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 However, product information and weblinks may be out of date.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, September 30, 2008

Words Fail Me

This is from an actual newspaper interview in an actual newspaper. Pioneering Probiotics: Natren’s Founder Is on a Mission to Get You Healthy, by Nadra Kareem in the San Fernando Valley Business Journal. Kareem interviewed Natasha Trenev, president of probiotic manufacturer Natren Inc.

Q: So, probiotics tackle a range of digestive problems. What about people who suffer from lactose intolerance. Do you have products to treat that?

A: Acidophilus (a bacteria) helps the body to digest lactose. It simulates the body to produce our lactose.

Did Trenev really say that, or anything like that? Did Kareem so misunderstand the quote that it could be mangled like that? Did no editor look at the article before it was printed?

Words fail me.

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Cabot Creamery's Road Show

This doesn't seem like front page news, but the folks at Capital News 9 played it up big anyway.

Cabot Creamery's Road Show is in the Capital District and hitting up more than a dozen Price Chopper Supermarkets in town.

That's the Capital Distinct in New York State, BTW.

Why is this of interest to us?

"One thing Cabot is famous for is its cheddar cheese, and cheddar cheese is lactose free. So a lot people who are avoiding dairy still need their source of calcium and the best source of calcium is naturally through cheese, yogurt, or milk. So people who are avoiding milk products can also enjoy Cabot cheese,” said Mark Hackett, Cabot spokesman.

In fact, all their cheeses are lactose free. They claim this on their FAQ page.
Can those with lactose intolerance enjoy Cabot cheeses?
All Cabot cheeses contain zero (0) grams of lactose. Eating any aged cheese should not affect those with lactose intolerance, regardless of how much is eaten, because lactose - the major carbohydrate of cheese - totally disappears within 3 to 4 weeks after the cheese is made.

I'm not completely happy with this statement, because I've often made the point that a company can claim 0 grams of lactose per serving even when it's not strictly true, because federal law allows them to round down if the actual amount is under 0.5 gram. I did check with the firm at one time to make sure that they really meant lactose free and they confirmed that. I hope that policy has not changed.

Curious about the Road Show?
Ever been to a Cabot Road Show? We send teams of Cabot employees (and sometimes even our farmers) out to help people have fun and enjoy our cheese. There are cheese tastings, giveaways, coupons, stickers and more. Here's our schedule for the next 12 weeks:
* Harrisburg, PA on November 7th, 8th and 9th
* Miami, FL on January 3rd, 4th and 5th (come see us at the Three Kings Parade!)
* Tampa, FL on January 10th, 11th and 12th.
You can find information on Cabot events at

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Milk in China

Some of you have been wondering why, in light of the known fact that most people in China are lactose intolerant, have the Chinese been suffering from a huge crisis in tainted cow's milk? (See my No Tainted Chinese Milk Products On U.S. Store Shelves - So Far for a rundown.

The answer is more or less the same one as why lactose free ice creams never seem to catch on in the U.S. Most people even with lactose intolerance can handle small quantities of milk products without symptoms and they like the taste of the real thing.

I found an article on AFP that gives a recent history of the growth of dairy in China.

The toxic milk scandal in China could never have happened under Mao Zedong or Deng Xiaoping, as dairy products only landed on Chinese dinner tables when the nation began opening up to the outside world.

Westerners visiting China 20 or 30 years ago were hard pressed to find dairy products, and were only able to drink yoghurt out of a straw from a stone pot carved with Chinese characters, still available in the country.

But in the past few years, supermarket shelves have filled up with powdered or traditional milk, yoghurts and milk drinks, in countless cartons and cans, along with all sorts of flavours.

The average Chinese person, who drank 1.2 kilogrammes (2.6 pounds) of milk a year in 1980 when Deng -- the architect of China's reforms -- was in power, guzzled 26.7 kilos last year, according to the national bureau of statistics.

This, however, is still 10 times less than what people in developed countries consume.


Despite a widespread lactose intolerance in China, milk sales increased by 128 percent over the past five years, and those of powdered baby milk rose 185 percent, according to Euromonitor International.

Mengniu, one of the industry's heavyweights currently under the spotlight, launched a campaign [in 2006] donating milk in rural areas with the help of government agencies.

It used the slogan: "A litre of milk a day makes the Chinese people stronger."

That's remarkably similar to a British slogan first used in 1958, "Drinka Pinta Milka Day," based on a similar target promulgated by the National Milk Publicity Council of England and Wales.

Call it western cultural colonialism, but advertising does work no matter how much you try to deny it.

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Sunday, September 28, 2008


X-Milk - I gotta assume that the "X" as usual stands for extreme - is the next Vitamin Water.

At least that's what consultant David Towner hopes. He helped launch Vitamin Water but didn't get the big paycheck that went with its success. He's hoping X-Milk makes him rich.

"I did the math in my head and figured out that if I had just a 1 percent share of Vitamin Water, I'd have $100 million right now," said Towner. "So I decided the next time I saw something that had a billion-dollar potential, I would waive my fees and invest my own resources of time and money into the product in exchange for a percentage in the company."

The article, by James Pilcher of, explained that:
The product, which is based on milk but includes more protein and vitamins with less lactose than regular milk and doesn't need to be refrigerated, has been test marketed at the area's 11 bigg's stores since late July. It is priced at three 8-ounce cartons for $5 and available in vanilla, strawberry and chocolate flavors.

Towner says the company is selling 1,500 cartons a week just through bigg's in-store promotions.

Oddly, the actual X-Milk website claims that its product is lactose free.
X-milk is a great tasting, lactose free, milk-based, nutritious beverage formulated to deliver all the nutrients your body needs to maintain, replenish and energize without the use of stimulants or synthetic sweeteners. The formulation of X-milk provides at least 25% of the RDA of every fundamental vitamin, mineral, essential amino acid and protein with only 8 grams of fat and 0 grams of trans-fat. X-milk does not have to be mixed, measured, or stirred. Simply shake and drink. The tetra pak aseptic process guarantees a stable shelf life of at least 12 months without refrigeration. For the medical community, X-milk is accepted by Medicare and Medicaid.

I can't explain the discrepancy, and it's a pretty big difference.

David Towner wrote me with the following explanation of the lactose-free issue, which I am posting with his permission.
I recently read your posting about X-Milk and wanted to answer your question about our lactose free wording. X-Milk is definitely lactose free and all of or our literature and labeling states so. However, if we made that claim in a retail environment and there was even a trace of lactose detected in our product, we would open ourselves up to mis-directed scrutiny (most likely by a competitor). We are a small company and in an effort to avoid this battle, we decided to make only a 98% lactose free claim.

Likewise, our nutritional claims are under-stated in order to avoid the same situation relative to vitamin/mineral content. In essence, we would rather under-promise and over-deliver.

We have produced hundreds of thousands of cartons and have never found even a trace of lactose in our product.

p.s. X-Milk is certified Kosher.

That seems to be definitive. X-Milk can be called a lactose-free product. That's great news for those of us who are lactose intolerant. The rest of you readers need to beware of the milk.

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Dairy-Free Chocolate Cake Recipe

I don't usually post recipes here because of copyright issues, but this one seems designed to be publicly shared, so I'm making an exception.

Lucy Waverman developed recipes for the makers of Epi-Pen that were free of peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, dairy or seafood. They went over so well that she put out more to be shared with the readers of the Toronto Globe and Mail.

Go there to see the Peanut-Free pad Thai and the Stir-Fried Ground Chicken with Spinach recipes.


Every parent wants their allergic child to have birthday cake that is moist and delicious. And dairy-free cakes so often taste like cardboard. Here is one that will have the kids and adults asking for more. Use the best bittersweet chocolate you can find and read the ingredient list carefully to make sure it doesn't contain any milk solids.

what you need

¾ cup water
4 ounces (125 grams) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
½ cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar


4 ounces (125 grams) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon corn syrup

what you do

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line the base of a 9-inch round spring-form pan with parchment paper.

Place water and chocolate in a heavy pot over medium-low heat and stir until chocolate is almost melted. Remove from heat and continue to stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is well combined. Stir in oil and vanilla and set aside.

Combine flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda and salt in a bowl and stir with a fork until uniform. Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients and stir until well combined. Scrape batter into prepared pan.

Pour vinegar on top of batter and use a fork to incorporate it into the batter as quickly as possible. There will be pale swirls in the batter from the baking soda and vinegar reacting. Stir just until vinegar is evenly distributed. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out with a few crumbs on it.

Let cake cool in pan. Run a knife around the edge to loosen. Remove sides of pan, carefully invert cake onto a plate, remove bottom of pan and peel off parchment paper. Use another plate to turn cake right side up.

Place cake on serving plate and make glaze.

Place chocolate, water and corn syrup in a small heavy pot over medium-low heat and stir until chocolate is almost melted. Remove from heat and continue to stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is shiny. Allow to cool for 5 minutes or until it has thickened slightly, and then spoon glaze evenly over top of cake. Serves 8 to 10.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Tribute to Stamen Grigorov

It isn't every day that you see a tribute to Stamen Grigorov, and if you ask who? that only proves my point.

Dr. Stamen Grigorov was the Bulgarian scientist who in 1905 first isolated and identified Lactobacillus bulgaricus, the bacteria that is primarily responsible for yogurt. He did so, ironically, in sterile Switzerland.

Stamen Grigorov, in the middle, as a student in Geneva, Switzerland

Who's doing the tribute? It's taking place in Sofia, Bulgaria, naturally where the Fourth Annual European Researcher's Night takes place today.

Clips from films on how Bulgarian science fits into the European sphere; on God’s particle, black holes and the mysteries of CERN; on forbidden discoveries and more will be shown.

For those looking for something a bit more interactive, there will be a live performance called the Voyage of Sound, and another one called Science in Fairytales, organised with the support of the British Council, that will examine what connects the Wizard of Oz, the Little Mermaid, Andersen’s Snow Queen, Alice, Gulliver, Zlatka the Golden Girl and fairytale princesses. (Hint – the show includes the participation of a chemist, two meteorologists, a doctor of molecular medicine, a physicist and a general practitioners.)

For the visual arts-inclined, there is an exhibition on turning rubbish into a fun science game and another one on Bulgarian scientific research, a project of the National Polytechnical Museum, which presents curious facts about famous Bulgarian scientists and researchers (think Stamen Grigovor [sic], discoverer – in 1905 – of Lactobacillus bulgaricus, the bacteria that breaks down the lactose in milk and makes yoghurt what it is).

Yes, it would be nicer if they hadn't typoed his name.

A Stamen Grigorov Foundation exists today, with lofty-sounding ambitions:
For ten years now the main activities of the Foundation have been related to the microbiology and art by means of organization and realization of courses, consultations, plenaries, symposiums, conferences; organization and realization of specific scientific forums, exhibitions, musical and literature days, etc.

but some dubiously extravagant claims about Bulgarian yogurt:
His further research carried out in many institutes worldwide proved that Bulgarian yogurt helps in the treatment of various diseases and conditions like infections, otic-rhino-laryngeal diseases, tuberculosis, stomach and intestine conditions, ulcers, some gynecologic diseases, fatigue, etc. These prophylactic and curative properties of Bulgarian yogurt are due to the rich vitamin content including B1, B2, C, A, D, E, PP, B12, as well as lactose, proteins, and other important stimulating substances.

Yogurt in its original variety can be produced only in Bulgaria and in some neighboring regions on the Balkan peninsula. In other natural climatic conditions the bacteria quickly degenerate, lose their qualities and die.

I have my doubts, but it is true that American-style yogurt, pioneered by Isaac Carasso of Dannon in 1947 is a far cry from the original, tart, and fruit-free yogurt known to Europeans.

Dr. Grigorov is a reminder that science is truly an international endeavor. Discoveries and discoverers can emerge from any point. All that matters is the result.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Workshops Help Allergy Parents Cope

Judging by many of the emails I've received over the years, learning that your child has a food allergy and that all dairy - or wheat or eggs or all three - must be taken out of the diet is not just scary but almost unbearable news. The burdens imposed seem so heavy and will last so long that some parents can't cope with the stress.

Something that appears to help parents a great deal are workshops designed to provide support and coping skills to families. A new study, Evaluation of a group intervention for children with food allergy and their parents, Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
2008, vol. 101, no. 2, pp. 160-165, by Jennifer S. LeBovidge et al. gave promising news.

Background: Children with food allergy and their parents may experience substantial stress related to the risk of serious reactions and the demands of allergy management.

Objective: To evaluate a group intervention for children with food allergy and their parents designed to increase parent-perceived competence in coping with food allergy and to decrease the parent-perceived burden associated with food allergy.

Methods: Sixty-one children aged 5 to 7 years with food allergy and their parents attended 1 of 4 half-day workshops, with parent and child groups run concurrently. Parents completed self-report measures of perceived competence in coping with food allergy at 3 time points: preworkshop (within 8 weeks of the intervention), postworkshop (immediately after the intervention), and follow-up (4-8 weeks after the intervention). Parents completed a measure of burden associated with food allergy at preworkshop and follow-up. Parents and children also completed evaluations of the study intervention.

Results: Parent-perceived competence in coping with food allergy increased significantly from preworkshop to postworkshop and follow-up, and parent-perceived burden associated with food allergy decreased from preworkshop to follow-up. Parent and child evaluations of the workshop were favorable.

Conclusions: These findings provide preliminary support for the effectiveness and feasibility of a group intervention for children with food allergy and their parents and suggest the importance of controlled evaluations of group interventions in this population in the future.

Bottom line, it "showed parents with higher competence scores and lower burden scores regarding their child's food allergy," according to an article by Joene Hendry of the Reuters News Service.

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Lactose-Free and Loving It

Mandy Kocevar and Monika B. Pis have teamed to produce Lactose Free and Loving It: Learn to Enjoy Dairy Again!

Product Description
Most lactose-free cookbooks are out of date and full of recipes with terrible tasting non-dairy substitutes. But now, with so many new products available in local grocery stores, we're happy to tell you that dairy is back on your menu. From moist chocolate cake to hearty lasagna, homemade vanilla ice cream to macaroni and cheese--we have it all inside--made with real dairy! And no, you don't have to take a pill before you dig in. So if you're tired of tofu, soy and rice milk, or cheese made from vegetables, then this cookbook is for you! has teamed up with Monika B. Pis, a pediatric nurse-practitioner, and Mandy Kocevar, a lactose intolerance sufferer for over 15 years, to show you how to discover great-tasting lactose-free ingredients and use them to create your own treasury of delicious, dairy-filled meals.

CreateSpace trade paperback
216 pages
List price: $14.95

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

PETA Outsillies Itself

Yesterday I posted on melamine tainted milk, about as serious a subject as can be imagined. Today I hit the other end of the spectrum, in which PETA creates publicity for itself for doing something so silly that the only good to come out of it is that PETA can further disgrace itself in the eyes of rational human beings.

PETA posted the following press release on its site today:

Burlington, Vt. - This morning, PETA dispatched a letter to Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, cofounders of ice cream icon Ben & Jerry's Homemade Inc., urging them to replace the cow's milk in their products with human breast milk. PETA's request comes in the wake of news reports that a Swiss restaurant owner will begin purchasing breast milk from nursing mothers and substituting breast milk for 75 percent of the cow's milk in the food he serves. PETA points out to Cohen and Greenfield that such a move on their part would lessen the suffering of dairy cows and their babies on factory farms and benefit human health at the same time.

"The fact that human adults consume huge quantities of dairy products made from milk that was meant for a baby cow just doesn't make sense," says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. "Everyone knows that 'the breast is best,' so Ben & Jerry's could do consumers and cows a big favor by making the switch to breast milk."

This is so spectacularly dumb that the first instinct of most bloggers was to question whether it was real or a hoax. It's real. That's PETA's actual website.

Normal people with some understanding of nutrition might also notice that PETA's statements are at best misleading and are probably best described as idiotic. Human breast milk is not better designed for consumption by adult humans than cow's milk. Breast milk is designed to help babies grow by targeting their specific needs at a time when they are expected not to take in any other food. Humans could tolerate breast milk and digest it, but it is "best for baby" not best for adult humans generally. You won't learn this basic fact from PETA, but they have no purpose left if they stop lying to you.

This goes along with other nonsensical PETA promotions like PETA News That Sounds Like a Joke and its horrifying Got Beer? campaign.

Vegans are not responsible for PETA's action, but they too seldom rise up and denounce PETA. If vegans would take a proper stand, PETA could be wiped off the earth, like smallpox and other scourges of humanity. I'll be glad to help.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

No Tainted Chinese Milk Products On U.S. Store Shelves - So Far

The latest crisis of tainted food products from China is perhaps the most serious. Some 13,000 children hospitalized, 4 known dead, all in China. The number of countries in Asia and Africa which has banned the import of Chinese milk products grows by the hour.

Chinese baby formula is already illegal in the U.S. That doesn't prevent people from trying to order it over the Internet. And milk derivatives of all kinds are found in thousands of products.

A Reuters article noted that:

The FDA says it has contacted the companies that make infant formula for distribution in the United States and been assured that none import formula or source materials from China. Inspectors have also visited Chinese markets and stores to look for imported Chinese infant formula.

"Additionally, the FDA is sampling and testing milk and milk-derived ingredients and finished food products that could contain these ingredients from Chinese sources. Milk-derived ingredients include whole milk powder, nonfat milk powder, whey powder, lactose powder and casein," the agency said in a statement last week.

The agency as well as local and state officials are also conducting sweeps of stores that import Chinese products. The CBS5 website in San Francisco reported that after a popular Chinese milk candy called "White Rabbit" was found to have the tainted milk in Asia, inspectors found boxes of it in a Bay area store, but that the store had already heeded the recall warning and removed them from shelves.

The chances of any of the melamine-laced milk or milk derivatives being sold in the U.S. at the current point seem small, possibly infinitesimal.

While that's a relief, many commentators are pointing out that the safety of any particular product is a shadow of the much larger issue. China is simply incapable of properly regulating, policing, or managing the unimaginably huge number of companies that are part of China's worldwide export boom. The world has turned to China to provide it with inexpensive goods. The opportunities are gigantic and that means the temptations are equally huge. Only a tiny percentage of the manufacturers have to fall to temptation for the impact to reverberate globally. That's what we're seeing now, and what we will continue to see for years to come.

Nobody reasonably expects trade with China to cease. And China has every incentive to try to improve its safety and regulatory functions. It can never completely succeed. We just need to look at U.S. history and the thousands of cases of tainted food products from greedy manufacturers in our own past, especially before a series of federal laws and crackdowns made inspections more frequent and penalties harsher.

China has not reached that point. What's worse is that we - the United States - appears to be complicit.

The Washington Post columnist John Pomfret reported this piece of bad news in his blog:
The Bush administration made the obligatory noise about cracking down on Chinese goods. But the reality was that, according to a series of agreements signed between the Bush administration and the Chinese government in Beijing in December of last year, no significant new American resources are going to be devoted to dealing with the problem. The onus is on the Chinese to clean up their act.

Today, I heard Nicholas Lardy, one of the premier economists on China, say his big takeaway from the milk scandal was simple. It was "ludicrous," he said, to expect that a country such as China (still quite poor) could police itself when it comes to product safety. The Bush administration, Lardy said, was naive to sign agreements with China that didn't commit the United States to bolstering its own systems to protect Americans from tainted products.

With only four months to go, the next Administration will be the recipients of this problem. Yet another crisis that will be dumped on its shoulders. And yet another crisis made worse by greed, shortsightedness, and incompetence at the highest levels.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

What Else is To Eat? Cookbook

Linda Coss, someone I'm written about before is the author of What's to Eat? The Milk-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free Food Allergy Cookbook and How to Manage Your Child's Life-Threatening Food Allergies: Practical Tips for Everyday Life.

She now has a new book out, What Else is to Eat? The Dairy-, Egg-, and Nut-Free Food Allergy Cookbook.

Product Description:
115 Easy, Mouth-Watering Recipes, All Completely Dairy-, Egg-, and Nut-Free!

No time to fuss? No problem! This fabulous collection of recipes by popular food allergy author Linda Coss was written with your busy lifestyle in mind. With an emphasis on fast and easy cooking, the book includes recipes for baked goods, soups and salads, main dishes, side dishes, and breakfast foods all based almost entirely on normal, easy-to-find ingredients. These are recipes that your entire family will enjoy and your guests will not believe are allergy-free. This is the milk-, egg-, and nut-free food allergy cookbook you have been looking for! Sections include: Tables of Contents & Recipe List, Introduction, Food Allergy Cooking, General Recipe Information, Recommended Equipment, Soups & Salads, Beef, Chicken, Fish, Pasta, Potatoes, Rice, Vegetables, Miscellaneous, Cake, Cookies, Muffins/Quick Breads/Breakfast Foods, Menu Ideas, Glossary, Food Allergy Resources, Measurement Equivalents, Index

About Linda Coss
When Linda Coss' oldest son (now a college student) was first diagnosed with life-threatening food allergies, this was an extremely uncommon and almost unknown condition. Few resources were available, the internet did not really exist, manufacturers were not required to list all ingredients on food packages, and schools had no experience accommodating these children s special needs. It was her experiences in learning to care for and cook for her son that motivated Ms. Coss to take action to help others.
Since then Linda Coss has written and self-published three books for the food allergy market, and is the founder and leader emeritus of a local food allergy support group (she handed over leadership after 13 years at the helm). Linda also gives presentations to both parents and medical professionals about food allergies and the issues involved in raising severely food-allergic children.

You can order her books through the usual channels or through her website.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Lactose Is a Toxic Additive?

I'm convinced that most newspapers outside of maybe The New York Times choose their selection of letters to the editor by what strikes them as hilarious rather than praiseworthy.

The range of comments in these editors prove that we are a diverse public, to stick with mild understatement.

Although opinions on politics, religion, education, and urban issues are frequently as naive and misguided as children's letters to Santa, the ones that truly concern me are the ones that state as fact things that are known to be untrue or are simply demented. Why newspapers legitimize these letters when they obviously have others they could print instead baffles me.

Case in point. Here's the Letters to the Editor page for the Chesterfield [VA] Observer for September 17, 2008.

Although we continue to hear the mantra [that there is] "no proven link" between vaccines and these disorders/diseases, conversely, there's no conclusive evidence there is not a link. A partial list of the toxic additives/adjuvants vaccines contain: lab-altered viruses and bacteria, aluminum, mercury, formaldehyde, phenoxyethanol, gluteraldehyde, sodium chloride, MSG, gelatin, lactose, hydrochloric acid, sorbitol, antibiotics, aluminum sulfate, sodium borate, sodium acetate, hydrogen peroxide, yeast protein, egg albumin, bovine and human serum albumin.

An adjuvant, by the way, is defined as "pharmacological or immunological agents that modify the effect of other agents (e.g., drugs, vaccines) while having few if any direct effects when given by themselves."

Adjuvants are not the same as inactive ingredients, since those are presumed not to modify or affect any properties of the drug involved.

Lactose is not a toxic additive. It is not an adjuvant. Neither are many of the other items contained in that list. They are merely inactive ingredients, helpful for getting the vaccine properly into the system, but nothing more.

That list sure sounds scary if you don't know that. I think it is deliberately misleading, deliberately designed to sound scary. Where does it come from? The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), which - despite the name - is simply an anti-vaccine propaganda mill.

The list of toxic additives and adjuvants is taken from the NVIC's Vaccine Safety Bulletin. Except in the original, the list is labeled simply "excipients or ingredients." Excipients are defined as "an inactive substance used as a carrier for the active ingredients of a medication." In other words, inactive ingredients. That is not at all the same thing as an adjuvant. Nor is the word "toxic" to be found anywhere in that brochure. I contend that the substitution of loaded, inflammatory, and scary words was deliberate. They sound scientific. They have exact meanings. They have a purpose. But that purpose is not objective information.

Don't be fooled by propaganda for any cause. Anti-scientific propaganda is especially bad for you. It's almost always not scientific itself, although it may be designed to sound that way. And it's almost always wrong.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Beverages in School Lunch Program Must Have Milk's Nutritional Value

Last week I informed you that "The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced [that] parents or legal guardians may request, in writing, soymilk as an alternative to cow's milk for children receiving National School Lunch and Breakfast Program meals."

That came from a press release put out by the Soyfoods Association of North America. Not surprisingly, they selectively quoted the announcement and left out the parts now about soymilk.

The International Dairy Foods Association was a little slower on the draw, but it sent out its own press release yesterday.

It also has good news for parents of lactose intolerant children.

[The] USDA also made statements that supported lactose-free milk as the beverage of choice for lactose intolerant children, although it was not included as part of the regulations. Lactose-free milk already is allowed in the school meal programs, and documentation is not required for a student to receive lactose-free milk instead of regular milk. USDA indicated that "there is no need to offer a fortified milk substitute to a student whose medical or special dietary need is lactose intolerance."

What the regulations actually say is that any other beverages served in the program must be the same nutritional value as milk:
Beverages that could substitute for fluid milk, such as soy beverage or fruit juice, will be required to be nutritionally equivalent to whole milk with regard to calcium, protein, vitamin A, vitamin D, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, riboflavin and vitamin B-12 content. Currently there are no soy beverages that provide all of these nutrients at the same level as milk.

Note the sly dig at the soyfoods people.

I still can't find the source of this information on the website. The page on the National School Lunch Program hasn't be updated since July. I'll try to find the original ruling and see what other important tidbits it might have for people who don't have a side in this fight.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

New Study Adds Finer Details to History of Lactose Tolerance

I'm written on several occasions that lactose tolerance was probably developed first in the Middle East, after dairying was invented. There people processed milk into forms that would keep longer in the heat, like yogurt, kefir, and cheese. Each of these also happens to be relatively low in lactose as well.

You can follow a gradient of lactose tolerance across Europe. The lowest percentages of tolerance (highest percentages of lactose intolerance) are in the south and east. The highest percentages of tolerance are in the north and west. This has enormous implications for food and genetic history. Drinking of higher lactose products, like milk straight from the cow, increased and dairy products spread throughout all foods. Apparently milk products and possibly even lactose tolerance produced healthier humans who could out-reproduce those who stayed lactose intolerant. The ability to better process calcium may have made up for the lack of sunlight, and the vitamin D it contains.

Doing large-scale surveys of lactose tolerance or intolerance was difficult in the past because few people would want to take a lactose tolerance test if they didn't have to. You'd need very large samples to determine finer shading of tolerance within a country, though. Genetic testing today is easy and large genetic samples exist.

That's what stimulated an article published in the European Journal of Human Genetics. "Lactase persistence-related genetic variant: population substructure and health outcomes," by George Davey Smith et al. (advance online publication 17 September 2008; doi: 10.1038/ejhg.2008.156).

The abstract said in part:

We genotyped the C/T-13910 variant (rs4988235) that constitutes the putatively causal allele for lactase persistence (T allele representing persistence) in a general population sample of 3344 women aged 60–79 years from 23 towns across Britain. We found an overall frequency of 0.253 for the C (lactase non-persistence) allele, but with considerable gradients of decreasing frequency from the south to the north and from the east to the west of Britain for this allele.

In simpler language, the same pattern that stretches across Europe can be found in miniature across Britain. Those in the north and west, which have even less sun, have higher rates of lactose tolerance than those in the south. This also correlates with the traditional invasion patterns, with the earlier inhabitants often descended from Scandinavian countries, known to have very high percentages of lactose tolerance, having been displaced to the north and west by later influxes.

This bit of correlation to earlier studies helps clarify what is still a fuzzy picture of the spread of lactose tolerance.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

How Good for You Is Kefir?

Kefir is pretty good for you, wrote Elena Conis in a Los Angeles Times article titled Kefir is nutritious but larger health claims are on shakier ground. Beware the silly and exaggerated claims of the propagandist food faddists.

What is kefir? For those who don't know:

Kefir grains.

Kefir's closest cousin is yogurt, also made by fermenting milk with bacteria. But kefir is fermented with more and different types of bacteria, in addition to yeast, which means the final product has more of the beneficial microorganisms, or "probiotics," that first made yogurt a popular health food. Probiotics can control the growth of harmful bacteria and aid digestion, and some even manufacture vitamins in the gut.

Conis wrote that at base, kefir has some desirable nutrients, saying "The drink is a good source of calcium, protein and potassium (and less desirably, in its fruit-flavored forms, sugar)."

It's the more advanced claims that haven't been proven for humans.

Whether the drink is any more immune-boosting than, say, spinach, or any other nutrient-dense food, remains to be seen. Claims that kefir can help cure cancer stem from findings that the drink, or some of its components, hindered tumor cells in test tubes and lab animals. In vitro, kefir has been shown to slow the growth of breast cancer cells. In mice injected with cancer cells, it has slowed the development of tumors and increased the activity of such immune system cells as so-called natural killer and T-helper cells. A 2007 Japanese study suggested the drink may do the same in humans: 19 adults who drank kefir daily for three weeks had unusually active natural killer cells.

But such research is challenging to interpret. It not only has focused largely on rodents but also has used kefir products made with limited bacterial starter cultures to pinpoint which culture may be responsible for the potential benefits. The effects that grocery-store kefir might have on cancer patients haven't been studied in rigorous clinical trials.

Some commercials kefirs add even more probiotics to the mix, as I wrote in Probiotic Kefir Healthier Alternative to Yogurt

What's more important for those of us who are lactose intolerant is that kefir is as good or better than yogurt in reducing symptoms.

If there's one thing kefir may be most likely to do, it's aid in digestive health. Like yogurt, kefir contains lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose, the dominant sugar in milk. In a 2003 study of 15 adults unable to digest lactose, Ohio State University researchers found that drinking kefir reduced lactose maldigestion symptoms -- including bloating, stomach pain and gas -- by 70%. French researchers produced similar findings; they've also shown that kefir can speed recovery from diarrhea in infants.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

FDA Holds Hearing on Food Labels

"If you go down the candy aisle and you pick up any number of candy bars or other confectionery products, you are going to see a variety of these 'may contain'-type labels: 'may contain peanuts,' 'processed on shared equipment,' 'manufactured in a facility that processes peanuts or milk or whatever it is,'" said Anne Munoz Furlong, founder of The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network in Fairfax, Va. "Nobody knows what it means. Some [labels] are completely ridiculous, and the result is that consumers are confused and are forced to have very limited food choices or take risks."

"We would like to see all of the food industry adopt one set of criteria for using these descriptions and a limited number of those descriptions," Furlong added. "There are about 30 different ways to say 'may contain' on the marketplace. That's way too many."

Furlong, quoted in the Washington Post, was set to testify on a public hearing concerning food labeling of allergens on September 16.

She's not alone. A story on, by Joseph Brownstein, Samantha Honig and Kate Barrett, quoted several others who also want to see changes, with the best argument coming from one allergist.
"I think it's reasonable to be able to tell people whether or not something's in the food you're trying to sell them," said Dr. Michael Daines, a pediatric allergist and immunologist at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. ...

According to Daines, the current system of placing advisory labels on products just in case that happens allows "very risk-averse" companies to put a label on any food that has a chance of containing an allergen, thereby avoiding a lawsuit.

"If it says, 'does contain,' that means something," Daines told "If it says, 'may contain,' it's just pushing the liability onto the patient." ...

"It should very clearly state on the front of the package whether it contains the common food allergens," Daines said. "Anything that would state clearly whether it contains those or not would be a big step in the right direction."

Other people than me have made their own complaints recently that newspapers tell us what is going to happen, but often fail to cover what actually did happen.

Case in point. None of the major news outlets which provided lengthy stories ahead of the hearing bothered to revisit the issue and tell us what was said at the hearing.

Fortunately, I did find some coverage at
Industry groups and FDA officials emphasized that advisory labels are not a replacement for "good manufacturing practices" that curb the risk of cross-contamination.

Alison Bodor, vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs for the National Confectioners Association, urged the FDA to establish allergen "thresholds," which attempt to gauge what levels of an allergen can safely be present in a food without causing an allergic reaction.

She cautioned that thorough cleaning or using separate equipment entirely is unrealistic for many manufacturers, and that despite the vagueness of some companies' warnings, people should heed them carefully.

Public advocates also testified about the problems allergy sufferers face daily trying to find safe food for themselves and their families.

Anne Carter of the Food Allergy Group of Northern Virginia said some group members are playing Russian roulette with food labels; teenagers and young adults are especially at risk when they start to make food decisions for themselves, she says.

FAAN member Lisa Punt shared a story about her now-teenaged son, who has a severe nut allergy. She recalled how she made sure to have plenty of candy corn at past Halloweens because it was one of the few foods her son could safely eat. But it soon became impossible to find candy corn without advisory warnings.

"Does candy corn really have walnuts, pecans, or cashews in it? Nobody knows," she said.

The FDA is accepting public comments on the issue through Jan. 14, 2009, to help develop its long-term strategy.

"Once we get all those comments in, that will be a major evaluation for the agency," said Barbara Schneeman, PhD, director of the Office of Nutrition, Labeling and Dietary Supplements at the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

January isn't too far off, but time will be needed to digest the comments, create new legislation, get comments on that, get it through Congress, and set up a date for compliance if it ever gets signed into law. That's a long way away, if ever, and who knows what objections the industry will have that will water down provisions or kill the bill entirely. The current 2004 law went into effect on Jan. 1, 2006, and that took many years of effort to get passed. The effort was worth it because that labeling act required major improvements in labeling practice. The next bill would be another step forward. Let's hope we don't have too many years before we see it.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Get a Kick in Your Dairy-Air

Connie Goff, of the Maryville MO, Daily Forum, wrote a little promotional article celebrating the opening of Maria Jones' Sweet Dairy-Air soft-serve ice cream store.

Why would I be mentioning it here? Because of the following astounding sentence:

Flavor Burst ice cream is a lactose product, so those with lactose intolerance problems will find that it will be just the right treat for them.

That doesn't even make sense if you put a "not" in there. (Why would anyone phrase it to say "it will not be just the right treat"?) Could she have possibly meant that Flavor Burst ice cream is a lactose-free product? I doubt it. I searched their web site and found no evidence that that might be true.

Just another day of my scratching my head over the weirdness of the world.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Lactaid Recipe Page

Lactaid is the leading brand in the world of lactose-free milk and lactase pills, at least in the U.S.

It maintains a Recipe Page with the following categories on it:

Appetizers & Snacks
Ethnic Dishes
Main Dishes
Side Dishes

Readers have rated the recipes from one to five stars, so you check which ones meet their approval. Some of the recipes have over 800 ratings!

There must be dozens if not hundreds of recipes on the site, so you can dig in for a long time.

Of course, you need to remember that lactose-free milk is real cow dairy milk so this is only for those who are lactose intolerant or otherwise trying to avoid lactose, and definitely not for those with milk allergies.

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Whey Protein

Whey, you should remember from Lactose Intolerance 101, is the watery portion of milk that gets separated from the solider curds during cheesemaking. Take away the water and you have a mass of whey protein and lactose left. Both can be processed out and used in all sorts of ways. No pun intended.

There are two basic types of whey protein. Whey protein concentrate is just the powder that's left when the liquid whey is dried. It has a heavy lactose content, sometimes more than 50%. Whey protein isolate, as the name indicates, tries to isolate just the whey protein by removing the lactose. Whey protein isolate should be at least 99% pure protein, and I've seen it used in products that advertise themselves as lactose free.

How do you know what to do if the product doesn't specify concentrate or isolate? Unless there are other obvious signs, like a lactose-free label, I would avoid these products until I could doublecheck with the manufacturer.

I found a site called that has a multitude of articles on all things whey. The following is from Lactose Free Whey Protein:

Like the regular whey protein food supplements which come in the form of shakes or concentrates, lactose free whey protein food products help in muscle gain and in boosting the body�s energy level and immune system. These provide lactose intolerant people the complete health benefits of whey protein without causing gastrointestinal discomfort, diarrhea and other symptoms that affect daily life activities.

Lactose free whey protein food supplements are manufactured through the process called micro filtration. This process uses a ceramic filter to remove fat, carbohydrate and lactose from whey and isolate and purify whey protein. For every 100 grams of whey powder, 94 grams of protein is recovered which is relatively free of lactose, carbohydrate and fat. This final product is ideal in formulating food supplements fit not only for lactose intolerant individuals but also for those who are under the Atkins diet and other ketogenic diets.

Even though milk allergies can be specific to either the casein family of proteins or the whey family of proteins, many people are allergic to both. I would not recommend whey protein products for anyone who has a dairy protein allergy.

There's also a rarer variant called milk protein that will also have casein powder. It comes in a variety of blends that range from 46% lactose to 1% lactose.

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Hip Kosher Cooking

The rules of keeping kosher mandate that milk and meat can never be served together. Therefore, any kosher meal that contains meat will be dairy-free. There's also a third class of foods known as parve (or pareve) that are neutral foods that contain neither milk nor meat. Plant foods are parve is no dairy is added. (Fish is also parve, which can be confusing and a problem for vegans, but not for those just looking to avoid dairy.

The milk substitute industry in the U.S. was born with firms seeking to making acceptable substitutes for kosher audiences. Today, more and more kosher chefs are relying on these products to extend the tradition range of kosher cooking to more modern-sounding dishes, foods that might actually be called "hip."

At least that's how Ronnie Fein titled her new cookbook, Hip Kosher.

"I don't know if I'm hip, but my food is," says Fein, whose book includes outside-the-box options such as a kosher Cubano sandwich, in which corned beef, turkey and soy cheese replace the more traditional ham and roasted pork.

An article from the Canadian Press explained the origin and breadth of this trend.
This new, more cosmopolitan look to kosher is due in part to the growing affluence and influence of American Jews, says Deborah Dash Moore, a historian and director of the University of Michigan's Frankel Center for Judaic Studies.

It also doesn't hurt that Americans as a whole are expecting more from their dinner plates.

"With TV shows like 'Top Chef' and the programs on the Food Network, people are becoming more aware of food," says Tamara Holt, food editor for the recently launched (and also very hip) Jewish Living magazine.

"That's no different for people who keep kosher," she says. "It just presents additional challenges."

And those challenges have become less daunting. A vast - and ever expanding - array of kosher foods, including non-dairy milks and vegetarian sausages, makes substitutions easy.

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Should Cats Go Vegan?

Should Cats Go Vegan? was the title on Kathy Covey's The Cat's Meow column on

I didn't have to read the article to know that the answer is a firm "no."

Cats are carnivores. Humans are omnivores. Humans can easily subsist on an all-plant diet. Carnivores can survive one, but it takes special effort and is contrary to their basic natures.

Vegan cats are examples of animal cruelty. Sometimes I wonder if vegans really understand the concept.

Choice, people. If you want to choose a vegan diet for yourselves, go for it. But don't inflict it on others. That's the same logic you use to condemn others for eating animals. Now apply it to yourselves.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Parents Can Now Ask Schools to Serve Soymilk

A press release from the Soyfoods Association of North America alerted parents to new rules from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced parents or legal guardians may request, in writing, soymilk as an alternative to cow's milk for children receiving National School Lunch and Breakfast Program meals. This change caters to the growing diversity of participants in the School Nutrition Programs and allows children with lactose intolerance, dairy allergies or cultural diet restrictions to have an alternative source of calcium at school mealtime.


Recognizing the need for alternative calcium sources and low-calorie nutrient sources, USDA has included fortified soymilk in food supplement programs such as the Women, Infant, and Children Supplemental Food Packages and now the National School Lunch and Breakfast Program. The USDA Food Pyramid for Young Children also identifies soymilk as an alternative to dairy milk. The Institute of Medicine report, Nutrition Standards for Foods in Schools, recommends fortified soymilk be offered as a source of calcium for school children of all ages.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Vomiting in Infants with Lactose Intolerance

The history of lactose intolerance (LI) is odd in almost every way.

The condition was first recognized in the 1950s, in babies who were born without the ability to digest lactose, a condition now called congenital lactose intolerance. This is an extremely rare, not even one-in-a-million births, event.

So naturally doctors were rocked to the tips of their stethoscopes when they found that not only was LI fairly common, it is the natural condition of all mankind (and all other mammals), occurring in about 70% of all humans alive today.

When studies and surveys were conducted on almost every ethnic group and national population on earth in the 1970s, an interesting side fact emerged. The populations with the smallest overall percentage of LI - which turned out to be, not surprisingly, the northern Europeans whose doctors had never discovered the problem - also were the populations in which the onset of LI occurred at the latest age. In fact, the condition was called adult-onset lactose intolerance for a while to distinguish it from congenital lactose intolerance.

But with time and investigation, researchers finally realized that in those populations in which almost everyone had the normal version of the gene, the one that turned off lactase production sometime after weaning, most children became LI before adulthood.

And then came another surprising finding. Almost any ailment that impacted the gastrointestinal system could temporarily knock out the lactase making ability, since that happens at vulnerable places on the inside of the small intestine. This became known as temporary lactose intolerance.

Today, three types of LI are recognized, and the names have more or less stabilized at congenital LI, secondary (rather than temporary) LI, and primary (rather than adult-onset) LI. The last two can occur at any age.

Even babies, who aren't supposed to be LI at any time - that interferes with breastfeeding, since human milk has the highest lactose content of any mammal's milk - can get secondary LI. They can, and do. A lot. Any ordinary "stomach flu" - which is really a gastrointestinal ailment not located in the stomach - can stop lactase production for weeks until the intestines heal.

One other oddity. Even though vomiting is so rare a symptom of primary LI that most people, even me, tell anyone who vomits that LI isn't the cause, babies with secondary LI can and do vomit as a symptom. (Here's one of the first medical journal articles to report this, Severe lactose intolerance with lactosuria and vomiting, by A. Hosková, et al., Arch Dis Child. 1980 April; 55(4): 304–305.)

This tends to confuse everyone. You can search - as I did, which is why I'm writing this - and finds lots of non-academic sites on the net which will tell you flatly that vomiting is never a symptom. Or that babies who vomit must be allergic to milk rather than LI. I don't know for sure which is more common, but my first thought with a baby who was never bothered by milk but now vomits because of it would definitely be secondary LI.

Talk to your pediatrician and check this out if this happens to your child.

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Hasn't Australia Heard of Lactose Intolerance?

OK, I admit that in 1978, when I was first diagnosed, I had never heard the term lactose intolerance. That was a full 30 years ago. I thought it was common knowledge everywhere on the planet.

Then I saw this article on coeliac disease in the Australian newspaper, The Age.

Coeliacs have an auto-immune disorder of the small intestine; they comprise about 1% of Australia's population. A further 1% to 2% of adults suffer allergic reactions to products such as cow's milk, wheat, peanuts, eggs, soy, fish and seafood. And then there's the fast-growing, if less easily quantified, group who are intolerant of substances such as fructose and lactose, but whose symptoms fall outside the medical definitions of food allergy.

I imagine that the percentage of people in Australia who are lactose intolerant hasn't changed much in decades. Awareness of it may have grown, but not the underlying condition.

In addition, the symptoms of both fructose and lactose intolerance overlap those of food allergies. They are entirely different conditions - both from allergies and from each other - so they are indeed outsiders in that sense, but that is hardly the understanding you would get from that article.

My work is never done.

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RSS Feed Through Feedburner

You can now get the posts sent to you directly through an RSS feed.

Click on the "Subscribe to Planet Lactose" text in the upper left corner and follow the instructions.

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Monday, September 08, 2008

Oops. The "American Dairy Board" Doesn't Exist

The anti-milk forces seem to be everywhere. Looks may be deceiving. What if it's really one small set of people who keep repeating the same set of lies and nonsense over and over again?

I began to suspect that this might be the case when I came across this standard diatribe about milk, "Don't Drink Milk, by Barbara Bonsignore, credited originally to the Concord Monitor. (Which makes it sound like a newspaper article. It isn't. It was a letter to the editor, with exactly as much credence as those deserve.) She wrote:

Milk is a natural and is good for a body - if you are a calf. Although the American Dairy Board is paid millions to tell people that they must drink milk and eat dairy products, humans do very well on a dairy-free diet. Even the late Dr. Spock, the famous pediatrician, advised that children be raised without dairy products.

That reference to the "American Dairy Board" stopped me for a moment. There is no American Dairy Board, of course. There is an American Dairy Association, however. A small point, except that it seemed to me that I've seen that mistake before.

So I started Googling and the results were fascinating.

Start here, on Oct. 26, 2006 on, credited to JSun, a yoga instructor:
Yes, the American Dairy Board has done a very effective job of marketing this product. Most people believe they need to consume large, daily quantities of milk to achieve good health. NOTHING could be further from the truth.

Compare that to this post on, credited to Dr. Joseph Mercola, who probably originated it since several other sites cite him:
Yes, the American Dairy Board has done a very effective job of marketing this product. Most people believe they need to consume large, daily quantities of milk to achieve good health. NOTHING could be further from the truth.

You find the name in an English language post on a Polish site called The Myth of Protein Supplements, made on June 26, 2006:
However, the American Dairy Board has done a very effective job of marketing milk.

Oddly enough, that same article appears, dated July 11, 2007, as by Kevin Richardson, on, except that it was titled The Myth Behind Protein Supplements.

Dr. Linda Posh, in a post titled "Got Milk? Hope Not." dated Feb. 1, 2008 on a blog called Specialty Sites 24-7 cleverly rewrote the sentence slightly:
The American Dairy Board has done a bang up wonderful job of promoting this atrocious food as a must have in the American diet. The majority believe that milk is a must have for a complete wholesome diet. Nothing is further from the truth.

Are all these coincidences? Somehow, I can't bring myself to believe it. Are they all the same person? Blatant plagiarists? Fronts for a organization? I don't know.

I do know that as soon as you see "American Dairy Board" mentioned on an anti-milk site, you can stop reading. I suppose I appreciate the shortcut that keeps me from wasting my time with them, but that doesn't make up for the disinformation that they (he? she? it?) are spreading across the Internet. Fie on them.

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Sunday, September 07, 2008

Burps, Bloating, and Flatulence

The Canadian site C•Health has a nice primer on the basics of gas production. the kind that takes place inside the body.

"Forgive me": the facts about flatulence
If swallowed air doesn't make its way out in the form of a burp, it may migrate from the stomach down into the colon. Here is where a burp can become a fart. Gas in the colon also comes from the natural breakdown of food by bacteria in the colon. The food that is not digested in the stomach and small intestine moves to the large intestine for breakdown; this includes carbohydrates such as undigested fibre from fruits and veggies or lactose after eating dairy products.

And as with a belch, flatulence needs to flee our body. This time it passes through a different sphincter, the anal sphincter, but the concept is the same: Air vibrates as it passes through a tiny, pinched up opening and out comes that familiar whoopee cushion sound of passing gas.

And that odour that most people are afraid of others detecting? That actually comes from the bacteria that break down the food in the colon. This bacteria release small amounts of sulphur-containing gases. Yes, the same "rotten-egg" sulphur of stink bomb fame.

"Time to loosen my belt": the nuts and bolts of the bloat
Bloating isn't something you hear or smell, but you will likely feel it. Bloating is the particular sensation of fullness and swelling caused by gas that builds up in the stomach and intestines. The bloating may cause some abdominal pain or discomfort, especially right after you eat. It can accompany burping or breaking wind or be caused by a medical condition that affects the digestive system. Those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or lactose intolerance may experience frequent bloating.

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Saturday, September 06, 2008

Major Historic Lactose Tolerance Study Launched

With all the recent scientific attention - see my posts Dairying More Than 8000 Years Old and Genetic Map of Europe Features the Lactase Mutation - on the mutation that allows adults to drink milk without symptoms, the history of milking and milk drinking is becoming vital to the understanding of the spread of modern humans.

ScienceDaily reported that "In a major EU project, being launched today and coordinated by Uppsala University in Sweden, researchers will now study when and where this capacity emerged and what it entailed."

The researchers - 15 research teams with different specializations in genetics, organic chemistry, and archeology:

will follow the tracks of milk throughout Europe, making use of a model for the spread of genes in order to follow the dissemination of the mutation. In this model the frequency of the mutation increases along the 'frontline' of the dissemination¬-that is, we in Scandinavia, on the periphery, should thus have the highest frequency of the specific gene.

Fascinating stuff, even if we'll probably have to wait several years for the results of the research to start trickling in.

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Friday, September 05, 2008

Terry Traub's Allergies 101

I alerted you to Terry Traub's book, Food to Some, Poison to Others, last week.

Looks like Traub is going to be this season's hot new flavor among authors, appearing everywhere and dispensing advice like Joanna Allergyseed.

It's good advice, though, judging by this long article on

I'm excerpting some of it, but you should go to the site and read more.

· Emphasize the long-term benefits of good health. Explain to your child that he's eating his "special foods" not just so he can feel better today, but so he'll be healthier and happier for a lifetime. Connect the notion of vibrant health to concrete things he can relate to -- playing football like his favorite athlete, for example. "You might add that the classmates he sees eating lots of processed junk foods will likely have health problems later," notes Traub.

· Make sure the whole family eats the same foods -- at least, most of the time. No one is saying the non-allergy-sufferers in your family can't have a "forbidden" food on occasion, but refrain from preparing two separate meals -- one for the allergic child and one for everyone else. This will make your child feel that the allergy-free diet is a "punishment" and unfair. Instead, choose tasty recipes (and there are plenty of great options out there!) and no one will have to feel deprived.

· Send a few extra treats for your child to share with friends. If your child has a favorite, especially delicious snack or candy, send several extra servings in her lunchbox so she can share them with friends. When other kids see her special food as desirable, they may not tease her so much. In fact, she may start to feel privileged, rather than deprived.

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Pitter Patties

Another in the long series of mothers who took mattes into their own hands because of their children, Kerry Williams and Susan Stahly started Pitter Patties.

Made of tasty blends of vegetables, proteins, and whole grains, Pitter Patties are muffin-shaped frozen entrées which can be heated in minutes and served to hungry toddlers, or kids of all ages.

An article by Joann Groff in the Thousand Oaks Acorn said that:

Williams and Stahly have recently teamed up with a pediatric dietician to develop further varieties, perhaps focusing on children's allergies.

"Kids' allergies seem to be growing at a very fast rate," Williams said. "A lot of parents are looking for glutenfree alternatives. We already have two glutenfree varieties and two dairyfree."

The ladies call Pitter Patties "pickupable," which means they can be eaten without silverware if kids aren't "fork ready."

"They can pick it up and eat it themselves, which is good for me because I have the most independent children," Williams said. "I can really avoid trying to feed them with a spoon. It's one less problem."

United Natural Foods Inc. has picked up Pitter Patties and is distributing them throughout California.

Their website lists "Five fantastic varieties - Yammy Chicken, Spinach Patch, Confetti Burger, Pasghetty, & Cheezini."

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Milk Relieves Exercise Pain

I have an old page on my website called Questions Even I Couldn't Answer.

One was on whether lactose intolerance (LI) could cause back pain. I've never seen any studies that would lead me to think that there could be any relationship. The only connection would be something tangentially mentioned by someone in an email, that intestinal pain might be felt in the back. That's not very scientific, though.

I was reminded of this only because I ran across a medical study that came to the reverse conclusion: Milk helps exercise recovery: researchers by Shane Sterling at

The study, "Acute milk-based protein–CHO supplementation attenuates exercise-induced muscle damage," by Emma Cockburn, Philip R Hayes, Duncan N French, Emma Stevenson, and Alan St Clair Gibson, appeared in Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, volume 33(4): 775–783 (2008).

"At 48 hour post-EIMD [exercise-induced muscle damage], milk and milk-based protein–CHO supplementation resulted in the attenuation of decreases in isokinetic muscle performance and increases in creatine kinase and myoglobin," the researchers wrote.

"This study supports the growing volume of literature which suggests that milk is a powerful post exercise recovery aid," said Dr Judith Bryans, a registered nutritionist and director of The Dairy Council in the UK.

"Previous research has shown milk to be an effective rehydration solution, while this is the first study to suggest that drinking milk following muscle-damaging exercise may decrease muscle damage."

EIMD occurs when protein structures break down within the muscle, and reduces muscle performance.

"The results found that, when consumed immediately after resistance-based muscle damaging exercise, both semi-skimmed milk and milk-based CHO-P helped to preserve more muscle than either the sports drink or water," the Dairy Council said.

Sports drinks are mostly expensive sugar water, just like vitamin drinks, in my opinion, so there's little surprise in finding that other liquids are superior. But who would have thought milk would be best? Not PETA, I'm sure.

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Functional Food: Benecol Strawberry and Berries Drink

European countries in general are in the forefront of the manufacture of functional foods, foods that contain extra nutrients or claim to have healthy properties.

And the Finnish company Raisio Group owns the Benecol brand which is is marketed by Raisio Group, as well as McNeil Nutritionals and Cilag GmbH International, in more than 30 countries.

Every year Benecol offers more new products. Last year I wrote about Benecol Adds Tropical Fruit Flavored Soy Drinks.

This year's launch is for The Strawberry and Berries Dairy Free Drink.

Quoting that press release:

Esther Van Onselen, Marketing Manager for Benecol, said; “We’ve been really pleased with the first-year sales of Benecol Tropical Dairy Free Drink and it’s brought in new consumers to the cholesterol-reducing category. Strawberry and Berries is a popular combination that offers non-dairy consumers a tasty new way to take control of their cholesterol, through an everyday and easy addition to their diet.”

Over two thirds of UK adults have raised cholesterol, the number one cause of heart related problems. Benecol contains the unique ingredient Plant Stanol Ester, which is clinically proven to reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol by up to 14% after just 2 weeks. Drinking just one bottle of Benecol’s Dairy Free Drink every day, in combination with a healthy diet and lifestyle, can significantly lower cholesterol to help maintain a healthy heart.

The new flavour dairy free drink will be available in all major supermarkets by the end of the year. Roll out will begin with Tesco, where the product will be stocked from 1st September 2008. The RRP is £3.69 for a six-pack.

Benecol drinks don't appear to be available in the U.S. yet, although other Benecol products are. Although I can't confirm all the promised health benefits claimed, I'm positive that these drinks are smarter purchases in the long run than the ridiculously overpriced and overpromised vitamin-infused waters that are the craze.

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Monday, September 01, 2008

Gustav Victims Will Need Your Help

Do any of you think that it's a struggle to get specialty foods for your families or children? Do you have to go out of your way to obtain them? Do you look at the costs of lactose-free or non-dairy baby formulas and foods and wince?

Then imagine the worry and suffering that people who have been evacuated from or are direct victims of Hurricane Gustav will be going through in the new few days and weeks.

Numerous relief agencies are gearing up to get supplies to hundreds of thousands of people, not just along the American Gulf Coast but throughout the Caribbean.

Check the websites of these organizations and follow their directions closely. Travel and delivery will be extremely difficult in hurricane-ravaged areas, so they'll know how best to get the supplies to the right people.

Here are some websites of international, non-profit, secular agencies that are soliciting donations for Gustav.

The American Red Cross

World Care

Pan American Relief

Check your local newspapers and media for other organizations in your area.

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