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 However, product information and weblinks may be out of date.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

Monday, April 30, 2007

The Other Indigestible Carbs

We all know about lactose not being digestible unless your body makes the enzyme lactase.

Lactose isn't alone, though. There are other carbohydrates that are equally problematical, some of which also create the gas that plagues those of us with lactose intolerance.

Jason Engelhart mentions some in this article from the Badger Herald.

A greater and more universal offender than lactose is inulin, a form of fiber that exists in plants such as onions, garlic and Jerusalem artichokes. In fact, the last of these is reputed to wreak such havoc on digestion that the 17th century English botanist John Gerard once remarked of them, “Which way soeuer they be drest and eaten they stirre and cause a filthie loathsome stinking winde within the bodie, thereby causing the belly to be pained and tormented and are a meat more fit for swine than men.” Delicious!

The last of our unholy trinity of indigestible carbohydrates are perhaps the most malicious of all: the oligosaccharides. These three-, four- and five-sugar carbohydrates have long been considered the reason beans are referred to as “the musical fruit,” and they are scientifically proven to produce toots. However, recent research — yes, there are people who research this kind of thing — suggests that cell-wall cements also play a role in gas production from beans. Either way, the indigestible carbohydrates in beans make them the composers of many a sad chord in the soundtracks of our lives.


[P]eople who want to eat massive quantities of Jerusalem artichokes or three-bean chili need the help of something the body does not normally produce — alpha-galactosidase. This enzyme, which is sold over the counter as Beano, breaks down the normally indigestible carbohydrates, making them cave to the digestive power of the small intestine. Because of chemistry, we need not cave to the gassy forces of evil.

A couple of things that Engelhart does not say. He doesn't really give the full story on inulin, so here's some background info from Mark Anthony at
Consisting of relatively short chains of sugar molecules, inulin acts as a soluble fiber providing the type of bulk that aids the body’s absorption of calcium and magnesium in the small intestine. In the large intestine, inulin is broken down by beneficial bacterial through fermentation to yield short chain fatty acids. These beneficial products are believed to aid in the prevention of colorectal cancer.

Inulin has been a healthful part of our diet for thousands of years. It occurs naturally in over 36,000 plants, including many common foods such as bananas, wheat, asparagus, onions, garlic, leeks and Jerusalem artichokes. (One of the most abundant sources is chicory, the roots of which have been ground and used as coffee substitutes for decades.)

Inulin is also the fiber used in capsule form in Fiber Choice and Fiber Sure for those who need bulk fiber in their diets.

And while Engelhart is right about alpha-galactosidase being the enzyme that digests oligosaccharides, he leaves out a nifty fact.

Lactase is also known as a beta-galactosidase. Not surprisingly, the bonds that hold together the lactose molecule are very similar to those that hold together this other type of sugar. In fact, they are identical except that one is rotated up and the other is rotated down, hence known as alpha and beta bonds.

Beano was invented by the same people who made Lactaid. And why not? They already had a great deal of expertise in galactosidases.

Overall, though, a good article for a student newspaper.

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Anti-Milk Propagandist Hurts Her Cause

I received this email today.

Hello, I am a La leche member and we NEVER encourage new mothers to drink cows milk. It is highly allergenic and commonly creates many problems in newborns that often leads to mothers early weaning and babies lifelong problems with an induced milk allergy and or colitis, and diarrhea which is life threatening in babies. Please discourage all new mothers who are breastfeeding from taking any milk products. Children should also never be given cows milk. It creates muscus buildup leading to ear infections, etc and is usually full of hormones, pesticides, etc. Thanks for making this correction to your customers.
Tahnks, B.

I'm removing the sender's name out of kindness.

I can't imagine what kind of list she is sending this to. Obviously, I'm not the primary target. I don't have customers, and I'm not in the milk business in any way.

But let's suppose I was. It would still make no sense, because nobody in the world advocates the use of cow's milk for infants under one year of age. Nobody. And every major health and medical body including the American Academy of Pediatrics has been warning parents for years not to use cow's milk, but cow's milk formula, for infants. (Parents have been warned for years that soy milk is also not to be used for infants. Only properly fortified soy milk formula is safe.) These are issues that were settled long ago.

Why should mothers be discouraged from drinking milk products? That's a more contentious issue. Mothers with a known family history of dairy allergies may want to avoid milk themselves because it is possible for the cow's milk proteins to transfer to the baby through the breastmilk, making the infant more likely to develop a full-blown allergy.

There is no good reason for all mothers to avoid milk, though. Saying that is simply standard anti-milk propaganda. And obviously, anti-milk propaganda is what this email is all about, given the dire and incorrect warnings about, among other things, "muscus."

That's the real issue for me. The email is a horrifying collection of typos, spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, and bad sentence structure. It shames the writer. It embarrasses me just to have to read it. Why would anyone listen to the semi-literate scrawlings of a ignorant propagandist? It discredits her entire cause, and makes any future, and more credible, discussions less likely to be read.

B. has hurt her cause by this rash act. It's a bad cause, so she may have done some good inadvertently. But I'd rather win through more accurate facts and more reasoned discussion.

Kids, leave propaganda to the professionals. It could thoughtlessly blow up in your hands, and leave you, well, thoughtless.

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

New Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Diet Cookbook

I don't know why I didn't catch this when I posted Gluten-Free, Casein-Free (GFCF) Diet Helps Autistic Children a week ago, but a major new cookbook on the GFCF diet has been published.

The Kid-Friendly ADHD and Autism Cookbook: The Ultimate Guide to the Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Diet, by Pamela Compart and Dana Laake came out late last year. It retails for $24.95, but is cheaper at Amazon and I'm sure other locations.

Book Description
The uniqueness of this book is that it not only provides gluten-free milk-free substitutes and recipes, it provides successful suggestions for feeding the picky eater. The authors share details about just how and why the diet works. The specialty ingredients are explained and extensive sources provided. There are also testimonials from the parents and from the children themselves.

About the Author
Pamela Compart, M.D., is a developmental pediatrician and a functional medicine physician. She is the founder and director of HeartLight Healing Arts, Inc., which is an integrated health care center providing comprehensive traditional and complementary medicine services for children and adults. Dana Laake, RDH, MS, LDN is a licensed nutritionist, talk show host, and educator. Through her practice, Dana Laake Nutrition, she provides preventive and therapeutic medical nutrition services to adults and children.

The reviews on Amazon are good, so this should be another major resource for those parents facing this challenging problem.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

The Power of Probiotics

I write something about probiotics every few days, it seems. I gave a Primer on Probiotics that quoted Katherine Fisher:

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are small organisms that help maintain the natural balance of organisms (microflora) in the intestines also known as gut flora.

The normal human digestive tract contains about 400 types of bacteria that reduce the growth of harmful bacteria and promote a healthy digestive system.

The largest group of probiotic bacteria in the intestine is lactic acid bacteria, of which Lactobacillus acidophilus, found in yogurt and keifer is the best known. Yeast is also a probiotic substance. Probiotics are also available as dietary supplements containing potentially beneficial bacteria or yeast, with lactic acid bacteria (LAB) as the most common microbes used.

And with Lactagen and Digestive Advantage being two probiotic products that are of huge interest to those with lactose intolerance, everyone should be interested.

But what if you want more than I can give you in a quick blog entry?

Just brand new, hot off the presses is The Power of Probiotics:
Improving Your Health with Beneficial Microbes,
by Gary W. Elmer, PhD, Professor, Department of Medicinal Chemistry, University of Washington, Seattle; Lynne V. McFarland, PhD, Research Health Science Specialist, Puget Sound Veterans Administration, Health Services Research, and Development, Seattle, Washington; and Marc McFarland, Health Science Writer, Seattle, Washington.

The Haworth Press site gives this blurb:
The Power of Probiotics is a consumer-friendly guide to the selection and use of probiotics that have been proven effective in the prevention and treatment of human diseases. This jargon-free reference resource provides practical advice on how and when to use probiotics and how to select the best commercially available products, based on usefulness, quality, and safety, to lower the risk of disease and maintain a positive health image. The book offers objective information on evaluating product claims, making sense of regulations and labeling, and sorting through manufacturing and marketing issues.

The Power of Probiotics presents an expert review of the scientific evidence for probiotics, illustrated with summary tables and diagrams for quick reference. Each chapter starts with a series of FAQs with clear and concise answers before moving into more in-depth analysis from the book’s authors, who combine more than 20 years of research from the patient clinic and the bench laboratory with extensive experience in writing and translating medical articles for consumer-oriented publications. This unique book presents definitions and descriptions of probiotics and a history of their uses, a review of medical conditions prevented and/or treated by probiotics, available products (with brand names), uses with other medications, and risks and side effects.

I haven't seen the book yet - it's that new - but it sounds like a must to check out. When I do I'll report back if it has something to say about probiotics and dairy.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Asla Lactose Free Milk Commended

Well, I hope you're all rested up from the excitement of the 2007 Global Dairy Innovation Awards. Didn't those stars look great on the white carpet?

The judging of the 2007 dairy innovation awards was held on 26 February at the Sheraton Hotel, close to London Heathrow Airport. The awards ceremony itself took place in Amsterdam, as part of this week's First Global Dairy Congress organized by Zenith International. You can read all about them at their website.

The award that means most to us is a highly commended prize to:

Arla Foods UK created Lactofree for the 15% of Britons that are estimated to be affected by lactose intolerance. Lactofree was also entered in the best new dairy drink category, as was Optimel Control from Campina and targeted at everyone aiming for a healthy weight.

They weren't the winners, though. The Health Initiative category was competitive:

In the best new health initiative category, the judges were looking for new probiotic or other functional dairy products that have a distinct health message and have created an impact on the market. Several products in this category were also entered in other categories.

▪ Tutgut Lecithin is the first dairy product, specially developed for the grey market (over 50 year olds). Entered by Alpenmilch of Austria, it is a creamy drink with a yogurt and buttermilk base containing lecithin and therefore helps to improve memory and concentration. In order to develop this product for the target group, comprehensive market research was conducted. Concern about memory and brain activity was expressed and the target group asked for a product that helps to maintain brain activity on a high level.

▪ Amul has launched India’s first probiotic ice cream, positioning the product to stress its contribution to improving immunity, strengthening bones and improving brain activity. Coupled with rapidly growing health and wellness awareness in India and being first to market with a probiotic product, Amul anticipates Profile Probiotic Wellness Ice Cream will help to grow the market by around 10%, interesting new consumers in ice cream and achieving increased frequency in ice cream consumption.

▪ Campina’s Vifit Multivezel - aimed at the 9 out of 10 Dutch consumers that have a lack of fibre in their daily nutrition - was also entered in the new dairy dessert category. [It was the winner in this category.]

▪ Fayrefield Foods Heartfelt+ reduced fat cheese was also to be found in the best new cheese category.

Remember, not everybody with lactose intolerance has to avoid all dairy, even if it's not lactose free. Dairy with probiotics that help suppress symptoms will be the hot new products in the future.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Lactose and Medications

Lactose is a sugar, a slightly-sweet sugar. It is only about one-seventh as sweet as sucrose, ordinary table sugar. Oddly enough, this is a good thing to many in industry. Lactose allows a bit of pleasant sweetness to be added to products, without overwhelming them with an overly-sweet taste. Commercial bakers can sprinkle lactose on the tops of bread and let it caramelize to a beautiful golden-brown. Food processors can add lactose (or whey, which is mostly lactose) to add taste and texture to foods without affecting the primary taste of the food. Best of all, lactose is made from whey, and whey is a waste product in the cheese-making process, so it's really cheap.

That's why lactose is used so often in pill-making. The extremely tiny amount of actual working ingredient in a medication needs to be surrounded with fillers that bulk it out to be large enough to handle. A substance that is mostly tasteless but with just enough sweetness to balance out the bitter taste of many medications is great. That lactose can be formulated to break down in the stomach to release the medication makes it nearly ideal.

Literally hundreds of branded prescription medications use lactose as a part of their formulations. If you add in generics and over-the-counter drugs, you probably have thousands of medications that include lactose.

And there will soon be more rather than fewer pills that use lactose.

Phil Taylor on wrote Roquette wins US patent for Starlac in novel dosage form about a new and improved way to dispense medications.

French company Roquette has been awarded a US patent for a dissolve-in-the-mouth drug delivery technology that makes use of its novel Starlac excipient.

Use of the excipient could allow the creation of tablets that are hard and resistant to damage during handling, yet still disintegrate quickly in saliva after dosing.

The US patent, awarded to Roquette earlier this month, covers a solid dose form based on lactose and starch, the constituents of Starlac excipient, alongside one or more active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs).


Xavier Duriez, senior project manager at Roquette, told that almost all ODT products on the market use mannitol as a diluent, but that in some cases Starlac could be used as a good alternative.

"Starlac is preferred for ODT and chewable formulas where palatability is a 'must'," he said, adding that the excipient provides a creamy mouthfeel that mannitol doesn't provide.


Starlac, a mixture of 85 per cent lactose and 15 per cent natural corn starch, was first introduced in 2002.

Of course, the mere granting of a patent doesn't mean that any products using Starlac will hit the market any time soon. But unless there is a serious bug with the project, it's too good an idea not to come to pass.

What does this mean for those who are lactose intolerant? Not as much as you might think. Only a tiny amount of lactose is present in any one pill. One study I read estimated that the average pill had 25 mg of lactose. You'd need to take 480 such pills to equal the lactose in an eight-ounce glass of milk at that rate.

A very few people might still be bothered by this tiny amount, especially if they have to take many such pills each day, as the elderly or those with serious illnesses must do. All I can suggest is to take a lactase pill along with the medication to see if that helps.

Those with a dairy allergy also need to be somewhat concerned, but with the same caution. Medical-grade lactose is extremely pure and not likely to be contaminated with the dairy protein that causes problems. Extremely anaphylactic people should certainly talk with their doctor before taking any pills with lactose. Those with lesser allergies and symptoms probably can take pills that contain lactose with no problems. But certainly check to see what alternatives there are.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Who Says Goat Cheese Isn't Dairy?

I saw the headline, Day in the life of an herbalist and Naturopath, by Mardi Suhs in the Cadillac, MI News.

You just knew that was going to set me off, didn't you?

I'm not going to reprint all the nonsense that the article quoted Kelly Sandelius, a certified herbalist about to graduate as a Naturopathic Doctor, as saying. It would melt your brain.

But here's the line that I had to share:

Tonight we are having homemade vegetable lasagna with ground turkey — no dairy. We use goat cheese and tofu.

Right. Goat cheese is not dairy. The fats, proteins, and lactose may be so close to cow's milk that few people can tell the difference, but it's not dairy. What is it? I don't know. Maybe it's fairy sweat. Maybe the bees make it from honey.

Speaking of which, she also said:
Make healthy sugar choices. There are healthy sugars.

No, all commercial sugars, including raw sugar and molasses and the other variants, are about as healthy as regular white sugar. No real difference.

Unless the sugar also comes from fairies.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

790 Dairy-Free Recipes and Counting is pretty much what the site claims.

And if you do a search on dairy free, you come up with their dairy-free page.

Allrecipes has more than 790 trusted dairy-free recipes complete with ratings, reviews and cooking tips.

The pages are sorted so you can look for Appetizers, Desserts, Main Dishes, and Side Dishes.

Browse away.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Busting Misconceptions About Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Dr. William D. Chey, director of the University of Michigan's Gastrointestinal Physiology Laboratory, put out through HealthDay and found on the web site, a list that attacks misconceptions about Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). I've shortened the answers so as not to reprint the entire article. be sure to click on the link for the full info.

● IBS does not exist in the patient's head. While psychological distress or stress can make IBS worse, they're not the primary cause of the condition in most cases.

● IBS occurs more frequently in women but "it's important that people know that there are many men diagnosed with IBS, and it also affects the elderly.

● Many doctors believe IBS is not an important condition because it doesn't affect a person's lifespan. But Chey said IBS can have a significant negative effect on quality of life and the ability to function on a day-to-day basis, and should be taken seriously by both doctors and patients.

● Lactose intolerance may play a role in some cases of IBS, but it's not the cause of symptoms in the vast majority of people. Chey recommended that patients keep a diary of the food they eat and IBS symptoms. Chey noted that fatty foods, milk products, chocolate, alcohol, caffeine and carbonated drinks are more likely to aggravate IBS symptoms.

● It doesn't require a lot of medical testing to diagnose IBS. "Identifying the presence of persistent recurrent abdominal pain in association with altered bowel habits, and excluding warning signs is enough to accurately diagnose IBS in most patients," Chey said.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

The Gluten-Free Restaurant Awareness Program (GFRAP)

Oh, wait, I didn't want to give you the impression that Big Momma's Boy in the last post was unique. It just popped up at the right time.

The Gluten Intolerance group has a whole website devoted to its Gluten-Free Restaurant Awareness Program (GFRAP). They have 893 restaurants listed. You can do a search by location, restaurant name or cuisine at their search page.

Typing Rochester, NY into search brought back ... The Outback Steak House.

Yes, I'm confused too. But GFRAP is a program that works with restaurants according to the following standards:

Levels of Participation chosen by GFRAP Restaurants:

The basic program level includes a complete packet of education and training materials, a review of the restaurant’s GF menus, and the assistance of a Resource Person to answer questions.

The advanced level includes 1-star level materials as well as intensive assistance in menu review by qualified nutrition experts.

The specialized level includes 1-star level materials, intensive assistance in menu review by qualified nutrition experts, and a comprehensive restaurant training program approved by GFRAP.

Outback is a two-star program participant, apparently for the whole chain, given how many hits appear when I search on Outback Steak House.

Despite a Country box, search is limited to the United States.

I've listed other gluten-free restaurants when they pop up in newspaper searches, and you can of course find many by using Google or another search engine to narrow your focus.

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Going Gluten-Free at Big Mamma's Boy

As a follow-up to yesterday's post about the gluten-free, casein-free diet, a tribute to one of the few restaurants that make eating out with such restrictions a breeze.

At BlogTO in Toronto, Tim posted a restaurant review of Big Mamma's Boy.

Hopw often do you even see Gluten Free spcialities on a big sign outside the building?

Big Mamma's Boy, 554 Parliament Street, 416-927-1593

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Gluten-Free, Casein-Free (GFCF) Diet Helps Autistic Children

Most aspects of autism are controversial. However, there has been growing evidence for many years now that taking both casein proteins and gluten proteins out of a child's diet can alleviate many of the worst symptoms. It's called the Gluten-Free, Casein-Free (GFCF) Diet.

Bev Davis wrote an article about one such family at the Beckley, WV, Register-Herald web site.

“During my rages, I would flip furniture, throw things like dishes on the floor and break things and kick holes in the wall. I just couldn’t stop,” said Aiden [Lintala], 12, who’s come to grips with his symptoms of autism. “I used to have that rage every day, but now I don’t have it at all.”

What turned things around so drastically for this Beckley family? A diet free of wheat and dairy products.

Aiden’s mom has done extensive research on autism and other special needs. She discovered the diet with medical research and several studies that showed a high success rate with a gluten-free, casein-free diet that medical experts to have high success rates in children with autism spectrum disorders.

“This isn’t something that somebody just pulled out of the air,” Lintala said. “There is lots of research out there to back this up. At the time we started it, I was willing to try anything that sounded reasonable.”

Gradually, she withdrew wheat and dairy products from Aiden’s diet.

“At first, I saw a spike in aggressive behaviors, but after a couple of weeks, I had a different child,” Lintala said.

The diet is strict and something that is difficult for a child to adapt to. But Aiden said:
“This has changed everything completely for me. It stopped all the rage. At first, I wanted to cheat on the diet, but now I wouldn’t cheat for anything, because it really works for me,” he said.

Why does this diet work?
Medical studies show that autistic children often have what is called a “leaky gut syndrome,” and that the behaviors of some autistic children were much like those of a heroine [sic] addict.

Research shows many children with autism spectrum disorders have an overgrowth of yeast in the intestinal tract. Yeasts create microscopic holes in the gut, Lintala said. Normally, the yeast is digested, but in a leaky gut, molecules of yeast get into the blood stream before they are broken down. The substance that leaks into the body acts like morphine.

“It crosses the blood-brain barrier, and basically, the children have a morphine supply in their system. It’s not an allergy to wheat or casein. It’s more like a drug habit,” Lintala said.

Whatever the merits of that analogy are, Lintala unfortunately gives some genuine misinformation:
“Fortunately, there are lots or products that are gluten-free and casein-free, but you have to learn to read labels carefully,” Lintala said. “Sometimes, the front of the package will say something is ‘dairy-free,’ but the FDA doesn’t consider casein a dairy product, and you’ll find casein listed in the list of ingredients.”

Simply not true. The Food Allergen Labeling And Consumer Protection Act of 2004, which went into effect January 1, 2006, specifically requires casein to be labeled as a milk product.

Check the FDA's FAQ page on the Act.
FALCPA was designed to improve food labeling information so that consumers who suffer from food allergies - especially children and their caregivers - will be able to recognize the presence of an ingredient that they must avoid. For example, if a product contains the milk-derived protein casein, the product's label would have to use the term "milk" in addition to the term "casein" so that those with milk allergies would clearly understand the presence of an allergen they need to avoid.

My LI Links page has long had links to GFCF sites. The major site to go to is Gluten Free & Casein Free Diet [Autism diet].

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Prediction: Designer Milk

In a special report commemorating the 50th anniversary of the American Chemical Society's Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the following predictions were made:

Designer milk -- Organic milks are already available at supermarkets, but a new breed of designer milks are on the drawing board that will boost immunity, improve lactose utilization and relieve diarrhea. Advances in biotechnology have made it all possible: Got designer milk? Naturally low-fat milk -- Recent advances in biotechnology have identified a gene for milkfat synthesis that may one day allow scientists to selectively breed cows that naturally produce low-fat milk. This and other developments are moving closer to reality as researchers identify genetic markers in cows for diseases or desirable traits that will enable scientists to improve the efficiency of milk production and select for milk with specific traits. Although the development of genetically modified cows and milk products shows promise, consumer resistance to such products will remain a barrier well into the future, the researchers predict.

Milk alternatives -- Competition from nondairy materials will increase, driven by consumer demand. Already, supermarkets have been flooded with alternative soy products, from soybean milk to soy-based ice cream. These products offer options for those that are allergic to milk or concerned about dairy safety. In the pipeline: useful milk proteins produced not from cows, but from recombinant organisms, such as yeasts. Still, experts predict that milk will continue to be a viable nutrition source in the future.

Now admittedly predictions have a long shelf life, and these have yet to come true even though they date back to 2002. I found them poking through the archives at

I couldn't resist reprinting them for one big reason: the author of the report was named Lawrence K. Creamer.

Dairy or nondairy, I couldn't say.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Don't Mock These Mock Desserts

Times used to be hard. Yeah, I'm sure you're tired of hearing your parents or grandparents or even great-grandparents telling you about how tough a time they had growing up. Well, tough. They're right. Times used to be much harder.

In the Great Depression people often didn't have money for even the most basic foods. When World War II followed, they finally had the money but those foods were strictly rationed. Irony abounded.

Today the irony lies in the fact that we're surrounded by mountains of food and barrels full of money, but our bodies have betrayed us by saying, "no dairy for you."

Back in the old days, inventive chefs and mothers of all descriptions did what they could to make palatable substitutes for the foods that weren't available.

This tradition lives on in dairy-free -- or gluten-free or corn-free or meat-free or whatever -- recipes that strive to give you as close a version of the original as ingenuity can contrive.

Marcy Goldman at has collected a bunch of these recipes at that link.

• Flour-Free Crisp Oatmeal Cookies
• Mock Chocolate Cheesecake
• Dairy Free Mock Banana Orange Cheesecake
• Mock Mousse (Frozen Rhubarb Fool)
• Vegetarian Lasagna
• Vegetarian Mock French Pate
• Vegetarian Chopped Liver
• Mock Lobster Salad or Poor Man's Lobster
• Mock Pecan Pie

Here's one just to whet your appetites.

Mock Chocolate Cheesecake
(Served right from the fridge, this tastes just like chocolate cheesecake.)

1 pound unsalted margarine*
1 cup sugar
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. strong coffee
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, pref. Swiss
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
8 large eggs
*Make sure margarine does not contain milk solids.
[*Most semi-sweet chocolate is lactose-free. True dairy-free varieties are available at most health food stores and even large supermarkets.]

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Lightly grease and dust a 9" springform pan with cocoa. Set aside.

In a saucepan, over very low heat (or using a double boiler) melt the butter, sugar, and coffee together, stirring to blend. Remove from stove and add chocolate, stirring to melt and incorporate.

Let cool to room temperature and add in eggs, using a whisk to blend. Pour into pan.

Bake 50-55 minutes until cake is done. (If cake rises too fast, lower oven to 325°F and cook a little longer, until set).

Chill well in refrigerator before unmolding.

Serve with pureed frozen raspberries (l 10 oz. package pureed with 2 tbsp. sugar in a food processor or blender).

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Cancer Patients and Lactose Intolerance

Unfortunately, cancer and its treatments produce a wide variety of aftereffects in its sufferers.

A report on the website, was reviewed by William McGee, M.D., M.H.A., Assistant Professor of Medicine and Surgery, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, and Director ICU Quality Improvement, Critical Care Division, Baystate Medical Center, Springfield, MA.

People with cancer are at risk for developing nutritional deficiencies. The deficiencies may be the result of the cancer itself, or the side effects of common cancer treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy , and radiation therapy .

Malignancies directly compromise nutritional status by altering metabolism and causing loss of appetite . Changes in metabolism include an increased basal metabolic rate and increased spending of energy. This increase in energy use means you'll require more calories to maintain your current weight and lean body mass.

There are also individual alterations in carbohydrate , protein , and fat metabolism. These changes lead to the loss of muscle and fat stores. Cancer-associated loss of appetite is probably the result of physical changes but may also be due to a psychological response to the disease.

There are several factors that may contribute to the type and degree of nutrient deficiencies:

• The primary organ where the malignancy occurs
• The severity of the cancer at the time of diagnosis
• The symptoms experienced by the person with cancer
• The type and frequency of the cancer treatment being used and the side effects associated with that treatment (surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy)
• The effect of the malignancy or disease on food and nutrient ingestion, tolerance, and utilization



• Increase protein and calories in the diet.
• Eat smaller, but more frequent meals.
• Add powdered milk to foods and beverages.
• Drink mainly calorie-containing beverages such as juices, milk, or sweetened drinks.
• Add extra eggs or egg whites to foods. Never use raw eggs! They may contain salmonella, which would be dangerous for a person who is immune-suppressed. Raw eggs also contain a vitamin binder.
• Add diced meat or cheese to sauces, vegetables, soups, and casseroles.
• Snack throughout the day on calorie-dense foods such as nuts, hard candy, and dried fruits.
• Consider using commercially available nutrition supplements.
• Make your own high-calorie shake by using an instant breakfast drink mix with milk, fruit, cookies, peanut butter, or other favorite mixers.
• Increasing fats in the diet is an excellent way to increase energy consumption, if you are tolerating fats. Add margarine or butter to breads and vegetables. Add gravies and sauces to foods in liberal amounts.

If you are unable to digest fat, consult with your physician or dietitian for alternative fat sources. Supplements containing medium-chain triglycerides are often recommended for this purpose.


Some cancer patients become unable to digest dairy products, which is called lactose intolerance . Symptoms include bloating, gas, and diarrhea immediately after eating lactose-containing foods.

People with lactose intolerance have trouble digesting the sugar in milk. Lactose intolerance is due to an inability to produce lactase, the enzyme that digests milk. The wall of the gastrointestinal tract produces this enzyme. Fortunately, lactase can be synthetically produced, purchased over-the-counter, or can be taken orally with milk.

You can also buy lactose-free milk at most grocery stores. Cultured dairy products such as yogurt, cheeses, and buttermilk will have less lactose as the active cultures help to digest it. You may be able to tolerate small amounts of lactose occasionally. You may have to restrict lactose entirely from the diet until you have fully recovered from your cancer therapy.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Probiotic Use Up

Did you know that the National Institutes of Health had an Office of Dietary Supplements? Neither did I. But it's full of useful info.

And it even does studies of supplement use among Americans.

At least I think it does. Somebody must have done the study that Gloria Payne of the Murfreesboro Daily News reported on in her article Exploring trends, demographics, safety issues with herbs. Amazingly, she never actually says. Maybe it's because she doesn't want to mention that the study dates back to 2004. The proper citation is S Gunther, R Patterson, A Kristal, et al. "Demographic and health-related correlates of herbal and specialty supplement use." Journal of the American Dietetic Association 104:27-34 (January 2004).

Anyway, the breaking news - taken from self-reporting diaries all the way back in 2000-2002 - is that people with lactose intolerance take acidophilus pills to help with their symptoms. This is good news, although there's no hint of how many people do this. All I can glean from her article is that women are more likely to take supplements overall (36% of women vs 29% of men).

Ah well, at least I got a good reference web site out of it.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Tofutti Helps Comedy Cures

Tofutti is one of the oldest brands of milk alternative products, with a line of ice cream, cream cheese, hard cheese, and sour cheese substitutes, and even pizza and blintzes. All of Tofutti's foods use soy as a base and are Kosher pareve, completely dairy free. (Some of their entrées and cookies use egg whites, so those aren't vegan, but all the milk alternatives are.) Tofutti was one of the first foods I discovered when I learned I was lactose-intolerant.

Apparently you can do well by doing good. An article at reported that they had a 4% rise in net sales and a whopping 75% rise in net income in 2006.

I took a look at their web site and found that Tofutti is involved in a worthy, kid-oriented project.

Tofutti KIDS dessert bars pair Tofutti Premium Orange, Lime and Strawberry with a smooth, milk-free vanilla center. But wait, there's more:

Tofutti Brands joined hands with The Comedy Cures Foundation to create Tofutti KIDS dessert bars. The delicious pairing of Tofutti Premium Orange, Lime and Strawberry with a smooth, milk-free vanilla center will have your kids smiling. And 2% of all sales will benefit The Comedy Cures Foundation, founded by Saranne Rothberg and her young daughter.

Comedy Cures brings joy, through comedy, to kids and grown-ups living with all illnesses and trauma. Through their humorous programs, Comedy Cures entertains and educates patients, families and medical caregivers about the positive benefits of laughter and the power of a comic perspective on the mind, body and spirit. The Comedy Cures programs show patients of all ages how to integrate joy and humor into every day life.

Call the free Comedy Cures 24-hour LaughLine at 1-888-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha! [1-888-424-2424]

For more information on their live programs or to make a donation, call 201-227-8410.

Visit their Web site at

There's even an Oprah link.

And you can print out dollar off coupons on Tofutti's home page.

What more could you ask for?

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

When to Offer Your Baby Yogurt and Cheese

Some interesting thoughts about a concern of many mothers:

My pediatrician said not to feed my baby dairy prior to the age of 1 year old!" ... The medical community worries that if whole cow milk is introduced to an infant prior to 1 year old, that parents would stop formula and/or breastfeeding and use milk as the replacement. This would be dangerous to your baby's health!

That's from Margaret Meade's article Yogurt, Cheese and Your Baby - When to Offer Your Baby Yogurt and Cheese at the American site. Meade is the Editor/Owner of and

Meade gives the common-sensical response, that this is not really a danger when yogurt and cheese are the subject rather than liquid milks.

Cheese is typically recommended at an age when your baby is able to mash foods with his or her gums or between 7-8 months old. Melted cheese makes a wonderful edition to a finger food meal of veggies and meats! As regards the introduction of yogurt, most pediatricians recommend starting your infant on yogurt around 7-8 months of age. Some pediatricians also recommend yogurt as a great first food (from 6 months+). Selecting a whole milk yogurt is the most beneficial to your infant as babies need fats in their diets for proper growth!


[U]sing a large container of Plain Whole Milk yogurt will save you money (and save on added sugar) and give you the flexibility of adding your own flavorings to baby's yogurt.

And she adds the proper word of warning at the end:
The above information applies to those who do not have a known milk allergy or a lactose intolerance, or a familial history of same. As always, you should thoroughly discuss the introduction of foods with your baby's personal pediatrician!

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Milk Prices at Record High

Milk prices are at a record high, says The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), a US-based association representing the country's dairy manufacturing and marketing industries.

So why should you care? Most of you readers don't use a lot of dairy in your lives, after all.

Because of the reason that milk prices are rising
according to the article at

[T]he IDFA pointed out that growing demand for corn to produce ethanol is causing feed costs to escalate. Feed is the largest operational cost for dairy farmers. "Ethanol production is diverting some of the available corn formerly used to feed dairy cows, and some farmers are diverting land that had been used to produce other feed crops to grow more corn instead," [IDFA president and CEO Connie] Tipton said.

The IDFA said feed costs are not expected to drop in the near term, with prices in the corn futures market indicating that the price of corn will remain relatively high this year. Prices have also risen for soybeans, another feed crop, the IDFA said.

The diversion of corn for ethanol is an example of why using food stocks for energy production is a bad idea. Ethanol itself makes sense, as does alternative fuels for gasoline. But growing corn to make ethanol and taking away land from other crops to grow corn that won't go directly or indirectly into the food supply will simply push food prices up across the board.

This is senseless waste. Other potential biofuels can be grown on land not suitable for prime agricultural use. And even if the entire corn supply of the U.S. was diverted to ethanol we wouldn't have enough to eliminate our dependence on oil.

I can't blame farmers for wanting the crop that will make them the most money per acre. I can blame the lack of a coherent energy policy in this country. Whether you have dairy or not, even whether you eat meat or not, you will be directly affected by the increased cost of food as more and more resources are devoted to corn for ethanol. Let's nip the madness in the bud and demand a sensible biofuels program now, as one of the many, many changes we must make for a livable energy future.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Oatly Cream Alternative Introduced in the UK

Oatly is a Swedish company that makes dairy alternatives based on oats. Those of us who are defectively monolingual can go to their international web site - - and click on the International website link to read all about them in plain English.

Just introduced into the UK market is their new product, Oatly Healthy Oat Alternative to Cream.

Oatly Healthy Oat Alternative to Cream is used just like ordinary cream for cooking and gives your dishes a delicious full flavour. A simple way to better eating: just switch your usual cream for Oatly!

Oatly Healthy Oat Alternative to Cream contains only vegetable products - no milk or soya, and has just 13% fat. What's more, this fat is a well-balanced, wholesome kind.

That's in addition to their regular milk alternatives, Oatly Organic, Enriched, and Chocolate.

Contact information:

Oatly AB
Företagsvägen 42
SE-261 51 Landskrona

+46 (0)418 47 55 00

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Monday, April 09, 2007

Vegan Lunch Box

Blogs commenting on blogs commenting on blogs. Don't you hate that? You'll never see that here on Planet Lactose.

Except maybe just this once.

You see, I found a post by Alisa Fleming of over at the Well Fed Network blog. Her post, Vegan Lunch Box Takes Over the Schools talked about Jennifer McCann's Vegan Lunch Box blog.

The Vegan Lunch Box is all about Jennifer's efforts to make vegan meals for her kid. And that's led to a book of recipes called, naturally, Vegan Lunch Box. It's available on Amazon for $22.95.

Here's their book description:

Book Description
Amazing Animal-Free Lunches that Kids and Grown-Ups Will Love! If you think vegan lunchtime means peanut butter and jelly day after day, think again! From the simple to the sublime, Vegan Lunch Box brings you an amazing array of entirely meat-free, egg-free, and dairy-free lunches. Transform how you look at lunchtime forever, with:

* Complete, well-balanced menus to help you pack nutritious, irresistible lunches.
* Quick lunches that are ready in a flash.
* Easy recipes that older kids can make themselves.
* Exciting themed lunches for special occasions.
* Adventurous lunches made with foods from around the world.

Vegan Lunch Box also features:
* Tips on raising and feeding happy, healthy vegan kids.
* Fruits and vegetables even the pickiest eaters will love!
* Product recommendations to make shopping a breeze.
* An Allergen-Free Index identifying allergen-free recipes to suit your family's dietary needs.

Dive in to this collection of outstanding, well-balanced lunches, and soon you'll be packing your very own Vegan Lunch Box!

Praise for Vegan Lunch Box:

"Parents rejoice! At last, the innovative lunches and delicious recipes made famous on Jennifer's Vegan Lunch Box blog are yours to enjoy in this charming and inspired cookbook. Vegan Lunch Box will make your meals 5-star successes!" --Dreena Burton, author of the best-selling cookbook Vive le Vegan!

"Makes vegan cooking accessible and fun. There are so many delicious, well put together options here, it's not only perfect for kids but for anyone who ever eats lunch!" --Isa Chandra Moskowitz, author of Vegan with a Vengeance and Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World

"Destined to become a classic, this is the book vegan parents have been waiting for. This book will continue delighting with recipes that are as innovative, kid-pleasing, and healthful as they are delicious." --Bryanna Clark Grogan, author of Nonna's Italian Kitchen

You can also find the book on the Vegan Cookbooks page of my Milk-Free Bookstore - along with the books of the authors in that book blurb above.

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

LI Celebrity Alert 2: Scott Wong

From the Star Bulletin:

Some jobs are just better than others.

Scott Wong has one of the best.

Professional beach volleyball player.

photo credit: Cindy Ellen Russell

Nutrition has become even more important for the 30-year-old Stolfus, the 2005 AVP Rookie of the Year. He's had trouble keeping weight on -- he's 6-5 and 180.

"What I eat, I expend," he said. "About four years ago, I stopped eating fast food and bad carbs. My diet is high in protein, which has been tricky since I'm lactose intolerant.

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LI Celebrity Alert 1: Greg Chappell

photo credit: AP

FORMER Australia cricket captain Greg Chappell was released from hospital in Mumbai last night after earlier complaining of feeling unwell.

Chappell, who quit as India's coach last Wednesday, had been due to return home yesterday via Singapore, but put off the journey.


The 58-year-old Chappell, who turned vegan in 1994 after being diagnosed as lactose intolerant, was asked to present a report on his 22-month tenure to the Indian cricket board last week.

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Good News for Gluten Sufferers - from Seaweed!

Those with gluten intolerance - who are often also lactose intolerant because the disease attacks the inside lining of the intestines with the lactase enzyme is made - know that getting gluten-free products that taste as good as those made with wheat is a struggle.

Bread is an especial problem, with the firmness and texture - as well as what is called "mouth feel" - hard to duplicate.
But according to an article, "Marigot mineral complex improves gluten-free bread texture," by Jess Halliday on the site:

Irish mineral specialist Marigot's Aquamin complex appears to have benefits beyond enhancing the mineral content of certain specialist bakery products: it has also been seen to improve the texture of gluten-free bread.

The ingredient, rich in calcium and magnesium, is derived from red seaweed Lithothamnion Coralliodides, which is harvested under licence by Marigot off the south west coast of Ireland.

It has previously been found to improve the sensory qualities in certain categories of fortified beverages, such as soy. But the new investigations, conducted independently at the Ashtown Food Research centre in Dublin, could prove the answer to a common problem for niche bakers - how to make their gluten-free bread firm.

A testing by bakery professionals was highly positive, down to the fussy details of crumb size and crust appearance.

In other good news:
While few details are revealed about their method, it is known that the product was made from plant-based ingredients and suitable for those with an intolerance to lactose and eggs.

As always, don't hold your breaths waiting for this to appear on your store shelves. This is a preliminary report from the labs. It's still some of the best news I've read on gluten-free products.

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Dairy-free, Egg-free, Kid Pleasing Recipes & Tips

Theresa Kingma wrote me to let me know her self-published book, Dairy-free, Egg-free, Kid Pleasing Recipes & Tips is now available through Amazon.

Her web site says:

My book is a comprehensive cookbook for parents of children with dairy, egg, and nut allergies, including 41 Super Quick Meals for Tired Mothers and Tips on navigating a vulnerable child through life with food allergies. ...

My dairy-free and egg-free recipes are specifically for toddler & preschool taste buds and the entire family.

You can order her book for $15.00 + shipping through her web site or through Amazon. I've also put it on my Allergy Cookbooks page in the Milk-Free Bookstore on my web site, so you can order it straight from there along with other similar books.

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Digestive Advantage Update

Yesterday I posted comments about Lactagen, a probiotic "solution" to lactose intolerance. Today I want to talk about one of its competitors, Digestive Advantage.

Digestive Advantage is a family of products made by Ganeden Biotech. You can also find them on the Rofay Biomedical site. [Update: The Rofay site no longer says it is the exclusive dealer but, "Comparison shop the web - our prices and shipping cost - give you a total lower cost compared to anyone else on the web!" However, the Ganeden people asked me to assure you that you can get their products at many online stores as well as walk-in stores.]

All the products are made with "healthy bacteria" of the Lactobacillus family. (Not Lactobacillus acidophilus but their own proprietary strains.) There are Digestive Advantage products for Lactose Intolerance - both an adult and a chewable children's version; Irritable Bowel Syndrome - regular and chewable; Crohn’s and Colitis; Constipation; and Gas Prevention.

Just in case: the other Digestive Advantage products say:

Allergy warning: This product may contain trace amounts of casein (milk protein).

However, neither the Digestive Advantage LI nor Children's LI have even a trace of casein. And of course a trace of casein is only a concern for people with the most severe dairy allergies, although it does mean it is not acceptable for vegans and must be watched by those keeping Kosher. Casein is not a problem for anyone with just lactose intolerance, though.

The children's version is chewable and cherry-flavored, but otherwise the same as the adult version. There is not a children's "dose" of a probiotic, since it is not a drug.

The difference between Lactagen and Digestive Advantage are, in my opinion, more in the way they are marketed than in biochemistry. Lactagen puts itself forward as a one-time, 38-day course of probiotics. It's therefore much more expensive at $149.95. Digestive Advantage is meant to be taken regularly as a daily supplement. It is much cheaper at first - 32 caplets for $9.99 [as of March 2009] - but over time it will cost more than Lactagen. The other difference is that Digestive Advantage comes with lactase, the enzyme that digests lactose. This may be of some help, but since you only take Digestive Advantage once a day and lactase should really be taken with the first bite of dairy I find that this is not a significant advantage.

Just as I did with Lactagen, I'm posting some of the comments I've received in emails.
● I just wanted to send an e-mail expressing how much I like their products. I have been diagnosed with ulcerated colitis and the only medication that gave me any relief along with increased weight gain and a very chubby face was prednisone. The last medication was a heavy duty immune suppressant that made my hair brittle, my skin break and bleed and really didn't help me that much. The doctor said that my colon on a scale from 1-10 is a 9 for not very good. I have recently started to use the Digestive Advantage for ulcerated colitis and another product called Sustence and I finally am seeing some relief. I hope that they never go out of business. I have had this trouble for the last 10 years and now I am feeling so much better. I have spent a lot of money on different products and medications trying to get relief and this product is the best I have found so far. - Dianne

● I've tried DA for about 1 month now, and am very pleased with the results. Stomach pain which was almost constant is gone. - S.

● I have been using Digestive Advantage for over a year. I was amazed at how well they worked. Now I take one pill a day and eat ANYTHING I want. For years I used other products, taking several whenever I thought something might have milk products in it and never being symptom free. I can't tell you how many times I have been up almost all night with terrible cramps and diarrhea. Now the only time I have those old familiar symptoms is the very rare times I forget to take my morning pill! - Kaye

● +1 for positive experiences

I'd consider my lactose intolerance mild to medium, having started (or when I noticed a connection) in my mid-20's. Prior to Digestive Advantage, my solution was diary avoidance or Lactaid Ultra tablets (which wasn't nearly as effective as DA). - Reginald

● A friend suggested Lactaid but when I saw Digestive Advantage was once a day, I thought we would try that instead. Yesterday we did a test with ice cream and he had no pain and no diarrhea. This morning he had milk with his cereal and again no problems. We will continue to limit his intake but it’s nice to know that he can enjoy parties again and not be afraid that he won’t make it to a bathroom. I will be contacting his doctor to make sure he can continue to take Digestive Advantage but, as a Mom, this has been a life saver to a 10 year old boy. - BB

● I wanted to let you know that I tried Digestive Advantage (after a long period of dithering because if it doesn't work, the consequences are so unpleasant...). I wish I had done so sooner! My entire inside felt different. More at rest, as it were. More sturdy. More able to withstand. And I of course went wild, after initial caution, and ate dairy desserts, drank a milkshake (a very strange and scary thing to do after years of abstinence) and had a wonderful time. It seems to work all right, especially if I took the recommended 2 a day for sensitive people. Definitely well enough to merit further extensive testing. - Karen

● I found Digestive Advantage through your site and want to let you know that it's been working for me. I tried the free sample and thought it seemed promising (though the sample wasn't enough for me to decide whether to keep using the product. The sample is enough for 6 days, and it took over a week to really have an effect). I've now been using it for over a month, and it's great. Not 100% perfect, but SO much better than depending on Lactaid. The main advantage is not having to worry about hidden dairy products. But I've been able to eat pizza and ice cream (not together) with acceptable ill effects (I'd rather not go into graphic details). The main drawback is cost -- you have to take it every day. But I found it at a good price on eBay. - Robert

But as I always warn people, nothing works for everybody.
● My 14 year old daughter has been taking this product for months. We were so happy to find something she could take once a day instead of always trying to remember to bring her lactaid pills. But now it seems to be not working as well. She has not taken any antibiotics or other medications. - Devon

Still, overall the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

Since it is a probiotic, it may be affected by antibiotics. Antibiotics will kill the "good" bacteria along with the "bad." There's nothing that can be done about it except to start over and re-colonize the bacteria.

There you have it. Two effective, outwardly similar products that approach the marketing in totally different directions. Your choice. Both should work. For some people the daily dose of probiotic may be more effective; for others the short course will work fine.

For previous comments on Digestive Advantage, see 'Get Uncorked and Go to Cork!' (2/12/2007); Vampire Vic and his digestive woes (10/26/2006); and Digestive Advantage (5/10/2006).

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Lactagen: The Big Update

I may get more questions about Lactagen than any other single item.

That's not surprising. Lactagen makes the strongest claims about its effectiveness. It's website says that "Lactagen®'s patented one-time 38-day program is the only real solution to lactose intolerance." That's actually a milder version. It at one time touted itself as a cure for lactose intolerance.

Lactagen also spends an inordinate amount of money on advertising, marketing, and promotion. I bet that you'll see an ad for Lactagen in the Google ads section at the upper left of this screen, even when this article scrolls away. (I have no knowledge of and no control over what ads Google places there. It uses a keyword algorithm to decide what is appropriate.)

And Lactagen is upping the ante, according to a new press release.

Direct response television agency Atomic Direct has released a 60-second and a 120-second spot for Ritter Natural Sciences.

The testimonial-based spots are for Lactagen, a powder supplement program that reduces symptoms of lactose intolerance.

According to RNS, the ads aim to separate Lactagen from Lactaid and similar products they claim provide either temporary relief or, in some cases, no relief at all.

The spots feature real-life testimonials of lactose-intolerant people who have been symptom-free since taking the product.

The campaign began airing last month and can also be viewed at Lactagen’s Web site at

Los Angeles-based RNS is a health nutraceutical company with a concentration in dietary supplements for the digestive system.

So. Does Lactagen work? And if so, how does it work?

That's not easy to answer. I can only find one objective news article amidst all the press releases.

The Washington Post examined Lactagen's claims in its "Claim Check" column of Nov. 25, 2005.
The Claim

Lactagen, a powdered supplement sold on the Web ( ; $129.95 [now $149.95] for a 38-day supply), resolves lactose intolerance -- an inability to digest the food sugar known as lactose that results from a deficiency of the digestive enzyme lactase -- once and for all. (Lactose intolerance has proven intractable because the lack of lactase is not reversible.) Mix the product with water or juice and consume it in increasing amounts over 35 days, says the company, and ice cream, pizza, cheese and milk are yours to relish.

Longtime lactose intolerant Andrew Ritter decided, at age 13, to devise a remedy for his ailment as a science-fair project. Encouraged by his science-fair success, Ritter ... tinkered for years (he's now 24), eventually coming up with Lactagen's brew of lactobacillus acidopholus (a "probiotic," or helpful bacterium, that's found in live yogurt cultures), lactose, phosphates, and gum and silica. Ritter cites an unpublished study in which 80 percent of 27 users reported improvement in their symptoms (which include gas, bloating, diarrhea and other unpleasantries) after 38 days, compared with 19 percent on placebo.

The Plausibility

Gastroenterologist Theodore Bayless, professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, says it's "conceivable" that a probiotic could beef up the digestive tract's bacteria population -- which could then produce protective enzymes that would shield against excess gas. But forget company claims about "calming the digestive system," he says; inflammation has nothing to do with lactose intolerance.

What do my correspondents say?

Mostly positive things.

● I just got done with the program. Previously, milk/cheese products would cause me to be sick for at least 3 days. Lactaid supplements barely worked. The day after I finished the program, I was able to drink a 14oz glass of milk in the morning, and eat some homemade lasagna that evening (lots of cheese). Goodbye to moderation. It's not recommended to hit the dairy that hard, but I'm impressed. - Joe

● I have been thru with the regime for 5 weeks now. I feel I am 80% cured. I no longer have the gas (and everyone in my office is grateful), but still have the loose stools after eating too much cheese (3 pieces of sandwich size Muenster cheese with crackers for lunch yesterday). It does not seem to compound itself the way it used to, tho. I am telling everyone I know about it and they are all watching my progress. I was concerned if it would work, since during the taking of the product, I was still having lots of gas. I was comforted by the money-back guarantee, and whenever I felt I was wasting 34 days taking this I thought about the fact I would get my money back. It also took me 38 days, as the first experience with milk had me right back in the bathroom.

So it is not a miracle cure for me, but it is definitely a "walking cast" and I am able to go where I want and eat what I want without too much worry - C.

● I happened across your article this evening. I followed the program to the letter, and it has been a godsend to me. I was lactose intolerant for 15 years, and now I eat almost all dairy with absolutely no side effects. I say almost, as for some reason aged fresh-grated cheeses still do bother me a bit, though a milkshake or slice of cheesecake is no problem. I'd do it again in a moment and would recommend it to anyone. I wish I'd discovered it prior to spending about $5k on nearly daily lactaid over the years! I refused to give up dairy, but sure did pay the price, literally... - Karen

● I am approximately 4 weeks out of the lactagen program and I have had no trouble with milk, cheese, etc. Old habits die hard as I have to remind myself I can eat anything on the menu not just dishes I had taken to-go several times before I would even try it in the restaurant. There is one note to this, one must exercise caution directly after this program as I have been eating everything I haven't had in a decade and now I have to get a gym membership ;)

I would like to express my gratitude to the developer of the lactagen program! - Douglas

● I went through the program, and now recommend it wholeheartedly. I've been lactose intolerant for five or six years, and while lactaid type products helped initially, I had little luck with them after a few years. Skeptical at first (the price tag seems high) I decided to try Lactagen--fully expecting to ask for a refund when it didn't work. I even had a bout with the flu in the middle of the 38 day regime, and went off the program for three days. I picked up exactly where I left off with no problem. Apprehensively I started adding dairy to my diet and then even abused the privilege. Even though nervous (I kept waiting for the nausea, cramps and gas to reappear) I kept eating dairy. It's been about three months and I am still eating dairy (though I admit real butter tastes odd) with no apparent effect. Lactagen has worked for me, so far, much better than I ever imagined. - Bill

And a few negative.
● I recently took Lactagen for the recommended time and - NO DIFFERENCE!!! I'm still suffering with same effects from dairy intake. It actually seems worse! - Cheryl

● I ordered Lactagen and followed the directions perfectly, ate the yogurt like I was supposed to and after 39 days introduced the dairy back into my diet and ate dairy faithfully every week. The problem I ran into was after about 2 months I once again began having lactose intolerance symptoms, bloating, diarrhea, but I also get flu like symptoms, general malaise, and lack of energy and an overall draggy feeling like a hangover or early flu stage. I went back on the lactagen again and have continued to take 2-3 large scoops per day and more if I ingest a large amount of dairy. - Norrene

● By the way, I did the Lactagen program a year ago; at first it worked; I was ecstatic. Then it wore off. However, the Lactaid pills now work extremely well for me whereas before Lactagen, they did not! AND, I can also tolerate small amounts of milk products without anything... So if others ask, that's my experience with it. - Judy

● I recently visited your web page and noticed that you were soliciting responses about Lactagen so I wanted to share my experience.

The short explanation is it did not work. I originally purchased the product and followed the program exactly. However, I still had symptoms. Over the course of the next 2 months I periodically spoke to Lactagen representatives. None seemed to have a consistent answer to what I should do. Some told me that it was typical to have symptoms and that I should just continue on with the process while others advised me to return to a previous day (hence extending my time on the program). Once I had "completed" the program, I was not able to eat any dairy products without symptoms.

After a couple of months I decided to try it again. I called Lactagen and was charged shipping for a new canister to be sent to me (based on the money back guarantee) and began the process again. I finally gave up after 9 weeks of constant symptoms. Although the representatives were friendly, they rarely gave any insight into why I was still having symptoms and normally just suggested that I return to a few days earlier on the program.

It was, by far, the most frustrating experience of my "lactose intolerant" life. I am severely lactose intolerant. I cannot ingest any amount of dairy without having a reaction, so the thought of a cure was amazing. Unfortunately that was not the case. - Bab

More positives than negatives overall.

I've only included comments received via email since late 2005. For earlier comments, see my previous blog entries about Lactagen: Lactagen Response - It Worked for Her and Lactagen - Questions, No Answers

Bottom line. If you can afford it, then certainly give it a try. Remember, though, it's a solution - to the symptoms of lactose intolerance - not a cure. You can still overwhelm your system with too much dairy. And the same things that knock out any intestinal bacteria - a gastrointestinal illness, a course of antibiotics - will probably also wipe out the Lactagen probiotics.

Are there less pricy alternatives? Yes. I'll take a look at one of them tomorrow.

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Brazil Vegetarian Society Webpage

While I was searching for information on Genevy Chocolates of São Paulo, I stumbled across the VEGETARIANOS E VEGANOS products and services page of the Sociedade Vegetariana Brasileira.


An imperfect English translation of the Portuguese through Google can be found at VEGETARIANS AND VEGANOS.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Soy Chocolate in Brazil

I have a page of Lactose-Free Chocolate! sites in the Product Clearinghouse section of my website.

I list firms from the U.S., the U.K., and a soy chocolate site from Australia.

Now from Brazzil Magazine: All Brazil, All the Time comes word of soy chocolate, Brazil style.

Brazil's Chocolates Genevy, a small company from São Paulo city, the largest business center in South America, is managing to overtake competition this Easter. According to company partner Gisele Camargo, the industry launched for this holiday chocolate products based on soy, Genevy Soy.


"We used only to sell the product to people who couldn't consume traditional chocolate, now we have new clients. They generally buy small quantities, try the product and place larger orders."

No contact information was given in the article, unfortunately, but I managed to find the company's website.

In Google's English translation, it's Genevy chocolates.

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Monday, April 02, 2007

7 Myths About Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Once I found out that I was lactose intolerant and went off milk (this was many years before lactase pills were introduced) the worst of my symptoms went away.

But I never felt as good as most people tell me they feel once they take dairy out of their diets. I had continual low-level intestinal distress.

It took many more years for me to get properly diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and still more years before a found a medication that happened to work for me.

So this article on from the University of Michigan Health System is something I wanted to share, considering that so many people do have both LI and IBS.

1.MYTH: IBS is psychosomatic

FACT: For many years, physicians believed IBS was a psychological condition – it only existed in the patient’s head. While some patients with IBS experience depression or anxiety, it is likely that psychological distress or stress worsen IBS, but may not be the primary cause of it.

2. MYTH: IBS only affects young women

FACT: Although IBS does tend to occur more frequently in women, Chey says, “it’s important that people know that there are many men diagnosed with IBS, and it also affects the elderly. In fact, there’s some early evidence to suggest that IBS affects 8 to 10 percent of older individuals.”

3. MYTH: IBS is not an important condition

FACT: “Many physicians believe that IBS is not an important condition because it does not affect a person’s lifespan,” says Chey. While that may be the case, IBS can significantly impact a person’s quality of life and ability to function on a day-to-day basis, and should be taken seriously by doctors and patients alike.

4. MYTH: IBS is related to lactose intolerance

FACT: About a quarter of patients with IBS are also lactose intolerant. However, Chey notes that about a quarter of the general population who don’t have IBS are lactose intolerant as well. So, he says, while lactose intolerance may play a role in some patients, it is not the cause of symptoms in the vast majority of patients with IBS.

5. MYTH: IBS means a lifetime of bland food

FACT: “A lot of patients with IBS end up on these very bland diets, and I think most of the time it is not justified,” says Chey. Instead, Chey has his patients keep a diary to record all of the food that they eat, and any symptoms they may experience.

“At the end of a two week period, it’s possible to get a fairly good idea about whether there are specific trigger foods associated with the onset of symptoms. Those foods then can be easily eliminated from a patient’s diet.” Certain foods, however, such as fatty foods, milk products, chocolate, alcohol, caffeine and carbonated drinks are more likely to aggravate symptoms in some IBS patients.

6. MYTH: IBS cannot be accurately diagnosed

FACT: Contrary to what some physicians believe, Chey says most patients do not need a lot of medical tests to be diagnosed with IBS. “Identifying the presence of persistent or recurrent abdominal pain in association with altered bowel habits, and excluding warning signs (e.g. new symptoms occurring after age 50, GI bleeding, unexplained weight loss, nocturnal diarrhea, severe or progressively worse symptoms or a family history of colon cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, colon cancer or celiac disease), is enough to accurately diagnose IBS in most patients.”

7. MYTH: There are no good treatment options for IBS

FACT: Not true, says Chey. With effective counseling, dietary and lifestyle intervention, and use of over-the-counter or prescription medications, IBS can be effectively managed. “Treating infrequent or mild symptoms with over-the-counter medication is effective for most patients,” he says. “If symptoms are persistent, however, it’s important to see your physician because the excessive use of over-the-counter medications can actually lead to more gastrointestinal symptoms.” If symptoms doe not improve with changes in diet and lifestyle, or over-the-counter medications, prescription medications are available for people with IBS.

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

DNA Lactose Intolerance Test Developed - and Dropped

I remember my lactose intolerance test well, even though it took place 29 years ago.

I drink the normal solution of lactose and water and spent the next two hours ducking in and out of the bathroom as my intestines spasmed.

When I went back into the doctor's office, he took one look at how green my face was and told me that there was no need to wait for the results of the test. I had lactose intolerance. (Of course, he sent the test to the lab for processing anyway.)

I don't know how many hundreds of thousands of you have suffered through this test since. Or how many just refuse to put yourself through it.

Good news. A Finnish team of researchers have discovered a laboratory test that looks at your DNA for the gene that regulates the production of the lactase enzyme, the one that digests lactose.

Arja-Leena Paavola writes in the Quarterly of the University of Helsinki about Academy Professor Leena Peltonen-Palotie.

Finns have a high respect for science and thereby genetic research, too. The majority of Finns are willing to participate in studies. This is notable, since in many countries people can be quite reluctant to give DNA samples, even for research purposes.

“My foreign colleagues often point this out. My view is that thanks to the high standard of education in Finland, Finns have a positive attitude towards research and a strong belief in the benefits of science for their children and grandchildren. I would also presume that the doctors of previous generations did a good job, because Finns seem to have confidence in our medical research and in our public health-care system,” the professor says.

Using Finnish study samples Peltonen-Palotie’s research group has identified, for example, the DNA variant that prevents the normal breakdown of lactose in intestinal cells after weaning period, thus causing lactose intolerance. Finding the DNA variant has enabled the development of a simple laboratory test that can be used for the diagnosis of lactose intolerance instead of earlier cumbersome intestinal tests.

Yes, I know that today is April First. This good news is emphatically not an April Fools' Day prank, but there is a catch to it.

The press release announcing the breakthrough was sent out five years ago, back in 2002. The Prometheus Laboratories web site today doesn't even mention the LACTOtype test, as it was known.

So what happened?

I wish I knew. Perhaps it wasn't accurate enough. Perhaps it was too expensive. Perhaps doctors are too set in their ways and didn't want to try it.

As long as such a test is possible, though, it's bound to come back sometime in the future. It's too good an idea not to come to pass.

In the meantime ask your doctor about the LACTOtype test and see if it rings any bells.

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