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 However, product information and weblinks may be out of date.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

Friday, August 24, 2007

More Uses for Whey and Lactose May Be Coming

Whey is a cheap by-product, effectively what the cheese industry used to throw away. Naturally, food scientists saw whey as an opportunity. Sure enough, whey started to be added to a million packaged food products.

Since lactose is most easily refined from whey, whey is the source of the lactose used in food products and also in medications.

Good for the food industry, bad for us.

Now the food scientists, who can't seem to let anything alone, are interested in finding a new use for whey and lactose. Microencapsulating aerogels.

Stephen Daniells pays that into English for us at, discussing an article, "Use of whey proteins for encapsulation and controlled delivery applications," by S. Gunasekaran, S. Koa and L. Xiao in Journal of Food Engineering (Elsevier), Volume 83, Issue 1, Pages 31-40.

Whey proteins hydrogels - 3D networks with the ability retain water in its structure when dissolved - have the potential to encapsulate sensitive ingredients, suggests a new study.

"The advantages of using whey protein-based gels as potential devices for controlled release of bioactives is that they are entirely biodegradable and there is no need for any chemical cross-linking agents in their preparation," wrote the authors.


They also report that the swelling and release behaviour could be easily slowed by coating the gels with alginate, a result that could lead to targeted release of bioactives at specific points in the gastrointestinal tract.

So the idea is that a drug, a vitamin, a nutrient, or whatever is needed could be encapsulated like time-release capsules, only much, much smaller, and delivered to the exact point in the intestines where it is needed. Actually, that sounds pretty good. Much better than just swallowing a pill, hoping the medication survives the acid bath of the stomach, and assuming that the right dosage will be absorbed before the whole mess is pushed out of the system.

The question for us, as yet unanswered, is whether the whey protein - or possibly lactose - would create symptoms in those who are susceptible to the proteins or milk sugar.

Too soon to tell, I suppose. As Daniells wrote:

More research is needed to further explore the potential of whey protein hydrogels, and whether other bioactives, both lipid and water soluble, could be encapsulated in this way.

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