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 However, product information and weblinks may be out of date.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

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Answers to Questions from Readers, part 15

Q. What exactly is the ingredient in dairy products that causes the binding? I read that you feel it is not the lactose.

You're right about that. It's the protein.

Take a look at this Constipation and Milk Allergy page on my web site. It's a discussion of a seminal journal article that makes a connection between a dairy protein allergy and constipation in young children, the first such report to my knowledge. You should then talk to your doctor about it.

Q. What is the lactose content of yogurts containing active cultures?

This sounds like a straightforward question, but it isn't. Two problems.

One is that many manufacturers add additional milk solids to the yogurt during the manufacturing process, because true natural yogurt tends to be too thin and sour for American audiences. This makes it impossible to judge lactose content.

The other problem isn't really a problem, but a boon. The active cultures work to manufacture their own lactase, both during the manufacturing process and even in your intestines. This neutralizes, pretty much, any lactose in the yogurt, even from added milk solids.

So the amount of actual lactose is more or less irrelevant to the end result, which is that yogurts with live and active cultures are well tolerated by most people with lactose intolerance.

Q. a) How is lactose made - I assume it is a protein in the cows stomach or something? Or is it part of the grass?
b) And is Lactaid a protein or an enzyme?

a) Neither. Lactose is made in the mammary gland. (It's a part of milk and found only in milk.) It's a tremendously complicated chemical process that starts with the simple sugar, glucose. Some other glucose is converted to another simple sugar, galactose. Then the whey protein called alpha-lactalbumin bonds them together to make the complex sugar we know as lactose.

b) Lactaid is a brand name for the enzyme known as lactase. (But all enzymes are proteins, except for a couple of weird exceptions.)

Q. I have heard that some meats can contain lactose (unless they are Kosher) is this true? If so which ones?

No meat of any kind contains lactose in and of itself. However, some processed meat products (including cold cuts and hot dogs) can have a dairy product as an ingredient.

The only way to tell is to be sure you always read ingredients lists for anything you buy. And you're right about Kosher meats being dairy-free. They have to be that way. If you can, try to find Kosher cold cuts and hot dogs. Not only are they great tasting, but you can be assured that they don't contain milk.

Q. Does cocoa butter contain lactose like I think it probably does?

Nope, butter here refers only to consistency. Peanut butter, apple butter, and cocoa butter are all lactose free.

You might want to check out my Foolers page on my web site.

Q. If LI is the result of not being able to breaking down the compound sugar found in milk and milk products, then would it also be true that anything made with a compound sugar would also be a problem?

This is a very good question. However, the answer is no, except is a very few people.

The lactase enzyme that digests lactose is an unusual one. Even in people who can drink milk as adults, it is manufactured in smaller quantities than the enzymes that digest other compound sugars. The reasons probably go back well into human evolution, since lactase only needed to be manufactured early in life when milk was the sole food, while all the others were needed for a wide range of foods all one's life.

There are some people who have a wide range of sugar intolerances, but overall it is seldom a problem.

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