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 However, product information and weblinks may be out of date.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, December 23, 2009

Good Afternoon, Calgary

A little late, unless they do reruns or repeats, but I did a live interview with Canadian radio station CHQR today. Mike Blanchard interviewed me to get my reactions on an article that had appeared in the Toronto Globe and Mail called "Is milk good for your kids?"

Hey, you know me. Try to pin me down on a complicated, contentious subject and I strike back with a forthright "Yes. And No." Which I believe strongly.

The article is mostly one sided, with eminent doctors citing studies that have shown some negative effect of milk. These articles are true but the kind of truth that results from not mentioning any studies on the other side, like those that show that low-fat milk can help control, even lower, high blood pressure and so lower hypertension. The alternative view is given by representatives of farmers groups, who unfairly are not given a chance to cite particular studies.

If you read carefully you see that even the nay-sayers are reluctant to remove milk from children's diet. They do question whether the Canadian government guidelines should proclaim it to be "essential".

I agree that milk is definitely not essential for those children and adults who are allergic to milk. A great many alternatives now can be found in stores, "milk" substitutes made from soy, rice, nuts, hemp, and coconuts. Parents need to compare the nutritional labeling to regular milk to ensure that the nutrients these "milks" contains are close to the original. With dozens of different brands and styles and market segments aimed for, ingredients often vary widely.

Those of us who are lactose intolerant can use these products as well, but we can also find ready-made lactose-free milk and other diary products or use lactase pills - several brands of which are made by Canadian companies - to reduce symptoms if you're having regular dairy products.

Dairy is well known for high calcium content in a palatable form. There is calcium in cheese and pizza and ice cream and custards and all the other delicious dairy products that are omnipresent in western food cultures. You can trying getting your kids to load up on green vegetables and fish for their calcium but many parents report that it's a harder job.

And there is a hidden danger of merely yanking milk away from a group likely to drink large quantities of it. The alternative is all too often not soy "milk" but soda. Sweet soda contains twice as much sugar per glass than milk does and has virtually none of the many nutrients milk is famous for, according to

In short:

• Know what problem you're trying to solve.
• Know both the pros and cons of the food you're concerned about and the food you want to replace it with.
• Learn whether your child will accept and adapt to the new diet.
• Learn to stop being frightened. Unless you child had a true allergy, which only affects 2-3% of children, and therefore must eliminate milk, dairy products are always an option. They may not be essential. They may not be necessary, since vegans can have perfectly healthy diet with the same kind of attention and intimate knowledge of their food that I suggest. But there is no good reason to think that they are actively harmful. The data is sketchy and limited. We need better studies all around before we start eliminating major food groups.

In the end it's a private choice for adults and a reasoned choice for parents of children. You can keep a child perfectly healthy and happy either way. Convenience, cost, and availability, especially of packaged food, restaurant meals, and eating with Friends and family, may become the determining factor.

You can find a middle course through the dueling experts. It's called common sense. Parents are good at finding that middle ground, even in a subject as contentious and poorly understood as milk and dairy.

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