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 However, product information and weblinks may be out of date.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.

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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Dairy Market for Kids Increasing

The market for kid's foods is estimated to be more than $300 billion worldwide. That's approximately 300 billion times as much as I make for this blog. More, actually.

So it's not surprising that the dairy industry thinks that it sees opportunities. A report, Eight Key Case Studies In Kids Nutritional Dairy, authored by Julian Mellentin, director of the Centre for Food & Health Studies, outlines the consumer markets key health concerns and how companies can address them effectively.

According to an article on

"The dairy industry's ambition to innovate with more and more new ingredients seems to be growing increasingly bolder," said Mellentin. "No other food or beverage category has played such an important role in driving the functional food revolution in Europe, South America and Asia."

Mellentin claims that probiotics, omega-3s and calcium are the three areas in which "the most significant success stories are being made."

This all gets back to the functional foods trend that's sweeping Europe and beginning to take hold in the U.S.

Even better, more and more dairy products are being introduced with lower fat:
Low- and no-fat products account for more new product launches than those making any other lesser evil claims, according to Datamonitor.

In 2001, 7.4 per cent of new food products launched worldwide claimed to contain reduced levels of fat, rising to 10.4 per cent in 2005. This trend is beginning to spill over into children's food.

The anti-milk crazies love to talk about high-fat milk as part of the evilness of dairy, but the reality is that whole milk products have been being phased out of the industry for years. And remember that most children - and adults - with lactose intolerance can still have some dairy without symptoms. Dairy does contain valuable calcium and other nutrients in a good-tasting form, so you parents should only remove it from your child's diet if absolutely necessary, as with dairy allergies.

Mellentin's report is available for a price only, alas. The website is For $195 / €165/ £100 / A$250 / NZ$290 / C$220 / JPY22,000 you get a 38 page* pdf.

As with all our case studies, this to-the-point 39 page* analysis has been written based on in-depth interviews with the companies concerned to provide you with:

    • Companies’ own views on the key nutritional aspects of children’s health they have chosen to target and why
    • Insight into branding, marketing and pricing strategies
    • Understanding of what aspects of the different strategies have worked and why
    • Understanding of product formats used, and ingredients chosen
    • Demonstration of the value of packaging innovation.
    • Colour illustrations of products
    • Relevant market data.

*Yes, the site says both 38 pages and 39 pages. It reproduces the table of contents and 38 is apparently correct. Maybe you get a cover page thrown in for free.

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Sweet Energy

Maxine Frith of The Statesman has a nice summary of sugar and the role it plays as a food in her article, Sweet Energy.

Sugar is a carbohydrate that occurs naturally in every fruit and vegetable. There are many different types of sugar: glucose, fructose and lactose are among them, but the table sugar (or sucrose) that most of us eat, extracted from beet and cane, is made up of glucose and fructose.

Along with fats and protein, carbohydrates make up the three macronutrients that provide energy in our diet. Quite apart from making food taste nicer, it provides the body with vital fuel.

For primitive man, the sweet taste of sugar was a natural indicator that something was safe to eat. The Arabs and Berbers introduced sugar to western Europe in the eighth century but it was a luxury for most people until the 18th century, when improved production techniques brought the cost down.

So what are the health problems? We are all eating far too much of it. The average British adult eats 33 teaspoons of sugar every day, amounting to 198g, when the recommendation is for no more than 90g. All too often, sugary foods are also high in fat, so consumers are getting a double whammy of unhealthiness. The couch-potato culture means that many people are taking in a lot of energy in the form of sugar, but not expending it - leading to obesity.

It also has a notoriously terrible effect on teeth. Bacteria in the mouth multiply in the presence of sugar, producing acid and causing plaque and tooth decay. There is a popular misconception that increased sugar intake directly causes Type-II, or adult-onset diabetes. It doesn’t, but obesity is a risk factor, so lots of sugar can be indirectly responsible. There are concerns, backed up by some scientific studies, that excessive sugar intake causes hyperactivity in children. Sugar has also been linked to an increased risk of colon cancer; a study found that women who consumed foods that rapidly boost blood-sugar levels were three times more likely to develop the disease.

What are the health benefits of sugar? Carbohydrates are the preferred fuel for working muscles and physical activity. They are stored in the muscle in the form of glycogen and help to prolong the length of time that people can exercise before they feel tired; hence why athletes will consume sugary drinks during or before a match or race.

Consumption of carbs also naturally stimulates production of the mood-enhancing hormone serotonin, researchers have found, so sugar makes you feel better, at least in your mind. A recent study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA even suggested that the reason so many people fail to keep up a diet is because they cut out carbohydrates, their serotonin levels fall, and they become depressed and irritable. Carbohydrates are the only food group that boosts serotonin levels.

Is sugar addictive? There are now several US-based websites dedicated to the idea that people can become sugar addicts, as attached to the high that sugar gives them as alcoholics are to drink.

They recommend cutting out sugar from hot drinks gradually.

One problem is that high sugar consumption can interfere with your body’s ability to regulate just how much it needs. If you eat too much, you will produce extra amounts of the hormone insulin to remove the excess, but then your sugar levels dip a little below normal and so a message is sent to the brain demanding more of the stuff. Its a cycle known to some addicts as the sugar binge impulse that drives them to finish off the box of chocolates.

Lactose, the milk sugar that people with lactose intolerance can't digest, is only a mildly sweet sugar. But in the form of whey it is a cheap byproduct from cheesemaking, so it is added to a bewilderingly wide array of products. That makes them extra sweet, piles on the empty calories, and causes many people to develop digestive symptoms. Sugar is eminently desirable, but we get more than enough of it. Time to cut down and cut back.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

More Nondairy Candy Goodness

I gave you a bunch of links collected by Alisa Fleming, at the GoDairyFree site, in my Nondairy Halloween Treats post.

Life has changed since even a few years ago, when the find of a single nondairy chocolate site on the Net was cause for celebration. It's getting too late to order for Halloween, but you can have a heck of an Election Day celebration!

Chocolate Emporium.

The Chocolate Emporium is delighted to offer a fun & unique selection of dairy-free confections for Halloween. All Halloween items are dairy-free, certified parve by the Star-K.

Allergen Control at Chocolate Emporium
All items are gluten-free & dairy-free except for the chocolate treats marked with an asterisk.

And one for you UK readers:

Dietery Needs Direct
Biscuits - Wizard Cookies

Wizard shaped plain biscuits free from gluten, wheat, milk, soya and eggs. Note: although the products do not contain any of the above in the ingredients, there may be traces on milk, soya and eggs on the premises as these are used in other biscuits made in the same factory

Ghost Lollies

Dairy and Soya Free Chocolate and carob Ghost Lollies. As the chocolate is not as dark and bitter as a lot of dairy free chocolate, these are a favourite with children's and adults alike. Each box contains 5 Ghosts. Note: carob is also free from added sugar

*Nut Info: Ingredients come from a factory where hazelnuts are used. The products are made up in an area and machine that does not handle nuts. It is recommended that people who are allergic to peanuts avoid lupin (in the carob ones) and the same machinery and space is used to make both the carob and chocolate shapes although it is cleaned out thoroughly in between batches

Witch Lollies

Dairy and Soya Free Chocolate and Carob Witch Head Lollies. As the chocolate is not as dark and bitter as a lot of dairy free chocolate, these are a favourite with children and adults alike. Each box contains 5 Witches. Note: Carob is also free from no added sugar

*Nut Info: Ingredients come from a factory where hazelnuts are used. The products are made up in an area and machine that does not handle nuts. It is recommended that people who are allergic to peanuts avoid lupin (in the carob ones) and the same machinery and space is used to make both the carob and chocolate shapes although it is cleaned out thoroughly in between batches

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Monday, October 23, 2006

Vampire Vic Video

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Vampire Vic and his digestive woes

Dovid Rotshtein, a copywriter over at Ganeden Biotech, Inc., the maker of the Digestive Advantage line of probiotic products for people with lactose intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome, and other gas-related problems, sent me this Youtube video.

It was made by a couple of their employees as a Halloween spoof of their commercials.

Rotshtein called it HILARIOUS. Enjoy.

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Sunday, October 22, 2006

Prize-Winning Multi-Lingual Phrase Passport

The Multi-Lingual Phrase Passport, part of the Let's Eat Out! Your Passport to Living Gluten and Allergy Free series, has won a Best Books 2006 National Award in the Language Guides category from, according to a press release on

The innovative pocket-sized guide empowers travelers with food allergies, celiac disease, and those following specialized diets to safely eat outside the home. The award-winning "Passport" includes over 1,200 food allergen phrases about corn, dairy, eggs, fish, gluten, peanuts, shellfish, soy, tree nuts, and wheat to confidently travel in foreign language-speaking countries.

These considerations outline ingredients, food preparation techniques, dining requests, breakfast dishes and health statements. Each phrase has been translated into French, German, Italian and Spanish by a professional translation service and validated by native speakers to ensure accuracy and contemporary cultural idioms.

Additionally, Let's Eat Out! Your Passport to Living Gluten and Allergy Free has been recognized as a award-winning finalist for Best Health/Diet Book. Based on 4-plus years of research, this first-of-its-kind book is the foundation of the "Let's Eat Out!" series. Designed to help people dine out safely, whether around the corner or around the world, it is also a 2006 Benjamin Franklin Award finalist for Best Health Book and Best First Book Non-Fiction.

The nearly 500-page full-color book is co-authored by Kim Koeller and Robert La France, who collectively have traveled over 2 million miles and dined in 30-plus countries on four continents. Koeller, with an MBA in international management, is a celiac businesswoman managing over a dozen food-related allergies while eating 80 percent of her meals away from home. La France is a restaurant industry veteran, with a passion for the culinary arts, who brings a unique understanding of how restaurant staffs can accommodate guests with special dietary needs.

Below are links to the winning book and the rest of the series at, which appear to be good guides for those with lactose intolerance, dairy allergies, or other food sensitivities or restrictions.

Multi-Lingual Phrase Passport

Let's Eat Out!: Your Passport to Living Gluten And Allergy Free

French and Italian Cuisine Passport

Chinese, Indian and Thai Cuisine Passport

For more information, take a look at their site, AllergyFree Passport.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Slim Fast Easy to Digest Lactose-Free Shakes

Slim Fast, the makers of diet "meal replacement" shakes, has announced a lactose-free variety called Easy to Digest. It comes in Chocolate, Vanilla, and Coffee flavors. The product is also gluten-free.

It is not, however, milk protein free, since it contains both caseinate and milk protein concentrate.

All well and good. Most of these products rely heavily on skim milk as a base and are not at all suitable for those of us with lactose intolerance.

Even so, did Unilever - Slim Fast's parent company - have to issue the world's worst press release to announce this?

First, notice that the press release never even gets around to saying directly that this wonderful new product for the lactose intolerant market is actually lactose free. The convoluted prose manages to avoid entirely the issue of what the ingredients for the shake are. (Understandable, since the shakes are basically water and sugar.) And the release contains highly misleading nutritional advice:

Symptoms of lactose maldigestion also tend to develop in all consumers as we age, because the body loses its ability to produce lactase, the enzyme that is needed to digest lactose. For that reason, the new Slim-Fast Easy to Digest shake contains higher levels of vitamins B6, B12 and D, nutrients important for people over 50, and is an excellent source of the antioxidant vitamins C and E. Each Slim-Fast Easy to Digest shake provides 50 percent of the Recommended Daily Value (DV) for Calcium, an essential nutrient that is often lacking in the diets of people who avoid milk and other dairy foods due to lactose intolerance.

Just because the body loses its ability to digest lactase, which can happen at any age and has nothing to do with turning 50, doesn't mean that any of the other vitamins are lacking. And a simple multivitamin pill will give you all the vitamins you need. Putting them in a "meal replacement" doesn't mean anything except as promotional hype.

I can't totally blame companies for the nonsense issued by the firms hired to promote its products - it's a game no one in the industry takes seriously - but this is egregious.

If you want to have an occasional Slim Fast shake as an alternative to a meal, I won't try to stop you. At 180 calories the shakes will pack on far fewer pounds than most foods. Just be aware that you're buying expensive sugar water, not a meal.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Shea Butter and Other Nondairy Foolers

I was idly flipping through the coupon section of Sunday's paper, when my eye was caught by an advertisement for new Jergens Shea Butter.

Wait. Shea butter?

Unless you are fanatically into obscure and/or faddish beauty products you've never heard of Shea butter. Wikipedia defines it as "a slightly greenish natural fat extracted from fruit of the Shea tree by crushing and boiling. Shea butter is edible. It is consumed in traditional cuisine and used in the chocolate industry as a substitute for cocoa butter."

Jergens is not the only company suddenly promoting shea butter. Avon has one, and Nasabb, and Flori Roberts, and a million others. Codina actually owns the site. But thanks to Keri, which helpfully lists shea butter in the ingredients as "butyrospermum parkii."

It's not a dairy product, therefore, but a type of fruit butter. There are dozens of types of fruit butters, from mixtures called, you guessed it, fruit butters to apple butter, passion fruit butter, and apricot pumpkin butter.

Why butter? Any product that forms a soft, spreadable paste is commonly and historically referred to as a "butter". Fruit butters have been around forever, but most of us are far more familiar with peanut butter and other types of nut butters. Cocoa butter, a vegetable fat made from cocoa beans, is another familiar use, though few of us have probably seen the original except as an ingredient on chocolate bars.

The Oxford English Dictionary even contains an entry for rock butter, "a mineral composed of alum combined with iron, which exudes as a soft butter-like paste from certain aluminiferous rocks."

This extended metaphoric use of butter goes back to a 1440 cite of "botyr of almondes."

Of course, none of these "butters" have any dairy in them. That doesn't keep people from getting confused even so.

A long, long time ago, when I first started my web site, I put up a page called The Better Look Twice List of Supermarket Products That Appear To Contain Milk -- But Don't!. This page includes the butter bean, the butter clam, buttercup squash, butterhead lettuce, apple butter, peanut butter, and even Shea butter! I was way ahead of my time. Shea butter took years to become the latest fad moisturizer and emollient.

No matter how lactose intolerant you are, though, don't think it contains any dairy. But, please, don't eat the Jergens.

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Sunday, October 15, 2006

Nondairy Halloween Treats

Alisa Fleming, from the great GoDairyFree site, sent me this collection of online stores that sell dairy-free candies to allow kids with lactose intolerance, dairy allergies, kosher needs, or vegan sensibilities to enjoy Halloween as much as everybody else. The following is reprinted exactly as she sent it.

"Those packages of jolly ranchers, sweet tarts, hot tamales, and nerds will do in a pinch, but for some real Halloween fun, skip the artificial flavors and treat your kids right with all-natural candies and chocolates. We scoured the Internet and the aisles to uncover these tasty made-for-Halloween handouts:

"Chocolate Decadence ( goes above and beyond for trick-or-treaters. Their chocolate shapes are dairy free and gluten free for the allergen sensitive, as well as kosher certified. Though they have many combinations, the package of 50 sealed bags, each with a selection of chocolate pumpkins, witches, owls, witches hats, and ghosts, seems to be a very good deal at $23.95.

"Endangered Species ( is offering individually wrapped dark chocolate Halloween Treats, 24 per bag. They are offered online at $15.00 for three bags, but I have heard rumor that some better deals can be had on these treats in stores. Endangered Species also carries their traditional chocolate treats, Dark Chocolate Bug Bites and Chimp Mints, which will surely be enjoyed from the goodie bowl. Worth noting, each Endangered Species dark chocolate product is non-dairy, vegan, and kosher certified.

"YummyEarth ( proudly manufactures organic, gluten-free, casein-free, soy-free, nut-free, kosher certified…whew…vegan lollipops. These all-natural gems come in fun flavors like pomegranate pucker and razzmatazz berry. Though you can purchase them direct, the best deal this Halloween season is on Amazon. Five bins with 30 lollipops each is just $15.30. If you are expecting a trick-or-treating army, stock up with the 350-count bag for just $21.88. Plus, Amazon will send you a $10 gift certificate if you spend $29 or more on YummyEarth products (through October 31).

"Amanda’s Own ( offers a line of semi-sweet chocolates made specifically with kids in mind. These sweeter chocolate treats have been molded into ghosts, bats, and pumpkins for the goblin season. Though they have a touch higher price tag, $4.75 for a 3.25oz box of individual foil wrapped treats, Amanda’s chocolates are guaranteed dairy and nut free for allergen sensitive little chocolatiers.

"College Farm Organic ( offers kosher certified, all natural hard candies. Be aware, the Vanilla Caramel and Strawberries & Cream varieties do contain dairy. However, the Vienna Roast Coffee, Chocolate Mint, and Luscious Lemon candies, plus each of the NaturePops varieties, are non-dairy, vegan, and kosher certified. The individually wrapped candies come in packages of 24. Find them in stores, or purchase online at for $2.51 per bag or $2.25 for six bags. Use the coupon code GDF10, and get an additional 10% off your order.

"For more snack and holiday ideas, keep an eye on"

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Friday, October 13, 2006

A Variety of Alternatives to Milk

At last: a sane, informative post.

Jarett Bies of the Sioux Falls Argus-Leader posted a good article that not only listed a variety of alternative "milks," from low-lactose organic cow's milk to kefir to rice and soy milks, but also added commentary from Michael Cheng, the director of the culinology and hotel-restaurant administration programs at Southwest Minnesota State University.

These "milks" cover a spectrum.

All should be tolerable by those with lactose intolerance. However, those with dairy allergies or vegans need to be more selective of their choices.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Ice Cream Sandwiches for Dogs

Dogs are lactose intolerant. So are cats. So are all adult mammals, except for a small percentage of humanity who are mutants.

But those human mutants - about 30% of the worldwide population, but at least 75% of those in the United States - think their animals should eat all the same foods that they do.

Humans are irrational. I sometimes wonder if that's not a recent mutation as well. We can't have been this irrational for the past two million years, can we? How did we ever not kill ourselves off?

Anyway, humans sorta know that it's not a good thing to give ice cream to dogs. So they invented an ice cream substitute that's supposed to be better for them.

That's Frosty Paws Frozen Treats now also in Peanut Butter. I'm not making this up. Why do fake news when the world is right there begging for it?

I've never really understood the point of Frosty Paws, though, since the second ingredient is whey powder, which is mostly pure lactose. Isn't that what dogs are supposed to avoid?

Apparently. Pedigree, the dog food giant, and Good Humor, the ice cream truckster, have teamed up to make Pedigree Ice Cream Sandwich Treats for Dogs.

The Associated press reports that:

Ice cream maker Good Humor and pet food producer Pedigree have announced plans to produce ice cream sandwiches for dogs. Many dogs are lactose intolerant and cannot eat ice cream, the companies said.

Pedigree Ice Cream Sandwich Treats for Dogs will be dairy-based and have the same texture as ice cream, but contain only 1 percent lactose.

The treats also will have added protein and no sugar.

The companies plan to sell packages of 24 frozen treats for $3.99.

It's low-lactose, which is good. But it's ice cream. For dogs.

Still close to a full moon out there, I guess.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

An Alternative to Lactase? Not in This Universe

Is the moon full? Why, yes, I believe full moon occurred on October 6, just a few days ago. Maybe that's why the loons are appearing online.

On October 5 I talked about the utterly crackpotish Milk/Blood Type Moron Connection.

Then a day or two later, the moon-worshipers at East-West magazine found another dingbat, Dr. Ellen Cutler, D.C. to quote on the subject of lactose intolerance. Cutler:

thinks people’s reactions to milk are not solely based upon their inability to digest lactose, but that it could be sensitivity to the proteins in milk or even sensitivity to the enzyme lactase itself.

That's right. Cutler says that reaction to milk could be a sensitivity to the enzyme lactase itself. Lactase is not found in milk, of course, but is naturally made in human intestines. This would be as astounding case of auto-immune allergy if there were anything to this nonsense, but fortunately there isn't.

How should people cure this non-existent sensitivity?
In some cases, Cutler says, people could even be sensitive to other sugars such as maltose in grains, sucrose or dextrose in fruits. As such, rather than give up dairy she suggests taking a digestive enzyme. Depending on the specific sensitivity the person has, Cutler says, there are sugar-specific or wide-range enzymes that can help with digestion.

Or you can help your digestion by using lactase. Lactase is the one enzyme that can be of any effect, because there is only one sugar in dairy, and that is the milk sugar lactose. No other enzyme will have any effect on lactose. Of course, taking lactase would be worse than the disease because people are sensitive to lactase, but don't let logic get in the way. Culter doesn't.

Note: I have to interrupt here and say that there is not one documented case in all of the medical literature of anyone being sensitive to lactase.

A doctor should know the medical literature. But Cutler is not a medical doctor or a physiologist or a nutritionist or anyone who could be expected to read normal medical studies. Ellen Cutler is a D.C., which stands for Doctor of Chiropractic. [I know: that looks wrong. Isn't Chiropractic an adjective? But that's what is awarded.]

But still, she's a doctor, isn't she?

No. Not any more than a lawyer with a J.D. (juris doctor) degree is a doctor. A D.C. is not a medical doctor, nor is someone who is even able to prescribe medicine.

But Cutler really, really wants you to take enzymes. Not the lactase enzyme, to be sure, because that's cheap and readily available and works just fine. But other special blends of enzymes. You see, she's a quack with her own brand of crackpot cure-alls to sell you.
If that doesn’t work, she says her own technique, BioSET, does.

BioSET (BioEnergetic Sensitivity and Enzyme Therapy) is a cleaning process designed to help clear food sensitivities. It works on principles similar to acupressure and helps rid the system of intolerance through a process resembling biofeedback.

Yeah. And it clears your wallet through a process resembling scamming.

From her website:
The BioSET™ line of professional therapeutically effective blends of high potency enzymes, standardized herbal extracts and natural-source vitamins and minerals

100% vegetarian capsule and contents

No fillers - only active ingredients

Patient-friendly product names

Specifically formulated to be an integral part of the BioSET™ diagnostic and treatment system developed by Dr. Ellen Cutler.

I have a patient-unfriendly name to call you if you fall for such quackery: gullible fool.

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Friday, October 06, 2006

This may not make your day, but mine sure was brightened by the discovery that the Dutch Company Friesland Foods Domo has purchased the domain name and used it to launch the knowledge database about lactose.

It's hard to find a good, compact but comprehensive source of information about lactose. Admittedly is mostly limited to information about lactose's use in pharmaceuticals and to a lesser extent food, but it's a good start even if it is from "a leading manufacturer of pharmaceutical lactose."

Want a picture of a lactose molecule?

Aw, cute as a button.

Anyway, did you know that the market for pharmaceutical lactose is now worth over $100 million? That's why you find it in so damn many pills, which collectively - but not individually - can often make life difficult for the lactose intolerant.

An article by Kirsty Barnes on says that:

This website was established especially for companies, universities and authorities involved in studying, processing and registering lactose and although lactose is used in many different industries, especially in food and beverages, this website focuses solely on its pharmaceutical applications.

The new site - - has been launched by Friesland Foods Domo, who said the website “will be updated regularly,” meaning that dedicated lactose followers “will have all the latest information on lactose available at all times.”

The company is the pharmaceutical division of Dutch firm Friesland Foods, who established itself as a large global lactose producer for the nutrition and food industries before moving in to the pharmaceutical lactose market.

The firm now manufactures a wide range of pharmaceutical lactose products for use in tablets, injectables, capsules, sachets, pellets and dry powder inhalers.

As I said, I'm sure few of you will have reason to go to the site very often, but it's one that I'm going to bookmark immediately.

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Milk and Blood Type - the Moron Connection

You can find all sorts of idiotic nonsense about health in general and milk in particular on the Internet, but to see it come out of the mouth of a "certified nutritionist" in the pages of an actual newspaper makes me want to put my head through the screen.

The idiot in question can be found in the article titled The Milk Maze by Kat Bergeron at the website.

She starts with some solid info on milk and calcium before going on to quote from Jim Borden, who is purportedly "a certified nutritionist at Five Seasons, a health food market that offers organic dairy products as well as alternatives."

Ask Borden if you should drink cow milk or soy and he will ask your blood type. He is a proponent of Peter D'Adamo, an American naturopathic doctor who has created a widely used guide to healthy eating based on blood type.

"If you're a B blood type, real milk is beneficial," Borden said, "But if you're an A or O blood type, for example, and you drink milk, your body would marshal against it and try to eliminate it. We've seen some of our customers improve from chronic conditions that they didn't know what was causing it."

AArrgghhh! Moron! Who certified this numbskull? The connection between blood types and health is a crackpot notion that came out of Japan a few years ago based on the classic crackpot book You Are Your Blood Type, by Toshitaka Nomi and Alexander Besher. (Christopher Stephens explores the bizarre and anti-scientific origins of this bit of insanity in Searching in vein.)

Don't believe it. Stay far away from anyone who professes to believe. And make sure you don't follow any advice based on blood type.

For shame, Biloxi Sun Herald. For shame.

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

New Gene Process Makes Low-Lactose Milk

Wow. Every once in a while a scientific discovery comes out of the blue and suggests a possibility that no one ever thought of.

Here's the science. I'll follow with the English translation.

From GM bacteria could naturally sweeten dairy, by Stephen Daniells on

By adding a novel genetically engineered bacterial strain to dairy, the fermentation process is limited to converting lactose to glucose, a technique that could remove the need to add sweeteners to dairy products.

The research, part of the EU-funded Nutra Cells project (QLK1-CT-2000-01376), also has implications for lactose intolerance because, by converting the lactose in the dairy to glucose, the final lactose content of the dairy is significantly reduced.

Lactococcus lactis is used extensively in the dairy industry in the production of fermented milk products, and has a relatively simple carbon metabolism pathway. By directly engineering this strain of Lactococcus lactis the researchers were able to delete genes that coded for glucose metabolism by the bacteria. This was achieved by disrupting the main sugar transport system, the so-called sugar phosphotransferase system (PTS).

Lactose is a disaccharide, meaning it is made up of two basic sugar molecules, a galactose molecule bonded to a glucose molecule. By deleting certain genes in the lactose-PTS, it was possible to create a bacterium (NZ9000Glc-Lac+) that selectively fermented the galactose part of the lactose, but not the glucose part. The glucose then accumulated outside of the cell, in the dairy product.

OK, here it is in English. When lactose hits the intestines, it normally is digested – split into its smallest components - by the enzyme lactase. Those smallest components are the simple sugars called glucose and galactose. We know that many beneficial bacteria can do the same thing. That's what probiotic bacteria are for. (I've had a long series of posts about this. See Probiotic Kefir Healthier Alternative to Yogurt; Prebiotics and Probiotics; and Kids and Lactose Intolerance, among others.) The bacteria can do this in the body – that's why they reduce symptoms from lactose intolerance – and they can also do it directly in the milk itself. That's what makes products like yogurt and kefir low in lactose.

What the scientists, led by Professor Oscar Kuipers from the University of Groningen for the European Union-funded Nutra Cells project, did was change one piece of the process. The modified bacteria gobbled up a lactose molecule, split it, fermented only the galactose half and released the glucose half back into the milk. This made for a sweeter, but lower-lactose milk product.

This isn't a big breakthrough all by itself. In fact, one of the problems with lactose-reduced milk is that it is often considered too sweet by many people. Oddly, both glucose and galactose individually are sweeter than they are combined as lactose. But whey and other high-lactose sweeteners made from dairy products are often added to milk in commercial food processing. If the milk itself were sweeter to begin with, then no extra sweeteners would be needed. [Lactose-free milk could be used in the first place, but it is expensive because of the lengthy period needed for the added lactase to work.]

An additional impact of this is that the process would be acceptable both to Europeans worried about genetically-modified food, since no new DNA is added. Instead one already-existing gene is stopped from working.

Prof. Kuipers said that while an industrial level process hasn't yet been developed, it isn't a big technical issue. Even so, don't expect to see this on the market for a few years.

Nonetheless, it's a startling advance and perhaps just a tease of what's coming as scientists learn more about manipulating genes. For good.

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Probiotic Kefir Healthier Alternative to Yogurt

Here's a follow up to my earlier posts Functional Nondairy Makes Europe Healthier and Even Healthier Yogurt.

The range of low-lactose probiotic beverages is large and growing. The Today Show food editor Phil Lempert lists several of them in an article on Especially interesting are the kefir drinks. Kefir is as old a low-lactose dairy creation as yogurt and also comes out of the Middle East, where half the population tends to be lactose intolerant. A number of cultured or fermented low-lactose dairy products were developed there.

Lifeway Foods Kefir is a creamy probiotic dairy beverage similar to but distinct from yogurt. Its effervescent quality stems from the kefir culture which contains 10 active "friendly" microorganisms, compared to two or three in yogurt. Kefir also has more beneficial cultures than other fermented milk products, such as yogurt or buttermilk and is an ideal milk substitute for infants, pregnant women, nursing mothers, convalescents and elderly. It is a good remedy for digestive problems, and is particularly good in reestablishing necessary intestinal microflora, which may have been destroyed by antibiotic or other medical treatment. (

PROBUGS™ is a new line of Organic Whole Milk Kefir for kids with fun characters and flavors even the pickiest eaters will like. Not only is it high in protein and calcium, it has added inulin for optimum calcium absorption. Plus it has 10 live and active cultures (friendly bacteria) to help their little bellies and immune system stay healthy. Sublime Slime Lime, Orange Creamy Crawler. 4-pack (5 oz. each) sells for $4.65 (

Add kefir to your lists alongside of yogurt for a new and different taste that should contain the same benefits without as much of the sugar that is added to commercial yogurts.

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