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 However, product information and weblinks may be out of date.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, July 03, 2007

Answers to Questions from Readers, part 1

I started my Steve Carper's Lactose Intolerance Clearinghouse in 1997. Almost immediately people began writing to me with questions about lactose and lactose intolerance and dairy allergy and milk. I put up the answers to some of the more interesting questions on my web site.

With my 10th anniversary rapidly approaching, I'm taking a look back at my site and its history. I find that most of the questions I was asked 10 years ago are still being asked today.

So I'm gradually going to copy some of those questions over here, updating those few whose answers have changed over the decade. If they spark new questions or comments from you, all the better.

Q. I am so lactose intolerant my pharmacist had to buy a machine so he could make capsules for me without lactose. He informed me that there were other things that could be used in medication instead of lactose, but lactose was the cheapest. Until now I have felt safe with capsules, but my newest medication, a capsule also brand new on the market, has lactose. I called the company, Wythe, and screamed. They made note and according to them they will listen. One voice in the wilderness will achieve nothing. With your following can't we start a movement to have lactose removed from medication PLEASE!!!!

You are not alone and you are doing exactly the right thing. Companies do listen to the people who use their products.
Unfortunately, the number of people as sensitive to tiny amounts of lactose as you are is quite small. That means that manufacturers have little incentive to reformulate their products.

So the more of you who take the time to write to manufacturers and scream, the better. You can get the address from your pharmacist. Or go to a library and find the Physician's Desk Reference, which has the names of all major manufacturers and the ingredients of all major prescription drugs.

Q. I sometimes get LI symptoms 6 to 8 hours after eating a meal, and sometimes even the next day. Is this possible?

Sure is. You get LI problems in two ways: from the water pulled into the intestines by the excess lactose and from the gases produced by the bacteria in your colon that eat the undigested lactose.

Each person and each meal creates different intestinal transit times, as they are called. Food can take ten hours to reach the colon, and then more time for the bacteria to work and to finish up the lactose. You might need two or three days to completely rid your system of the lactose.

Q. I always wanted to know the role of glucose & galactose (digested lactose) in the body and how important they are. Does the absence of these sugars affect the body in any way? Is it completely OK to be without them?

Glucose is only the single most important substance in the body, because it is the basic energy source for all the internal chemistry of the body. Not to worry, though. All carbohydrates (including galactose) eventually get converted to glucose so that the body has a constant supply. As long as you eat a basic healthy diet, you'll always have plenty of glucose.

Q. Have you ever heard of a baby reacting to the lactose in human milk? And does the effect of eating lactose-containing food pass through breast milk the way eating broccoli or cabbage does?

Babies are designed to be able to drink milk for their first couple of years of life. Even mothers in societies in which virtually every adult is lactose intolerant naturally breastfeed infants without any problems.

A very, very tiny minority of babies are born without the ability to drink milk, but I would doubt if this happens once in a hundred million births. By all means try breastfeeding your next child. In the unlikely event that your child has a problem, you will know about it almost immediately and you can make the switch to a non-milk formula without any further harm.

As for lactose passing through milk, you're thinking of allergic reactions, which are very different from lactose intolerance.

Lactose doesn't work that way, and even if it did, breast milk naturally will contain hundreds of times as much lactose as could possibly leak through from foods that you eat.

Don't give it a second thought. Have as much milk as you desire and can safely tolerate.

Q. Are non-dairy creamers really non-dairy?

Yes, non-dairy creamers are lactose-free. Most of them do contain casein in some form, however. Casein is derived from milk protein, which is why some people don't consider them truly non-dairy. People with just LI and not milk allergy should not be affected by any minuscule residue of lactose that may remain after some manufacturing processes.

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