aerosol Can

Back off, you with the dairy allergies, you vegans, you kosher-keepers. This one is for us, the lactose intolerant.

That's because it's about Cool Whip. Cool Whip is made with sodium caseinate, which disqualifies it for use by the above-mentioned groups. It used to say "dairy-free" on its packages, earning the eternal enmity of every right-minded citizen who believed in truth in packaging. It's totally artificial in every way.

It's heavenly.

You take Jell-o. Plain old ordinary who cares Jell-o. Then you pile some thick dollops of Cool Whip on it and scoop it up, grape-purple or strawberry-red slippery with white goodness. Or a pile of brittle flavorless thin chocolate wafer cookies. Slather on the Cool Whip in between and stack them lengthwise on a plate and cover the whole sideways tower with more Cool Whip and stick it in the refrigerator to chill, where the liquidness of the Whip oozes into the cookies and turns them into soft dough so when you slice crosswise through the tower you have an infinite layer cake.

That Cool Whip.

That Cool Whip that finally - finally! - comes in an aerosol can. And wins over even the haters.



Like these rave reviews I found at the Galva News.

Spatula up: When a recipe calls for a layer of Cool Whip, you must first thaw it, then splat globs of the stuff on your cake or pie, then spread it in an even layer without stirring up crumbs or other ingredients. No more. Now you can spray an even, decorative layer of Cool Whip from an aerosol can. It looks exactly like real whipped cream (holds its shape well) and tastes exactly like regular Cool Whip from a tub. (Saimi Bergmann/Canton Repository)

And:

Spatula up: I don’t want to like Cool Whip. I really don’t. It’s basically coconut and palm oils, water, sugar and air, you know. Not exactly health food. And if you really want to get freaked out, read some of the sites that turn up when you Google Cool Whip. Lots of scary stuff about the product containing lube oil and solidifying instead of breaking down when you leave it out for 12 days. That said, I love whipped topping. It’s like eating sweet fluffy clouds. If you love it, too, check out Cool Whip in the new aerosol can. It’s an improved formula of topping that holds its shape better on top of desserts, and the canister has a nozzle that makes it easier to spray. (Jennifer Mastroianni/Canton Repository)

Here's one more reason to hate Cool Whip.

They don't mention the aerosol can at their U.S. website! Why? (I mean, seriously, why?)

Fortunately, our Canadian cousins come to the rescue at KraftCanada.com Cool Whip page.

Remember: only the original flavor is lactose free. The Extra Creamy variety aerosol has real cream in it.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Lactose: How Low Is Zero?

The Advertising Standards Authority in the UK gets to judge advertising claims and their truthfulness. In April, they had to judge a case involving lactose, as shown in this summary by Susan Barty and Susie Carr on Mondaq.com.

Arla Foods Ltd, 23 April 2008

A TV ad, for Lactofree milk, stated "Lactofree, the full taste of real milk, just without the lactose". Text on the packaging stated "with less than 0.05%" lactose.

Complaint / Decision

Two viewers claimed that the ad was misleading and potentially harmful, because they considered that the product contained 0.05% lactose.

Complaint not upheld: The advertiser produced UK-accredited tests, which it had undertaken, to demonstrate that Lactofree contained 0% lactose but at a detection level of 0.05%. The ASA understood that it was generally accepted that the lowest amount of lactose that could trigger symptoms in an individual who was lactose intolerant was 5g. Lactofree was well below the 5g margin and was therefore unlikely to have any effect on someone who suffered from lactose intolerance the ASA concluded that the ad was unlikely to mislead or cause harm to viewers.

That summary confused me the first time I read it, so let's take it apart piece by piece.

First, we have to look at how nutritional information is presented on packaging. Information has two parts: accuracy and precision. Recipes, even for standardized commercial goods, are hard to perfectly regulate. One batch may have slightly varying amounts of fats or vitamins or calories than another. That makes accuracy an issue, with the amount of any individual item usually an average taken over many test batches. Say that the average amount of fat in a cookie is 5 grams. How precise is that number? Is it really 5.0 grams? 5.019093873975499383983983900498409808 grams? 4.99976 grams? There's a limit to how many decimal places can be measured by the best equipment, and no need to use the best equipment in the first place. In practice nobody can tell the difference between those three amounts. Trying for that level of precision is silly and confusing. In the U.S. amounts are always rounded to the nearest half gram.

What happens, then, if the amount is less than a half (0.5) gram? In the U.S. manufacturers are allowed to round down to 0. That's right, many times when you see a listing of 0 grams per serving of an item you can't assume that nothing is there. A famous example occurs when cheeses prominently list 0 grams per serving of lactose. There may truly be 0 grams. But there also may be, say, 0.4 grams. For a one-ounce serving that's 1.4% lactose. Not much, but not insignificant.

Other types of rounding are also allowed. A product with fewer than 5 calories per serving, say, a sugar substitute, is legally allowed to bill itself in the U.S. as having 0 calories when it really might have a calorie or four.

In the U.S., lactose has a further twist. You can report 0 grams of lactose per serving and not have zero lactose, but if you use the words "lactose free" then it better be 100% free of lactose. Or at least 100% free within the precision of whatever testing equipment is used.

That brings us back to Lactofree. In the U.K., apparently, the testing precision for lactose in milk allows for up to a 0.05% variance.

That's not much. A liter of cow's milk has about 40 grams of lactose, so 0.05% of that is 0.02 gram (or about 0.005 gram in a standard 8-ounce American glass). Absolutely minimal.

The ASA said that was within standards and too low to affect even those who were lactose intolerant. They dismissed the complaint.

I agree that this is a reasonable ruling. One sentence does worry me, though. "it was generally accepted that the lowest amount of lactose that could trigger symptoms in an individual who was lactose intolerant was 5g." Really? That's saying that anybody can have 1/8 of a liter (about three ounces) of milk without symptoms. Most people can, true. But everybody? I'd like to know where they got that standard. It's nothing I've ever seen before.

I accept that Lactofree milk has as little remaining lactose in it as their manufacturing process can make it. It's not as clear whether little is the same as zero or just equal to "very small." A very tiny number of people who say they can't have even the slightest amount of lactose might want to stay away from Lactofree. On the other hand, if your symptoms aren't too bad you might want to take a test drink and see whether the "not even the slightest amount" clause is really true or whether you're underestimating your capacity.

The broader lesson for all of us is that just reading the nutrition numbers on the side of a package is nowhere near sufficient. You have to research deeper to understand where the numbers come from, what they mean, and what variants are legally allowed. You can bet that the manufacturers know the rules down to the last letter and are manipulating them to their advantage every chance they get. You have to be as smart as they are. Never let up your guard. They are always trying to slip a new twist past us. Don't ever let them.

If you have questions about what the numbers on packaging mean, drop me a line at stevecarper@cs.com. I'll try my best to sort the numbers out from a to z.

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Monday, May 26, 2008

Flat Belly Milk Alternatives

Cynthia Cass, Prevention magazine's Grocery Guru, and coauthor of Flat Belly Diet!, gives out 38 tips for flat belly foods over at MSNBC's website.

A few of these foods are right for those of us with lactose intolerance or who try to avoid dairy altogether. Many of the others appear to be vegan, but you should double-check those yourself.

11. Milk alternative
Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Vanilla Non-Dairy Beverage: The unflavored version of this "milk," made from real almonds, contains 25 percent fewer calories than most soy milks. The vanilla provides only 90 per cup, while the unsweetened chocolate or vanilla varieties provide just 40 to 45 calories and 0g of sugar with no artificial sweeteners. Perfect by itself or in cereal, oatmeal, smoothies, or puddings. All of the flavors provide 20 percent of a day's calcium, 25 percent of vitamin D, and 50 percent of vitamin E. (FLAT BELLY, HEART HEALTHY, ANTI-AGING, BONE-BUILDING)

13. Yogurt
Siggi's Icelandic Style Skyr Strained Non-Fat Yogurt: It's rich in immune-boosting probiotic bacteria, and this decadently thick yogurt provides a whopping 16 to 17g of protein per six-ounce container (three times that of regular yogurt) with just 100 to 120 calories in plain or dessertlike Pear and Mint, Orange & Ginger, and Pomegranate & Passion Fruit. (FLAT BELLY, HEART HEALTHY, IMMUNE-BOOSTING, BONE-BUILDING)

37. Ice cream alternative
Purely Decadent Dairy Free Pomegranate Chip Frozen Dessert: Made from organic soy milk, dark chocolate flakes, and natural pomegranate flavoring, this creamy dessert delivers just 200 calories per half cup, no cholesterol, and only 3.5g of saturated fat. + (FLAT BELLY)

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Health Magazine's Healthiest Restaurants

Americans go to chain restaurants, not healthy ones. There are salad bars, and pricey little gourmet restaurants, and even a wannabe chain like Rochester's Tasteology, which is trying to figure out a way to serve tasty 500-calorie meals.

But when most Americans dine out they wind up choosing heart-attack-on-a-plate glop like Chili’s Crispy Honey Chipotle Crispers, which manages to load 1,890 calories on you before adding dressing, or O’Charley’s Onion Rings with Cajun Horseradish Sauce, whose 139 grams of fat is two full days of normal fats in one side dish.

Health Magazine surveyed 43 sit-down and 53 take-out chains to find which had the healthiest dishes alongside the glop.

The winners have plenty of dishes with calories galore. Apparently, they have better choices that you can decide to concentrate on the next time you're out. And many of the best aren't heavy on the dairy products, making them good choices for the lactose-intolerant community.

Here's a very brief summary.


Noodles & Company
noodles.com

We love: The Trio—soup, noodles, or salad paired with your favorite protein, plus a side salad or a cup of soup.

Chipotle Mexican Grill
chipotle.com

We love: Anything with the chipotle-adobo-marinated grilled steak.

Cosi
getcosi.com

We love: The delicious, healthy fruit smoothies in a green tea base.

Panera
panerabread.com

We love: “You Pick Two” combos. You can get half a sandwich paired with a vegetarian soup

Au Bon Pain
aubonpain.com

We love: The restaurant’s recent move to using preservative-free chicken, for better flavor and less sodium.

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Take the Dairy out of Shavuot

The Jewish festival of Shavuot (or Shavuos in the older Ashkenazi tradition) occurs exactly fifty days after the second day of Passover. It marks the anniversary of the day that the Jews accepted the Torah.

This year it starts at sunset on Sunday, June 8, and runs through sundown on Tuesday, June 10.

Apparently, at least according to Phyllis Glazer of the Jerusalem Post, modern-day Jews celebrate by eating dairy products. In fact, in Israel the sale of dairy products hit their annual high around Shavuot. Who knew?

So Glazer tries to offers some non-dairy alternatives for those who have lactose intolerance or dairy allergies.

But if you or someone close to you is lactose-intolerant or allergic to milk protein, as many adults and children are, celebrating Shavuot is often harder to bear than dealing with the restriction all year-round. For drinking and in many recipes, soy milk is one alternative to regular milk, and there are various brands available (though I confess to using only Alpro calcium-enriched soy milk because it tastes best and is made with whole soybeans rather than some "fresh" types made with soy protein isolate). Other possibilities are coconut milk, rice milk, oatmeal milk and quinoa milk (though after tasting I personally wouldn't buy any of the last three).

For coffee and baking, many people are happy to use parve cream (happy because they either aren't aware of all the chemicals in it, or don't care), or products like "Better than Cream Cheese" (which considering all the fat and stabilizers it contains, doesn't seem any better to me). There are also several types of virtual cheese, individually wrapped slices sold primarily in health food stores. And for dessert, it's easy to find non-dairy ice creams in every supermarket (non-dairy, but chemical rich). Ichh.

Not the highest recommendations, but those of us who have left dairy behind years ago aren't comparing them directly to milk products.

Glazer also offers a recipe for "Feta" cheese in 7-ingredient olive oil marinade, with tofu substituting for the feta.

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Organelles Could Fight Cancer, Even Lactose Intolerance

Fighting cancer is the priority, but a technique pioneered in the lab by Swiss researchers could have profound implications for every aspect of the human body.

According to Tasmin Osbourne of New Scientist magazine, organelles are compartments inside of cells that carry out specialized metabolic functions. Think of them as handy little bags of enzymes, the proteins that make reactions happen inside the body. Now think of carrying your own plastic bags full of the right enzymes and depositing them just where they are needed, right down at the cellular level.

Such a technique would be great for delivering enzymes that become active only when next to - or even inside - a cancer cell, allowing direct targeting of these cells, destroying them without affecting any other non-cancerous cell.

And they would also work to carry enzymes to any part of the body that currently lacks the proper enzymes to work. Example: the microvilli on the insides of the small intestines where the lactase enzyme is made. That means people who are lactose intolerant and no longer make lactase could have bundles implanted in them, a far superior procedure to swallowing a lactase pill and hoping that the lactase gets to where it needs to be.

After that, the sky's the limit. How about photosynthetic skin so you could get energy directly from the sun, like a plant?

Obviously, all this is many, many years or decades away, assuming it ever makes it out of the lab. Still, a fascinating bit of research that is one of the best examples of nanotechnology that I've seen.

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Bella's Cookies

Bella's Cookies makes "All Natural & Organic Cookies, Vegan Cookies, Gluten-Free Cookies, Agave Cookies and Holiday Cookies." And they say they love to fill special orders.


“If there is an allergy to a specific ingredient, we can easily create something delicious without using that trigger,” said Kelly Leishear (President of Bella’s Cookies). Birthday cakes with no eggs, gluten-free birthday cakes, gluten-free breads & sweet breads, and dairy free products are some of the most common requests. “Parents who have children with food allergies have come to know us as a place to call when they’re looking for something special, without compromising taste,” said Kelly “and kids are the toughest critics.” One of Bella’s newest creations is a gluten-free chocolate crème filled sandwich cookie, that is currently only available online.

That press release features their new food allergy page on their website.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Can't Tolerate a Bit of Lactose. Really?

Vicky Ferguson's food column in the Grand Rapids Press tackles a lactose intolerance issue.

A friend says she has lactose intolerance. She insists she cannot tolerate even the least bit of milk in food. She can't tolerate cheese but says she's OK after eating frozen yogurt. How could it be?

How could it be, indeed?

I often get people who tell me they are sensitive to any amount of lactose, no matter how small. Often these people say they can detect the lactose used as a filler in a single pill, a tiny amount by any standard.

I have to believe them, since I'm not in their bodies. Undigested lactose is fermented by the bacteria that live in the large intestine, so it's possible that even a normally tiny amount might set them off.

But eating frozen yogurt without any problems?

That's odd. Yogurt is known for being auto-digesting. That is, the active cultures in yogurt manufacture enough lactase to digest the lactose that is in the yogurt.

Getting active cultures in frozen yogurt is much harder. Cold knocks out the cultures, making them non-active. Some frozen yogurts do a better job than others of adding more cultures to the product so that they will activate in the warmth of your system. Maybe the questioner's friend has found a brand that is especially good at this.

Still seems odd.

Ferguson fumbles around with a general answer that doesn't do much to address the real issues, but has a good point when she writes:
Perhaps your friend has more going on than lactose intolerance, such as irritable bowel syndrome. If that is the case, there could be a lot of bothersome foods, such as higher-fat spicy foods, raw foods, etc. It can be difficult and frustrating to pin down which food caused which symptom.

Very true, and very frustrating.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Whole Soy Yogurt Review

Tasting reviews of milk alternative products are all too rare, so I was pleased to run across a review of Whole Soy yogurt on FitSugar.com.



If you're used to regular cow's milk yogurt, then Whole Soy yogurt will definitely be a change. When you take your first bite, it tastes more sweet than tangy. The consistency is a little different too. It's not as runny as regular yogurt can be, but I really enjoyed the thick and smooth quality. Plus I liked that it wasn't at all gritty or chalky, like some soy products can be. The flavor is very mild, so it's perfect if you like to mix in fruit, nuts, or granola. Although it contains more calories than cow's milk yogurt, it also contains less sodium and sugar. I was also surprised to see that compared to regular yogurt and another brand of soy yogurt, Whole Soy contains the most calcium.

And yes, it's vegan.

Whole Soy & Co. makes lines of soy yogurt and soy frozen yogurt. (They're not related to the Whole Foods Market chain.) Their soy yogurt comes in Plain, Peach, Vanilla, Strawberry, Raspberry, Cherry, Lemon, Blueberry, Apricot Mango, Strawberry Banana, and Mixed Berry flavors.

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Answers to Questions from Readers, part 15

Q. What exactly is the ingredient in dairy products that causes the binding? I read that you feel it is not the lactose.

You're right about that. It's the protein.

Take a look at this Constipation and Milk Allergy page on my web site. It's a discussion of a seminal journal article that makes a connection between a dairy protein allergy and constipation in young children, the first such report to my knowledge. You should then talk to your doctor about it.



Q. What is the lactose content of yogurts containing active cultures?

This sounds like a straightforward question, but it isn't. Two problems.

One is that many manufacturers add additional milk solids to the yogurt during the manufacturing process, because true natural yogurt tends to be too thin and sour for American audiences. This makes it impossible to judge lactose content.

The other problem isn't really a problem, but a boon. The active cultures work to manufacture their own lactase, both during the manufacturing process and even in your intestines. This neutralizes, pretty much, any lactose in the yogurt, even from added milk solids.

So the amount of actual lactose is more or less irrelevant to the end result, which is that yogurts with live and active cultures are well tolerated by most people with lactose intolerance.



Q. a) How is lactose made - I assume it is a protein in the cows stomach or something? Or is it part of the grass?
b) And is Lactaid a protein or an enzyme?

a) Neither. Lactose is made in the mammary gland. (It's a part of milk and found only in milk.) It's a tremendously complicated chemical process that starts with the simple sugar, glucose. Some other glucose is converted to another simple sugar, galactose. Then the whey protein called alpha-lactalbumin bonds them together to make the complex sugar we know as lactose.

b) Lactaid is a brand name for the enzyme known as lactase. (But all enzymes are proteins, except for a couple of weird exceptions.)



Q. I have heard that some meats can contain lactose (unless they are Kosher) is this true? If so which ones?

No meat of any kind contains lactose in and of itself. However, some processed meat products (including cold cuts and hot dogs) can have a dairy product as an ingredient.

The only way to tell is to be sure you always read ingredients lists for anything you buy. And you're right about Kosher meats being dairy-free. They have to be that way. If you can, try to find Kosher cold cuts and hot dogs. Not only are they great tasting, but you can be assured that they don't contain milk.



Q. Does cocoa butter contain lactose like I think it probably does?

Nope, butter here refers only to consistency. Peanut butter, apple butter, and cocoa butter are all lactose free.

You might want to check out my Foolers page on my web site.



Q. If LI is the result of not being able to breaking down the compound sugar found in milk and milk products, then would it also be true that anything made with a compound sugar would also be a problem?

This is a very good question. However, the answer is no, except is a very few people.

The lactase enzyme that digests lactose is an unusual one. Even in people who can drink milk as adults, it is manufactured in smaller quantities than the enzymes that digest other compound sugars. The reasons probably go back well into human evolution, since lactase only needed to be manufactured early in life when milk was the sole food, while all the others were needed for a wide range of foods all one's life.

There are some people who have a wide range of sugar intolerances, but overall it is seldom a problem.

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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Don't Get Fooled by Quack Allergy Test

If parents have been thoroughly scared by the constant drumbeat of talk about allergies during Food Allergy Awareness Week, ending today, they might be willing to go to any lengths to help diagnose their childrens' possible allergies.

Some of you parents may want to try the Imupro allergy blood test. Louise Hall of the Sydney Morning Herald listed what the makers claim are the wonders of the test:

People with unexplained bloating, bowel upsets, hives, lethargy and skin problems can take a new blood test that detects intolerance to 272 foods. ...

The importers of the German-designed Imupro test said it was so accurate it could test for sensitivity to individual types of fish, rather than seafood as a whole, and could also differentiate between different types of milk and vegetables.

Managing director Kevin Grundy said tests available in Australia examined whole food groups, such as dairy or wheat, and a positive result meant sufferers had to cut out the whole group.

"But if you like cheese you may only be intolerant to one type and the rest are still on the menu."

Sounds great, right?

Fortunately, Hall also tells us that:
allergy specialists said the $1000 test was "no more useful than reading tea leaves".

True allergy symptoms are caused by the immune system creating what are called IgE antibodies. These symptoms vary from a mild rash to anaphylactic shock.

There are other groups of antibodies, however, and they can also create symptoms. These reactions are sometimes called food intolerances or hypersensitivities. See my Lactose Intolerance vs. Milk Allergy page on my website.

The Imupro test doesn't look for IgE sensitivity, which is the goal of most authentic allergy tests. It just looks for Type III IgG antibodies.

Does this do any good? Of course the Imupro websites have "case studies" and testimonies about how wonderful their test is. Here's the Australian site that's mentioned in Hall's article. There's a less thorough U.S. site. There is even an English-language version of the original German company's website.

None of the sites give any medical or scientific references to the use of their product or the use of IgG antibody detection in determining reactions to specific foods, just generalities about allergies. I can't figure out any way this can possibly work and they certainly are providing no assistance.

The scientists Hall quotes say the same thing.
Royal Prince Alfred Hospital immunopathologist Roger Garsia said there was no credible evidence that measuring IgG antibodies was useful for diagnosing food allergy or intolerance because these antibodies were common in healthy adults and children.

He said the tests could lead to inappropriate and unnecessary dietary restrictions.

"They shouldn't be purporting to be a reliable diagnostic test and there is a real risk of deciding to unnecessarily restrict food intake on the basis of these tests," he said.

Raymond Mullins, of the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy, said measuring IgG levels was one of many unorthodox ways of diagnosing and treating food intolerance.

He said while studies had shown alternative tests were "no more useful than reading tea leaves", 50-70 per cent of patients with allergic disease consulted unorthodox practitioners.

In other words, desperate parents frequently turn to quacks for help. Please be smarter than that. While diagnosing allergies and hypersensitivities is often a long and difficult task, none of the alternative therapies are worth anything at all, less alone hundreds or thousands of dollars for useless tests.

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Trace Adkins Supports Food Allergy Awareness Week

The Country Music Television (CMT) site reported that:

Trace Adkins accepted an award from the San Diego Food Allergy Support Group on Wednesday (May 14) prior to a show in the area. As the spokesman for the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), he met with parents of children with food allergies. His daughter, Brianna, suffers from severe food allergies to milk, eggs, peanuts and tree nuts. Adkins also appeared on this season's Celebrity Apprentice to raise awareness of the issue. Food Allergy Awareness Week concludes on Saturday (May 17).

Adkins has a long-time connection to FAAN.
Country music sensation Trace Adkins understands the effect food allergies can have on kids and their families, especially parents. Trace’s daughter, Brianna, has severe food allergies. "When she was 9 months old, she licked the lid of a peanut butter jar; her face immediately got swollen. We had no experience with food allergies at the time, and it was terrifying. We later learned she is allergic to several foods, including peanuts, milk, and eggs," says Trace.

...

It was because of his daughter’s experience that Trace was motivated to join the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN). "I know firsthand how important FAAN’s efforts to increase funding for food allergy research are," says Trace. He and his family turn to FAAN for help managing Brianna’s food allergies, and now Trace is helping FAAN as its national spokesperson.

He is currently on "The Celebrity Apprentice" to raise awareness of food allergies and support FAAN, and in 2008 he is reprising his role as National Honorary Chair of the Walk for Food Allergy: Moving Toward A Cure, which raises awareness and funds for food allergy education and research. "I’m so pleased to be able to lend my name as the National Honorary Chair," says Trace.

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Allergy-Free Grocery

Jennifer Elizondo timed the opening of her new allergy-free grocery in Virginia Beach, VA, to coincide with Food Allergy Awareness Week.

As is so often the case, she became aware of the problem of food allergies when her own son developed a life-threatening peanut allergy.

Local allergy-free grocery stores remain rare. Most supermarkets have sections of these foods and several web sites specialize in them, but a large niche remains to be filled. About six percent of children under three now suffer from food allergies.



The press release noted that:

Jennifer Elizondo, founder of Navan Foods, says, "I created this store in an image of what I would want in a grocery store. I shop for a child with food allergies and realized that there was a need for a store like mine. I wanted to create an easy, fast shopping experience where individuals can buy food in confidence."

What separates this store from other grocery or health food stores are the services offered by Navan Foods. Ms. Elizondo developed a detailed questionnaire, sending it to all manufacturers of the food to be carried in her store. The questionnaire asked about ingredients, as well as the manufacturing environment, which can cause a cross-contamination problem for potential allergens if they are present in the facility. The information was then used to create a product card that provides the customer with specific information about each product while shopping. "There have been many times that I have called a manufacturer right from the grocery store aisle," says Ms. Elizondo. "The product cards will help customers answer questions about ingredients and any potential cross-contamination issues."

Navan Foods offers a database where customers can query for food products based on specific ingredients they are avoiding. The database also contains search options to find food for other diets like the Feingold Diet and Vegan diets. There is also an in-store library that contains reference books to help customers if they have questions regarding safe foods or are just looking for a recipe.

For additional information, go to www.navanfoods.com.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Chef's Mission to Educate on Allergies

Another in the series of posts on Food Allergy Awareness Week.

Chef Ming Tsai took up the cause a few years ago when his son David, now 8, was diagnosed with being allergic to seven of the most common food allergens. "Of the eight -- like eggs, wheat, soy, dairy and nuts -- the only one he isn't allergic to is fish," said the chef.

That's from the Staten Island Advance, one of a series of articles on Chef Tsai, this one by Jane Milza.

Because of the raised awareness brought about by his son's allergies, Chef Tsai is now a national spokesperson for The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN).
"When you go into a retail store and buy a jar of food, every ingredient is listed. Why shouldn't every restaurant be just as safe," asked Chef Tsai. "It is the responsibility of the restaurant owner and chef to know what is on the menu -- any danger his customers might experience. It's the right of every American to know, to be told."

"We have to get past the small language barriers -- they want to exempt restaurants with 50 seats or less from having to list ingredients. But all the big boys do it, all the chains list everything," said Che Tsai. "It's not so hard for management or a chef to hand-write everything on the menu. It's not rocket science."

...

An Emmy Award was conferred on "Simply Ming" in its early years and since then the show has twice been awarded the CINE Golden Eagle Award. In the intervening time, the chef has segued away from the Blue Ginger restaurant long enough to author three cookbooks: Blue Ginger, Simply Ming and Ming's Master Recipes as well as to launch a Blue Ginger line of products in partnership with Target stores. Featured is Ming's quick-cooking, frozen dim sum, noodle bowls, rice bowls and stir-fry kits as well as flavored chips and sauces.

With the increase in allergy awareness, the wait staff at Blue Ginger comes in contact with 15 to 20 patrons per night who ask for assistance in ordering, said Chef Tsai, adding, "We've worked with them, and now we've developed a reputation for being an allergy-friendly restaurant."

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

"Five Steps Forward for Food Allergy"

Food Allergy Awareness Week is this week and The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) unveiled the advocacy initiative I mentioned yesterday.

It's called "Five Steps Forward for Food Allergy".

1. School Guidelines: The development of guidelines for assuring the safety of food-allergic children in school is necessary to keep the 2.2-million school-age children with food allergies safe. The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Management Act (S. 1232/H.R. 2063) calls for these guidelines to be developed, and the House of Representatives has already passed this legislation. Therefore, the Senate should move swiftly to pass the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Management Act.


2. Food Allergy Information: There is a critical need for enhanced public information on food allergy, such as an information clearinghouse to provide guidance to the public and health care professionals. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should create a National Information Center on Food Allergies.


3. Guidelines for Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergies: Currently, there is no consistent agreement on how to identify and treat food allergy reactions. Too often, patients go from physician to physician seeking a diagnosis and receive incomplete information and guidance on allergen avoidance, the severity of the disease, and the need to carry epinephrine at all times. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases should move forward with the development of food allergy diagnosis and management guidelines and work with private-sector organizations to assure broad distribution to health care professionals.


4. Research: Expanded research on food allergy and anaphylaxis is necessary to understand why the prevalence of food allergy is increasing, as well as how to prevent and treat food allergies. Congress should increase funding for food allergy research by $50 million over the next five years. Annual increases of $10 million each year for five years should be invested in basic and clinical research on food allergy and anaphylaxis, as recommended by the NIH Expert Panel on Food Allergy Research.


5. Improved Allergen Labeling: Since strict avoidance of food allergens is the only way to prevent a reaction, food-allergic consumers are heavily reliant on the information presented to them on food labels. The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 improved some facets of allergen labeling, but the new law did not regulate the use of precautionary allergen statements, ranging from "May Contain" to "Processed in a Facility" to "Made on Shared Equipment." The U.S. Food and Drug Administration should move to regulate the wording, use, and definition of precautionary allergen statements to further improve allergen labeling.

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Monday, May 12, 2008

11th Annual Food Allergy Awareness Week

May 11-18, 2008 is The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network's (FAAN) 11th annual Food Allergy Awareness Week.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the
National Institutes of Health issued a joint release, Raising Awareness to the Personal and Research Challenges of Food Allergy, to mark the occasion.

It starts:

May 11-17 marks the 11th Annual Food Allergy Awareness Week, a time set aside to increase the public’s awareness of food allergies and the potential challenges they pose. In an average week in the United States, two or three otherwise healthy Americans will lose their lives, and nearly 5,000 will be hospitalized due to allergic reactions to foods. Approximately 6 to 8 percent of children under age 4 and nearly 4 percent of persons age 5 and older have a food allergy.

Aside from their immediate and sometimes life-threatening consequences, food allergies affect an individual’s health, nutrition, development and quality of life. These burdens disproportionately affect children. For children and their families, severe food allergies are accompanied by the fear of future serious reactions and the stigma of avoiding common foods, particularly in school lunchrooms and other social settings, where others too often do not understand the seriousness of the allergy.

FAAN will present an educational briefing tomorrow in Washington, D.C.

Reports state that FAAN will be starting a new advocacy initiative. More than 12 million Americans suffer from food allergies. That's only 4% of the population, a number far more reasonable than some claims that are thrown around but still a huge number of people who face issues with every bite they eat.

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

43 Reasons to Mock Intelligent Design

Do you think your body was intelligently designed? Go to a mirror. Look at it. Naked. Are you telling me somebody did that on purpose?

Or milk drinking. Here's the way it's supposed to work. You get born. You drink breastmilk. You get weaned. End of milk-drinking. Your body turns off the lactase enzyme-making ability.

Every mammal works that way.

Except humans. Some humans have a mutated gene that never shuts down the lactase-making ability, so even adults can drink milk without symptoms of gas and diarrhea.

Well, maybe somebody pointed a finger and made that happen.

Uhn-uh. Scientists have discovered 43 separate variations of the lactose tolerance gene. You want to try to convince me we were deliberately designed forty-three separate times to do the same thing? And it still only reached 30% of the world's population?

No. That didn't happen. You can't believe in a designer that works that way. That belief mocks religion and faith and turns them into farce. No thinking human can accept that solution.

Here's one you can accept. Some few people have a random mutation of that gene. In a time of famine or the need to help a child with a dead mother, somebody suggests milking an animal and using that milk. It works. A life is saved. That person becomes healthy and grows and lives to become a parent. Now the gene is passed to the child. The child drinks good healthy animal milk. Better than beer or wine for vitamins and nutrients. One of the nutrients is calcium. Fewer mothers now die in childbirth. The milk drinkers are stronger and healthier than the non-milk drinkers. They become herders and domesticate more animals, giving them more meat and dairy byproducts. Milk drinking spreads. They meet members of other tribes and cultures who had a mutation of their own and find that together they make children who are more likely to survive. All over the world, these forty three separate little groups had good fortune. The random touch of evolution made the tiniest possible change: a signal that doesn't get sent out, nothing more. And that change is more valuable and will affect more history than all the intelligent design claptrap that the gullible and deluded and deliberately misleading can concoct and burble in their propaganda.

What kind of an intelligent designer would deliberately create the sort of people who can't think for themselves, can't understand those who do think, and can't help trashing the words of those who can?

Satan, maybe? After all, a baby was just born, a very special baby, a one-of-a-kind baby: namely the baby that makes the world's population 6,666,666,666. Was this baby intelligently designed? Was the number of the birth deliberate? Or was it just random chance, because at the rate births were piling up some mother had to be the one who got picked for a special Mother's Day assignment. She delivered.

Now we have a couple of years to wait for the baby to be weaned. Which side will be picked? The milk-drinker and their 43 varieties of mutation? Or the lactose intolerants and their connections deep into history, back through monkeys and lemurs and pangolins and platypuses. Evolution fast or evolution slow? Those are the choices, the only choices.

You want intelligent design, talk to you mothers and wish them a Happy Mothers Day. Their influence is real. And sometimes we mutate ourselves away from our mothers too. Change never stops. The lactase mutation is a dominant trait. Some day, maybe near, maybe far, someday all the humans on earth will be lactose tolerant.

And not a designer's face ever will be shown, except for Mom.

Happy Mother's Day everyone. And Father's Day is coming soon.

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Dairy-Free Smoothies

Australian writer Louise Pickford has written the book on Smoothies: Over 100 Fabulous Blended Drinks from Breakfast Boosters to Indulgent Treats, with a whole chapter on Dairy-Free smoothies thrown in.


Product Description
In this mouthwatering new book, bestselling author Louise Pickford brings you more than 100 fabulous smoothie recipes, explain the health benefits of each recipe, with nutritional information about some of the key ingredients. Start with a Breakfast Smoothie to get you going or sip on a refreshing Fruit Frappe in the afternoon sun. If you're on a health kick try a vitamin-packed Vegetable Juice. A chapter on Dairy Smoothies and Shakes is a sophisticated update on the milkshake while Dairy-free Smoothies offer plenty of variety for those who which to avoid cow's milk. Low-fat Smoothie ideas range from Watermelon and Pear Frothy to exotic Rhubarb, Yogurt, and Rosewater Smoothie. Finally, Louise offers indulgent Smoothies--they're too good to keep for special occasions! *With over 100 delicious recipes for smoothies, frappes, shakes, juices, and more, here's a refreshing drink for every occasion. *Tempting photography by Ian Wallace.

About the Author
Louise Pickford had a successful career in London as a food writer and stylist before moving to Australia. She continues to work for both international and Australian publications, and is the author of more than 20 cookbooks, including the Ryland Peters and Small bestsellers Brunch and Barbecue.


Greg Burliuk of Ontario's Kingston Whig-Standard tried making several of the recipes.
Next up from the book's dairy-free section was a banana and granola soy smoothie with soy milk and soy yogurt.

I found the taste of the soy milk refreshing, but the soy yogurt runny with no body to it at all. However, in concert with the bananas, a tiny bit of granola and a little cinnamon, it was a great breakfast smoothie, although next time I'll crunch up some ice to go with it.

Yes, that means the book is available in Canada as well. Maybe even in Australia. Smoothies for everybody!

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Friday, May 09, 2008

Different Allergy Tests: Different Results

When you go to your doctor for a blood test to see if you have allergies, the test the doctor picks may or may not give you the right answer.

That's the depressing news from a study published in the May issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
"Correlation of serum allergy (IgE) tests performed by different assay systems," by Julie Wang, James H. Godbold, and Hugh A. Sampson, Volume 121, Issue 5, Pages 1219-1224 (May 2008)

Methods
Fifty patients from the Mount Sinai Pediatric Allergy practice were prospectively enrolled. For each deidentified sample, specific IgE levels were measured to egg, milk, peanut, cat, birch, and Dermatophagoides farinae at different laboratories, each using a different assay system (Phadia ImmunoCAP, Agilent Turbo-MP, and Siemens Immulite 2000). Results were analyzed to determine whether IgE measurements were equivalent. Food allergen–specific IgE levels were correlated with clinical data and around empirically determined thresholds that predict probability of clinical disease in 50% or 95% of subjects.

Results
Variable degrees of agreement existed among the 3 assays. Immulite 2000 overestimated all specific IgE levels compared with ImmunoCAP. Turbo-MP overestimated for egg but underestimated for birch and D farinae. Differences for milk, peanut, and cat were observed, without a trend toward overestimation or underestimation. Furthermore, several values for the food allergens were discrepant around the 50% and 95% positive predictive values for clinical reactivity.

Conclusion
Discrepancies in specific IgE values from 3 different assays can potentially lead to altered management and treatment. The predictive values for clinical reactivity associated with food-specific IgE levels determined by ImmunoCAP should not be applied to results from other assays.

This is a fairly specialized result, aimed at practicing doctors rather than patients. While it implies that current results are not always as accurate as they could be - hardly news to many people with allergies judging from the complaints I hear about testing - being able to tell in the future which test works best for different allergies can help to improve the accuracy of diagnoses, so if these results hold up they would be good news for allergy sufferers.

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

Tips for Buying Allergy-Friendly Foods

I've written before about Enjoy Life, the fast-growing maker of gluten-free and allergen-free snacks. They had Gina Clowes, founder of the popular AllergyMoms.com blog, put together a list of tips for consumers buying allergy-friendly products.

  • Have an unbreakable rule: no label = no thank you. Never eat a food that does not have a label.

  • Always carefully read ingredient statements. Different versions of the same food can have different ingredients (for example, chewy Spree candy contains egg white while original Spree does not).

  • Know that different sizes of the same foods can contain different ingredients. (For example, some “mini” versions of Laffy Taffy do not contain egg, but the large size does contain egg.)

  • Don’t rely on common sense to determine if foods are safe. Tuna and flavored water can contain dairy, egg rolls and chili can contain peanut butter, licorice and soy sauce can contain wheat, and the list goes on.

  • Take all precautionary warnings seriously. Manufacturers use different statements to warn consumers like “may contain” or “processed in a facility with.” However, the language used does not indicate the level of risk.

  • Know that precautionary warnings are voluntary. If a product does not have a warning, it does not mean that the product is free of cross contamination. When in doubt, call the company to find out where and how the product was processed.

  • Don’t play ingredient roulette. Even if you or your child once ate a product with a warning, that does not mean the next batch will be safe.

  • Beware of hidden allergens. Potent allergens like sesame and mustard can hide behind the words “natural flavors” or “spices.”

  • Know where the food is made. Seek out products that say they are made in a "dedicated peanut-free, nut-free, soy-free or allergy-free facility," depending on your diet restriction. This provides even further assurance of the food's safety.

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

International Study on Special Diets Published

Last year, many websites that promote a gluten-free or allergy-sensitive diet encourages their readers to take part in a survey of experiences while eating out or traveling.

The final study, titled Understanding Gluten and Allergen-Free Experiences of Guests & Hospitality Worldwide, summarizes the findings from over 2700 customers and businesses in 35 countries.

The reports states, not surprisingly, that 80% of of those with food allergies or celiac disease eat out less because of concerns with foods they haven't prepared or vetted themselves.

The full report will cost you $380. However you can get a free executive summary at www.allergyfreepassport.com or at www.glutenfreepassport.com. A related site, www.glutenfreeonthego.com, provides access to "the world's largest directory of gluten-free establishments."

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Lactose May Be Good for Your Skin

Katie Bird of CosmeticsDesign-Europe.com reported on a study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science.

[A] combination of retinol, lactose and glycolic acid significantly decreased the number of wrinkles and the length of the wrinkled area.

Forty women with fair complexions between the ages of 35 and 50 were involved in the study, applying a formulation containing the three ingredients to one side of the face and a placebo cream to the other twice daily over a 12 week period.

A significant decrease in the number of wrinkles was seen in comparison to the placebo cream after two weeks, report the researchers led by C. Bertin, and after four weeks the total surface area with wrinkles was found to be significantly smaller.

Other parameters measured by the team included the regularity and elastic properties of the skin. Although these properties improved during the treatment period there was no significant difference between the effects of the active and the placebo formulations, according to the team.

The team concludes that "with a well-chosen combination of active ingredients, a significantly better efficacy can be obtained with an anti-ageing cream in comparison with its placebo on photoageing signs".

The 'well-chosen combination' in this case was 0.1 per cent retinol, 5 per cent lactose and 4 per cent glycolic acid (a commonly used Alpha Hydroxy Acid or AHA).

Scientists from Johnson & Johnson were part of the research, for those of you worried about studies funded by corporations who have a stake in positive findings.

I should note that it is highly unlikely that even anyone with a sensitive dairy allergy would be affected by a small amount of pharmaceutical grade lactose applied to the skin, but that is always a factor to consider.

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Monday, May 05, 2008

If Your Mother ♥'s Chocolate

Mother's Day is almost here and you haven't bought a present yet, have you? You know who you are.

Chocolate Decadence, home of the

Dairy-Free ~ Lactose Free ~ Casein Free ~ Gluten Free ~ Vegan

dark chocolate experience wants to save your neck.
Last minute deliveries guaranteed
for this holiday if we
receive your order
by May 6th for Priority Mail,
by May 7th for 2nd Day Air,
and May 8th by noon for Overnight.

Special Mother's Day items include a Chocolate Heart Box, a Happy Mother's Day Heart, a "Mom" Mini Heart Box, and a Chocolate Record that has words inscribed on it that read "Just for the record, Mom, I love you."

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Sunday, May 04, 2008

Raw Milk Not For "Anyone, At Any Time, For Any Reason"

Batten down the hatches, boys, a storm a-gonna blow.

Time magazine ran an article on raw milk in this week's issue, written by Alice Park, and it doesn't say that raw milk is like Louis Armstrong's trumpet mixed with Van Gogh's paintbrush. All the raw milk nuts in the world are gearing up to pound their poor keyboards like a red-headed stepmule.

I've gone off on raw milk myself, the last time not so long ago in Raw Milk Article Long but Flawed. Time's article, unlike that one, wasn't written by a long-term raw milk advocate. When somebody objective writes on the subject, the answers come out completely different.

What heresy did Time commit? Judge for yourself.

The available evidence suggests that without a bug-killing step like pasteurization, even the cleanest dairy with the healthiest cows cannot always expect to produce safe milk. In testimony before Maryland state delegates, the FDA's [John] Sheehan stressed that raw milk in any form "should not be consumed by anyone, at any time, for any reason." He cited 45 outbreaks of disease from 1998 to 2005 that were traced to unpasteurized milk or cheese--and pointed to the dangers of exposing the vulnerable immune systems of young children, the elderly and those with immune disorders to the colonies of bugs that can populate untreated dairy. Raw milk makes up less than half of 1% of milk sales in the U.S. but accounts for twice as many disease outbreaks as pasteurized milk.

Farmers like [Mark] McAfee counter that all raw milk is not created equal. Government surveys, they claim, lump together raw milk that is destined for pasteurization--and therefore doesn't have to be table-ready--along with milk, like McAfee's, that is produced for human consumption. But that doesn't convince Kathryn Boor, chair of food science at Cornell University, who grew up on a farm drinking raw milk--but won't do it now. "You can't always tell when a cow is sick," she says. "And cows can sometimes kick the milking machine off. Generally, what's on the barn floor is not something I want in a glass."

What scientists like McAfee and Boor are saying is that for raw milk to be safe, it has to be perfect every step of the way every single time. Most foods rely on some sort of processing to ensure safety, which is what pasteurization is. Without that needed check drinking raw milk is like, well, as McAfee said, "playing Russian roulette with your health". Not worth the risk.

BTW, you'd think that a magazine with Time's resources could answer a simple question.
Why drink raw milk at all? Fans are convinced that heating destroys the good bacteria--the same probiotic critters that retailers now add back into some yogurts--as well as enzymes that can be beneficial to your health.

So. Is this true? Isn't the absolutely most important point of all to say that this claim either is real or is completely phony?

Yes it is. So why raise the claim -- and then never address it in any way at any time in the article?

Bad journalism, Time. Not as bad as what The Boston Globe committed when it printed that article I critiqued in my earlier post, but still not up to my standards. We're talking peoples' health, here. Get it both right, which you did, and complete, which you didn't.

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Saturday, May 03, 2008

Breastfeeding Rates Up in U.S.

All major physician, nursing, and health groups recommend breastfeeding for all mothers who are able to do so. Most studies also show that breastfeeding can play a major role in decreasing the likelihood or severity of dairy allergies in infants with family histories of allergies.

So it is very good news to learn that a variety of studies have shown that breastfeeding rates are up across the board in the U.S. over the past 20 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Mike Stobbe reported the numbers in the Seattle Times.

About 77 percent of new mothers breast-feed, at least briefly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

"It looks like it is an all-time high" based on CDC surveys since the mid-1980s, said Jeff Lancashire, a CDC spokesman.

Experts attributed the rise to education campaigns that emphasize that breast milk is better than formula at protecting babies against disease and childhood obesity. A changing culture that accommodates nursing mothers may also be a factor.

The percentage of black infants who were ever breast-fed rose most dramatically, to 65 percent. Only 36 percent were ever breast-fed in 1993-1994, the new study found.

For whites, the figure rose to 79 percent, from 62 percent. For Mexican-Americans, it increased to 80 percent, from 67 percent.

...

At least three types of CDC surveys have shown breast-feeding rates moving upward since the early 1990s, officials said.

The latest CDC report found rates of breast-feeding were also lowest among women who are unmarried, poor, rural, younger than 20, and have a high school education or less.

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Friday, May 02, 2008

May Is Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month

May is Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month, which means that the National Osteoporosis Foundation is rolling out the heavy calcium for an awareness campaign.

Dairy products are the primary source of calcium in our culture. So how are the lactose intolerant, the dairy allergic, and the vegans among us supposed to cope?

Spine-Health.com conveniently offers 10 ways to get enough calcium if you're lactose intolerant.

  1. Quit drinking soft drinks.
  2. Get enough Vitamin D.
  3. Don’t forget that sunlight also helps the body naturally absorb vitamin D.
  4. Eat your beans (baked).
  5. Canned Salmon.
  6. Calcium fortified foods.
  7. Oatmeal isn't just for breakfast. One cup of oatmeal not only provides 100–150mg of calcium.
  8. Eat your veggies... especially spinach, broccoli and dark green leafy vegetables.
  9. Go Nuts. Almonds and brazils nuts contain about 100mgs of calcium per serving.
  10. Take an Over-the-Counter Calcium Supplement.

The original article provides more extensive comments on each of these, of course.

What happened to #10? They recommend drinking lattes made with soy milk. Or adding soy milk to regular coffee for those with sense. The problem with this advice is that soy milks vary enormously in the amount of calcium they contain. Some have more than cow's milk; some almost none. If you're making coffee at home you can control what brand you get to ensure that it contains sufficient calcium. You can't be sure of this in a store.

Why they don't just recommend drinking soy milk and skipping the coffee, which isn't good for you in a dozen different ways, is a mystery.

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Sugar Substitutes

Creating sweet powders to substitute for sugar in beverages and recipes is a science today, not a matter of accidents in the lab. Creations go well beyond those little colored packages in a bowl on your restaurant table.

DiabetesHealth.com reprints an article by Michael R. Eades and Mary Dan Eades that goes over the pros and cons of about a dozen sugar substitutes. It doesn't excerpt well, so I advice you to take a look at the full article.

Substitutes considered include:

Acesulfame K
Aspartame
Cyclamate
Erythritol
Saccharine (Sweet 'n' Low)
Sorbitol, Mannitol and Maltitol
Stevia
Sucralose (Splenda)
Tagatose
Xylitol

NOTE: Though tagatose is derived from lactose, it undergoes additional processing steps before the final product is marketed. I know of no evidence that it should be considered a dairy product or dairy derivative. Tagatose is found naturally in very small amounts in milk, which may lead to some confusion, but that is not the route taken for commercial manufacturing.

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