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 However, product information and weblinks may be out of date.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

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Houston, We Have a Problem

My computer committed bluescreenicide and so it's sitting in the shop for a few days. Once it's had all its chips flossed, a large, cooling bath of bubbly nanobots, and a full buff and wax of its flux condensor, it should be as good as new.

That means I hope to return next week. [Yes, ah'll be bahck.] I'll save up all the best stuff as well as the looniest bits and spread them out as a delicious but lactose-free buffet.

Unfortunately, I won't be able to answer any questions until then either. You can still send them and give me some nuggets to read amongst the spam when I get back online. Please. Instead of sex spam, I get insurance spam. Even the title lines are boring.

Until then, take a stroll through the massive archives I've built up (over 500 posts!). There's bound to be something you've missed.

Thanks to one and all for doubling my readership over the past few months.
Steve Carper

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Why There Won't Be War With Iran

No, there's not going to be a war with Iran. Not because there's no excuse for such a war. Not because such a war would destabilize and probably destroy the Middle East. Not because our military is stretched far too thin for a military incursion.

No, the real reason there won't be a war is that Big Dairy won't allow it.

You know Big Dairy, that evil empire that is always ramming poisonous milk products down the gullets of impressionable youth. They're the ones who have forced Americans, against their wills and better judgments, to gobble cheeseburgers, devour pizzas, and lap up ice cream, not to mention - horror of horrors - forced Americans to drink lattes and frappuccinos as if there were no consequences.

Well, Big Dairy has been insidiously infiltrating Iran, brainwashing a once proud people until they know no better than to advocate the health benefits of... yogurt.

Yes, yogurt. Yogurt is a known milk product, and yet the Iranian press, far from banning it as western colonialistic propaganda, actually quotes American sources as to its usefulness, and worse, its taste.

I offer as proof Exhibit A: this article from the Tehran Times, Iran's leading international daily.

What's tasty, easy, and has lots of health benefits? Yogurt!


[L]et us not forget that yogurt comes from milk. So yogurt eaters will also get a dose of animal protein (about 9 grams per 6-ounce serving), plus several other nutrients found in dairy foods, like calcium, vitamin B-2, B-12, potassium, and magnesium.

In fact, the health benefits of yogurt are so impressive that many health-conscious people make it a daily habit.

And who are the traitors that have snuck Dairy under their radar, perhaps on the backs of tanker trucks of camel milk ice cream?

Miguel Freitas, PhD, medical marketing manager for Dannon Co., says the benefits associated with probiotics are specific to certain strains of these "good" bacteria.

"Adequate nutrition plays a major role in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis, and the micronutrients of greatest importance are calcium and vitamin D," says Jeri Nieves, PhD, MS, director of bone density testing at New York’s Helen Hayes Hospital.

“We observed a 50% reduction in the risk of developing high blood pressure among people eating 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy a day (or more), compared with those without any intake,” Alvaro Alonso, MD, PhD, a researcher in the department of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, said in an email interview.

Even our own government is in league with the enemy!
Yogurt with active cultures may help certain gastrointestinal conditions, including:

Lactose intolerance, constipation, diarrhea, Colon cancer and inflammatory bowel disease.

That's what researchers from the Jean Mayer U.S. Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University concluded in a recent review article.

Yogurt is even good for people with lactose intolerance! Those fiends, blatantly plagiarizing something that I myself have been saying for years.

Why those sneaky no-goodniks! War is too good for them!

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Sunday, October 28, 2007


You'd think I had a crush on Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero by the number of times they've been mentioned here. I posted about their book, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and their tv show and web site Post Punk Vegans and a few more times besides.

Well, tough. They have a new vegan cookbook out and even though it was officially released just today it already has 15 five-star reviews on Amazon. And no lesser-starred reviews.

The book is Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook, published in hardcover by Marlowe & Company, with a list price of $27.50.

Book Description
Who knew vegetables could taste so good? Moskowitz and Romero's newest delicious collection makes it easier than ever to live vegan. You'll find more than 250 recipes--plus menus and stunning color photos--for dishes that will please every palate. All the recipes in Veganomicon have been thoroughly kitchen-tested to ensure user-friendliness and amazing results. And by popular demand, the Veganomicon includes meals for all occasions and soy-free, gluten-free, and low-fat options, plus quick recipes that make dinner a snap. Recipes include:

-Autumn Latkes
-Samosa Stuffed Baked Potatoes
-Grilled Yuca Tortillas
-Baby Bok Choy with Crispy Shallots
-Chile-Cornmeal Crusted Tofu Po' Boy
-Roasted Eggplant and Spinach Muffuletta
-Jicama-Watercress-Avocado Salad with Spicy Citrus Vinaigrette
-Acorn Squash, Pear and Adzuki Soup
-Tomato Rice Soup with Roasted Garlic and Navy Beans
-Asparagus and Lemongrass Risotto
-Almost All-American Seitan Pot Pie
-Hot Sauce-Glazed Tempeh
-Black Eyed Pea Collard Rolls
-Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti
-Pumpkin Crumb Cake with Pecan Streusel

About the Author
Isa Chandra Moskowitz is America's most popular vegan chef. She is the author of Vegan with a Vengeance, which won PETA's Proggy Award for Best Cookbook 2006. She and Terry Hope Romero are the authors of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, winner of VegNews' Veggie Award for Best New Cookbook. Since 2003, Isa and Terry have hosted the public access/podcast vegan cooking show The Post Punk Kitchen. They live in New York.

You can find the book on the Vegan Cookbooks page in my Milk-Free Bookstore.

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

You Need More Vitamin D with Your Calcium

Earlier claims that calcium could prevent or even cure osteoporosis are now thought to be overblown. That doesn't mean that calcium is not important or that Americans, especially women, are getting sufficient calcium in their diets. All studies I've seen suggest that woman of all ages, from teens to seniors, are short on calcium.

It's true that you don't need to eat dairy products to get calcium in your diet. It's also true that without dairy products, most people find that the vegetable sources of calcium are not their favorite foods to eat in large quantities.

And large quantities are necessary. The National Academy of Sciences, from whom the following chart is taken, raised its estimates for the recommended amounts of calcium.

It's even worse than that. Calcium is no good unless your body can process it properly. One way to help your body do that is to take Vitamin D along with the calcium. Why? The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) says:

The relationship between calcium absorption and vitamin D is similar to that of a locked door and a key. Vitamin D is the key that unlocks the door and allows calcium to leave the intestine and enter the bloodstream. Vitamin D also works in the kidneys to help resorb calcium that otherwise would be excreted.

And the amount of recommended Vitamin D has also been increased.
According to NOF recommendations, adults under age 50 need 400-800 IU of vitamin D[sub]3[/sub] daily, and adults age 50 and older need 800 – 1,000 IU of vitamin D[sub]3[/sub] daily. Vitamin D[sub]3[/sub] is the form of vitamin D that best supports bone health. It is also called cholecalciferol. Vitamin D can also be obtained from fortified milk, egg yolks, saltwater fish, liver and supplements.

If you do want to supplement your calcium, a calcium + Vitamin D pill is helpful. You don't have to look for a pill that contains the entire recommended amount if you are getting a good amount already in your diet. Nor do you have to take the calcium and the vitamin D in one pill. A separate Vitamin D pill or just getting daily sunshine on your bare skin will give you the Vitamin D you need.

On the other hand, there's no need to pay lots of money for Vitamin D pills when you can find calcium + D pills for about the same price as calcium alone. They're a good investment. Remember that store brand pills from major supermarkets, discount stores, and pharmacies should be as good as brand name pills and for much less money.

While most people have too little calcium, true Vitamin D deficiency is rare, about 1 in 5000 people. However, it can be ten times as prevalent in the northern states where people can't get their bare skin into the skin for long periods. If you're not getting into the sun, especially if you're elderly, a Vitamin D supplement is a wise idea no matter how much calcium you eat.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Answers to Questions from Readers, part 12

Q. Doesn't there have to be some type of LI measurement degree scale so that I know just how intolerant I am?

You would think so, wouldn't you?

But, as far as I can tell, you would be wrong. This bothers me too, but in all my research I have never come across any discussion of a scale of degrees of LI. In all the medical journal articles I have read, a simple threshold is used. Anybody who goes over that threshold is considered to be LI. The amount over the threshold is never considered. In fact, I have seen it stated that there is no correlation, although I do not know what the justification for this statement is.

In reality, symptoms are based on so many other factors than just the amount of lactase one produces that it would indeed be very difficult to make more definitive statements, but I would like to see some research done to clarify this point. You might also want to take a look at my Lactase page in the LI Basics section of my web site for more on why symptoms may vary so greatly.

Q. I think that I might be lactose intolerant. What type of doctor should I see to confirm if I am or not?

That really depends on your situation. Most family doctors can send you to a clinic for a test. However, some will prefer to send you to a specialist gastroenterologist. That's because many of the symptoms of LI are also symptoms of some much more serious problems and they want to eliminate them as possibilities first. Then you'll get sent to a clinic for a test. (Or to a hospital or whoever does it in your area.)

So you probably should just start at your regular doctor. However, if you just want to see one doctor and don't need to get a referral for insurance or HMO reasons, see a gastroenterologist.

Q. I have two vegan friends who eat no milk products, and they both have VERY strong feelings that the American Dairy Association is spitting out propaganda by telling us that we need to drink so much milk. I have been brought up drinking skim milk at every meal, and feeling healthy and happy about it - so my gut reaction is that milk IS good for you. What do you think?

The odd answer is that you are both right.

Yes, the milk industry has always been a propagandist for milk. Why should this surprise anyone? That's its job.

And vegans can live perfectly healthy lives without ever touching a milk product. That's their job.


So, everybody is missing the real issue. Is milk good for you, personally? Of course it is. It has large amounts of lots of nutrients, and in a form that most people find preferable to the alternatives. Whole milk does have a large amount of fat, true, but since you drink skim milk, that's not a problem. There are people who believe that milk does awful things to you, but I see no widespread evidence of any of these ills in the general public.

My bottom line has always been that if you want to drink milk -- or use milk products -- you should go ahead and do so. As long as you do so moderately and in the proverbial balanced diet, you'll be just fine. And if you don't ever want to use milk, then there is absolutely no need to. You can get every nutrient from other sources, and as long as you do so moderately and in the proverbial balanced diet, you'll be just fine.

There. Feel better now?

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Gluten-Free Girl Writes a Cookbook

Next month always comes around, doesn't it?

Last month I posted Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Cookbook in which I wrote:

Sullivan's article also lists several good resources for allergy information on the net. I've listed many of them before, but it's always good to have them in one place., written by local blogger Shauna James Ahern, is an entertaining and insightful look at living the good life without gluten. (Ahern's book, "Gluten-Free Girl: How I Found the Food That Loves Me Back ... & How You Can Too" will be published by Wiley in October.)

Well, it's now October and Ahern's book is available. Gluten-Free Girl: How I Found the Food That Loves Me Back...And How You Can Too was published by Wiley with a list price of $24.95.
Book Description
A delightful memoir of learning to eat superbly while remaining gluten free.”- Newsweek magazine

"Give yourself a treat! Gluten-Free Girl offers delectable tips on dining and living with zest–gluten-free. This is a story for anyone who is interested in changing his or her life from the inside out!"–Alice Bast, executive director National Foundation for Celiac Awareness

“Shauna's food, the ignition of healthy with delicious, explodes with flavor—proof positive that people who choose to eat gluten-free can do it with passion, perfection, and power.” –John La Puma, MD, New York Times bestselling co-author of The RealAge Diet and Cooking the RealAge Way

“A breakthrough first book by a gifted writer not at all what I expected from a story about living with celiac disease. Foodies everywhere will love this book. Celiacs will make it their bible.” —Linda Carucci, author of Cooking School Secrets for Real World Cooks and IACP Cooking Teacher of the Year, 2002

An entire generation was raised to believe that cooking meant opening a box, ripping off the plastic wrap, adding water, or popping it in the microwave. Gluten-Free Girl, with its gluten-free healthful approach, seeks to bring a love of eating back to our diets. Living gluten-free means having to give up traditional bread, beer, pasta, as well as the foods where gluten likes to hide—such as store-bought ice cream, chocolate bars, even nuts that might have been dusted with flour. However, Gluten-Free Girl shows readers how to say yes to the foods they can eat. Written by award-winning blogger Shauna James, who became a interested in food once she was diagnosed with celiac disease and went gluten-free, Gluten-Free Girl is filled with funny accounts of the author’s own life including wholesome, delicious recipes, this book will guide readers to the simple pleasures of real, healthful food. Includes dozens of recipes like salmon with blackberry sauce, sorghum bread, and lemon olive oil cookies as well as resources for those living gluten-free.

You can find the book in my Milk Free Bookstore on the Wheat- and Gluten-Free Books page.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Searching for LI Info

An article by Etan Horowitz of the Orlando Sentinel caught my eye. In it he compares the usefulness of various search engines with an example that whetted my appetite.

Yahoo's search engine was the best at providing information about a broad topic. When I searched for information about lactose intolerance, Yahoo offered a shortcut to articles about symptoms and treatments as well as newspaper articles about the condition. Clicking on an arrow at the top of the results provided a list of concepts related to my search, such as "dairy products," "calcium" or "lactase deficiency."

You must know by now that I never believe anything a reporter writes until I check it for myself.

I went to and entered lactose intolerance into the search box. The following is what was returned to me.

Let's break down the article based on what appears.

"Yahoo offered a shortcut to articles about symptoms and treatments as well as newspaper articles about the condition."

No, not really. You can see links under the heading "articles" that read symptoms, treatments, and news. The first two link to pages on Healthlink on lactose intolerance. The articles do what they say, and may be helpful for quick info. News, however, does not take you to a survey of all the recent articles that contain the words lactose intolerance, as Google News would, but to articles that have appeared in Yahoo's Health News section. Only four have over the past six months.

"Clicking on an arrow at the top of the results provided a list of concepts related to my search, such as "dairy products," "calcium" or "lactase deficiency.""

I was stumped for a while, searching all over the page for any mention of those words or that arrow. I finally found the arrow. It's discretely hidden right under the search box at the top of the page. When you click it, the box expands and reveals the following:

The concepts are clickable. They put those words into the search engine and create a new listing of hits for that search.

How good are the hits? No better than Google's. The first six are:


The first six on Google are:


Four of the six are identical. And while Google finds my website, Yahoo puts in down at #49.

It's also not at all clear to me why Horowitz thinks that Yahoo's concepts are better than Google's. Entering lactose intolerance into the Google search box at brings up the following:

The "refining results" links are essentially the same as the "concepts" that Yahoo uses. Each brings up a new search for those terms.

The real disadvantage for Yahoo is that it doesn't have the little things that makes Google invaluable. There is no cache, so you can't go back and capture information that may have moved off the page. You can't highlight the search terms on the link to see exactly where they fall on the webpage. There's no advanced search page to make your search much narrower or more efficient.

Yahoo is good for the more basic search on the subject of lactose intolerance. You won't fail to find the information you need if you use it. Better? That's extremely subjective. I certainly don't find it so.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Kind Word for Starbucks

I'm not a coffee drinker. Or at least I don't go out to coffee shops. Just not interested. Therefore, the hatred and contempt that many people have for Starbucks escapes me, especially since I see so many people in them.

So finding a kind word in print about Starbucks is man-bites-dog news of a sort.

I found it in a story by Erin Flegg in the Queen's University Journal, a college newspaper in Toronto. Apparently a local coffee shop, Coffee & Company, closed down after a Starbucks moved in across the street two years ago.

Not everybody was sad about the closing. Flegg interviewed one student who just liked the taste of Starbucks' coffee better. And one more thing:

She said there are also more options to accommodate her lactose intolerance. Starbucks offers lactose-free milk as well as soy milk.

More options mean more customers. Retailers, please remember this small piece of wisdom. And even the lactose-intolerant like coffee.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

How to Write a Blog Entry, with Spice

Think these entries just come to me fully formed, like Athena from the head of Zeus?

Oh my children, not so easy.

I'm up late, checking the news for any mention of lactose intolerance. What's this? An Australian gossip column. Always a first choice for health information.

Trotting through the marquee was Skeletal Spice's hairdresser, Ben Cooke (with pal Angela Weigard), so we asked him how Posh stays so skeletal. "She's wheat-intolerant and lactose-intolerant," Ben said. "She eats fruit, steamed white fish and vegies." We didn't think she gorged on chops.

It's not news that Victoria Beckham, alias Posh Spice, is lactose intolerant, at least not to those who read LI Celebrity Alert: Orlando Bloom and Victoria Beckham. And just what does a diet of fruit, steamed white fish and vegies have to do with lactose intolerance? Poshie, those chops are just as lactose free.

Silliness. But somehow that leads me to Want to be skinny? Sassy diet book tells how by John Rogers of The Associated Press.

Which tells of the latest manifestation of our celebrity madness, of how Skeletal, er, Posh, er, Victoria, made a book famous merely by picking it up and never reading it.
"Skinny Bitch" [by former models Kim Barnouin and Rory Freedman] quickly became a word-of-mouth hit upon publication in December 2005. More than 200,000 copies are in print, according to its publisher, Running Press of Philadelphia.

It got a significant international boost in May when L.A.'s hottest skinny celebrity, Victoria "Posh Spice" Beckham, playfully held up a copy at the trendy Kitson's boutique in Hollywood while paparazzi clicked away.

"She never bought the book ---- she just picked it up," Fraser Ross, the store's owner, told The Associated Press.

But no matter, "Skinny Bitch," shot up top sellers lists in Beckham's native England and broke through to the No. 3 spot on The New York Times paperback advice list of best sellers.

Hmmm. Promising. Skinny Bitch is a vegan cookbook, and those are a staple of my posting.

I do a bit of checking first. I don't endorse any of the books I mention in this blog, but I try to find out enough about them so that the truly nutty science-is-what-we-say-it-is wackjobs are screened out.

So what's the first thing that I find? A blog by lushposh. No, seriously. I've stopped trying to make this stuff up. And a blog post of hers titled Skinny Bitch: A Beginner’s Guide. It even has a picture of Kim.
Or of Rory. It doesn't matter. They've merged into one in my head, a mouthpiece for the worst junk diet advice you'll get this side of a homeopath.

All this from lushposh, who interviewed Rory and got the horseshit from the horse's mouth. Remember, lushposh is an admirer. She put all this stuff on her blog and thought it made wonderful sense. No child left behind, indeed.
The basic concept of the Skinny Bitch diet is surprisingly simple: "You need to get healthy if you want to get skinny." And to be healthy by the authors’ definition, you should eat foods that are easy to digest, rich in nutrients and free of harmful additives.

That means saying goodbye to sugar (aka "the devil") and products containing it, and not just because of empty calories. "When sugar enters your body, it’s acidic," Freedman says. "When you put acidic foods into your body, in order to protect your organs, your body produces fat cells."

Again, I am not making this up. This is coming from an author of one of the best selling diet books in the country. Or at least of a country in which sugar is acidic (it's not) and it doesn't make the most essential energy component of metabolism (glucose, the end product of all sugar breakdown) and causes fat cells to appear as protection (a scam unknown even to the Mafia.)

But there's hope.
"Kim and I are pigs," she declares. "We live to eat, and there’s no reason you should have to live without cookies. We just read the ingredients and look for better substitutes for sugar, like evaporated cane juice, brown rice syrup, molasses, raw sugar, beet sugar, maple syrup, things like that."

Things like that there. Let's go over them there things.

▪ evaporated cane juice - sugar
▪ brown rice syrup - sugar
▪ molasses - sugar
▪ raw sugar - sugar
▪ beet sugar - sugar
▪ maple syrup - sugar

Some of these are chemically identical to sucrose, or table sugar; others, like brown rice syrup, is a mixture of complex carbohydrates and maltose. Maltose is just two molecules of glucose. All of these sugars behave identically in the body, breaking down to glucose. None are nutritionally better for you. Perhaps one must approach them on the metaphysical plane to truly appreciate their spiritual side. Science it ain't, though.

The rest is a mosh of every bad vegan myth that any sensible vegan should be embarrassed to be associated with.
Meat takes a long time to break down in the body, and much of it ends up just staying put, blocking the intestines and slowing the metabolism.

"You are physiologically addicted to cheese because it contains casein, which breaks down into opiates in your body," Freedman explains.

Yes, casein breaks down into casomorphins, a scary-sounding chemical whose dreadness can be found all over the vegan literature, although, tellingly, not anywhere else. It's identical to morphine apparently, although somehow also only one-tenth its strength. What happens to the casomorphins once you eat them? I haven't found any medical research that can answer that question, but no good anti-milk conspiracy theorist would let that stop them from proclaiming that cheese is addictive.

I can't stop a juggernaut like Skinny Bitches just by mocking its lack of science. That's obviously one of its selling points. The two-headed, four-breasted Kim/Rory monster dresses up the thinnest nutritional advice - skip sugar, eat fruits, go for whole grains - with thick slabs of pseudoscience, short skirts, bare midriffs, blonde hair and a you go girl insouciance filtered though a potty mouth. Who needs science when you have all that?

Me. Just me against the world. And against Posh Spice. Who looks like this.

I just lost, didn't I?

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Pet Allergies: Not What You Think

Gizmo is a very special bunny. He's allergic to carrots and lettuce.

Yes, pets have exactly the same problems with food allergies, hypersensitivities, and intolerances as humans do. We're all mammals after all.

Take a look at this article by Siobhan Reardon in the Scotsman.

"And while there are blood and skin tests, we usually first look at doing a food trial with the animal. The owner needs to feed the animal a completely novel diet for about six to nine weeks. It's quite a challenge, particularly if the animal lives outside."

Chris [Ross, of the Braid Veterinary Hospital in Edinburgh] remembers one case of a cat which was brought in with terrible ulcers around its ears and head and it took 18 months to discover what the problem was.

"We ruled out all the usual allergies to fleas, parasites and mites and then somehow we got the condition under control.

"The cat was doing well for about a year until the owner's boyfriend moved in and the cat quickly deteriorated. After much questioning, the boyfriend admitted to feeding the cat pizza. Culprit found."

Reardon does make a common error herself later on.
ALTHOUGH its not an allergy, it is worth remembering that most animals (bar cows and humans) are intolerant to cow's milk.

Please. All adult animals are naturally intolerant to all milks. And that means that adult cows are just as intolerant to cow's milk as they would be to any other animal's milk. This holds for humans as well, since the vast majority of adult humans are intolerant to cow's milk. Just because most Scotsmen can drink it doesn't means it holds true for the whole human race.

However, the next paragraph is accurate and good advice.
People frequently call the Scottish SPCA about injured animals and, while they are waiting for an inspector to call, will resort to feeding the animal milk. But this can sometimes make the situation worse as it may cause diarrhoea and therefore cause further distress to the animal.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Avoiding Allergens at Halloween

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI) issued a statement yesterday, Trick-or-Treat Your Way to an Allergy-Free Halloween. They're concerned about food-related anaphylaxis, which leads to 150-200 deaths every year. (I presume those are total deaths for the year, not just Halloween related fatalities.)

Symptoms of anaphylaxis include severe headache, nausea and vomiting, sneezing and coughing, hives, swelling of the lips, tongue and throat, and itching all over the body. The most dangerous symptoms include difficulty breathing, a drop in blood pressure, and shock -- all of which can be fatal.

If any of these symptoms occur, give the child self-injectable epinephrine, call 911 immediately, and schedule a follow-up appointment with your allergist/immunologist.

They also offer some helpful advice so that parents can avoid that call to 911.
► When classroom parties are planned, parents can help by packing treats from home that their food-allergic child can eat.

► Create a "candy swap" with siblings or friends so that allergen-containing candies can be traded for other treats such as stickers or toys.

► Take the focus off of trick-or-treating by hosting a costume party that emphasizes fun instead of candy. Halloween stickers, pencils, spider rings and stamps are great alternatives for goody bags.

► Provide neighbors with allergy-safe candies for your child or ask neighbors to hand out only candy with individualized labels -- so kids with allergies can determine whether the treat is safe to eat or not.

► Teach children to politely refuse offers of cookies and other homemade treats.

► Remember that candy ingredients can vary for different sizes of the same product such as full-size candy bars and their miniature versions, which are not always individually labeled.

For more information, visit the AAAAI's Web site,

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Europe Begs for Soya Milk

Americans can drink soy milk. That is, they can purchase the processed white liquid made from soybeans from manufacturers who can legally call it soy milk. Europeans can't. They have to call it soy juice or soy drink, even though they are allowed to sell coconut nut and almond milk.

That's nutty. MEP (Member of the European Parliament) Anna Laperrouze has called on the European Community (EC) to reconsider its 20-year-old ruling - from a time before soy was a popular drink.

An article by Laura Crowley on notes that:

Volumes of soya beverages consumed in North America, Western Europe and Japan have more than double since 2002, according to Zenith International. In 2006, 1.5m European households tried soya products for the first time and the total global consumption was 1.188m litres in 2006, with a retail value of €3.3bn. Zenith predicts growth to 1,900 litres and €5.35m by 2011.

Bernard Deryckere, president of the European Natural Soyfoods Manufacturers Association (ENSA), admittedly not the most objective source, makes the case that this leads to confusion for consumers and a lack of quality control.
Deryckere told "We need a legislative framework to ensure that all soya-based drinks are produced to the same level, with criteria requiring companies to use a certain amount of protein, and have certain limits of fat. This would help create quality products, benefiting the consumer as well as the companies."

Soya products are also not able to make various nutritional claims on their packaging, despite many reports on soya's health benefits as an alternative to dairy.

Bureaucracy is bureaucracy. The EC is supposed to draft a yearly report on such matters. They haven't done one for 20 years. Since the last set of regulations were passed, in fact.

Thanks a lot, EC.

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LI Celebrity Alert: Karl Mixworthy

Karl Mixworthy. Who?

That's the character played by Joshua Malina on ABC's new fall show, "Big Shots."

The lines between boardroom and bedroom blur in Big Shots, the story of four friends who are at the top of their game... until the women in their lives enter the room. These competitive but dysfunctional New York CEOs take refuge in their friendship, discussing business, confiding secrets, seeking advice and supporting one another through life's twists and turns.

Karl Mixworthy (Joshua Malina, The West Wing) is the sweet yet always nervous CEO of a large pharmaceutical company. He has a loving wife - and a cunning mistress who is beginning to monopolize whatever free time he can muster.

Here's Karl on the show, talking about his mistress:
Look at her. She’s an interior designer by trade. But you know what her real skill is? Making an undersized, insecure, lactose-intolerant man feel like a porn star.

The critics have been merciless and the audience is tuning out in droves, with the ratings plunging halfway through last week's episode. Tune in now: this show won't be around long.

Thanks a lot, Hollywood.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Holiday Season Just Officially Started

Sure I've been seeing Christmas supplies in stores for weeks already, but here in the lactose-free world, it's not the holiday season until Vitasoy brings back its Holly Nog and Peppermint Chocolate seasonal soymilks.

And the official announcement went out today.

Creamy and smooth, Holly Nog offers just a fraction of the fat -- but all of the rich taste -- of traditional dairy egg nog. It's spiced with a balance of nutmeg and cinnamon. A special holiday treat, Peppermint Chocolate is heavenly served either warmed or chilled. Taste the sweet, premium chocolate and subtle, lingering mint. ...

Vitasoy's Holly Nog and Peppermint Chocolate Organic Soy Drinks are available for a suggested retail price of $2.49 - $2.99. Look for them in leading supermarkets, specialty shops and natural food stores throughout the country.

"Holly Nog is available only during the holiday season but stays fresh all year," said Pam Dietz, Vitasoy Innovations Director. "Stock up now so you can enjoy these delicious flavors all year!"

For more info, go to

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Why Some Foods Are More Allergenic Than Others

An absolutely fascinating piece of research was just published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology

(DOI: 10.1016/j.jaci.2007.08.019.) "Evolutionary distance from human homologues reflects allergenicity of animal food proteins," by John Jenkins, Heimo Breiteneder, and Clare Mills.

Articles explaining the research can be found in more - - or less - - straightforward English on those sites.

The investigating team compared several types of proteins across a wide variety of types of animals, from insects to mammals to humans. If the protein was at least 55% identical to the human protein, few if any allergic reactions were produced. But proteins less similar triggered the immune system of the human body in some people.

"This explains why people who are allergic to cow's milk can often tolerate mare's milk but not goat's milk", said Dr Clare Mills of the Institute of Food Research. "Proteins in horse milk are up to 66% identical to human milk proteins, while known allergens from cows and goats are all less than 53% identical to corresponding human proteins.

Overall, the researchers believe that the reason why just a few percent of humans have milk allergies is that the protein similarities are so close to the border of tolerance.
"Animal food proteins lie at the limits of the capability of the human immune system to discriminate between foreign and self proteins", said Mills.

The researchers looked at all the main types of proteins and made a major discovery.
For the first time the researchers found that the majority of animal food allergens could be classified into one of three protein families. Tropomyosins, proteins found in muscle tissue, are the most important family.

"Tropomyosins in mammals, fish and birds are at least 90% identical to at least one human tropomyosin and none have been reported to be allergenic. In contrast, the allergenic tropomyosins are all from invertebrates such as insects, crustaceans and nematodes and at most are only 55% identical to the closest human homologue", said Dr Heimo Breiteneder of the Medical University of Vienna.

EF-hand proteins form the second largest animal food allergen family. Those in birds and mammals are not allergenic, while those in frogs and fish can cause allergy. The third animal food allergen family, caseins, are all mammalian proteins from milk. The researchers analysed milk from rabbits, rats and camels as well as sheep, goats, cows and horses.

In previous analyses of plant food allergens published in 2005, the scientists found that most belong to a highly restricted number of protein superfamilies. The research will make it easier to identify new allergens and help explain how they trigger an immune response.

I reported a year ago that work was underway to develop a vaccine for allergies, but that 7 to 10 years was likely to be needed. See Cure for Allergies? Don't Hold Your Breath. I'm not sure if this work makes that wait any shorter. However, it's extremely promising research and a critical needed step.

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Divvies Dairy-Free Halloween

Divvies, at, has tasty treats like "gourmet popcorn, bakery cookies, candy, and cupcakes all made using egg-free, nut-free, dairy-free recipes."

For Halloween, their cupcakes are, natch, orange-frosted.

And there's more good news. Go to, use the coupon code “DAIRYFREE10” at checkout and receive 10% off your entire Divvies order.

And here's the whole press release for the full story.

Divvies, a food allergy-friendly sweets manufacturer, has released their new line of Halloween-inspired cupcakes and jellybeans just in time for the ghoulish holiday. Available to order online, for fresh delivery throughout the United States, all of Divvies’ products are egg-, dairy-, tree nut-, and peanut-free.

With an ambition to create sweets so wonderfully delicious that even kids without food allergies would ask to share them, Divvies set out their motto as “Made to Share.” They have more than succeeded, as Divvies treats are now sold at Disney World, and their cookies, popcorn, candy, and cupcakes are currently shipping to happy moms throughout the country.

The cupcakes are the latest addition to the Divvies’ line-up, made fresh in the Divvies dedicated baking facility. Sold by the dozen in either vanilla or chocolate, customers can mix and match the cupcakes with their choice of chocolate or vanilla frosting. For Halloween, Divvies has also added the option of orange frosting to top your choice of cupcakes, which are appropriately served in black cupcake liners.

What makes these cupcakes even more fabulous is their party-friendly nature. The frosting comes in a separate tub, so children can enjoy frosting and decorating their own cupcakes. Plus the inventive shipping box easily converts into a cupcake carrying case for mess-free transport.

For cupcake decorations and general sugar snacking, Divvies is also selling “safe” jellybeans in Halloween colors. Each package includes an assortment of orange, black, and purple jellybeans.

In honor of their new cupcake and Halloween selections, Divvies is giving away a dozen cupcakes to two lucky winners via the informational website Go Dairy Free. To enter to win, simply sign up with your name and a valid email (they must have a way to contact you if you win) for the free e-newsletter at by October 22, 2007.

Divvies cookies, popcorns, and cupcakes are made in the company’s own dedicated facility where no peanuts, tree nuts, eggs or milk enter the doors. Divvies candies, frosting, and sprinkles are certified by their manufacturers to be peanut-, tree nut-, milk-, and egg-free and are packaged in Divvies Bakery. Divvies conducts routine testing to minimize the risk of any cross-contamination in their certified allergen-free ingredients. Divvies’ products are also certified kosher parve and vegan.

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Vegan Tastes Good

"Not so long ago, most Americans considered vegan desserts an oxymoron."

True. And not just vegan desserts but vegan foods. And dairy-fee foods. And gluten-free foods. And egg-free foods. And all the other variations needed to suit the numerous food sensitivities that so many of us have to live with.

As that lead to an Associated Press article suggests, however, times have changed considerably.

"In the old days, you'd think of vegan baking as whole-wheat flour and fruit-based sweeteners and grains, sort of like a reflection of vegan food from the '70s," says Colleen Holland, associate publisher of VegNews magazine.

"Now it's petits fours. It's brownies. It's fudge. And you can't even tell the difference from the mainstream versions."

Vegan and other specialty bakeries abound in all corners of the country. Foods are also available in stores that you would never find there even a decade ago.
"When people were baking cakes with whole-wheat flour and using apple sauce for moisture, you might as well have used them for door stops," says Christina Pirello, host of the vegan public television cooking show Christina Cooks.

"It's changed a lot. It's finally come out of the fringe because of the products that are available now," she says.

A wide range of oils, margarines and shortenings, and fruit purees can be used for butter, while soy and rice milks can replace cow's milk. And in all cases, the quantity and quality of choices have improved dramatically.

Where once soy milks were grainy and unpleasant (at least to most mainstream tastes), newer non-dairy milks (which now include almond and various grain-based versions) are sweeter, smoother and creamier. ...

Nothing is perfect. Even with the advances in vegan baking and ingredients, some egg-dependent recipes — such as angel food cake and meringue — just can't be replicated.

The vegan movement, except for the ineffable PETA, has also found that harangues are as problematic as meringues.
"My activism is in my products," says Allison Rivers Samson, whose Nevada City, Calif.-based Allison's Gourmet sells organic vegan fudge, truffles and other treats.

"I don't say 'You should be vegan because of these statistics and these horrible things that are happening to the animals,'" she says. "That's important to me, of course, but I find people can be swayed a lot more by good taste than by horror stories."

Reason and good taste, along with needed information, are the basics for a dairy-free life.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Wheat-Free, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Pizza Crusts

"Rustic Crust™, Inc. is a New Hampshire based bakery specializing in Old World style pizza products that are as convenient as they are delicious."

If you suspect that sounds like press release puffery, you're correct. But the press release in question announces a new line of interesting-sounding products, Wheat-Free, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Pizza Crusts.

Just in time for National Celiac Awareness Month, Rustic Crust™ today announced the launch of its new line of wheat-free, gluten-free, dairy-free pizza crusts. Napoli Herb, an authentic Italian crust, is the first product in the new line. ...

Rustic Crust's Napoli Herb ready-made pizza crusts come in a convenient package containing two seven-inch crusts which retails for approximately $5.99. Rustic Crust ready-made pizza crusts are available nationwide in key grocery chains and independent natural food stores across the country.

Rustic Crust launched its ready-made pizza crusts in September 2005. In just six months, Rustic Crust became the number one brand and accounted for more than 57% of category growth. Today, Rustic Crust maintains its leadership position in the category and sells its branded pizza products nationwide in over 1,500 natural food stores, traditional supermarkets and club stores. ...

Rustic Crust's new wheat-free, gluten-free and dairy-free line complements its existing organic and all-natural, Old World ready-made line of pizza crusts, such as Cheesy Herb, Italian Herb, Tuscan Six Grain, Classic Sourdough, Ultimate Whole Grain, Organic Great Grains and Organic Pizza Originale.

Rustic Crust makes the only ready-made, Old World crusts that store for up to 120 days months in a pantry naturally. All-natural oxygen absorbers preserve freshness without the need of artificial preservatives commonly found in other shelf-stable products.

They also have a line of Frozen Old World Flatbread Pizzas if you don't want to make your own and a pizza sauce if you do.

Their website is A store locator can be found there. It and other clickable items on the site were not behaving when I visited, so let's hope their IT people are hard at work.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Nick Smith couture du chocolat

My plebeian trans-Atlantic self has no idea who "Mersey IT boy Nick Smith" might be. He's described as a "designer and entrepreneur," and certainly has the trendily flash-driven unreadable and unusable website that is implied by those words.

However, Janet Tansley of the Liverpool Echo says that darling Nicky is:

developing Nick Smith couture du chocolat – the world’s first organic, dairy free, gourmet designer chocolate ‘that’s simply delicious and due to launch in Selfridges in time for Christmas’.

I have my doubt that there's a "first" in any of those adjectives, but organic, dairy free, and gourmet are good things.

Not that Nick Smith appears to be lactose intolerant himself. Or dairy allergic. Or vegan.

The article is evidently part of a series on what celebrities would do for a Last Supper. Nick's dessert cart includes the milk-saturated "grapes and cream, Belgian chocolate truffles and organic carrot cake." By far most interesting is his choice of "fleshly made ice cream."

The rich are different from you and me.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

College Dining Halls Discover Non-Dairy

[I]t is dinnertime at International House, a majestic domed and tile-roofed 77-year-old experiment in global fellowship, and home to 600 mostly foreign UC Berkeley students. Its dining hall is Southside's best-kept secret, because for the price of your average burger, Coke, and fries, nonresidents can eat to utter repletion here, quaffing channa masala and vegan goulash and coq au vin and Jell-O in the columned refectory, or on a creamy patio flanked, Riviera-style, by citrus trees.

Sounds better than the meals I had at college. And there's even better news in this article from Anneli Rufus of the East Bay Express.

These days, each I-House meal features at least one non-dairy entrée, because more than 40 percent of Cal's freshman class is of Asian origin and many are lactose-intolerant. "Plus," [kitchen-services production manager Warren] Clark says solemnly, "we've become much more mindful of nut allergies."

I've been seeing an increasing number of similar articles about schools at all levels realizing that student bodies have markedly higher percentages from heritages that historically had high levels of lactose intolerance eating at their dining halls. Some are also recognizing increasing numbers of vegan students. Creating meals as good as those for the other students, rather than forcing them to try to accumulate a meal from odds and ends, is a huge advance.

Thanks to all the administrators who understand we live in a future mightily changed from the halcyon 50s.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Constipation - The Other Intestinal Ailment

I seldom talk about constipation here. Diarrhea is one of the major symptoms of lactose intolerance, after all, and even some with dairy allergies or hypersensitivities may suffer from it. Some babies with a cow's milk protein allergy may indeed have constipation as a symptom, but it's rare in adults.

That doesn't mean that constipation can be ignored. Just as I warn that diarrhea may have hundreds of causes, so can constipation. And some of those are relevant to the way many of us live our lives.

An article by Kay Ledbetter for AgNews, a publication of the Texas A&M University System Agriculture Program, notes that older adults especially may be victims of constipation, with some extremely serious complications.

Constipation can account for some of the cases of delirium in older adults, causing symptoms similar to those of Alzheimer's disease, said Andrew B. Crocker, [Texas Cooperative] Extension gerontology specialist.

Nearly everyone becomes constipated at one time or another, Crocker said. But older adults may have more bouts due to lack of exercise, diets low in fiber, not drinking enough liquids and taking more prescription medications.

Most of the time it is not serious, he said. However, sometimes it can cause agitation, aggression and combativeness in older adults.

Crocker also mentioned that a variety of medication may have constipation as a side effect.
Some medicines may lead to constipation. These include some drugs used to treat depression, antacids containing aluminum or calcium, some allergy medicines, some high blood pressure drugs and some drugs used to treat Parkinson's disease.

Many people who do not drink milk do use antacids as a cheap and effective way of supplementing their calcium intake. It's not clear from the article which allergy medications are a problem, but you can check any you take with your doctor of pharmacist.

The route around constipation? Fiber and fluids.
Add fiber to the diet by eating more fresh fruits, vegetables and more whole-grain cereals and breads. Dried fruit such as apricots, prunes and figs are high in fiber. Add small amounts of unprocessed bran to baked goods, cereals and fruit. This may cause bloating and gas for a few weeks. Make diet changes slowly to allow the system to adapt.

Be sure to get enough fluids. Drinking lots of water and juices helps some people get back to regular bowel movements.

Stay active. This is important for overall health too.

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Monday, October 08, 2007

Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Diet for Autistic Children Still Controversial

Actress and Playmate Jenny McCarthy wrote two light-hearted books on pregnancy and the first year of motherhood, Baby Laughs and Life Laughs.

Her new book, Louder Than Words: A Mother's Journey in Healing Autism, is much more serious. When he was two, her son Evan was found to be austistic. Since that time, McCarthy has spent seemingly much of her life investigating autism. She found a diet that has had much anecdotal success in helping austistic children, the gluten-free, casein-free (GFCF) diet. Even some of the reviewers of the book on Amazon mention how helpful removing gluten or casein from their child's diets has been.

The problem for many of us is that the science does not as yet back up the anecdotes.

Mary Beckman wrote a good article on this for the Los Angeles Times, Science aside, food therapy for autism has support.

What is the current state of long-term medical studies on the GFCF diet?

A 2002 study of 600 children registered with the General Practice Research Database in the United Kingdom found that at the time of diagnosis, the percentage of autistic children with gastrointestinal disorders was the same as in healthy children of the same age. "There doesn't seem to be that kind of gut problem," says experimental psychologist and autism researcher William Ahearn of the New England Center for Children in Southborough, Mass.

But a 2006 study of 50 autistic children in New York who were compared with healthy children of the same age and sex, found that autistic children were more than twice as likely to have GI problems by age 7 than their healthy peers.

Ahearn points out that parents with the understanding, drive, and discipline to satisfy such a demanding diet for their children are likely, like McCarthy, to be trying as many other things as possible. This mixes the message. How is anyone to know which individual projects - or mixture of them - of all the good that the parents are doing is making a difference?

Researchers at the University of Rochester are in the middle of a five-year study on the GFCF diet. Results are expected to be announced next year. That will probably set the standard for the medical community for the near future.

Until then, a major source of information is the GFCF Diet website. Another perspective is found at

You can find casein-free and gluten-free cookbooks, as well as cookbooks aimed at children with multiple allergies at my Milk-Free Bookstore.

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

A Field Guide to Creams of the World

Milk gets talked about a lot. Cream is mostly orphaned these days, homogenized into milk so that it doesn't float to the top, banished from diners in favor of half-and-half creamers, and discouraged by the anti-fat brigade.

Cooks have always known that some cream products enhance specialty desserts. And, as I show in my Really Big List of Lactose Percentages page on my website, the more fat a dairy product has, the lower its lactose percentage. Let's take a look at an article by Lisa Abraham at on the various species of cream products.

To be called cream, a product must have at least 18 percent milk fat. ...

In recipes, cream adds fat, but it also adds a velvety texture to a wide variety of foods, most notably soups, sauces and desserts.

There are even fattier creams, found more commonly in Europe, but available at specialty food stores and some grocery stores here. Among them are clotted cream, sometimes called Devon or Devonshire cream, and double cream. ...

Double cream is a British term used to describe heavy cream that is 48 percent or more milk fat. It's just heavier heavy cream than what we typically get in the United States.

Clotted cream, also British, is made from unpasteurized milk which has been slowly heated, allowing a layer of cream to rise to the top and ferment, according to the Food Encyclopedia. Once cooled, the thickened, yellowish cream is skimmed off this is clotted cream.

We're most familiar with clotted cream slathered on top of scones and then topped with jam, English-style. It's also called Devon or Devonshire cream when it comes from Devonshire County in England.

However, according to the Food Encyclopedia, there is a difference. Traditional clotted cream is 55 percent milk fat, while Devonshire cream is about 48 percent milk fat, making it spoonable, as opposed to spreadable. ...

Creme fraiche This is a European favorite that is becoming increasingly popular in U.S. cooking. Its name in French means "fresh cream." Similar to sour cream, but a bit thinner and not quite as sour, it's used similarly to sour cream.

Those extra fatty creams probably have no more than half the lactose of regular milk.

Abraham also gives some cooking hints and recipes for the proper use of creams.

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Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Joy of Vegan Baking

Cooking instructor Colleen Patrick-Goudreau has just published The Joy of Vegan Baking: The Compassionate Cooks' Traditional Treats and Sinful Sweets. It's published by Fair Winds with a list price of $19.95.

The book description reads:

Whether you want to bake dairy- and egg-free for health, ethical, or environmental reasons, The Joy of Vegan Baking lets you have your cake and eat it, too! Featuring 150 familiar favorites -- from cakes, cookies, and crêpes to pies, puddings, and pastries -- this book will show you just how easy, convenient, and delectable baking without eggs and dairy can be.

A seasoned cooking instructor and self-described "joyful vegan," author Colleen Patrick-Goudreau puts to rest the myth that vegan baking is an inferior alternative to non-vegan baking, putting it in its rightful place as a legitimate contender in the baking arena. More than just a collection of recipes, this informative cookbook is a valuable resource for any baker -- novice or seasoned.

Learn just how easy it is to enjoy your favorite homespun goodies without compromising your health or values:

• Chocolate Chip Scones
• Cranberry Nut Bread
• Lemon Cheesecake
• Dessert Crêpes
• Strawberry Pie with Chocolate Chunks
• Cinnamon Coffee Cake
• Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes
• Raspberry Sorbet
• Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
• Soft Pretzels
• Blueberry Cobbler
• Chocolate Almond Brittle

Free of saturated fat, cholesterol, and lactose, but full of flavor, flair, and familiarity, each and every recipe will have you declaring "I can’t believe it's vegan!"

Complete with luscious color photos, this book will be an essential reference for every vegan.

I'll be putting this up on my Vegan Books and Cookbooks page in my Milk-Free Bookstore.

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Friday, October 05, 2007

New Breastfeeding Study Gives Mixed Allergy Results

On September 12, I posted Exclusive Breastfeeding Doesn't Reduce Asthma or Skin Allergy Risk. In it I talked about the results from a large study of breastfeeding mothers that said:

Children who were exclusively breastfed for at least the first three months of life were no less likely to develop allergies or asthma than children whose nutrition included infant formulas.

This week a second breastfeeding study, of an even larger group of mothers, was published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. "Breast-feeding and atopic disease: A cohort study from childhood to middle age," by Melanie Claire Matheson et al. The abstract says:
The Tasmanian Asthma Study is a population-based prospective cohort study that has followed participants from the age of 7 to 44 years. Exclusive breast-feeding in the first 3 months of life was examined as a risk factor for atopic diseases by using multiple logistic regression and generalized estimating equation analyses.

Exclusively breast-fed babies with a maternal history of atopy were less likely to develop asthma before the age of 7 years, but more likely to develop asthma after the age of 7 years.

A press release quotes the study's lead author on the implications:
Dr Matheson said the research confirmed the current recommendations that high risk infants – those whose mothers had an allergy – should be exclusively breast-fed to protect against wheezing illness in small children.

However, recommendations that babies be exclusively breastfed to protect against asthma and allergy in the long term should be reconsidered.

Dr Matheson said further investigation was needed to determine why there was an increased risk of developing asthma after seven years of age.

"It could be that mothers are passing antibodies on to their babies or because of increased hygiene and reduced exposure to infections early in life," she said.

"The breastfed children in our study had fewer bacterial and viral infections, were more likely to be first born and in a higher social class – these all factors related to increased hygiene."

Dr Matheson said the study’s authors acknowledged there were many benefits of breastfeeding and were not suggesting that women with allergies should not breastfeed.

"However, if you are concerned about preventing allergy in your children, it may be more effective to implement other strategies such as not having carpet in your home," she said.

The study, a collaboration between the University of Melbourne, Monash University and the Menzies Research Institute in Tasmania, used data from more than 8500 people from the 36 year follow-up of the Tasmanian Longitudinal Health Study. It is the first in the world to follow subjects from childhood into middle age.

However, the study was almost immediately attacked by the Australian Breastfeeding Association in a release titled "Breastfeeding and allergy study flawed".
The question that needs to be asked is - how exclusive was the breastfeeding? The studied group of people were all born in 1961. Giving every newborn baby a nightly feed of artificial formula was routine in the 1960s. This was often without the mother's permission or knowledge. One exposure to non-human milk can sensitise a baby's immature gut and make them more prone to allergies.


According to the Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA), there is nothing in this study to justify calling for any changes to the recommendations on breastfeeding. The causes of allergy and asthma are complex. Breastfeeding mothers should be reassured that one study is not a reason to ignore a large body of evidence that shows breastfeeding is the best way to feed an infant.

In the short term, I agree with the ABA's conclusion. Even the study's author continues to recommend that high-risk infants be exclusively breastfed.

It is possible, even likely, that the connection between breastfeeding and allergies after the age of 7 will turn out to be a statistical fluke rather than an accurate prediction. Both sides of the argument agree that more studies are needed. The Tasmanian study may be the first of its kind and vitally important for that reason alone, but as I always emphasize, one study, even a good one, is not sufficient to force people to change their practices unless the risks are immediate and severe. These are neither.

I'll keep an eye out for follow-up.

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Lactose-Free Cheese Follow-Up

I constantly complain about press releases for new products that aren't co-ordinated with the websites mentioned in the release. The new soymilk, Silk Plus For Bone Health, which I wrote about back on September 26, still doesn't appear on the Silk website.

I was somewhat proud - all right, gloating - when I discovered this brand new press release issued this week. Sorrento Cheese Offers New Sorrento(R) +Plus String Cheese in Stride with Supermarket Trends Towards Functional Foods.

Remember? I wrote about it all the way back on September 19, in Sorrento Lactose Free String Cheese, after receiving an email from Nicole S.

I can't say you get much in the way of new information from the press release, but for the record:

Sorrento's other new offering, the Sorrento +Plus Lactose-Free string cheese, is the answer for the nearly 20% of the U.S. population (30-50 million Americans) who have difficulty digesting lactose, the major sugar found in milk. While some people who have difficulty digesting lactose, also known as lactose maldigesters [or lactose intolerant], avoid dairy altogether, many look to yogurt, aged cheeses, or enzyme tablets taken with meals to fit the health benefits of dairy into their diet. But none of those options offer as much portable convenience and nutrition as Sorrento's Lactose-Free string cheese product, which still packs all the goodness of 20% of the RDA for calcium.

30 - 50 million is 10% - 17% of the population, not "nearly 20%," but as we've seen recently nobody teaches math any more. At least nobody who writes press releases remembers their math. I suppose that's why they're writing press releases instead of doing real work. (Oh, right. I forgot I'm a freelance writer who's done many a press release in his checkered career. Hmm.)

Ad. Press releases done cheap. Math guaranteed correct.

Anyway, I thank all the people who take the time to write me about products that they've seen. You're all encouraged to let me know what you've spotted, either in a comment here or in an email to:, Names are always kept confidential.

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Answers to Questions from Readers, part 11

Q. Have you heard of a dairy allergy with no other symptoms at all, except a badly upset stomach?

Yes. There are two types of allergy. A "true" allergy is mediated by one particular antibody. All the others, or hypersensitivities, are mediated by other antibodies. Hypersensitivities to milk in children are likely to manifest themselves as gastrointestinal problems rather than as classic respiratory and skin problems. So it could be a reaction to the dairy protein rather than to the milk sugar. Your doctor should be able to test for this.

Q. When I drink beer, I have some of the same symptoms as when I drink milk. Is there some sort of dairy product in beer?

Most beer does not contains lactose. But Drew K. wrote me to say:

I have a friend who is a great brewer of beer, and he tells me that any beer with the word "Cream" in it such as "cream stout" actually has lactose in it. He knows, he adds the lactose himself to his "cream" beers! The milk sugar is added to the mix b/c it gives some sort of special twist to the flavor and fermentation. Is there any left over when you drink it? I don't know, but I suspect yes.

Drew's suspicions are correct, as I wrote in Lactose in Beer.
You won't be surprised to learn that it varies too much with the recipe for a definitive answer. I did a calculation from one recipe and found that it resulted in about half as much lactose as a glass of milk. Other sources say, however, that the lactose content is small for some milk stouts. If you drink for flavor and not a buzz the lactose shouldn't be a problem.

It most probable that it's the alcohol that's affecting you, since alcohol is definitely a known cause of all sorts of problems in all sorts of people. If it bothers you enough, stop drinking beer.

Q. I have heard that black males experience LI at a much higher rate than white males. Is this true, and if so why?

This is mostly true. In general, the only peoples in the world who are not lactose intolerance are northern Europeans (or are descended from people originally from northern Europe). All others cultures are predominantly LI.

The brief explanation is that the first farmers to arrive in northern Europe about 5,000 years ago lacked a good way of getting and processing calcium in their bodies. Those who could drink milk had a slight reproductive advantage over those who couldn't. (Women were more likely to survive childbirth, men were more likely to be healthy enough to father healthy babies.) The northern Europeans happened to be the ones who colonized America, so most people grew up thinking that the ability to drink milk was normal. Africans, as well as Asians and Native Americans, either had other sources of calcium, or could use the abundant sunlight to manufacture vitamin D in their bodies to help them process the calcium, so they didn't need to adapt to milk drinking.

The situation is far more complicated than I can describe here, of course. There are African peoples who because of local conditions had the same dilemma as the Scandinavians and solved it the same way, by natural selection favoring those who drink milk. There is nothing about skin color that inherently determines whether you are LI or not. It's a remnant of what your ancestors ate thousands of years ago. Note that lactose tolerance is a dominant trait, so that people whose parents are from mixed cultures tend to be lactose tolerant themselves. With the increasing rate of intermarriage in all areas of the world, the percentage of people who are LI is likely decreasing with each generation.

Q. Can wheezing and a stubborn dry cough be a symptom of lactose intolerance?

Not a chance. It's barely possible that the wheezing could be due to a dairy allergy (some people believe that a dairy allergy can cause any symptom), but that would really be reaching. Sometimes a cough is just a cough. If it lasts and lasts, see your doctor.

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Sugar-Free Frozen Dairy Dessert

There have always been "sugar-free" ice creams on the market aimed at the diabetic population. But the "sugar" in the name meant sucrose, table sugar. That's the way the FDA defines sugar, after all. If you see just plain "sugar" in an ingredients list you know it has to be sucrose. All of the numerous other types of sugar, from dextrose to honey to molasses to high fructose corn syrup, have to be referred to by name.

So does lactose, of course. But lactose doesn't have to be mentioned separately when it's an intrinsic part of a dairy product, like milk or cream. It's assumed that everybody knows that milk contains milk sugar.

What happens, therefore, if you want a true sugar-free frozen dairy dessert that contains nothing that the body processes as a sugar, even lactose?

You could try using a lactase enzyme to break the lactose down into the simpler sugars glucose and galactose. While that's fine for those of us who are lactose intolerant, glucose and galactose are true sugars, so that doesn't get you to an ice cream that is sugar free.

What does? Maltisweet IC. Clement Opawumi at explains.

Maltisweet IC maltitol syrup belongs to a class of polyols, also known as sugar alcohols. Polyols are metabolized in a manner that is different than traditional sugars — less readily available for absorption in the large intestine, which means it has minimal effect on blood glucose levels, an important attribute for diabetics. Maltitol is 90 percent as sweet as sugar, making it ideal for bulk replacement of sucrose.

And it's an even better substitute in ice cream:
Frozen desserts made with Maltisweet IC have freezing performance and heat-shock resistance superior to conventional ice cream.

With characteristics nearly identical to sucrose and corn syrup, this product can be used as a one-to-one direct replacement with or without the use of high-intensity sweeteners. It offers a pleasant-tasting, balanced sweetness and creamy texture with no aftertaste and fewer calories than sucrose. A no-sugar-added frozen dessert formulated using Maltisweet IC has about 75 percent less sugar and 45 percent fewer calories than conventional premium ice cream.

Results of sensory studies conducted at Penn State show that consumers found no-sugar-added vanilla ice cream formulated with Maltisweet IC tastes as good as Penn State’s University Creamery premium, full-sugar vanilla ice cream, with no significant differences in overall taste, texture and appearance. Other sensory studies conducted at Penn State, on a reduced fat (5 percent) no-sugar-added frozen dessert formulated using Maltisweet IC, show that the consumer significantly prefers the creaminess of the product formulated using Maltisweet IC to the sucrose control.

The lactose is removed from the milk by an ultrafiltration process rather than by lactase, so for some reason the dessert legally cannot be called "ice cream." That's why it has the clumsy "sugar-free frozen dairy dessert" (SFFDD) designation. The total process was developed by Steve Young (Steven Young Worldwide, Houston) and Bruce Tharp (Tharp’s Food Technology, Wayne, Pa.). They've been presenting the concept at various ice cream technology conferences over the past year.

With luck, somebody will find the process doable and the resulting SFFDD delectable and bring it to the market. I'll be the first to let you know if and when that ever happens.

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Monday, October 01, 2007

LI Celebrity Alert: Terence Stamp

Veteran British actor Terence Stamp not only has intolerances to wheat and dairy, he's done something about it.

He and Elizabeth Buxton have written a cookbook, The Stamp Collection Cookbook, available from

UK readers might want to get it under the original title The Wheat and Dairy Free Cookbook, available from

The two of them also started The Stamp Collection, a line of wheat- and dairy-free breads in the UK.


Actor, writer Terence Stamp and Elizabeth Buxton launched the STAMP COLLECTION™ range of products in 1994.

Their aim was to bring delicious, wheat-free and dairy-free products to people who, like Terence, have an intolerance to wheat and dairy products made from cow’s milk.

We produce a variety of award-winning organic products which are suitable for vegetarians and are free from GMOs.

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