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.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Jezebel Loves Daiya

When I first learned I was lactose intolerant in 1978, me and a few Neanderthals, not only did nobody know nothing about LI but the number of dairy-free alternative products - all aimed at those with allergies - could be counted by a four-year-old. The ones that did exist, well, Coffee Rich was already around so they weren't all horribly bad, but you wanted to stay far, far away from the rest. Especially blocks of stinky white stuff that called itself non-dairy cheese.

A food industry that today gives you everything from hot dog and fries on a stick to egg foam with chive infusion can certainly get a mere substitute for cheese correct, can't it?

I've been listing non-dairy substitutes on my website for over 10 years. And I know that the look of the site hasn't been updated since then, and that some of the information there is obsolete, with new stuff missing. Sorry. That's a thousand hours I don't have. Much of the information is still good, though, and at least it gives you an idea of the range of items that are available, inside any one category and over all the various categories that non-dairy covers.

Two years ago, I let you know about the introduction of one particular non-dairy cheese that made a huge splash, Daiya Vegan "Cheese". Since then, Daiya has received much more praise around the web. Not only is it acclaimed as especially tasty, but it's not soy-based, often a problem for people with multiple allergies. Daiya uses tapioca and/or arrowroot flours, which they claim make it unusually allergen-free. (That's a change from earlier, when they used cassava rather than tapioca.)

Jezebel, a major women's blog, has a nice feature called Worth It:

Worth It, our daily recommendation of random things that we've actually spent our own money on. These are the things we buy regularly or really like, things we'd actually tell our friends about. And now we're telling you.


On November 25, 2011, the daily worth it was Daiya.



And the review is glowing.
Daiya cheese is the best substitute cheese of all the substitute cheeses!

I feel pretty qualified to say this — because I've tried so, so many kinds of fake cheese — the only cheese that melts enough to make a quesadillas, grilled cheese, and macaroni and cheese is Daiya. When I stopped eating dairy products, one of the biggest voids left in my eating habits was pizza. Every time I would make homemade pizza — I really, really missed pizza, you guys — it always failed my expectations. Until (surprise!) I tried making pizza with Daiya. It melts, and it melts unlike any other kind of fake cheese I've tried.


What that page doesn't say, and you should know, is that Daiya has a short shelf life once opened, no more than 10 days. You can freeze it, however, and only thaw as much as you'll need at one time.

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Digestive Advantage Now Owned by Schiff

I've written about Digestive Advantage many times in the past five years. It makes a brand of probiotic that is aimed specifically at those of use with lactose intolerance. No need to look for all the past links, but I did a long post filled with comments from you in Digestive Advantage Update in 2007. Most of what was said there should still hold today.

Here's a cold slap of reality to the face. I remember what I wrote about Digestive Advantage in 2007. And in 2006 and in 2009 and 2010. Not only that, I went over and over and over that material when I put together my collection of blog pieces, Planet Lactose: The Best of The Blog.



[Stop now. Put everything aside. Go and order the book, either in print form or an electronic version. Really. It'll put all this great information into one place for you. End of commercial.]


Back to reality. No matter how new and burned into my brain this info is: for most of you out there it's old and buried and never seen.

One of the big pieces of news that I discovered when I resumed the blog recently was that Lactagen has stopped being manufactured I automatically assumed that everybody would know about the possibility of switching to Digestive Advantage. Except, of course, you don't. You needed to write me to ask.

OK, time to correct that huge oversight.

Digestive Advantage.


Schiff® Digestive Advantage products contain BC30 probiotics, a hardy strain of Bacillus coagulans -- these "friendly" bacteria, or probiotics, help your body maintain a balance of bacteria -- supporting your digestive system. Unlike some other probiotics, BC30 survives passage through harsh stomach acids and doesn't need to be refrigerated, so there's no worrying about whether you're getting the live cells you need.

Schiff® Digestive Advantage comes in four different formulas: Intensive Bowel Support, Lactose Defense Formula, Gas Defense Formula and Daily Constipation Formula, so you can choose the Digestive Advantage product that's right for you. Click on any image below to learn more about that Digestive Advantage Formula.

And more promotional copy:

Digestive Advantage® Lactose Defense Formula
No Need to Take With Every Meal!

Digestive Advantage® Lactose Defense Formula does not have to be taken with every meal because it combines lactase enzyme with probiotics to help break down lactose hours after reaching the digestive tract.

Digestive Advantage® Lactose Defense Formula helps prevent the GAS, BLOATING and OCCASIONAL DIARRHEA that many people with lactose intolerance experience after eating foods containing dairy.

Available at over 40,000 retailers nationwide including Rite Aid, Walgreen's, WalMart, CVS/Pharmacies, Albertsons, K-Mart, Kroger, Safeway and online at Amazon.com, Drugstore.com.com and DoctorVicks.com.

Other Ingredients: Vegetarian capsule (hypromellose, water, chlorophylin, titanium dioxide), Microcrystalline cellulose, Di-calcium phosphate, Stearic acid, Silidon dioxide.

Contains milk and soy.

Let me repeat: Contains milk and soy. I don't understand that, and I don't see either in the list of ingredients, but I take warnings seriously. The flip side is that you have no reason to take Digestive Advantage unless you are planning to eat dairy products, which will contain a zillion times more milk in them. It's only the soy warning that a very small number of you have to worry about.

The other piece of news in that information is that the huge multinational powerhouse pharmaceutical company Schiff bought Gananden, the parent company of Digestive Advantage, back in June of 2011. You can read the press release for more info.

The purchase also gave Schiff rights to Sustenex, which uses the Gananden BC30 probiotics. I've written about Sustenex in the past as well.

Is the sale to Schiff good news for us? Probably. Digestive Advantage now has the muscle of Schiff's billions in marketing, distribution, and grabbing of shelf space in stores to make it more visible. There's always a flip side. As a very tiny and unimportant piece of an empire, good sales aren't enough. Big companies frequently buy out promising little companies and then eliminate them if they don't turn into huge profit centers. The good news prevails for now. Probiotics are hot. Drug Store News reported favorably on the sale, noting that "The probiotics category is presently growing at more than 20% on an annualized basis, according to Nutrition Business Journal." As long as that's true, expect to be able to easily find Digestive Advantage conveniently on local shelves.

And if and when Lactagen ever comes back onto the market, it will find deep pockets to compete against. That's also either good news or bad, depending on which since you sit on. My side is that the more choices and the more products consumers have, the bigger their advantage is.

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Saturday, November 05, 2011

ConsumerLab Accuses Lacteeze of Lacking Lactase

ConsumerLab is a rival of the more famous Consumer Reports. It concentrates more on pills, powders, supplements, and remedies, though, a field that is rife with quacks and where even the legitimate products may not do what they claim.

Lactase is hardly in that class. It's easy to make, can be measured with proper federally-approved units, and does exactly what it's supposed to do. Like anything that is sold over-the-counter, though, some products have to be better than others. So when ConsumerLab did a report on lactase I didn't expect any surprises.

Wrong.

Can lactose-free foods -- like like lactose-free milk -- and lactase enzyme supplements really help people with lactose intolerance? They may -- but it depends on how much enzyme activity is in the supplement and how much lactose has been removed from the food.

ConsumerLab.com selected and tested ten different lactase supplements and three popular brands of lactose-free milk. The testing showed one lactase supplement to be ineffective and another with so little activity as to be of questionable value. But ConsumerLab.com also found many supplements that met their claims and may be helpful. The three lactose-free milks had no detectable lactose but only two provided a significant amount of vitamin D.

ConsumerLab.com found that an equal amount of lactase enzyme (enough to help with a high lactose meal) cost as little as 8 cents to as much as $6.79 depending on the brand of lactase supplement.


That's from the public page. You have to be a member to get the full report. Luckily, I am. Here's the full story.

The following lactase enzymes pills were tested (amount of lactase units):

CVS Pharmacy Dairy Relief Fast Acting (9,000 - 27,000)
Enzymedica Lacto (9,500)
Equate (Wal-Mart) Fast Acting Dairy Digestive Supplement (9,000 - 27,000)
Garden of Life Raw Enzymes (1,890 - 5,670)
KAL Lactase Enzyme (250)
Kirkland (Costco) Signature Fast Acting Lactase (9,000 - 27,000)
Lactaid Fast Act (9,000 - 27,000)
Natural Factors Lactase Enzyme 9,000
Nature’s Plus Say Yes to Dairy (3,000)
Puritan’s Pride Lactase Enzyme (1,750 - 5,250)
Solgar Lactase 3500 (3,500)
Source Naturals Lactase Digest (3,000 - 9,000)
Zygest Lactase Enzyme (1,750 - 5,250)


One liquid lactase:

Lacteeze

The three lactose-free milks:

Lactaid Fat-Free Milk,
Land O Lakes Dairy Ease
Organic Valley Lactose-Free Organic Fat Free Milk


All the lactase pills made their approved list, which as far as I can tell means only that they contain the amount of lactase that the manufacturers claimed.

There are other factors just as important. Tops on that list is whether the amount of lactase is sufficient for your needs. That's a touchy subject. Although the report cites a few studies, the truth is that nobody really knows what amount of lactase to recommend for the simple reason that each person is different. Some people seem to need only a basic minimum amount of lactase; others report requiring multiple pills. How your system reacts to the lactose in food varies with every mouthful. It's a frustratingly impossible subject to research. Over the years, however, the standard in the marketplace has been that a basic pill contains 3,000 units and an "extra-strength" pill contains 9,000. You might be able to get by with a smaller quantity, but I have always stated that anything below 1,000 units is a worthless waste of money. The KAL pill wouldn't make my approved list. In addition, the lactase in it is just one of a mixture of other digestive enzymes and I don't know if any of them are useful or in the right quantities. I never recommend any pills that contain such a mix. Garden of Life Raw Enzymes and Enzymedica Lacto also are mixes and not recommended by me. ConsumerLab noted that they are also the most expensive products per unit. As you would expect, the Costco and Walmart brand products were the cheapest at 8 and 12 cents per 9,000 units. Chewable tablets were slightly more expensive, Lactaid Fast Acting Vanilla Twist Flavor at 20 cents and CVS Pharmacy Dairy Relief Fast Acting Vanilla Twist Flavor at 21 cents, but some people - kids especially - may prefer them. The health food store brands were consistently more expensive.

So what about Lacteeze? Well, lactase pills are meant to be taken along with food to counteract the lactose in them. They work in your digestive tract. Lactase liquid, on the other hand, is a completely different type of lactase that is designed to be added to milk or other liquid dairy products and "digest" the lactase before it reaches your mouth. That's what Lacteeze liquid is. (Lacteeze, which is a Canadian product, also makes pills, which evidently were not tested.) I've recommended Lacteeze for years, because they came to our rescue when all the American brands of liquid lactase went off the market. I've never heard any complaints about them, although I always warn people that nothing works for everybody. I simply can't imagine why ConsumerLab couldn't find lactase in the Lacteeze bottle. Could their tests simply not be designed to find that variety of lactase? It's a mystery. I'm very hesitant to steer people away from a product that been a major company for decades on the basis of this odd finding.

Lactose-free milk, of course, is made by adding liquid lactase to regular milk. The process is similar to what you can do at home, although it is scaled up to industrial levels. All three milks in the test had lactose levels below what their test labs could detect. That doesn't necessarily mean absolutely zero, but so close that any difference is meaningless. All were about the same price, although the organic milk was a bit higher. The claim that one milk - Dairy Ease - didn't provide "a significant amount of vitamin D" is bizarre and possibly spurious. In reality, that meant that the carton didn't say how much much vitamin D was present and so they read that as zero even though Dairy Ease stated that vitamin D was added. That's shoddy work at best.

Overall, the report yields results pretty much exactly what I would expect. Store brands are cheaper than name brands, and mainstream brands more expensive than natural food items. Buy pills either as cheap as you can find, in whatever form you like, or pay a little more for the convenience of buying them where you usually shop. Lactase is lactase, as long as you buy sufficient quantities of it and that's all you're buying.

I'll try to investigate the strange finding about Lacteeze.

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