Because of spam, I personally moderate all comments left on my blog. However, because of health issues, I will not be able to do so in the future.

If you have a personal question about LI or any related topic you can send me an email at I will try to respond.

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 However, product information and weblinks may be out of date.

My old website can be found at

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

Monday, December 25, 2006

Post Punk Vegans

I wrote about the new cookbook Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World back on November 29.

I didn't realize I was only giving you half the story.

Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero were the co-hosts of a public access vegan cooking show, The Post Punk Kitchen. Well, four episodes, at least, which are still available via Google video.

And the Vegan Cupcake book is a sequel to Isa's cookbook from last year, Vegan with a Vengeance: Over 150 Delicious, Cheap, Animal-Free Recipes That Rock.

Want more? Isa and Terry and the rest of the Post Punk Kitchen crew have a website, with recipes, forums, links to this and that, and the usual good stuff that comes with the freedom of being able to put everything out for the public.

Vegan with a Vengeance is available through their website, of course, or through my Milk-Free Bookstore on the Vegan Cookbooks page.

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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Dairy-Free Recipes from Kosher Cookbooks

Sure I know it's Christmas Eve. I'm just feeling perverse. It's my revenge for 24/7 Christmas carols starting November 1.

In What Ever Happened to Mom's Apple Cake? Rachel Silverman talks about the findings of food historian Dr. Carol Harris Shapiro who notes that Jews in America assimilated their food along with other cultural touchstones.

Shapiro also said that the recent wave of health consciousness put Jewish food on the back-burner, so to speak. Between dishes laden with fat (noodle kugel), sodium (corned-beef sandwiches) and sugar (apple cake), the professor confirmed that "pretty much the entire Jewish Ashkenazi cookbook" has been "wiped out."

Even though Shapiro said that "food is one of the very last things to leave an ethnic group," she described contemporary Jewish cuisine as steeped "in a tremendous time of flux."

Lecture attendee Herman Jacobowitz agreed, citing his own personal ambivalence about the amalgamation process.

While he said that he enjoys the Israeli-style tapas, pungent spices and soy ice-cream his daughter serves on Shabbat, he admitted to a certain nostalgia for recipes from his youth.

So let's explore some of those new-fangled Jewish foods, with dairy-free recipes that are good for those who are lactose intolerant, dairy allergic, or vegans as well.

Leave it to the New York Times to feature the Ultimate Potato Pancake recipe, adapted from Daniel Boulud's The New American Cooking.

Nancy Coale Zippe wrote 'Where There's Food …', an article about the new cookbook Where There's Food ... There's a Celebration.

Recipes on that page include:
  • "A Great Gift of Rice" mix
  • Salmon with Mustard Crumb Crust
  • Potato Latkes

Then there's Roseanne Gold, author of Kids Cook 1-2-3 who shares her recipes on Celebrate Hanukkah with latkes.

  • 1-2-3 Latkes
  • 1-2-3 Apple-Cranberry Sauce
  • 1-2-3 Apple-Cranberry Salsa

Finally, there's Doris Reynolds who wrote Let’s Talk Food: Main ingredient for latkes not just potatoes. She has the most old fashioned kind of recipe in, appropriately:

  • Molly Goldberg’s old fashioned potato latkes, from Molly Goldberg's cookbook Molly Goldberg Cooks.
  • She moderns it up with Zucchini Parmesan latkes. This recipe contains a small amount of cheese as an ingredient, but the cheese is absolutely not necessary to the result and can be safely left out.

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Sweet Alternative: A Cookbook for Us

Ariana Bundy, who now lives in Paris, was once the Head Pastry Chef at the L.A. Mondrian Hotel and also trained the dessert team in New York's Morgan's Hotel. I guess she can do a mean dessert.

That's good for those of us who are lactose intolerant, gluten intolerant, or have dairy allergies, because her new cookbook is Sweet Alternative: More Than 100 Recipes Without Gluten, Dairy and Soy.

The description says:

Sweet Alternative has substitute choices for those who must give up dairy, gluten or soy, without compromising on taste. Using years of research and recipe testing, Ariana Bundy provides 100 mouth-watering cookies, muffins, cakes, ice creams and other irresistible treats all made without dairy, gluten or soy.

Using ingredients such as nut milks, candied peels, fresh fruit purées, and quality chocolate, the author shows how to make vanilla ice cream, chocolate muffins enriched with quinoa, and luscious crème patissiere -- all without gluten.

These recipes are simple and the ingredients are widely available. More than 150 photographs whet the appetite for such dishes as:

  • Maple-sweetened Corn Muffins
  • French Macaroons, and
  • Silky Smooth Pumpkin Pie.

You can find the book in my Milk-Free Bookstore on the Kids, Parenting and Special Diets page along with other dessert cookbooks that feature dairy or wheat-free recipes.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Reindeer Milk and Cookies for Santa?

Hold Rudolph down, elves, she's kicking and we need the milk!

Reindeer milk? Yes, kiddies, it's that time of year when the press has run out of Christmas themes to mine and starts digging deep into the drawer of desperation for ideas.

Sure, reindeer milk is comparatively low-lactose, as you can see at my website on the Lactose Zoo page. But only a Finn who grows up in the midst of them would bother. They rank just above a pig in difficulty of milkability.

Anyway, is this year's winner of the Farthest Reach Award, given to a news site that has gone the longest and silliest way to shoehorn in a theme, for its article by Stephen Daniells, "Reindeer milk - not on Santa's list this year."

Among the highlights:

It is hard to imagine large scale milking of these animals, not only since the process is labour intensive but also because the output is poor. According to the FAO, reindeer milk yields are extremely low. Couple this to the fact that it apparently takes two people to milk the beasts - one to do the milking and the other to hold the horns it is no wonder that the milk has never gone mainstream.


The milk does have a distinctive nutritional profile, with a fat content of 22 per cent, a whopping six times as much as cow's milk. Donkey milk contains less than one per cent fat.

Additionally, reindeer milk is poor in lactose, containing only about 2.4 per cent - equivalent to about a one-third the lactose content of human milk (7 per cent) and half that of cow's milk (4-5 per cent), according to Fundamentals of Dairy Chemistry (B. Webb, A. Johnson, AVI Publishing, 1965).

On Donner, Blitzen, and Elsie!

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Curious, but Lactose, Casein and Gluten-Free Cookies

Curious Cookie, the "all natural gourmet" cookies, makes a line of cookies that are free of everything except, hopefully, taste.

Their "Gluten Free Gourmet Cookies" are more than just that:

A Blend of the Finest All Natural Gluten Free Flours are combined with a Gluten Substitute to create a truly outstanding Gluten Free Line of Cookies. These cookies are lactose/casein free and void of any hydrogenated oils/fats or Trans Fats.

And they come in five varieties:
  • Chocolate Chip
  • Lemon Chocolate Chip
  • Chocolate Chocolate Chip
  • Ginger Cranberry
  • Assorted Cookies

Contact them:
By Email:

By Phone: Toll free 877-YUMMY-2-U (986-6928)
Local 973-616-8500

By Mail: Curious Cookie
719 Hamburg Tpke
Pompton Lakes, NJ 07442

Or just go to the website.

Flat rate shipping starts at $8.75.

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Sunday, December 17, 2006

Your Cats May Be Mutants Too

Everybody knows that cats love milk. And everybody knows that you shouldn't give milk to cats because they're lactose intolerant just like humans. Right?

Maybe not.

An article by Regina and Douglas Haggo in The Hamilton Spectator drops an odd little tidbit in the middle of a comment on the much-talked about study that says Milk-Drinking Crucial to Human Evolution.

The availability of cows' milk turned a useless mutation into an invaluable one. Natural selection would favour people with the lactose-digesting gene switched on permanently, because they could profit from the calories, vitamins and minerals in milk.

Many European cat breeds show a similar mutation that allows them to enjoy milk as adults, while oriental breeds, like most Asian humans, are lactose-intolerant.

Is this true? Any cat-fanciers out there know the facts?

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Saturday, December 16, 2006

Stopping Dairy Doesn't Cut Asthma Symptoms

I've been hearing anecdotes for years from those in the anti-milk community that taking children off of dairy problems relieves their asthma symptoms.

While it's impossible to say for sure for any individual whether that may be the case, a major study has found no such correlation.

The International Study on Allergy and Asthma in Childhood 2 (ISAAC-2) looked at the consumption of fruits, vegetables, dairy products, whole grain products, and fish in relation to asthma in 598 Dutch children between the ages of 8 and 13 years. Findings were published in the medical journal Thorax.

According to a story from the Reuters Health news syndicate, Whole grains and fish may protect against asthma:

Parents completed food questionnaires, which were used to estimate the kids' dietary intakes. Wheezing and asthma were also determined with questionnaires, as well as from medical tests.

No clear associations were observed between asthma or wheezing and intake of citrus fruits, vegetables, and dairy products, but there was a link with consumption of fish and whole grain products.

"The crude prevalence of current wheeze was observed to be 19.4% in children with a low intake of both foods compared with 4.2% in children with a high intake of both foods," Smit's team [Dr. H. A. Smit, of the National Institute of Public Health and the Environment, in Bilthoven, the Netherlands, and colleagues] reports. "For current asthma the crude prevalences were 16.7% and 2.8%, respectively."

After adjustments, whole grains and fish were linked to a reduction of 54 percent and 66 percent, respectively, in the likelihood of having asthma, and similar reductions of 45 percent and 56 percent for wheezing.

Further studies will look at the reasons why whole grains and fish may decrease the likelihood of these symptoms.

However, dairy products appeared to have no effect on asthma symptoms.

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Friday, December 15, 2006

Patricia Wheway: Creator of "Free From" Foods

I've written about "free from" foods before. Free-From Foods to be Less Fickle in UK, "Free From" Foods Grow in Sales, and More UK Free-From Foods Honoured.

"Free from" foods are free of ingredients like milk or wheat that can trigger allergies, lactose intolerance, celiac disease or other eating disorders. The term seems to be uniquely U.K. At least, it's not one I've seen in the U.S. and I don't remember coming across it in articles about other countries.

Another thing I didn't know was the origin of the term. It came in a dream.

But maybe I should start at the beginning.

As Simon Crompton writes for the TimesOnline, A one-woman food revolution, the free from campaign is due entirely to one woman: Patricia Wheway.

Her son, George, suffered from a long series of problems. More through trial and experimentation than doctor's awareness, she found that removing various allergens from his diet helped remove his symptoms. But finding foods that were made without dairy, wheat, or certain additives were a challenge. As I've written in those previous posts, the U.K. lagged years behind the U.S. in developing a true alternative foods market.

When nobody else has stepped up, sometimes you just have to do things yourself. When I first learned in 1978 that I was LI, only one book existed that was of any help: Isobel Sainsbury's The Milk-Free and Milk-Free Egg-Free Cookbook. She had written it because her own son - born in 1954! - was allergic to dairy and eggs and no cookbooks could be found that didn't load up the recipes with milk and eggs and she had to learn how to devise substitute recipes for herself.

I wrote my first book on LI, No Milk Today: How to Live with Lactose Intolerance, because there weren't any books on LI and I wanted to share with others the years of research I put in on my own.

Wheway's problem was slightly different: she couldn't find the products she wanted. So she wrote to the head of the largest supermarket chain in the U.K. and asked to take over. And they agreed.

Wheway trudged around every supermarket and every health store near her Surrey home, trying to find something that was safe and edible, but in vain. “I was baking gluten-free bread for him every day and preparing all his food myself,” she says. Angry at the food industry, disillusioned and worn down by George’s obsessional behaviour (he would switch lights on and off for hours), she wanted to change things. In 2001 she decided she was the person who would make the food industry change. She wrote to Tesco’s chief executive, Sir Terry Leahy, with a plan for the sorts of allergy foods that any self-respecting supermarket should have on its shelves. She told them all about herself — her background in retail; her experiences with George — set out a strategy, and offered to develop the range herself.

Amazingly, Tesco said yes. Sir Terry wrote and asked her to come to see them, and then gave her a job. It ended up with Wheway introducing Tesco’s Free From range in 2002, and kick-starting a supermarket revolution with all the other leading stores following suit. She is now brand manager at Tesco, not just for Free From but also the additive-free Tesco Kids range, launched last February, and the Fairtrade range. It makes her one of the most influential voices in the UK’s biggest food store.

She gave the line of foods the name "free from" because it really did come to her in a dream. Still a great name, though.
and the response was amazing, she says. Market research indicated that customers thought it was one of the main areas where “Every little helps”, as the Tesco slogan goes. The main purchasers, she says, are people with coeliac disease (an inability to digest gluten) or intolerance to wheat or gluten. Tesco sells more than £30 million worth of the range annually and expanded it this year because of customer demand. Wheway believes that people with food allergies and intolerances are now much better catered for than the days when she was tearing out her hair.

Two other major U.K. chains, Sainsbury's (any relation to Isobel? I don't honestly know) and Morrisons, have also introduced "free from" lines.

A happy ending? You bet.
George, now 10, is happily settled at a small school for children with moderate learning disabilities, and is free from seizures, diarrhoea and hyperactivity. The family lives a short drive from Tesco’s headquarters in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, and Wheway has been allowed to work part-time so that she can be with George after school. This year she won an Allergy Magazine award.

Congratulations from me as well.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Milk Mutation "Strongest Signal of Selection"

More info is coming in on the report highlighted in Monday's post, Milk-Drinking Crucial to Human Evolution.

Scientific American has weighed in with its own article, African Adaptation to Digesting Milk Is "Strongest Signal of Selection Ever", by Nikhil Swaminathan.

According to University of Maryland biologist Sarah Tishkoff, the lead author of a study appearing in today's Nature Genetics, the mutation allowing them to "get milk" arose so quickly and was so advantageous that "it is basically the strongest signal of selection ever observed in any genome, in any study, in any population in the world."


Tishkoff's team determined the date range when the mutation likely occurred: 3,000 to 7,000 years ago, which matches up well with the archaeological record that places pastoralization coming to East Africa about 5,000 years ago. The European trait dates back about 9,000 years.

Tishkoff believes that because she found so many markers associated with lactose tolerance in the sequencing of her 109 subjects, evolution clearly develops multiple solutions when there is a strong selective force. "There are some populations that can digest milk, and they don't have any of these mutations," she says. "There are more out there."

The abstract for the article can be found on the Nature Genetics website, but it won't mean anything except to specialists.

An even fuller version of the report is scheduled for the December 15, 2006 issue of Science, the premier science journal in the U.S.

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Milk-Drinking Crucial to Human Evolution

In my book, Milk Is Not for Every Body, I provided an explanation for lactose persistance, that strange condition which allows adults to drink milk without symptoms. Here's an excerpt from the book:

The combination of the convenient presence of milk from domesticated animals, the nutritional advantage that milk can offer and the genetic dominance of the LP gene form the basis for the current scientific consensus that natural selection pressures account for the astoundingly high percentages of LP in certain corners of the world today. Once set into motion, the spread of milk-drinking appears to be inevitable, having happened at least twice in different ways in different parts of the world.

All that is necessary is that the following three conditions (set out by John D. Johnson, Norman Kretchmer and Frederick J. Simoons in "Lactose Malabsorption: Its Biology and History," Advances in Pediatrics, 1974:21:197-237) be in place. LP is almost certain to appear whenever a cohesive group of people:

    1) Have a plentiful milk supply;

    2) Do not process their milk into products that are low in lactose; and

    3) Cannot readily obtain from other available foods essential nutrients that milk does provide.

The situation that would clearly create the greatest selection pressure is the one in which a group has literally nothing else to eat other than milk.

Impossible as it might seem, there are many such groups, all of them tribal nomads on the fringes of the Sahara desert. Take the Beja, who live in the Sudan between the Nile and the Red Sea. As recently as 5,000 years ago, northern Africa had a much wetter climate. When the rains dried up, so did the land, leading to a spread of the desert into traditional nomadic pastoral lands. Agriculture became impossible in this desert setting. Only animals could eat the few plants that naturally grew and no other food sources were available (condition 3). Yet the Beja survive as long as their animals do. During the dry season that may last as long as nine months they live almost entirely on the milk of their camels and goats, up to 3 quarts per adult per day (condition 1). Milk processing and storage in forms that are low in lactose is impossible given the desert temperatures and the nomadic Beja lifestyle. All the milk must be drunk fresh (condition 2). As the Beja clearly satisfy all three conditions, they must have faced enormous selection pressures over the centuries in favor of those tribal members who could drink milk without getting sick. Today, over 80% of the Beja test as LP.

Nor are they alone. Other nomadic desert peoples who have high frequencies of LP include the Bedouins in Arabia and the Libyan desert, Kabbabish in the western Sudan, Tuareg in the central Sahara, and the Fulbe (Peulh) in the northern Sahel. (Whether each is an independent example of LP evolution or whether intertribal mixing of genes occurred is not clear.) Because their particular tribal cultures and unique histories have determined their powerful dependence on milk, this explanation for their LP is known as the "culture historical hypothesis."

None of this exactly qualifies as breaking news. My sources for this are now over 30 years old.

However, everything old is new again, especially when people look at it in a new way.

The genetic mutation which created the lactose tolerance of these African tribes has just now been found, according to Nicholas Wade, in an article in The New York Times, Study Detects Recent Instance of Human Evolution. (May need free registration.)

Intriguingly, the exact mutations for these tribes differ from the one shared by most Europeans. That means it came from a separate set of mutations fostered by separate natural selection, something that is called "convergent evolution." This is one of the first examples of convergent evolution documented at the genetic level.

Wade wrote:
Genetic evidence shows that the mutations conferred an enormous selective advantage on their owners, enabling them to leave almost 10 times as many descendants as people without them. The mutations have created “one of the strongest genetic signatures of natural selection yet reported in humans,” the researchers write.

And it shows the importance to human survival of the domestication of animals and the use of all available natural substances as food.

Far from being unnatural to drink cow's milk, as the anti-milk crowd's propaganda has it, the genius of humans being omnivores appears to be something absolutely basic to humanity's survival.

Try that out at your next PETA meeting.

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Friday, December 08, 2006

Dairy Free Made Easy

Alisa Fleming of sent me an announcement about her new book.

December 7, 2006 - Alisa Marie Fleming of is proud to announce her new book Dairy Free Made Easy: Thousands of Foods, Hundreds of Tips, and Dozens of Recipes for Non-Dairy Living.

Over 10 million Americans follow a dairy free diet, and millions more are striving to cut back. In a world rich with cream and cheese this can seem a difficult feat. Luckily this unique new resource has emerged. Though accurate, the title of this book may be an understatement. It is loaded with non-dairy foods, over 2000 entries in fact, and it does contain countless tips for cooking, baking, dining out, and grocery shopping. As well, there are several starter recipes for desserts, entrees, cheeses, milk alternatives, and other dairy substitutes. Yet, there is even more to this elaborate food guide.

Dairy Free Made Easy covers ‘understanding dairy milk’ to ensure readers are aware of the various types of milk (organic, goat, etc.) and what dietary needs they may have, since milk has become such a big nutrient source in the American diet. There is also a ‘strong bones’ guide with calcium resources and health information. Of course, the book would not be complete without discussions of milk allergies (for infants, children, and adults), lactose intolerance, weight loss, the vegan diet, chronic disease prevention, soy, and dairy food addiction.

The product lists within this book could stand alone in their own guide. Every item listed is free of dairy ingredients, hydrogenated oils (trans fats), and high fructose corn syrup. For those with additional diet concerns, the author has gone to the trouble of identifying which products are also vegan, kosher certified, manufactured on dairy free dedicated equipment, and free of gluten or soy ingredients. Plus, a manufacturer’s contact list (roughly 500 companies) offers website addresses and phone numbers for direct consumer inquiries.

To further the practicality, Dairy Free Made Easy is packaged in a spiral bound format for convenient in store and kitchen usage. The portable size and ability to flip right to the ‘dairy ingredients’ reference page is a savior while grocery shopping.

To up the ante, each book purchased directly from the publisher, Go Dairy Free, will include several coupons and discounts worth over $40 in value. As a special introduction to dairy free living, coupons are enclosed for non-dairy ice cream soy yogurt, dip, vegan cheese, baking mix, granola, cookies, soymilk, frozen entrees, and more!

Due to the inclusion of these money-saving offers, quantities are limited. Fortunately, Dairy Free Made Easy can be purchased directly from should you not find it in your local store.

Her order form is hard to duplicate on a blog, so just go directly to her book page to order one.

I did.

(And why doesn't Google's auto-fill work on a Google Checkout page? Can anybody explain that?)

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

I Win medGadget's Short Story Contest

This isn't about LI, or dairy, or allergies, or any of the things I usually write about, but it's my blog so what the hey.

And it is medically-related. Tangentially. Sorta.

Anyway, a site called held a "sci-fi" writing contest. As the site name indicates, it's a news site, kind of a blog, that concentrates on medical hardware the way I scour the world for info on dairy-free products. Their contest was to work up a short-story about medicine in the future, gadget-related or not.

OK, I'm normally a purist about calling sf sf, and not "sci-fi," but I can't change the world. Besides: I had an idea. I expanded it into a story and popped it into an email right at deadline.

And I won. "Just brilliant," they called it. Who am I to disagree?

You can read the story, the story behind the story, and the runner-up stories here.

The prize. Um, well, it's a Thinklabs ds32a Stethoscope with Electromagnetic Diaphragm. The link is a shout out to the company that donated it to the contest. Don't worry, guys. I'll find it a good home.

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Don't let Flatulence Spoil Yours or 99 Others Travel Plans

It's our horrible little not-so-secret that lactose intolerance can produce some of the most vile gas to pass from the human body.

As a public service I'm reprinting this press release. Then let's not talk about it. OK?

Mililani, Hawaii (PRWEB) December 6, 2006 -- A Dallas women, on American Airlines flight #1053 bound for Dallas caused the aircraft to have an emergency landing in Nashville, Tennessee due to her episode of smelly flatulence. This individual suffered from a medical condition that caused excessive intestinal gas. She tried to cover up the odor by lighting matches and some passengers thought it was fumes from a bomb. If she had known about the Flatulence Deodorizer she would not have disrupted the travel of 99 passengers.

Brian Conant, President of Flat-D Innovations, Inc. is the Inventor of the patented product called "The Flatulence Deodorizer". The Flatulence Deodorizer is Doctor Recommended for a" better quality of life" and has been designed to assist people that suffer from dietary, medication side effects and medical conditions. Conant says..."they've had great success helping people that have disorders such as Celiac's Disease, Crohn's, Colitis, Diabetes, HIV, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), Lactose Intolerance". Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) affects 25-million people (in the USA) and of those 70% are females ranging from the age of 29 to 60 years old. Diabetes affects 16 million people and about 50 million people have lactose intolerance and experience intestinal discomfort after consuming dairy products. Conant say..."they've also assisted individuals that have gone through medical procedures such as gastric bypass surgery, colon reconstruction surgery and chemotherapy".

Since its debut (October 2002) onto the Internet this product has helped thousands of people worldwide (USA & International) and has gained recognition among the Medical Community. The Flatulence Deodorizer is FDA Registered and has been proven to be effective against odors associated with flatulence. The product is a thin (1/16th of an inch) activated charcoal fabric pad that is placed in the underwear (in a similar fashion to a sanitary napkin) next to the buttocks. The product is an extremely thin, hypoallergenic, activated charcoal fabric pad in the shape of a light bulb and can be washed repeatedly and still maintains its effectiveness. The Flatulence Deodorizer is placed in the underwear next to the buttocks, creating a seal and forcing the gas to pass through the material. As the gas passes through the material, the material neutralizes the odor therefore eliminating the embarrassment associated with the odor.


For more info visit:

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Monday, December 04, 2006

Vegetarian Holiday Meals

If you're sufficiently recovered from Thanksgiving to think about the next round of family holidays, then you need to think again about those special meals for relatives/friends/family/random strangers who might be lactose intolerant, dairy allergic, vegan, gluten intolerant, or anti-nog.

Vesanto Melina on discusses viable recipes in Vegetarian Holiday Meals.

She suggests:

A large squash stuffed with seasoned cooked grains, then baked, makes a spectacular centrepiece. The stuffing can include basmati rice, quinoa, onion, parsley, walnuts or pecans, sun-dried tomatoes and seasonings, such as basil and oregano. You can create your own stuffing combination, or use the recipe for sensational stuffed squash and good gravy in Raising Vegetarian Children (Stepaniak and Melina, McGraw-Hill, 2003).

Raising Vegetarian Children is available in my Milk-Free Bookstore on the Kids and Parenting page.

Desserts are always a special problem. She suggests one from another vegetarian book:
German chocolate cake with coconut squash icing may well become everyone’s favourite chocolate dessert. Ask your guests to guess which vegetable is part of the icing; likely, no one will guess correctly. (See recipes for these in Becoming Vegetarian by Melina and Davis, (Wiley Canada, 2003).

The New Becoming Vegetarian, 2nd ed., is available in my Milk-Free Bookstore on the Vegan Cookbooks page.

Gluten-free diners may go for the following:
squash stuffed with grains is a welcome offering and may be served with one of several excellent gluten-free gravies. Another popular choice, and my favourite in the world of gluten-free baking, is pumpkin spice bread. Ultra-fudge brownies and heavenly date squares are good too. All are made without a scrap of eggs, dairy or wheat. (See recipes in the Food Allergy Survival Guide. Melina, Stepaniak and Aronson, Healthy Living Publications, 2004)

The Food Allergy Survival Guide is available in my Milk-Free Bookstore on the Multiple Allergy Cookbooks page.

Melina also gives an unsourced recipe for kale and red pepper holly ring, but I'm going to assume that it comes from one of her cookbooks that she's plugging.

Kale and Red Pepper Holly Ring

Deep green kale tossed with bright red bell peppers resembles a holly wreath when presented in a circle on a plate. As this way of serving greens is likely to have broad appeal, you may wish to double or triple the recipe for larger groups.

6 cups thinly sliced kale greens
¼ cup diced sweet red pepper
2 tbsp flaxseed oil or olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce

Fold kale leaves in half lengthwise and remove the rib. Then slice thinly. Place kale in steamer, sprinkle with red pepper. Cover and steam over medium-high heat until the peppers are tender-crisp. Drain. Combine oil, vinegar and tamari in a bowl large enough to hold kale. Toss kale and peppers into vinegar mixture and place on warm platter. Create a wreath shape by pushing the seasoned kale toward edges of platter, leaving an open space in centre. If desired, heap steamed rice or place a rounded nut loaf in the centre of the ring.

Makes about four servings.

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Friday, December 01, 2006

On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen

One more book on food.

Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen (Scribners, 2004, 896 pages, $40.00 list price) comes with as many superlatives as pages.

The Amazon page on it has reviews with titles like, "Definitive Text on Food Science AND Lore. Buy It.," "the new and improved bible of food and cooking," "Encyclopedic reference," and "The Modern Scientific Kitchen Classic."

Its description provides yet more:

Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking is a kitchen classic. Hailed by Time magazine as "a minor masterpiece" when it first appeared in 1984, On Food and Cooking is the bible to which food lovers and professional chefs worldwide turn for an understanding of where our foods come from, what exactly they're made of, and how cooking transforms them into something new and delicious.

Now, for its twentieth anniversary, Harold McGee has prepared a new, fully revised and updated edition of On Food and Cooking. He has rewritten the text almost completely, expanded it by two-thirds, and commissioned more than 100 new illustrations. As compulsively readable and engaging as ever, the new On Food and Cooking provides countless eye-opening insights into food, its preparation, and its enjoyment.

On Food and Cooking pioneered the translation of technical food science into cook-friendly kitchen science and helped give birth to the inventive culinary movement known as "molecular gastronomy." Though other books have now been written about kitchen science, On Food and Cooking remains unmatched in the accuracy, clarity, and thoroughness of its explanations, and the intriguing way in which it blends science with the historical evolution of foods and cooking techniques.

Among the major themes addressed throughout this new edition are:

Traditional and modern methods of food production and their influences on food quality

The great diversity of methods by which people in different places and times have prepared the same ingredients

Tips for selecting the best ingredients and preparing them successfully

The particular substances that give foods their flavors and that give us pleasure

Our evolving knowledge of the health benefits and risks of foods

On Food and Cooking is an invaluable and monumental compendium of basic information about ingredients, cooking methods, and the pleasures of eating. It will delight and fascinate anyone who has ever cooked, savored, or wondered about food.

I preach about how everyone should understand food, digestion, nutrition, ingredients, and cooking. This looks to be a book for those who want to take me up on that challenge.

I've added the book to my Milk-Free Bookstore on the Vegan Cookbooks page.

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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Vegan Italiano

I'm been poking around more looking for other new cookbooks I haven't seen. That found me Donna Klein's Vegan Italiano: Meat-free, Egg-free, Dairy-free Dishes from Sun-Drenched Italy . (H.P. Trade paperback, 192 pages, $15.95 list price.)

They bill the book as:

Mangia-minus the meat and dairy-with these classic Italian dishes from the author of The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen.

In the sumptuous style of classic Italian cuisine, this collection of delectably authentic recipes reinvents vegan. Mouth-watering dishes burst with fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and healthy fats like olive oil-all within an animal-free diet, ideal for lactose-intolerant eaters and vegetarians, too.

Delicious Italian food was made for bountiful and flavor-filled variations, not weak substitutions-which is why none of these recipes calls for tofu, soy milk, or other ingredients that mimic meat, dairy, and eggs. Now readers can treat themselves to something scrumptious-even if they can't make it to Italy this year.

The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen is on my Vegan Cookbooks page in my Milk-Free Bookstore on my web site, along with another of Donna's books, The PDQ (Pretty Darn Quick) Vegetarian Cookbook : 240 Healthy and Easy No-Prep Recipes for Busy Cooks.

I always have to make decisions where to put the cookbooks and the Vegan page was the obvious spot for this one. Of course, if you're lactose intolerant or have dairy allergies or are looking for pareve recipes, this book will be for you as well.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World

Cupcakes? Did anybody say cupcakes?

Even better, a cupcake cookbook that is getting five-star reviews with comments like "Divine, delicious and dairy-free"?

That's what they're saying about a newly released cookcook, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World: 75 Dairy-Free Recipes for Cupcakes that Rule, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. (Marlowe & Company, 144 pages, $15.95 list.)

Here's the official description:

The hosts of the vegan cooking show The Post Punk Kitchen are back with a vengeance — and this time, dessert. A companion volume to Vegan with a Vengeance, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World is a sweet and sassy guide to baking everyone’s favorite treat without using any animal products. This unique cookbook contains over 50 recipes for cupcakes and frostings — some innovative, some classics — with beautiful full color photographs.

Isa and Terry offer delicious, cheap, dairy-free, egg-free and vegan-friendly recipes like Classic Vanilla Cupcakes (with chocolate frosting), Crimson Velveteen Cupcakes (red velvet with creamy white frosting), Linzer Torte Cupcakes (hazelnut with raspberry and chocolate ganache), Chai Latte Cupcakes (with powdered sugar) and Banana Split Cupcakes (banana-chocolate chip-pineapple with fluffy frosting). Included also are gluten-free recipes, decorating tips, baking guidelines, vegan shopping advice, and Isa’s true cupcake anecdotes from the trenches. When Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, no dessert lover can resist.

I've just added the book to my Milk-Free Bookstore on the Vegan Cookbooks page.

If you're looking for dairy-free recipes, you'll find them there by the hundreds.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Enough with the Lactose Tolerance Jokes, He Sobbed

It all started with a flight attendant being offended by the back of a baby's head.

You'll remember the story from October, in which poor Emily Gillette was kicked off a Freedom Airlines plane for offending a flight attendant by breast-feeding her baby.

As Newsweek wrote:

her troubles began when she and her husband and their almost 2-year-old daughter River were traveling from Vermont to New York. Their flight was delayed three hours and anyone who has ever traveled with small children can guess what kind of condition little River was in when the family finally boarded their Freedom Airlines flight (booked through Delta Air Lines) at 10 p.m., well past the toddler’s normal bedtime. The family headed to their seats at the back of the little plane. Mother and daughter took the window seat in the second to last row; River’s dad took the aisle seat. As the plane was getting ready to move, Gillette tucked in next to the window and began to discreetly nurse River.

That’s when Gillette noticed the lone flight attendant holding out a blanket, telling Gillette that she needed to cover up. “I was holding my shirt closed with one hand. There was literally not a bit of my breast exposed,” she says. “I was being as discreet as possible.” When Gillette refused, Gillette says the flight attendant responded; “You are offending me. You need to cover up.” Gillette refused again. Gillette says the flight attendant huffed off, and returned with a ticket agent, who told the family that they were being thrown off the plane. The stunned Gillettes gathered their things and started moving toward the door. “Gillette started quietly crying,” says Elizabeth Beopple, Gillette’s Vermont-based lawyer. “She was so humiliated. As they left the plane, the fight attendant was standing there, and Gillette said in tears, ‘Why are you doing this?’ ” According to the Gillettes, the flight attendant pointed to the door and said, “Get off the plane.”

Who thinks this way? Nobody else, fortunately. If you've never seen an airplane backpedaling, the spectacle of Freedom and parent Delta suddenly proclaiming women's rights one tiny grudging step at a time had been eminently satisfying. The flight attendant has been disciplined (how? by being strapped down while strippers take turns lapdancing?) and the incident may sink Delta in its battle to combat USAirways hostile takeover bid.

Well, bad cess on the muthering spalpeens, as S. J. Perelman was wont to say. You get what you deserve. In addition to the worldwide bad press, "lactivists" protested at some 30 airports, carrying signs like "Best in-flight meal ever" and "Got Breast Milk?" T-shirts.

(AP Photo/Toby Talbot)

It's all good. Except for me.

One of the other signs carried read "Don't be lactose intolerant." Articles have appeared with headlines like "Time is now for lactose tolerance."

You're driving me crazy! I search for this stuff. Getting a good hit on a story for this blog makes my day. Do you know what it feels like to see all those articles appear and have none of them be useful?

Stop it! I'm not the bad guy here. Delta is the big blue meanie. I'm on your side. Breastfeeding is a good thing. It should be done anywhere necessary. You don't even need to be discreet. It's natural, wholesome, and beneficial.

I am lactose intolerant. Just not that way. Let me go back to my tiny field of expertise and I promise to leave your breasts alone.

That didn't come out right, did it?

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Organic Myth

I'm a bit late getting to this, but I take Business Week magazine out of the library.

The cover story of their Oct. 16, 2006 issue was The Organic Myth by Diane Brady.

In it Brady details the current state of the organic foods market in the United States and in particular the strain that market is under as businesses try to scale up from tiny farms with small outputs to organics being available in every supermarket in the country.

Here are a few excerpts. I've limited them to discussions of organic milk, since it is often used for organic yogurts and people with lactose intolerance are often told to continue to eat yogurt, as a low-lactose and well-tolerated form of dairy product, to continue to get the calcium they need.

Next time you're in the supermarket, stop and take a look at Stonyfield Farm yogurt. With its contented cow and green fields, the yellow container evokes a bucolic existence, telegraphing what we've come to expect from organic food: pure, pesticide-free, locally produced ingredients grown on a small family farm.

So it may come as a surprise that Stonyfield's organic farm is long gone. Its main facility is a state-of-the-art industrial plant just off the airport strip in Londonderry, N.H., where it handles milk from other farms. And consider this: Sometime soon a portion of the milk used to make that organic yogurt may be taken from a chemical-free cow in New Zealand, powdered, and then shipped to the U.S. True, Stonyfield still cleaves to its organic heritage. For Chairman and CEO Gary Hirshberg, though, shipping milk powder 9,000 miles across the planet is the price you pay to conquer the supermarket dairy aisle. "It would be great to get all of our food within a 10-mile radius of our house," he says. "But once you're in organic, you have to source globally."


Everyone agrees on the basic definition of organic: food grown without the assistance of man-made chemicals. Four years ago, under pressure from critics fretting that the term "organic" was being misused, the U.S. Agriculture Dept. issued rules. To be certified as organic, companies must eschew most pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, synthetic fertilizers, bioengineering, and radiation. But for purists, the philosophy also requires farmers to treat their people and livestock with respect and, ideally, to sell small batches of what they produce locally so as to avoid burning fossil fuels to transport them. The USDA rules don't fully address these concerns.

Hence the organic paradox: The movement's adherents have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams, but success has imperiled their ideals. It simply isn't clear that organic food production can be replicated on a mass scale.


Farming without insecticides, fertilizers, and other aids is tough. Laborers often weed the fields by hand. Farmers control pests with everything from sticky flypaper to aphid-munching ladybugs. Manure and soil fertility must be carefully managed. Sick animals may take longer to get well without a quick hit of antibiotics, although they're likely to be healthier in the first place. Moreover, the yield per acre or per animal often goes down, at least initially. Estimates for the decline from switching to organic corn range up to 20%.


For a sense of why Big Business and organics often don't mix, it helps to visit Jack and Anne Lazor of Butterworks Farm. The duo have been producing organic yogurt in northeastern Vermont since 1975. Their 45 milking cows are raised from birth and have names like Peaches and Moonlight. All of the food for the cows -- and most of what the Lazors eat, too -- comes from the farm, and Anne keeps their charges healthy with a mix of homeopathic medicines and nutritional supplements. Butterworks produces a tiny 9,000 quarts of yogurt a week, and no one can pressure them to make more. Says Jack: "I'd be happiest to sell everything within 10 miles of here."

But the Lazors also embody an ideal that's almost impossible for other food producers to fulfill. For one thing, they have enough land to let their modest-sized herd graze for food. Many of the country's 9 million-plus dairy cows (of which fewer than 150,000 are organic) are on farms that will never have access to that kind of pasture. After all, a cow can only walk so far when it has to come back to be milked two or three times a day.

When consumers shell out premiums of 50% or more to buy organic, they are voting for the Butterworks ethic. They believe humans should be prudent custodians not only of their own health but also of the land and animals that share it. They prefer food produced through fair wages and family farms, not poor workers and agribusiness. They are responding to tales of caged chickens and confined cows that never touch a blade of grass; talk of men losing fertility and girls becoming women at age nine because of extra hormones in food. They read about pesticides seeping into the food supply and genetically modified crops creeping across the landscape.

For Big Food, consumers' love affair with everything organic has seemed like a gift from the gods. Food is generally a commoditized, sluggish business, especially in basic supermarket staples. Sales of organic groceries, on the other hand, have been surging by up to 20% in recent years. Organic milk is so profitable -- with wholesale prices more than double that of conventional milk -- that Lyle "Spud" Edwards of Westfield, Vt., was able to halve his herd, to 25 cows, this summer and still make a living, despite a 15% drop in yields since switching to organic four years ago. "There's a lot more paperwork, but it's worth it," says Edwards, who supplies milk to Stonyfield.


Dairy producers estimate that demand for organic milk is at least twice the current available supply. To quench this thirst, the U.S. would have to more than double the number of organic cows -- those that eat only organic food -- to 280,000 over the next five years. That's a challenge, since the number of dairy farms has shrunk to 60,000, from 334,000 in 1980, according to the National Milk Producers Federation. And almost half the milk produced in the U.S. comes from farms with more than 500 cows, something organic advocates rarely support.


Would consumers be willing to pay twice as much for organic milk if they thought the cows producing it spent most of their outdoor lives in confined dirt lots?

Absolutely not, say critics such as Mark Kastel, director of the Organic Integrity Project at the Cornucopia Institute, an advocacy group promoting small family farms. "Organic consumers think they're supporting a different kind of ethic," says Kastel, who last spring released a high-profile report card labeling 11 producers as ethically challenged.

Kastel's report card included Horizon Organic Dairy, the No. 1 organic milk brand in the U.S., and Aurora Organic Dairy, which makes private-label products for the likes of Costco and Safeway Inc. Both dairies deny they are ethically challenged. But the two do operate massive corporate farms. Horizon has 8,000 cows in the Idaho desert. There, the animals consume such feed as corn, barley, hay, and soybeans, as well as some grass from pastureland. The company is currently reconfiguring its facility to allow more grazing opportunities. And none of this breaks USDA rules. The agency simply says animals must have "access to pasture." How much is not spelled out. "It doesn't say [livestock] have to be out there, happy and feeding, 18 hours a day," says Barbara C. Robinson, who oversees the USDA's National Organic Program.

But what gets people like Kastel fuming is the fact that big dairy farms produce tons of pollution in the form of manure and methane, carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide -- gases blamed for warming the planet. Referring to Horizon's Idaho farm, he adds: "This area is in perpetual drought. You need to pump water constantly to grow pasture. That's not organic."

What do you do as a concerned customer? First, you need to decide what your personal strictures are for organic foods. Are you a diehard supporter of family farms? Are you more concerned that larger farms work to improve their methods? Would you prefer to convert a large percentage of your food buying to organics or are you interested in certain foods that mean the most to you be organic?

If you do want to go all the way, here are a few tips.

*Try limiting your organic shopping to local health food stores rather than supermarkets. Most health or natural food stores need smaller quantities of foods so they can work with local farmers not big enough to supply whole chains.

*Check the websites of the companies for statements on their methods, their products, and their philosophies.

*Look to see whether the company is independent, owned by a larger natural foods company, or owned by a large food conglomerate. Stonybrook Farm, as the article states, is now owned by Group Danone, the maker of Yoplait and also of many other non-organic brands. Horizon Organic, Rachel's Organic, and Organic Cow of Vermont are all part of Dean Foods, which has been "criticized for running large corporate farms," according to Business Week.

*Always check for the USDA Organic label on the package.

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Desensitizing Food Allergies Possible in New Study

An allergy happens when a protein causes antibodies to form in the body. The next time the body encounters that protein, the antibodies swing into action. This is good when the protein is on an attacking bacteria. When the protein is part of an otherwise useful and nourishing food, not so good.

So you might think that continual encounters with the protein would be a bad thing. Apparently not.

"Participants who took a daily dose of egg product over the two-year study period were able to build up their bodies' resistance to the point where most of them could eat two scrambled eggs without a reaction," said A. Wesley Burks, from Duke University Medical Center.

That quote is from Scientists look to 'desensitise' kids to food allergens by Stephen Daniells on the site.

The study is on-line ahead of print in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2006.09.016. "Egg oral immunotherapy in nonanaphylactic children with egg allergy" Authors: A. Buchanan, T. Green, S. Jones, A. Scurlock, L. Christie, K. Althage, P. Steele, L. Pons, R. Helm, L. Lee, A.W. Burks

The study was of a very small number of children, so it must be considered preliminary at best. However, the responses were promising.
The new claims from the Duke researchers and their collaborators at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences are based on results from a small study, funded by the National Institutes of Health and the two universities, of seven subjects (age range 1-7) who had a history of allergic reactions when they consumed eggs or egg products.

The participants were given small doses of powdered egg orally, mixed in food. "We started the subjects with a very small concentration of egg product - the equivalent of less than one-thousandth of an egg - and then we increased the dose every 30 minutes for eight hours in order to determine the highest dose that each subject could tolerate," explained Burks.

The children returned to the clinic every two weeks, and the researchers increased the doses until an equivalent of one-tenth of an egg was reached. This "maintenance dose" was continued for the rest of the study (24 months).

The researchers report that the children showed both an increase in tolerance to eggs and a decrease in the severity of their allergic reactions. Indeed, by the end of the study, the majority of the kids could tolerate two scrambled eggs with no adverse reactions.

This type of desensitization therapy, called oral immunotherapy (OIT) "works on a cellular level to alter specific the response of white blood cells (lymphocytes) that play a part in the immune response during allergic reactions."

Follow-up studies will be double-blind, giving a higher level of assurance to the results. Another study with higher doses of eggs is planned, and so is one using peanuts.

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Friday, November 24, 2006

More Christmas Nondairy

Vitasoy may have made the first splash ( see It's After Halloween So Time for Christmas Nondairy but they aren't the only ones putting out a line of holiday-themed soy drinks.

Coffee-mate, the nondairy coffee creamer from Nestlé,
does an annual "limited-time" Special Edition selection of winter flavors - Gingerbread, Eggnog, Pumpkin Spice and Peppermint Mocha. They contain sodium caseinate, so they're not suitable for those with dairy allergies or for vegans, and they are not pareve. But they contain no lactose, so they're fine for those with lactose intolerance.

The Special Edition flavors come in both liquid and powder form.Read more about them and other Coffee-mate flavors at their web site,

More goodies as I spot them.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Use Soy Milk in That Pumpkin Pie Recipe

One of the hardest dairy products to find a nondairy substitute for if you're lactose intolerant or have dairy allergies is evaporated milk. And that holiday favorite, pumpkin pie, often calls for evaporated milk.

However, vegan baking expert Chandra Moskowitz told the Washington Post that boiling down soy milk will act as a substitute.

You have to reduce the plain soy milk by two-thirds, because 1 cup of soy milk would yield only 1/3 cup of the evaporated milk substitute.

She also recommends adding a teaspoon of sweetener.

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Dairy Allergies Misdiagnosed by Doctors

How many times do I have to write some variation of this article?

Yet another survey of physicians, this time in Europe, found that "British doctors are misdiagnosing milk allergy symptoms in babies and sometimes recommending inappropriate milk substitutes."

An article by Ian Evans on, Allergy Missed by GPs, talks about the:

Act Against Allergy survey of 500 doctors across Europe, including 100 in this country, [which] found that 78 per cent of British doctors think that their colleagues are confusing milk allergy symptoms with other conditions such as gastroenteritis and colic.

Cows milk protein allergy is the most common cause of food allergy in infants and affects up to 3 per cent of babies, the survey said. It affects at least 10,000 babies in Britain, causing vomiting and diarrhoea.

The survey also found that six out of ten of the 500 doctors surveyed are using inappropriate treatment for babies with milk allergy.

The same problem is often found in general practitioners in the United States.

If you think your child has a possible food allergy, try to remove the food from the diet to see if that offers any relief. And try to get a referral to a pediatric allergist or gastroenterologist for a more specialized examination.

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

IBS Book: A New IBS Solution

Mark Pimentel, MD, FRCPC is Director of the Gastrointestinal Motility Program and Laboratory at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Dr. Pimentel also serves as Assistant Professor in Residence for the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Those are gaudier credentials than most people who write books about IBS, even though many good doctors have written on the subject.

Dr. Pimental has recently published IBS: A New Solution, as shown on his web site

He's a firm believer in the "bacterial overgrowth" theory behind IBS.

The final, most recent theory defines IBS as a bacterial disease. Patients with IBS inevitably complain of gas and bloating. While this was once considered a major hallmark of IBS, the failure to understand this component led investigators in the 1980’s to emphasize what was more easily grasped; hence the focus on diarrhea and constipation. Still, even as most members of the scientific community were distracted by the emphasis on bowel function, others investigated the bacterial component of IBS. In the 1990’s, research showed that IBS patients (over a given time) produced 5 times more gas than did people without IBS. Since the only source of those gases was bacterial, the initial presumption was that IBS patients had excessive bacteria in the colon, where bacteria were expected to be. Subsequent studies showed that IBS patients had excessive quantities of gas in the small bowel; these data were the catalyst for studying small bowel bacteria in IBS.

Normally the small intestine contains a very small quantity of bacteria. In published studies, indirect measures of small bowel bacteria suggest that 84% of IBS sufferers have excessive quantities of bacteria typically found in the colon.

Intuitively, higher bacterial levels in the small bowel, where absorption takes place, would ferment the nutrients from the food into gas. Further work in this area has determined that these bacteria could produce both constipation and diarrhea, depending on the types of bacteria that have moved into the small bowel. These results have led to studies showing that antibiotics can almost completely relieve IBS symptoms if successful in eliminating the intestinal bacteria. This is called the “bacterial overgrowth theory of IBS.”

He also talks about the connection between IBS and lactose intolerance on the FAQ page on his site:
Why do I feel worse with milk products, yet even when I’m off dairy products entirely, I still have IBS?

There has been some research from Europe suggesting that part of IBS development may be due to lactose intolerance. Among my own patients, if I were to quantitate lactose intolerance symptoms, approximately 80 percent of them either avoid milk and dairy products altogether or recognize that milk and dairy foods are an issue in terms of creating more bloating for them. Yet, even when they eliminate milk and dairy products from their diets, they still have IBS. The only difference is that, when they drink milk, their bloating symptoms become worse. One part of the reason is that most bacteria rely on sugar as their main nourishment. If bacteria could only have one food, sugar would be the one thing they would want.


[E]liminating milk and other dairy products will not, in and of itself, resolve the problem of IBS. In many instances, however, it can help to reduce the symptoms of bloating associated with IBS, because doing so will reduce the amount of sugar the bacteria have to feed on. A better solution, of course, would be to address the bacterial overgrowth directly. See Chapter 6 in the book for dietary suggestions that may help.

The book is available at with a direct link through my Milk-Free Bookstore on the IBS Books page.

Thanks to David Knight for sending me the news about Dr. Pimentel's book and a link to his site.

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

The "Sugar" in Ingredients Lists Not Lactose

Here's a recent question emailed to me that been asked often enough to warrant a feature here:

I have had the typical symptoms of L.I. after consuming canned peas that were labeled "peas, salt and sugar". I am wondering if the sugar in these peas is milk sugar. Do the labeling directives require that it be indicated if the disaccharide is lactose? I am a label reader and I often wonder if the list of ingredients has been changed to indicate any recent changes in the contents?

The answer to this is simple. The only ingredient that can be called just plain "sugar" on a food label in the United States is sucrose, ordinary table sugar.

Lactose must be referred to as lactose. Any other sweetener, from glucose to honey to corn syrup to aspartame to any and all of the hundreds of others, must be called by its proper name. Never just "sugar."

Lactose can be hidden in other milk products, of course. Whey is mostly lactose, to take the most important example.

But sugar is always sugar and lactose is always lactose and never the twain shall meet.

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Respiratory Symptoms Mean Cow's Milk Allergy Lasts Longer in Children

A study presented at the 52nd annual scientific meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology made the strongest connection yet found between symptoms and lasting allergies. An article by Jennifer Reid Holman, Respiratory Symptoms Strongly Predict More Persistent Cow's Milk Allergy on Medscape reported on the study led by Alessandro Fiochi, MD, from the University of Milan Medical School in Italy.

Experiencing respiratory symptoms with the allergy, however — such as wheezing or runny nose — strongly predicts the likelihood that the allergy will persist considerably longer into childhood.

Holman wrote that:
The study included 153 children with confirmed immunoglobulin E (IgE)–mediated cow's milk allergy. Most of these children exhibited skin reactions to milk, such as eczema and hives. About half had asthma/rhinitis symptoms. Fewer than 25% experienced immediate gastrointestinal effects or anaphylaxis after ingesting cow's milk. Many children experienced 2 of these symptoms.
The median age of these children when they presented for allergy testing was 16 months (range, 1-186 months), and each child was followed with periodic challenges for an average of 31 months.

The researchers gathered data on several potential risk factors, including presenting symptoms, duration of exclusive breast-feeding, age when symptoms started, age when cow's milk was introduced to child's diet, level of milk-specific antibodies (IgE) generated, sensitization to dermatophagoides and eggs, the allergen dose that elicited a positive challenge, and the use of formula after the allergy diagnosis.

More than half of the children experienced a natural and complete remission of their cow's milk allergy during the study (median allergy duration, 18 months). Respiratory symptoms were the single strongest predictor of which children had a long-lasting allergy. Median duration of cow's milk allergy in these children was 41 months.

Presenting with anaphylaxis after ingesting milk was also strongly associated with a longer time to remission. Other significant but less strong predictors were reaction to low doses of the allergen during diagnostic testing and higher levels of specific IgE antibodies to the milk challenges.

The news that higher levels of antibodies predicts a persistent allergy reinforces an earlier study announced at the 25th Congress of the European Academy of Allergology and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) in Vienna, Austria, a study that made no news in the U.S. but one I reported on back on June 14, Big News! Test May Tell if Your Infant Will Always Be Allergic to Milk.

Holman's article went on to note that pediatricians often do not recognize that asthma symptoms can be due to food allergies. The venerable allergist Sami Bahna recommended that food allergy always be suspected as a cause.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

New Process May Improve Taste of Lactose-Free Milk

Lactose-free milk comes in just about every variety that regular milk does - fat-free, 1% lowfat, 2% lowfat, whole, calcium-fortified, chocolate. You can use lactose-free milk as a straight one-for-one substitute for regular milk in any recipe. It's real milk, straight from the cow.

But there are two differences that affect the taste.

The first is that the lactose, the milk sugar, is split into two simpler sugars, glucose and galactose. By an oddity of chemistry each of the two simple sugars is sweeter than lactose is. Therefore lactose-free milk is slightly sweeter than regular milk.

The second is that lactose-free milk is made using a type of UHT pasteurization instead of regular pasteurization. UHT - Ultra-High Temperature - pasteurization cooks the milk at a higher temperature for a shorter period of time than regular pasteurization. The advantage is that UHT milk lasts longer before going sour than regular milk. Lactose-free milk doesn't sell in the same phenomenal quantities that regular milk does so it needs a longer shelf period. Some people, unfortunately, detect a slightly "cooked" taste in the lactose-free milk because of this.

Food researchers at Oregon State University (OSU) have developed a new food processing technique that provides the same long life without the "cooked" taste, according to the Research Notebook at the Portland Oregonian web site.

Michael C. Qian and his OSU co-workers say that ultrahigh-temperature pasteurization, or UHT, produces milk that stays fresh at room temperature for six months. However, UHT leaves a "cooked" flavor in milk.

The scientists describe how a new food processing technique affects milk taste. Called high hydrostatic pressure processing, it involves putting foods under pressures that crush and kill bacteria while leaving food with a fresh, uncooked taste.

"Milk processed at a pressure of about 85,000 pounds per square inch for five minutes, and lower temperatures than used in commercial pasteurization, causes minimal production of chemical compounds responsible for the cooked flavor," they said. "The processing gives milk a shelf life at refrigerated temperature of at least 45 days."

Their report will be in the Nov. 29 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

When or if this technique makes it to store shelves remains unknown, but it's something to look forward to.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

New Allergen Safe Treats Enjoyed by All

From Alisa Fleming at

Conscientious friends, teachers, hosts, and family members can now serve, and indulge in, worry free delights alongside the food allergic. Two innovative, family-run companies have just expanded their allergy friendly offerings of delicious desserts and snacks.

After years of fine-tuning treats and snacks for her food allergic son, Jill Robbins launched Gak’s Snacks, a dedicated bakery that is peanut, tree nut, egg, dairy, and trans fat free. Her amazing Apple Coffee Cakes, Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Brownie Chip Cookies were more than well received, as evidenced by the reviews on Yet Jill couldn’t stop there. Just in time for the holidays, she has released a new Cranberry Coffee Cake. Gak’s coffee cakes are certified whole grain, vegan, kosher pareve, and USDA organic. Healthy connotations aside, these are truly decadent desserts that everyone, allergic or not, will crave.

Where Gak’s Snacks leaves off with desserts, Nonuttin' Foods picks up with nutritious snacks that are safe for the classroom and kid-approved. In 2004, the Elliott family released their line of peanut, tree nut, egg, dairy, seed, and trans fat free Nonuttin' Granola Bars out of Vancouver, British Columbia. Their Apple Cinnamon, Chocolate Chip, and Raisin flavors have become so popular that direct orders from U.S. customers are rivaling their loyal Canadian market. With such demand, Nonuttin’ Foods returned to product development. At last, they are releasing not one, but five new products. Vanilla Cinnamon Nibblies (a granola-like snack), Real Fruit Cherry Chips (for baking or snacking), 70% Dark Chocolate Chunks, Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips, and Sulfite Free Dried Apples have joined the ranks of allergen-free Nonuttin’ goodies. The Elliott family maintains a dedicated facility that is also vegan and certified kosher pareve.

Gak’s Snacks Coffee Cakes can be ordered online at or by phone at (800) 552-7172. These high quality cakes sell for just $28.95 plus cooler. Their large fresh cookies can be purchased for as little as $5.99 per box of 8. Shipment is available throughout the U.S.

Nonuttin’ Foods are available online at or by phone at (866) 714-5411. Their new products range from $5.99 to $10.99 CDN per bag, or you can order a box of 16 granola bars for just $19.99 CDN. Shipment throughout Canada and the U.S. is readily available.

To receive discount coupons for both Gak’s Snacks and Nonuttin’ Foods order a copy of the new book “Dairy Free Made Easy: Thousands of Foods, Hundreds of Tips, and Dozens of Recipes for Non-Dairy Living.” This essential guide is only available through, as quantities are limited.

According to the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) scientists estimate that approximately 12 million Americans now suffer from true food allergies. This equates to over 4 percent of the population. Food-induced anaphylaxis (a life-threatening allergic reaction) is believed to cause roughly 30,000 emergency room visits per year. For more information, visit the FAAN at

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Monday, November 13, 2006

New Treatments for Food Allergies Being Studied hyped up the the latest research presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) in Philadelphia with a headline of "Allergy And Immunology On The Cusp Of Major Breakthroughs."

When you read the article closely, however, all the big breakthroughs appear to be only for certain types of allergies. The news for those with food, including dairy, allergies isn't quite as good.

Researchers are also looking at novel approaches for treating food allergy, which is a major health problem in industrialized nations. It affects between 6 percent - 8 percent of young children and 4 percent of adults. Current management of food allergy includes the avoidance of specific foods and the medical management of acute reactions.

Only a few foods, such as milk, eggs, peanuts, nuts, and fish and shellfish account for over 90 percent of all food allergic reactions. Attempts at primary prevention have largely not met with much success.

"There are several promising studies being conducted now that likely will result in new treatments for food allergy," said Wesley Burks, M.D., professor and chief, Pediatric Allergy and Immunology at Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C.

One of the new therapies are on the horizon is Anti-IgE, which may be able to prevent severe food allergic reactions and can also be used in combination with other new therapies for treatment. Another is the use of modified allergenic proteins that may be able to "reverse" food allergy.

"Routes, other than subcutaneous, for the delivery of allergy immunotherapy for food allergy are being studied extensively now," said Dr. Burks.

Being studied is not at all the same thing as finding a result. If you hear elsewhere about this conference and the good news it supposedly brings, demand to read the fine print.

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Lactose, Eczema, and Allergies

Would a lactose-free baby formula help a baby with eczema? No. The two things have no connection.

Only a dairy protein allergy would be likely to cause eczema. Or would it?

Dr. Vincent Iannelli's most recent Pediatrics column on, Eczema and Food Allergies, raises some doubts:

If you really think that your baby's formula, including a milk based and soy formula, is making his eczema worse, then you might talk to your pediatrician about trying a hypoallergenic formula, such as Nutramigen or Alimentum. Allergy testing, using a blood test like the Immunocap, could be another option.

Keep in mind that many experts do not believe that food allergies are a big trigger for eczema though, so most parents should not go out of their way to restrict their child's diet without talking to their pediatrician first. Of course, if your child's eczema gets worse every time you give your child something to eat or drink, then it likely is a trigger for him and you should avoid it and talk to your pediatrician about food allergies.

And some kids do have both food allergies and eczema, but surprisingly, they don't seem to affect each other.

Iannelli cites "Effective therapy of childhood atopic dermatitis allays food allergy concerns." by MM Thompson and JM Hanifin in The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 2005 Aug;53(2 Suppl 2):S214-9.

From the abstract of the study:
BACKGROUND: Roughly one third of children with atopic dermatitis (AD) have IgE-mediated food allergy. Most parents and pediatricians assume foods also cause the eczema, a focus that diverts proper skin therapy and has negative outcomes including nutritional deficiency, costly referrals, and unnecessary testing. This project investigates the relationship between food allergy and AD, both before and after treatment in an established AD population. During an open trial of topical tacrolimus we observed a decrease in parental food allergy concern during good control of their child's eczema. We tested this observation by follow-up interviews and a questionnaire study to compare parental estimates of food allergy concerns after therapy with concerns before beginning the trial. Study subjects were children 11 years old and younger with AD and suspicion of food allergy. AD and food allergy parameters, pre- and post-treatment, were retrospectively assessed by a questionnaire given to the parents.

RESULTS: Twenty-three patients were enrolled: 16 had positive food allergy tests (7 RAST and/or 10 skin prick tests) and 30% had a definite history of immediate IgE reactions to foods. Ninety-five percent of parents felt that food allergy exacerbated their child's AD. Treatment durations were 3 to 45 months. Parental concern of food allergy decreased significantly from 7.7 to 4.0 on a 10 point scale (P < .001). Additionally, estimated food reactions decreased by approximately 80% during 1- and 6-month periods (P = .001).

CONCLUSIONS: In this selected university-based childhood AD population, nearly all parents In this selected university-based childhood AD population, nearly all parents were convinced their child had food allergy and further that the food contributed to the AD. The level of concern about food reactions was significantly decreased and the number of food reactions declined during effective topical therapy. This preliminary assessment of parental perceptions suggests that successful, stable therapy of AD reduces perceived food reactions and allays parental concerns about food allergy. Such therapy may encourage parents to refocus on direct skin care as the primary effort in AD therapy. We conclude that the effect of successful AD treatment on food allergy and food allergy concern are of interest and worthy of further study.

In simpler language, treating eczema makes the symptoms go away without necessarily changing diet.

Finding a good doctor who understands the problem is more than half the battle. Check with your pediatrician and a pedriatric allergist/immunologist if necessary.

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Remember, Cheese is Low Lactose

While I'm reminding people out there that nondairy covers a lot of territory, let me also put in a kind word for low-lactose sources of dairy for those who still want milk in their diets.

Like cheese. An article in the New Zealand Herald tells the good folk of Auckland that Jones the Grocer, a famed Australian gourmet food store, is coming to Newmarket.

Kelvin Bartholomeusz, the former fromagier for Jones, is one of us. When asked, "How would you cope if you became lactose intolerant?" he responded:

I am. Cheese contains much lower levels of lactose than milk, and hard cheese has virtually none, as the lactose is held in the water (whey) which, in hard cheese, has wept out of the curds. I eat small amounts of very good cheese. If I couldn't eat cheese or dairy, I'd find life difficult as I base all my travel plans on food shows and where good food is, such as my annual pilgrimage to France.

Should you want to know more about the subtleties of eating cheese, here's more of what he has to say:
When should cheese be eaten?

There's a cheese for every meal, from breakfast to supper. Generally though, subtle-tasting cheese is better before dinner with a nice dry white or good sparkling and the more full-flavoured cheese (cheddar, washed rind, blue) is ideal after dinner with a good red or sticky.

What should be eaten with cheese?

This varies greatly. You need a sharp, dried sour cherry with a blue or a triple cream, a bunch of muscatels is perfect with brie, and quince paste is delightful with cheddar or blue. Only a plain crispbread or baguette should be served with cheese, no flavoured biscuits.

The worst thing to do with cheese?

To eat it cold. It's akin to not letting a good red breathe before drinking it. Generally, cheese must be eaten at room temperature (at least 1-2 hours out of the fridge). The exception is a dry blue such as stilton which should be eaten virtually cold to maintain its dry, crumbly consistency.

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Vegan Ice Cream Blog

No, that's not an oxymoron. The ice creams in question are ice "creams," made using nondairy "milks."

Agnes L. is a vegan and likes creating her own ice cream substitutes. She started posting heavily and then petered out, as many bloggers do, but she got named a "blog of note" on Blogger today so the attention may perk her up.

One thing I like to remind people of every once in a while is that nondairy isn't just for people with lactose intolerance. Vegans need nondairy, and so do people with milk protein allergies, and those trying to keep kosher, and those one in a thousand people with unusual ailments like galactosemia, and more. Each of us can learn from all the others.

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Sunday, November 05, 2006

It's After Halloween So Time for Christmas Nondairy

The stores are already bulging with Christmas decorations and last year's leftover wrapping paper on sale. So it's time to bring out the Christmas-themed food. I guess you can have it at Thanksgiving, too. That leaves you all of December to get tired of it.

Ah, enough cynicism of the season.

Vitasoy put two new flavors into the national marketplace in October, which I just saw in a store for the first time.

Or as their press release put it:

Vitasoy USA Inc. has introduced two organic soy drinks in rich flavors to provide consumers beverage options that taste decadent, yet are guilt free. Holly Nog and Peppermint Chocolate Soy Drinks are lactose free, gluten free, contain no cholesterol and just a fraction of the fat of dairy eggnog. But that doesn’t mean they are light on flavor. Lightly spiced, Holly Nog is a creamy, smooth drink with aromas of cinnamon and nutmeg. Peppermint Chocolate is excellent served warm or chilled, combining the luscious sweetness of premium chocolate with the cool lingering refreshment of mint.

Yet these non-dairy beverages barely budge the calorie counter – Holly Nog is just 120 calories per 8-ounce serving, and Peppermint Chocolate 140 calories per 8-ounce serving – versus more than 340 calories per 8-ounce serving for dairy eggnog. Made from 100% organic whole soybeans, these beverages are rich in soy isoflavones and contain 4 grams of soy protein per serving.

Vitasoy’s new organic beverages are targeted to health-conscious consumers, as well as to those who are lactose intolerant or vegan – and those who just find the richness of high-fat beverages overwhelming. Vitasoy New Product Manager Jayne Minigell explains: “Holly Nog was distributed on a limited basis in 2005, and received excellent feedback. Consumers liked the lightness and creamy consistency, and gave us high marks on flavor. They appreciated being able to serve a festive and delicious beverage when entertaining lactose-intolerant relatives and friends. To build on that success, we’ve added Peppermint Chocolate – another premium alternative with extended appeal from fall right through winter.”

Holly Nog and Peppermint Chocolate Organic Soy Drinks were developed to allow retailers to capitalize on the long winter selling season with traditional flavors reformulated for demanding consumers. Healthy ingredients and minimal fat and calories encourage consumers to enjoy these beverages on more than an occasional basis. Aseptic packaging in bright colors makes them easy to merchandise in visible, high-traffic areas to maximize sales and profits.

Vitasoy USA Inc., headquartered in Ayer, Massachusetts, has created delicious, nutritious, organic and all-natural foods to help families improve their health for more than 25 years. Vitasoy USA Inc. produces premium tofu, soymilk and vegan salad dressings that are USDA Certified Organic, as well as all-natural, restaurant-style stir-fry sauces, weight-management meal replacement beverages, and Asian pastas, teas and juices. These healthy and delicious products are sold under the brand names Vitasoy®, Nasoya®, Azumaya®, Vita® and San Sui®. Vitasoy USA Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Vitasoy International Holdings Limited of Hong Kong, a world leader in soy products for more than 65 years. Visit for more product information and recipe suggestions.

I've seen nondairy Nog around in limited quantities for years. Maybe this year is the one in which it breaks out in the mainsteam. I'll keep you posted.

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Saturday, November 04, 2006

Organic Meadow Certified Organic Lactose Free 2% Milk

Is this the first organic lactose free milk in Canada?

I don't know, but the press release claims it is.

You can find the full text of the release here.

For the first time in Canada, 3.5 million Canadians suffering from the symptoms of lactose intolerance will be able to enjoy the wholesome goodness of organic milk. Organic Meadow, Canada's leading, certified organic dairy, is now offering Certified Organic Lactose Free 2% Milk through major grocery chains and specialty food stores across Canada.

For years, health conscious consumers have recognized the benefits of organic milk as part of a well balanced diet. But for many people affected by lactose intolerance, enjoying a cold glass of organic milk with a meal, or simply on its own, was not possible. People with lactose intolerance cannot digest the natural sugar lactose. They suffer a range of symptoms including pain, gas and bloating, because their system can't perform the necessary function of converting lactose to glucose and galactose. The condition affects an estimated 25% of Canadians and can be as minor as discomfort and as major as contributing to chronic illness. Sufferers of lactose intolerance frequently have to eliminate all dairy products from their diets. With the release of Organic Meadow's lactose-free milk, these people can re-introduce organic milk to their lives.


Organic Meadow's lactose free 2% organic milk is sold in 1 and 2 litre cartons and has the same nutritional value as its regular 2% milk. To locate a store near you, visit the Organic Meadow website at

One slight problem, though. Maybe not so slight.

"People often refer to organic dairy products as having the taste they remember from childhood. " said Ted Zettel, President, Organic Meadow. "We think that's because Organic dairy cattle live healthier lives; they are fed only organic feeds, are treated homeopathically on the rare occasion of illness and spend a lot of time outdoors."

Treated homeopathically is the same as not being treated at all. Homeopathy is sheer quackery (or moo-ery). I have to hope that the Canadian government requires health inspections and real veterinarians to treat the cows with real medicines. Fortunately, this is not raw milk but regular milk that has been Ultra High Temperature (UHT) pasteurized so it will be safe on the shelf.

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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween Horror! Lactose Bacteria Mutating in Your Colon!

The bacteria that eat the undigested lactose that the reaches the colon are a special breed, so to speak. And that helps explain why a colony of good bacteria - the type that digests lactose - or a colony of bad bacteria - the type that ferments lactose - can take hold so quickly.

Anneli Waara writes about this is an article called "Mass copying of genes speeds up evolution" on

The research should be found in the latest issue of PNAS, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, but I didn't see the proper article there. I'll try to find it for you and edit it in.

Waara said:

“When the bacterium’s gene for making use of lactose is inefficient, that is, when the bacterium has an ineffective enzyme for breaking down lactose, mutant bacteria are favored instead, with up to a hundred-fold rise in the number of copies of the gene,” says Professor Dan Andersson, one of those behind the study.

This has two consequences: on the one hand, the bacterium manages to grow on lactose because the amount of the inefficient enzyme increases and, on the other hand, the chances increase that the bacterium will develop a mutation in one of these 100 identical genes leading to an improvement in the enzyme function. The scientists also show that amplification proceeds stepwise: first, a large region is duplicated and then smaller regions within that region are amplified to high numbers of copies. According to Dan Andersson, it is probably much more common than was previously thought, which is extremely exciting.

“And they are important, since this means that evolutionary changes can take place at a considerably higher speed. One reason the extent of this has been underestimated is their inherent instability, which makes them difficult to study in laboratory experiments.”

They're evolving right before our eyes, er, below our eyes. Somewhat out of sight of our eyes, to be precise. But they just might solve puzzles about changes in other genes. It's not just gas, then; it's progress.

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Friday, October 27, 2006

Allergen-Free Halloween Treats

Cybele Pascal from sent me a link to these dairy-free, soy-free, egg-free, peanut-free, tree nut-free, wheat-free, and gluten-free recipes.

Go to: Allergen-Free Halloween Treats.

You'll see recipes for Chocolate Sunflower Butter Cups and Old-Fashioned Popcorn Balls. (The sunflower butter is the same kind of nondairy butter that I talked about in Shea Butter and Other Nondairy Foolers.)

And of course poke around the site for the many other recipe, food, and health pages.

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