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 is now a legacy site, meaning that I am not updating it any longer. The basic information about LI is still sound. However, product information and weblinks may be out of date.

In addition, my old website, Planet Lactose, has been taken down because of the age of the information. Unfortunately, that means links to the site on this blog will no longer work.

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.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Take Calcium. Every Day. Forever.

Here's the short version: Take calcium. Take calcium daily. Take calcium daily forever.

Now the long version.

Two long-term major studies of calcium use by women have appeared lately. One was an Australian study of 1,460 women older than 70, reported in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine. The other was a finding from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI), that major ongoing study of 36,000 postmenopausal women that has spawned so many articles and controversy over so many of its findings.

And the superficial, quick read version of both these studies is that calcium does nothing. No statistically significant benefits found.

This is true, and yet it is dead wrong. The superficial read is the wrong read. The headlines will steer you false yet again.

Dig deeper. Take a look at "Protecting Your Bones: New Evidence Helps Clarify the Benefits of Calcium," Tara Parker-Pope's Health Journal column in the April 25, 2006 Wall Street Journal. (Available online only to WSJ subscribers. Sorry.)

The real story is buried in the data, but it's a blockbuster. The reason the Australian study found no benefits is that 43% of the women in it stopped taking their calcium during the five year study. The women who kept taking the pills had a massive 34% reduction in their overall risk of a fracture.

About the same fraction of women stopped taking the calcium in the WHI study. And many of the women in the study were under 60, making them less likely to suffer fractures in the first place. Women over 60 were 21% less likely to suffer a hip fracture. Women who took the pills regularly had a 29% lower risk. When everyone was counted in, those who weren't taking calcium supplements before the study now had a 30% lower risk.

"It was a bit of a surprise and a bit disappointing to discover that the effect was so dependent on compliance," says [Australian] study author Richard L. Prince, associate professor at the School of Medicine and Pharmacology at the University of Western Australia. Patients need to make their calcium regimen a life-long habit "to get the full treatment effect."

As with every medication, side effects occur. The WHI study found that daily calcium may increase the, low, risk of kidney stones by 17%. However, the only side effect the Australian study spotted was constipation.

So take calcium now. Take it later. Take it daily. How much? 1200 mg is what the studies recommend.

And never get medical news just from headlines.

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Saturday, April 29, 2006

Molecules of Lactose - the Teeny Tiny Truth

Let's take a nostalgic stroll back to high school chemistry. Yeah, I'm getting all misty eyed too. But if you ever learned the concept of gram molecular weight and Avogadro's Number, that's where it first came up. (If not, you're special and you don't need to read this but you already know the answer.)

Avogadro's number is 6.022∙1023. That's a really really really huge number. Written out in full it reads: 602,200,000,000,000,000,000,000. The number is important because that's how many molecules exist in a mole of any substance. A "mole" is short for gram molecular weight.

The molecular weight of a molecule is the weight of N0 such molecules. The molecular weight of a molecule is equal to the sum of the atomic weights of its constituting atoms.

So what's the molecular weight of lactose? (Aha. This suddenly gets relevant.) Lactose's chemical formula is C12H22O11. I'll do the math for you. A mole of lactose molecules weights about 342 grams.

Now one gram is a tiny amount. There are 454 grams in a pound, 28.375 grams in an ounce. An eight ounce glass of milk has 12 grams of lactose. If you held an ounce of lactose in your hand, you couldn't even feel that it was there. Yet that one gram still contains 1,760,233,918,128,654,970,766 molecules of lactose. Rounded, that's 1.76•1021 molecules. (6.022∙1023 / 342)

That's why I tell people with lactose intolerance not to get worried about a few molecules of lactose. Or even a few billion. A few molecules can't hurt you. Your system wouldn't even recognize them.

Those with dairy protein allergies need to be a bit more careful, but similar math applies. Proteins are far heavier than lactose. They can weight a million times more. And even nanograms of protein can set off a reaction. A nanogram is one billionth of a gram. Even a million billion is small next to Avogardo's number, though. If you divide 1.76•1021 by a million billion, you're still left with 1.76•106 or 1,760,000. Almost two million protein molecules are needed at the very least to set out a reaction in the most sensitive person. The real minimum is probably larger than this.

Caution is definitely the byword for those who are anaphylactic to milk. For the rest of us, just remember a few molecules are the same as none at all.

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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Lactose Helps Explain Evolution

All of us with lactose intolerance should know that some of the bacteria in our colons manufacture the lactase enzyme, which helps digest any lactose that reaches them, reducing symptoms.

Few of us realize that learning how the bacteria do this was one of the breakthroughs in understanding how genes function.

The new issue of the New York Review of Books has a review by Edward Ziff and Israel Rosenfield of three new books on evolution. As usual, the review is an actual review of the subject as much as or more than a critical review of the book's involved. The authors explain the lactose collection as follows:

The number of genes in a given species, therefore, is not a measure of its complexity. Why had biologists so overestimated the number of genes in the human genome? Why is it unnecessary for complex animals such as mammals to have ten times as many genes as worms?

The answers to these questions were already hinted at more than four decades ago. At the time it was known that the bacteria E. coli, which normally live off the sugar glucose, are also capable of producing enzymes that digest other sugars, such as lactose. But biologists noticed that the bacteria only produce the enzyme when lactose is present in their immediate environment. Scientists could not explain how the E. coli somehow "knew" when the lactose-digesting enzyme would be needed.

In 1961, Jacques Monod and François Jacob discovered that E. coli bacteria actually have a mechanism that controls the production of the enzyme for digesting lactose. As unicellular organisms, E. coli bacteria have only several thousand genes, each of which is made up of a specific sequence of DNA. A single one of these genes, present in all E. coli, carries in its DNA the genetic instructions needed to assemble the enzyme that can digest lactose; the DNA is copied into RNA, which is then "translated" to produce the enzyme itself. When there is no lactose present in the bacteria's immediate environment, the gene is switched off: its DNA is not copied into RNA and the enzyme is not produced. The reason for this, the scientists discovered, is that a protein called a repressor molecule attaches itself to the DNA site where the copying into RNA begins, thus blocking off the DNA and preventing the gene from producing the RNA responsible for the synthesis of the enzyme.

On the other hand, when the E. coli bacteria encounter lactose, the lactose binds itself to this repressor molecule, causing the repressor to be detached from the DNA site. This unblocks the DNA, allowing the gene to be copied into RNA, and produce the enzyme that can digest lactose. In other words, the repressor molecule acts as a switch that controls the gene's production of the enzyme. Since only a fraction of the total number of genes present in an organism are expressed, or turned on, at any given time, Monod and Jacob conjectured that other genes must be similarly turned on and off.

Although they had not yet found systematic evidence to support these ideas, the discovery of the repressor molecule allowed the two scientists to form a powerful new hypothesis about how genes function. As Jacob recently wrote, in a brief description of the new hypothesis:
    It proposed a model to explain one of the oldest problems in biology: in organisms made up of millions, even billions of cells, every cell possesses a complete set of genes; how, then, is it that all the genes do not function in the same way in all tissues? That the nerve cells do not use the same genes as the muscle cells or the liver cells? In short, [we] presented a new view of the genetic landscape.

The deeper significance of the Monod-Jacob model of gene function, and its implications for the nature of evolution, became apparent with the new field of embryo research that arose almost twenty years later.

There's much more to the article. Read it for a better understanding of the evolution of evolution.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Alisa Fleming of - "The Complete Resource for Dairy Free Living" – sent me an email alerting me to her site.

I got these on a regular basis, and most fail on almost all counts. Too limited, poor information, bad design, not up-to-date.

None of these apply to It takes a lot to impress me, but I'm impressed. is divided into a number of sections,

    What's New?
    • Monthly Newsletter
    • Online Retailers for Hard to Find Products
    • The Recipe & Discussion Forum
    • Dairy Free Product Lists

    Dairy Free . . .

    • . . . At the Grocery Store
    • . . . In the Kitchen
    • . . . When Dining Out
    • . . . In the News

    Topics of Interest

    • All About Milk
    • Calcium
    • Key Issues
    • Medical Conditions Linked to Milk
    • FAQs

    Additional Resources
    The 10-day Dairy Free Challenge

Each section has several long articles inside of it.

Most impressive is the Dairy Free Foods & Products page. This lists 2500 dairy-free products with information and a link for each. It's similar to my Priduct Clearinghouse except that I limit my info to direct substitutes for dairy products, while includes hundreds of the various foods that are dairy-free. The additional information should be valuable. I just hope they have a staff of a thousand to be it updated!

There's also a forum to share tips and ask questions.

A newsletter is coming in May. So are many other tempting items.

Real work went into this site. I feel better about not having the time or energy to keep my website going at top speed. The field of products for those with lactose intolerance or dairy allergies or vegans or all the others who want to avoid dairy has gotten just too huge for any one person to cover it as a part-timer. I really do hope that they have the staff to keep this going. I know just how hard that is.

Best of luck!

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

More UK Free-From Foods Honoured

Good to hear that the UK is finally catching up with the States in foods that are milk and wheat-free.

Checkout Magazine reported on the latest to win honours for their foods.

Two companies in the food sector have been awarded Queen’s Awards for Enterprise.

Cumbrian family bakery, Bells of Lazonby, has won the Queen’s Award in the Innovation category for its gluten, wheat and dairy-free products produced under the Ok and Village bakery brands.

Bells’ innovation has centred on the production of its allergy-friendly bakery products. The company’s aim was to provide great tasting rather than clinical products, which would have a wide appeal in the growing health and diets food markets. The products were launched at IFE in 2003 and are now listed by Asda, Booths, Boots, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco. Bells’ sales have grown to £2.5m and its workforce has expanded to 30 from nothing two and half years ago.

I remember when just finding a single lactose-free milk product was an issue.

For more on UK products for those with lactose intolerance or milk allergies, also check my UK News page.

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Monday, April 24, 2006

Non-Dairy "Milks"

Here's another interesting site I link to on my LI Links page.

The Cook's Thesaurus site has a Non-dairy Milks & Creams page that defines a variety of liquid milk substitutes from almond "milk" to soy "milk".

Both those who have lactose intolerance or a dairy allergy need these substitutes, at least at times. Here's info that can help you decide what to buy. And there are also recipes for making these "milks" yourself to your own taste.

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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Sheep's Milk - Less Lactose?

Slim Ewe is not a user id on MySpace, a curseword on the Sopranos, or the winner of Nashville Idol. It's the latest fad form of dairy, ice cream made from whole sheep's milk. featured Jess Halliday's article, The healthy potential of sheep’s milk, on David Baker, owner of Styles Farm in the sourthwest of England, who's been making ice cream from sheep's milk for the past 18 years.

So why is this of interest to us? Because of the usual nutty claim.

According to market analyst Mintel, non-cow milks (sheep and goat) currently have a 0.8 per cent share of the white milk market value. The market is growing – but not so much because of the healthy profile (indeed the higher fat content of the milk is a drawback) but because of lower lactose content than cow's milk, making it more suitable for people with a perceived intolerance.

Of course, the article provides nothing to back up the claim that non-cow milks have a lower lactose content than cow's milk. If you want facts about milk, the first place to look is, that's right, my web site. My Lactose Zoo page gives average lactose content for over 30 animal milks.

    Cow 3.7-5.1%

    Goat 4.1-4.7%

    Sheep 4.6-5.4%

Even if you assume – correctly – that most cow's milk is at the higher end of the scale and sheep's milk is at the lower end, the difference is a few tenths of a percentage point at most. Not enough to make any noticeable difference in anyone's symptoms.

Your ability to have Slim Ewe will be almost exactly that of your ability to have cow's milk ice cream. You shouldn't feel any difference in lactose content.

But the claims just keep on comin'.

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Friday, April 21, 2006

Allergy Warning - Don't Chew Your Clothing!

From the life gets weirder every day department:

According to an article on the online version of the Canadian magazine Macleans, clothing is now being made from "100 per cent dehydrated spun cows' milk fibre."

That means that people who chew or drool on their clothing, like infants or your Uncle Fred, can release the milk proteins involved.

Researchers in the Food Allergy Research and Resource Program at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln found that milk allergens can easily be extracted from clothes made from the fibre, and in concentrations sufficient to pose a hazard to people with milk allergies….

Dry milk fibres may also pose a risk to people with a milk allergy if the fibres are inhaled or come into contact with the skin.

How do you know if you have clothing made from dehydrated milk? Beats me. I always tell people to read the ingredients list on every product they buy, but I didn't know that also meant their pants.

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Monday, April 17, 2006

More Lactase, Please

Press releases lie. That's not really a condemnation of them. It's their job description. No matter what the product is or what it does, the press release will make it sound far more wonderful, perfect, effective, and useful than it can possibly be. Smart consumers have learned to go beyond the press release and dig up the real facts.

You want an example? Naturally, I have one handy. It's from National Enzyme Company announcing their new BioCore™ line of digestive enzymes. Yes, the whole product line really has that crazy, er, nifty raised, italicized e as part of its name.

And naturally, there's a dairy supplement that's part of the line:

BioCore Dairy™ is a potent formula comprised of lactase and protease designed to alleviate symptoms associated with dairy intolerance. BioCore Dairy Ultra™ is an enhanced dairy formulation targeting milk fat in addition to dairy intolerance.

I have a page in my Product Clearinghouse for Lactase Pills. That page has all the name brand lactase pills available in the U.S. that I know of that meet my standards. The biggest and pretty much only standard that you need to worry about is whether a pill has enough lactase in it to do the job of relieving symptoms due to lactose intolerance. Since you can take more than one pill at a time, I set that standard fairly low at 1500 FCC units. (That can also be expressed as 1500 Lac U. or 1500 ALU or 100 mg.)

What you don't see on that page are many pills that contain other digestive enzymes. That's because there is not the slightest scientific evidence that other digestive enzymes make any difference at all in controlling symptoms from lactose. Only lactase counts. If you have enough lactase, then the digestive enzymes added are meaningless, although probably harmless. If you don't have enough lactase, then all the other digestive enzymes won't do a thing.

So what about BioCore Dairy™ and BioCore Dairy Ultra™? Some digging at the National Enzyme website shows that they contain 1000 ALU. Not enough to make them effective, and not enough to make them cost effective since you would need to take several at a time to feel any relief. I won't be adding those pills to my website.

Sorry, National Enzyme. But I know not to believe the wonders promised by press releases. I hope you readers now do as well.

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Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Lactase Gene: A Precursor to Cultural Evolution?

All mammals produce milk to feed their young, and virtually all mammals use the sugar lactose, found nowhere else on earth, as an energy source for that milk. The young manufacture the enzyme called lactase, which split the lactose into simpler sugars, which can be absorbed by the intestines and used by the body. And all mammals lose their lactase-making ability at about the normal age of weaning, when it presumably would never be needed again.

Humans are mammals, and for most of our existence we functioned just like all the others. Humans naturally stop making lactase at about three years of age, and are lactose intolerant after that.

Except that a few had a mutation to a single gene. This mutation never sent out the signal to stop making the lactase. It was what is called a "neutral" mutation. For most of human history nobody ever saw the effects of this mutation, because no adult human ever drank milk.

But sometime around 10,000 years ago or so, humans started domesticating animals that were milkable. And at some point after that, they started regularly collecting the milk and using it, either to feed motherless children, or to process it into yogurt, kumiss, kefir, and other milk products.

The people who could manufacture lactase as adults suffered from fewer symptoms when they had these dairy products, and were also better able to use the nutrients in the milk. They prospered and spread their mutated genes through the local population. Since these people happened to be the ancestors of today's Europeans, these genes also got spread throughout the entire world, making adult milk-drinking common almost everywhere.

That's the standard story of lactose tolerance. What's new is that some scientists are postulating that the story of this one mutated gene may be something that's been duplicated with other genes without our being aware of it.

A story online from Wired magazine, "Getting Evolution Up to Speed," by Annalee Newitz talks about these notions, especially a study that demonstrates that two key genes connected to brain size are currently under rapid selection in populations throughout the globe. Newitz cites University of Chicago geneticist Bruce Lahn when she writes:

Chicago geneticist Lahn is most intrigued by the possibility that cultural factors are involved in brain evolution. "We think some of these new gene variants may be as young as a few thousand years, a period when human culture was changing dramatically," he said. "Maybe these genes are selected not for hunting but because of organized society." He cautioned that this is just a hypothesis, but "recent cultural evolution and biological evolution may be linked."

Jonathan Pritchard, an evolutionary biologist also at the University of Chicago, has also been looking at the lactase gene in these terms:
"The time scale for a strongly favored mutation to sweep through a population is about 5,000 years," [Pritchard said]. "It's hard to get an exact estimate for rates of change, but we know that the lactase gene is evolving the fastest in humans. It was new 5,000 years ago and now it's in virtually everybody in Europe."

The lactase gene is what allows humans to metabolize dairy products as adults. It's widely believed to have evolved in response to humans' domestication of dairy animals -- individuals who could enhance their diet with dairy products had such a strong survival advantage that the gene spread at the speed of, well, several thousand generations.

A storm of publicity greeted Pritchard's recent paper on signals of selection across the human genome. The response came in large part because Pritchard and his colleagues had found such overwhelming evidence that many human genes are evolving: not just ones that govern the brain, but also ones associated with reproduction, disease resistance and the ability to process certain kinds of foods.

"I think my work is changing people's ideas about evolution, because now natural selection seems to have continued all the way up to the present day," said Pritchard. "There's no reason to think it stops now."

Many other scientists are arguing that human changes to health, medicine, and the environment are overwhelming these natural evolutionary changes, which is why Pritchard and Lahn's notions are so controversial.

Both pathways might come into play in the future.
Lahn is comfortable with this idea. "If there's an evolutionary advantage to be had by using technology, then people will do it," he said. "People are going to start changing the game in evolution in ways Darwin never anticipated."

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Saturday, April 15, 2006

"Free From" Foods Grow in Sales

Sales of so-called "free from" foods are soaring in Britain and elsewhere in the world, matching the huge rise in sales of these products in the U.S. They've gone up an estimated 329% over the past five years creating a market worth £90 million in 2005. Meanwhile, dairy-free products are valued at £32 million, with sales of products such as soya milk and yoghurts growing by 28% over the same 3 year period.

Why? Blame (or credit) celebritites. Orlando Bloom and ex-Spice Girl Victoria Beckham have to stay away from dairy products, say sources close to them (or tabloids or somebody equally respectable). Another ex-Spice, Geri Halliwell, and actress Rachel Weisz can't have wheat. (see for a UK-based gluten-free site.

There's an ongoing argument over whether these stars have raised awareness about a real problem ignored in the past or are merely creating false self-diagnoses by celebrity followers. Lactose intolerance is easy to misdiagnose, since so many foods create the same intestinal symptoms.

Life Style Extra quotes a Dairy Mail article concerning a report by the market research group Mintel:

One of the interesting characteristics of the market is the high level of "misdiagnosis", which stems from the public's willingness to self-diagnose at best or simply avoid a particular product based on little more than one bad experience, a news article or peer and family advice, says the report.

And consumer analyst Julie Sloan has much more to say:
The popularity of soya milk under high profile brands has certainly played its part in catapulting the free-from food sector into the mainstream away from the specialist dietary food field.

"The explosion of new product launches in the free-from market as a whole, as well as greater dedicated shelf space, have also had a significant role in the market's growth.

"High-profile cases of life-threatening allergies to products such as nuts have undoubtedly brought the problem of allergies and food intolerance into the limelight as well.

The "free from" market is expected to double in the UK between 2005 and 2010.

And elsewhere. An article by Lindsey Ord in the South African newspaper The Daily News has the following quote:
And South African dietetics experts predict that we're heading for a boom in "free from" foods here, too.

Dudu Mthuli, chairwoman of the KZN branch of Adsa, the Association for Dietetics in South Africa, says that "free from" foods are not as readily available in South Africa as in most first world countries, but she foresees an increase in their sales because of increased awareness and self-diagnosis.

But she adds a word of caution: "Omitting foods without proper supervision is not recommended and can compromise your health.

"It is important to consult your doctor who can determine if you are indeed suffering a food allergy, or whether it might be some other cause of your symptoms.

"Only after proper diagnosis should there be long-term dietary changes - and this should be under the supervision of a registered dietitian, who will be able to advise on a balanced diet by ensuring proper nutrient intake to maintain your health, while taking your diagnosis into consideration.

"Free from foods are usually much more expensive and sometimes not so well suited to our tastebuds and therefore should not be encouraged unless a proper diagnosis has been made."

If you truly have an intolerance or food allergy, this is all great news. If you just think you do, make sure you get checked by a reputable medical doctor (not a homeopath or chiropractor) before making this drastic a change in your diet.

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Wednesday, April 12, 2006


Everybody needs calcium.

From here on all is murky.

How much calcium anyone needs and where best to get the calcium are highly contentious subjects. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends 1,000 mg a day of calcium for Americans ages 19 to 50; 1,200 mg for people older than 50; 1,300 mg for ages 9 to 18 and lesser amounts for younger children. But in an article, Got Controversy?, in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, Dr. Walter Willett, nutritionist and epidemiologist at Harvard School of Public Health contends that "500 to 700 milligrams of calcium daily is probably plenty."

And he says that dairy isn't necessarily the best source for calcium. Most cultures around the world get their calcium from plant sources.

Willett, who works closely with three of the biggest and longest-running health studies in the country including the Nurses' Health Studies, found that women getting the most calcium from dairy products had more fractures than women who had less dairy — the opposite of conventional wisdom.

The other side of the case is argued by J. Edward Puzas, a research scientist and director of the Osteoporosis Center at the University of Rochester.

It's fine to get calcium from dairy or nondairy sources, including supplements, he says, but the reality is that most Americans don't get enough.

The body needs a certain level of calcium concentration in the blood in order to work properly. When calcium levels run low, the body removes calcium from its bones. If that calcium is not replaced regularly, people end up with weak bones and fractures, he explains.

Here's what most everybody does agree on:

  • Vitamin D is key because it allows the body to use calcium. "You can have all the calcium you want, but if you don't have enough vitamin D, you just poop it out," says [Dr. Stephanie Siegrist, orthopedic surgeon at Westfall Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Center in Brighton]. Current research suggests 800 to 1,000 international units a day of vitamin D for a healthy adult, Siegrist says, although the National Osteoporosis Foundation calls for 400 to 800 IU. Both amounts are well above the 200 IU in a typical calcium-plus-D supplement. One cup of fortified cow milk or soy milk provides 100 IU of vitamin D. Your body can make vitamin D when you get 15 to 30 minutes a day of sun on your face and arms (the amount depends on the angle of the sun). Vitamin D levels can be checked with a blood test.

  • Weight-bearing exercise strengthens your bones.

  • Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption hurts your bones.

  • And what if you're lactose intolerant?
    Dr. Stephen Cook, a pediatrician/internist and instructor at Golisano Children's Hospital at [the University of Rochester's Strong Memorial Hospital], finds that many people who say they are lactose-intolerant actually can tolerate a glass of milk with a meal. At the Rochester clinic where he works, he sees children too often drinking soft drinks and sugary juice drinks that lack calcium and add excess calories. Worse, the phosphates in soft drinks hinder calcium absorption. Cook, who studies obesity, endorses the three-a-day guideline for dairy. More isn't better because of the extra calories. Chocolate milk — even if low-fat — has excess sugar, he adds.

    If you're looking for good information about non-dairy sources of calcium, my LI Links page has a number of links to good pages on the Net that talk about calcium, from dairy, from non-dairy, and from supplements.

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    Tuesday, April 11, 2006

    Choosing an Infant Formula

    Lactose intolerance is something that happens as we age. In some cultures, where virtually every adult is lactose intolerant, the ability to manufacture the lactase enzyme starts to diminish at about the time of weaning. Before the age of about three, therefore, hardly any babies have lactose intolerance.


    Except if they have something go wrong with their intestines. It doesn't take much. A bout of the so-called "Stomach flu" (really a gastrointestinal problem) can knock out the lactase making machinery for a few weeks until the intestines heal.

    Dairy allergies are totally different. Babies can have them. In fact, most babies who are allergic to dairy when they're young grow out of it by, yep, about the time of weaning, ages two or three.

    In both cases parents will want a lactose-free infant formula. Breast milk can contain dairy proteins from the mother's diet, so unless she goes onto an absolutely strict and rigid no-milk diet, the baby is still at risk.

    I'm no expert on infant formulas. The matter is best taken up with you and your doctor. Some basic information, though, can be found on a site I just added to my LI Links page, Choosing an Infant Formula.

    One part is particularly important:

    Soy formulas are made with soy protein and are lactose free. Brands include Enfamil ProSobee, Similac Isomil, and Nestle Good Start Supreme Soy. They are good for children who don't tolerate lactose or milk proteins.

    Elemental formulas are also lactose free and are made with hydrolysate proteins, which are easy to digest for infants with protein allergies. Types of elemental formulas include Nutramigen, Pregestamil and Alimentum.

    If you have a family history of food allergies or formula intolerances, you might choose to start your baby off with a soy or elemental formula if you do not want to breastfeed.

    Lactose free formulas, such as Lactofree and Similac Lactose free are made without lactose, but do have cow's milk proteins in them. Infants are not usually thought to be born with a lactose intolerance, so these formulas are usually not needed.

    There's much more on that page, so read it all.

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    Monday, April 10, 2006

    Phony Numbers - Phonier Science

    Here's a link that I was going to include in my World Links section of my LI Links page, but had to throw out because the numbers turned out to be pure junk.

    It's Statistics by Country for Lactose Intolerance, by CureResearch, a wacky attempt to estimate how many people in each major country actually would show symptoms from drinking milk.

    According to their numbers, 32,388,462 or about 11% of the U.S. population is lactose intolerant. The same percentage holds for Canada. And for the U.K. And for Nigeria. And Korea. And, well, every other country in the world.

    This is ridiculous, of course. The percentage of people with LI vary tremendously from country to country. Those whose ethnic heritage is not western-European white, are far more likely to be LI. I put a summary of the medical community's decades of findings on this issue into my book Milk Is Not For Every Body: Living with Lactose Intolerance. The percentages of LI individuals vary by country from less than 5% to more than 90%.

    No self-respecting fifth grade science class would put these numbers onto construction paper for a science fair. So why would anyone take the time to do a whole (badly proofread) worldwide table? I can't imagine. It's of no conceivable use to anyone, anywhere. They don't even bother to explain or justify where they got the 11.03% figure for the U.S. from.

    It's the worst use of numbers to make a pretend case for science that I've ever seen. Just another example of why you have to be so careful to find sites you can trust on the Internet. Don't believe everything you read.

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    Sunday, April 09, 2006

    Vegetarian Travel and Restaurants

    When I updated my Li Links page, I added a new section called World Links. These are links to sites that aren't concentrated on just one country, but either apply to many countries or are aimed at travelers.

    Traveling with a food problem, like lactose intolerance or milk allergy, is a pain and a constant irritation. You can't take all your food with you, and you have to eat several times a day. Besides, one of the pleasures of travel is trying the local delicacies and specialties. Anything that can be done to make the experience more pleasurable deserves a highlight.

    One such page is Questions About Vegetarian Travel and Restaurants from the Vegetarian Resource Group. That page contains questions and answers in an FAQ format, along with links to many other pages that give additional information.

    One problem with the page is that it indiscriminately mixes up info for vegetarians and for vegans. While all vegan information is automatically good for those of us with dairy issues, not all the vegetarian info is. You have to be cautious when reading.

    The page also hasn't been updated in a very long time, but remarkably most if not all the links are still live, so feel free to click around for more current info.

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    Friday, April 07, 2006

    My LI Links Page Updated

    Told ya I wasn't abandoning my Lactose Intolerance Clearinghouse. I just put some time and effort into updating my LI Links page.

    That page has dozens of links about matters I don't cover directly on my site. That includes subjects like calcium, multiple food allergies, celiac disease, osteoporosis, and veganism. There are also some sites on lactose intolerance itself that have information worth pursuing.

    In addition, I've been trying to gather links to all the important sites based in other countries that talk about these issues. I have links to sites in Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Germany. Most of these sites are relatively new. Lactose intolerance became an issue in the U.S. long before it did elsewhere, but the rest of the world is fast catching up.

    What surprised me is how few links had gone bad over the two years since my last update. In the early days of the Net, links would go missing all the time as people stopped maintaining sites. Today sites have much more permanency. The Net is maturing, and the information it provides gets better all the times. What it lacks most, though, is context, and that's one of the things I aim to provide.

    I did some Googling and found a dozen new links to enter onto that page, bringing the total to 67. Or 69. Somewhere around there. I'll be talking about some of them here on the blog over the next few days.

    As always, the disclaimer. These are just sites I've found on the Net. They appear to have useful information, but I can't vouch for everything they say or contain. If you have a site you think I missed, let me know about it.

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    Thursday, April 06, 2006

    You don't have a real issue until somebody opens a store to cater to your needs, and for the longest time no stores in the real world or online were set aside for those who were lactose intolerant or had milk allergies. A few years ago, tried to make it work on the Net but it seems to have disappeared.

    The good news is that a new contender is trying to give it a go. is the name of the store, and you can get there by typing into your browser. But you'll get redirected to or the even more ungainly,3. Doesn't matter. They all work equally well. is the parent site that provides online access to numerous special diet items. Besides lactose-free foods, you can also select casein-free, dairy-free, kosher, egg-free, soy-free, and many more.

    That main page, however, just brings up an unsorted list of foods many pages long and is difficult to sort through. The ShopDairyFree page breaks the main list down into alphabetical categories from baby needs to vitamins & supplements. Some of the categories are far better stocked than others. Beverages was a real disappointment with only four selections offered.

    However, if you are searching for a particular brand or don't have local access to a store that sells these products, even a limited supply can be more than welcome.

    They take credit cards and offer limited free shipping for orders under ten pounds but costing over $99 and discounted shipping for heavier offers. They say, "UPS ground shipping is calculated for the contiguous United States and most of Canada. UPS 2-day air service is calculated for Alaska, Hawaii, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico."

    If you're in Chicago, their store is located at:
    Natural Health Foods, Inc.
    411 E Ogden
    Naperville, IL 60563

    Other Contact info:

    No email address is given, but their contact page is:,3

    Phone: 630-355-4840

    Instant Message (when available) on AIM username: ShopByDiet

    Or write:
    c/o Natural Health Foods, Inc.
    411 E Ogden
    Naperville, IL 60563

    I have not used this site and I have no personal knowledge of its goods or its effectiveness. Let me know what you think.

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    Wednesday, April 05, 2006

    Use Tofu to Substitute for Evaporated Milk

    How do I substitute for evaporated milk when making a nondairy pie? I get this question a lot, and I have no good answer. There's just no direct nondairy milk substitute for evaporated milk.

    Here's a possible workaround, though. Bev Shaffer in the Cleveland Plain Dealer uses tofu as a replacement for milk in a pumpkin pie recipe. The tofu recommended is the boxed, silken variety, not the refrigerated tofu.


    18 oz silken extra firm tofu (Shaffer mentions the Mori-Nu brand, but other brands should work)
    2 cups canned pumpkin
    2/3 cup honey
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla
    1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice*

    *If you don't have pumpkin pie spice, you can make your own by combining 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon, ¾ teaspoon ground ginger, ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg and ¼ teaspoon ground cloves.

    Unbaked 9 in pie crust


    Heat oven to 350º.

    Drain the tofu and then blend it, using a food processor, until it is smooth.

    Move the smooth tofu to a mixing bowl and add the pumpkin, honey, vanilla, and spice. Stir until well mixed.

    Spoon the mixture into the pie crust.

    Bake about 1 hour. The filling will still be soft at the end of that time, but it will firm as it cools.

    Let stand for 15 minutes on wire cooking rack, then put into refrigerator to chill.

    Let me know how it works out!

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    Tuesday, April 04, 2006

    Free-From Foods to be Less Fickle in UK

    The U.S. and, more recently, Canada offer hundreds of alternative foods to choose from if you’re lactose intolerant. Other countries have lagged behind. But perhaps they’ll be something for those of you who are Fickle coming soon.

    The Yorkshire Post reported that "Emma Killilea, a food marketing management student from Sheffield Hallam University, won £7,000 of business support for her Fickle Foods business, which produces luxury cocoa cake bars with a difference – they are free from both gluten and lactose."

    Killilea herself has a wheat intolerance. After garnering the Winner of Winners Award, she said:

    Around 10 per cent of the UK's population avoid food containing wheat and dairy, because they are either allergic to them or find they upset their stomachs. Many others avoid foods like nuts, sesame seeds and soya for the same reason, but 'free-from' products are difficult to find. About the same number of people in the UK are vegetarians, yet most restaurants and cafés offer customers a meat-free option. I believe Fickle Foods can really help readdress the balance."

    "Emma made the Winner of Winners' grand final after triumphing in Sheffield Hallam University's 2005 Enterprise Challenge, an annual business start-up competition for students and recent graduates. She has already used the 5,000 Challenge prize money to develop the Fickle Foods range to include ginger syrup, lemon, and pecan and carrot cake bars, all of which are free from additives, preservatives and genetically modified ingredients and use innovative packaging to keep them fresh," the paper reported.

    She plans an August launch for her brand, along with a website that will allow people to buy "free-from" foods online. Fickle Foods will become part of the Deliciouslyorkshire bransd.

    For information about Fickle Foods, contact

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    Monday, April 03, 2006

    Schools Should Provide Nondairy Drinks

    I'm normally suspicious of press releases claiming that people should be doing something, since that "something" is always whatever the people paying for the press release will make money from.

    Even self-interest can be in the public interest at times, though, and a stopped watch is right twice a day, and politics make strange bedfellows, and all those good clichés. I mean, when I agree with a group as nutty as the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) the cause has to be good, right? (The PCRM is a fanatical anti-meat group somewhere to the right of PETA, for those who don't know.)

    Anyway, The Cancer Project, which is an affiliate of the PCRM, sent out the following press release:

    New study suggests schools should add nondairy beverages to the lunch menu

    Soymilk proves a popular option for lactose intolerant students

    WASHINGTON -- Offering soymilk to elementary school students boosts the number of children who select a calcium-rich beverage in the lunch line and reduces the amount of saturated fat consumed from calcium-rich beverages, according to a study in April's Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

    Almost a quarter of students were choosing soymilk over cow's milk by the end of the four-week study, which was conducted at three ethnically diverse elementary schools in Florida. Total calcium-rich beverage selection increased more than 4 percent, and calcium consumption per gram of saturated fat consumed from calcium-rich beverages rose from 194 milligrams to 237 milligrams. The findings suggest that schools across the country should add soymilk to the lunch menu.

    "Soymilk has major health advantages over cow's milk," said Jennifer Reilly, R.D., a Cancer Project dietitian and the study's lead author. "It avoids the problem of lactose intolerance and skips the 'bad' fats--and kids seem to like it."

    The majority of African-Americans, Asian-Americans, and Hispanic-Americans are lactose intolerant. Enriched soymilk has no lactose and little or no saturated fat, but it has as much calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin D as dairy milk. Dairy milk is the single largest source of saturated fat in children's diets, according to a National Cancer Institute study. Studies have linked ovarian cancer and prostate cancer to the consumption of dairy products.


    Most U.S. schools do not offer soymilk, in part because the National School Lunch Program doesn't offer a reimbursable alternative to dairy milk without a note from a doctor. Introducing children to soymilk may help them reduce their risk of cancer and heart disease. For a copy of the new study or an interview with Ms. Reilly, please contact Susanne Forte at 202-244-5038, ext. 339, or

    The Cancer Project is a collaborative effort of physicians, researchers, and nutritionists who have joined together to educate the public about the benefits of a healthy diet for cancer prevention and survival. Based in Washington, D.C., The Cancer Project is an affiliate of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

    While I don't advocate the removal of lowfat milk from the diet across the board, providing a soymilk alternative for the many Americans who have lactose intolerance is a good idea and should be reimbursable by the government the way milk is subsidized.

    A good idea is a good idea, no matter who it comes from. When it comes from all sides of an issue, take time to listen. And parents, please act.

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