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 However, product information and weblinks may be out of date.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

Monday, May 31, 2010

Vegan Boulangerie

The Vegan Boulangerie: The best of traditional French baking . . . egg and dairy-free is by Marianne and Jean-Michel. No last names. Sadly, our computerized world doesn't handle the lack of last names very well. Amazon insists on listing them as Marianne Marianne and Jean-Michel Jean-Michel. I'm pretty sure that's wrong.

Trafford Trade Paperback
144 pages
List Price: $14.99

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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Dairy Free Cooking: Tips on Healthy Eating Following Cancer

Lois Whittaker brings us a serious look at the often frivolous world of cooking in Dairy Free Cooking: Tips on Healthy Eating Following Cancer.

Product Description
This cookery book is full of tips and advice about adopting a dairy-free diet, what you can and can't eat and how to adapt recipes so that you can still enjoy chocolate, cakes and the occasional treat, as well as make great meals for all the family without constantly having to cook something separate for yourself. It includes over 50 delicious recipes from soups, starters and salads, risottos and pasta sauces, fish, meat, chicken - and of course a selection of delicious desserts. All the recipes use readily-available ingredients and are written in an easy step-by-step style. This is a real lick-the-spoon sort of cookbook to encourage people to get cooking! Why dairy free nutrition plays a big role in fighting cancer and cow's milk is increasingly being linked to certain cancers, due to the hormones and other growth factors found in milk. In addition lactose intolerance is on the rise, affecting 10 per cent of north Europeans and 50 per cent of Mediterraneans. This book shows how to eat dairy free and still enjoy those treats. No need to worry that you are missing out on key nutrients as these are widely available from plant sources. But what your diet will be lacking is saturated animal fat, animal protein, cholesterol, hormones and growth factors. Even for those who decide that a completely dairy-free diet is not for them, then cutting down on animal fats is a much healthier option.

About the Author
Lois Whittaker became interested in healthy eating after being advised to change to a dairy free diet, following breast cancer and she has been free of cancer now for two years. Much research followed, and then the fun bit - trying recipes to ensure they were not only healthy and nutritious, but also tasted good and were easy to make - the result is this friendly book.

Evans Mitchell Books trade paperback
88 pages

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Friday, May 28, 2010

Carolyn Humphries Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Bread Recipes

Carolyn Humphries has written over 40 books, most of them about food. You can see 80% of them at her publisher's page. The latest one is Gluten-free Bread & Cake from Your Breadmaker: With Full Details for Dairy or Lactose Intolerance.

If you've been yearning for the taste and textures of real breads then here they are – but gluten free. Truly amazing alternatives! "The milk loaf is the nearest thing I’ve had to a proper white loaf since I’ve been on my wheat-free diet. It smells and tastes delicious and the texture is exceptional." This is one of the quotes from people who have used my recipes in their breadmaker and have eaten the breads to test the recipes. There are some truly wonderful loaves here. Wheat-free bread doesn't get better than these recipes.

Foulsham Trade Paperback
160 pages
List price: $16.95

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Two Gluten-Free Cookbooks by Sue Shepherd

Sue Shepherd is, according to the blurb on her publisher's site, "an accredited practicing dietician and a sufferer of coeliac disease, [and] recognized as Australia's leading dietician in the dietary management of coeliac disease and irritable bowel syndrome. She has an extensive knowledge of gluten-free food and nutrition, which she has used to produce two sell-out self-published cookbooks on the subject. Her latest book is Gluten-Free Cooking (Penguin, 2007).

No, it's not. Publishers, sheesh. The new book's full title is The Gluten-free Kitchen: 100 More Recipes for People with *gluten and lactose intolerance*irritable bowel syndrome*coeliac disease*fructose intolerance.

I Can Eat That opens with a brief explanation of intolerances. The recipes are divided into five main chapters (Plate-free food; Salads; Mains; Desserts; and Baking) and three 'mini' chapters (Soups; Comforting sides; and Puddings). The feel if this book is a little more 'comfort food' than the previous one, with a really good range of dessert and baking recipes (which are often seen as a limiting factor on a gluten-free diet).

Penguin Global Hardcover
168 pages
List price: $30.00

The book talked about in that blurb above is one that came out in 2008. Here's the info.

Gluten-Free Cooking brings together 80 recipes that can be enjoyed by sufferers of coeliac disease (gluten intolerance) along with a range of other dietary ailments including lactose and dairy intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome and fructose malabsorption. This is a practical guide for those who love their food, but are often thwarted by the sensitivity of their systems. There are recipes for fine dining, family dinners and vegetarian eating, as well as tips on how to stock a gluten-free pantry and suggestions on how to put together a sustaining breakfast and healthy lunchbox. With colour photography by renowned food photographer Ian Wallace, this is one as much for the health conscious as it is for lovers of good food.

Penguin Global Trade Paperback
152 pages
List price: $35.00

Don't ask me why an older, smaller, paperback costs more than the new hardback. I can't figure out anything that a publisher does.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Andrew Wakefield Banned in Britain

Dr. Andrew Wakefield, the doctor whose bad science, false experimentation, and faked results led to the death of children from the hysterical conclusion that autism might be caused by the MMR vaccine, was banned from medical practice in Britain.

This is a self-congratulatory pat on the back by a medical establishment that let him and his acolytes get away with literal murder for too long. Wakefield will not suffer from this ban. He's not even in England. He is - what else? - working at an alternative medicine facility in - where else? - Texas.

As I wrote last year:

Wakefield has been practically elevated into a god by the fringe nutgroups that regularly attack all mainstream medicine. The leader of the nut groups is Age of Autism, who awarded Wakefield their first, and I believe only, Galileo Award as a persecuted Man of Science. You won't be too surprised that autism diet-fad activist Jenny McCarthy and her husband Jim Carrey were Age of Autism's 2008 Couple of the Year.

And who is supporting Wakefield today? You guessed it. From Age of Autism's front page of May 26, 2010.
Meet Dr. Andrew Wakefield at The American Rally for Personal Choice Today

Join us TODAY in Chicago to show our support for vaccination choice and parental consent. Please join us live and meet Dr. Andrew Wakefield, or you can participate via satellite, or with balloons to represent all those who cannot attend but want to have their family counted.


It gets worse. Wakefield will present his side of the affair in a book called - I cannot make this up - Callous Disregard, possibly the most ironic book title of all history. The book has a foreword by - I'm still not making this up - Jenny McCarthy.

There is still no proof that vaccines cause autism, just as there is no proof that the GFCF diet, which just failed another test, can help to cure them.

Children do die of measles from not being vaccinated, though. In today's world that is the equivalent of deliberate murder. Tragedies all around.

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Monday, May 24, 2010

Kaiku Benecol ZERO

Here's a press release for a new product that might be of some interest to some of you readers.

Kaiku Food Corporation has recently developed a new dairy derivative which adds to the health benefits of two of its main product lines: cholesterol reducers and lactose-free dairy products. From the fusion of the two the new Kaiku Benecol ZERO has been created, the only dairy product that reduces high levels of cholesterol and which, at the same time, is free of lactose. From now on, those persons who are intolerant to lactose, those with gastrointestinal disorders or simply persons with heavy digestion, can enjoy the benefits of Kaiku Benecol, the most concentrated cholesterol on the market. Moreover, it is the only market product incorporating 2 grams of vegetable stanols – the optimum daily dose.

Sounds cool, right?

Of course, you may be asking yourself one question. What kind of product is it? A dairy derivative isn't quite enough information for most of us.

Well, tough. That's as much as you get in the press release. If you don't already know the answer, then you're not the target audience.

Maybe this video they put out last year for Benecol, the precursor to Benecol ZERO, might help.

That two-second shot of a bottle at the end clears it all up.

If not, go directly to the source. Kaiku Benecol. Which is entirely in Spanish.

I suppose that makes sense since Kaiku is a Spanish company. But then why the ads and press releases in English?

Another mystery of the Internet.

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Ion-Exchange Whey Protein Isolate

While grocery shopping the other day, my wife showed me a product whose first ingredient was ion-exchange whey protein isolate and asked me what that was. My next blog post, I said excitedly.

Let's break that mouthful down into parts.

Mammal's milk contains all the nutrients needed for a baby of that species to survive on even when eating nothing else. Even so, milk is mostly water. Cow's milk, for example, is 87% water. That remaining 13% is known, straightforwardly, as milk solids and has all the fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, along with the mineral nutrients like calcium and potassium. About 27% of milk solids in cow's milk are proteins. There are actually large numbers of different proteins in milk with each animal's milk containing a different spectrum of proteins. Fortunately, for our purposes, we can reduce that complicated chemistry to two major families of proteins, the casein family and the whey family.

The serum (whey) protein family consists of approximately 50% ß-lactoglobulin, 20% α-lactalbumin, blood serum albumin, immunoglobulins, lactoferrin, transferrin, and many minor proteins and enzymes.

Cow's milk is about 80% casein proteins and 20% whey proteins.

If you do the math, whey proteins are only a very small fraction of cow's milk - .13 x .27 x .20 or .007, meaning seven-tenths of one percent of the whole.

That small percentage has large consequences for us. The presence of any milk protein in a food is a warning that those with milk allergies should avoid the food. That's true even though technically some people are allergic specifically to the casein protein rather than the whey protein.

Lactose intolerance involves only the lactose, which is milk sugar rather than protein. But when milk is broken down to components for use in food processing, the first item to separate out is the casein protein. These are curds, as in curds and whey. (The separation takes much additional work to be complete, which is why anybody with a milk allergy is warned against any food with milk protein. An allergy can be triggered by millionths of a percent of protein.)

The whey fraction of the milk, as it's called, consists of much of the liquid and nearly all of the whey protein and lactose. If you remove the liquid you get dry whey protein or whey protein concentrate, anywhere from 29% to 89% whey protein. That can include a lot of lactose. For that reason those of us who are LI are always told to watch out for foods with whey protein if we're avoiding lactose.

For some extra expense, whey protein concentrate can be further purified. When the whey protein content goes over 90% it is known as whey protein isolate. And if you continue the process, all of the lactose can be removed. That's how you can see foods or whey protein supplements that claim to be lactose-free.

How to purify the whey? Two basic processes, one mechanical and one chemical.

Microfiltration and ultrafiltration (MF/UF) are just what they sound like. They sieve the particles in the whey solution for ones that are the right size and shape.

Ion-exchange is the chemical process, or technically a chemical/electrical process since the use of chemicals produce an electric charge on the proteins that can be exploited to separate them.

For our purposes, ion-exchange whey protein isolate is the better bet, since it does a better job of lowering the final lactose content. If it's strictly the protein you're looking for, MF/UF whey protein isolate does a better job of preserving all the good protein fractions.

From the consumer point of view, having an unexplained five word ingredient like ion-exchange whey protein isolate violates all the standards of the "eat simple food that you know" proselytizers.

But it's great column fodder for me. Thanks, food industry!

Information has been taken from:
• The Whey Protein Institutes's FAQ (
• Cornell University's "Whey Protein" page (
• Neutraceutical World's "Whey Protein Isolates - Production, Composition And Nutritional Facts" by Matthew Deshler(
•'s "How whey protein is made" pages (

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

GFCF Diet Does Not Help Autistic Children

Next year is finally here. It's hard to believe that it was all back in 2007 that I wrote:

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.

The study results were finally announced. The headline from the UofR's press release is not encouraging, Popular Autism Diet Does Not Demonstrate Behavioral Improvement: Tightly controlled study saw no benefits for sleep, attention and bowel function

This is not the long-term wide-ranging study that was expected. These results are based on a small sample of only 14 children, whose diet was changed for only 18 weeks. Specifically, they were put onto a strict gluten-free, casein-free (GFCF) diet. After a month of complete avoidance, once a week they were given a snack that contained wheat or dairy or neither on a random basis. Their behavior was carefully scrutinized both the days before and after the snack to try to determine whether adding these supposed risk factors to their diets changed anything. They did not. They "had no change in attention, activity, sleep or frequency or quality of bowel habits."

As usual, the scientists involved were cautious in their conclusions.
"It would have been wonderful for children with autism and their families if we found that the GFCF diet could really help, but this small study didn't show significant benefits," said Susan Hyman, M.D., associate professor of Pediatrics at Golisano Children's Hospital at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) and principal investigator of the study which will be presented Saturday (May 22) at the International Meeting for Autism Research in Philadelphia. "However, the study didn't include children with significant gastrointestinal disease. It's possible those children and other specific groups might see a benefit."

Belief in the GFCF diet is essentially a religious belief at this point. If it "helps," it's because you see the results that you want to see, read into it the cure that you want to happen. There is no scientific or medical backing for such a belief. That may change in the future with a larger and deeper study. Certainly the researchers would have loved to announce a positive result. They couldn't.

Can we please stop giving any credence to Jenny McCarthy about anything that comes out of her mouth? She hurts children rather than helps them. Nonsense is not healthy for anybody. As I've said before, stupidity kills. Let's act from wisdom instead.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sunflower Seeds May Contain Dairy Items

Dairy in Sunflower Seeds? I haven't seen that warning before. But here's the Dallas Healthy Trends Examiner news article with the warning.

Certain varieties of BIGS Sunflower Seeds have been voluntarily recalled by the manufacturer. A healthy snack, BIGS brand sunflower seeds are sold nationwide at convenience stores, gas stations supermarkets, sporting goods stores and US military commissaries, and BIGS Original Salted & Roasted Sunflower Seeds subject to recall are sold in the Dallas Metroplex.

Ryt-way Industries LLC has voluntarily recalled its BIGS Original Salted & Roasted Sunflower Seeds because of an undeclared allergen. The recalled BIGS Salted & Roasted Sunflower Seeds may contain dairy items, although dairy is not listed in the ingredients and a dairy allergen warning is not printed on the label. Sunflower seeds are a healthy snack that are not generally known to contain dairy, so it could be a danger to those with food allergies.

Ashland Frugal Living Examiner added a few pertinent facts:
Ryt-way Industries has recalled BIGS Original Salted and Roasted Sunflower Seeds sold in 5.35 oz packaging. These recalled products have "best by" dates of 30May2011 and 31May2011 on them. The upc code number found on the bags is 896887002196.

Consumers affected by sunflower seed recall can return the recalled BIGS Original Salted & Roasted Sunflower Seeds for a full refund. For more information, see the BIGS Sunflower Seeds website or call 1-877-722-7556.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Milk Allergic Kids May Be At Higher Risk for Peanut Allergy

A major, albeit preliminary, research project conducted by The Consortium of Food Allergy Research "studied more than 500 infants between the ages of 3 and 15 months old with egg or milk allergies," Denise Reynolds RD reported on the EmaxHealth website.

None of the infants were known by their parents or doctors to have a peanut allergy at the start of the study. Yet,

more of the infants had elevated levels of IgE antibodies to peanuts than anticipated. Second, some of the infants had such high levels that they may already be allergic to peanuts without their parents being aware.

Eggs, milk, and peanuts are the three most common allergenic foods for infants. The study researchers encourage families of children with an egg or milk allergy to talk with their doctor before incorporating peanuts or peanut products into their children’s diets.

The children in the study will continued to be watched until they are five years old to determine whether peanut allergies become apparent, meaning that a direct link can be assumed.

The study was published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. (DOI: 10.1016/j.jaci.2010.02.038).

For additional information about the study, the National Institutes of Health has a page on this at

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Sunday, May 16, 2010

You Aren't Spending Enough Money

Digestive Advantage sent out a press release to announce that their trademark combination of probiotics and lactase is now protected by patent as well. So don't even think of copying it.

This isn't really news for anybody outside the company, but what caught my eye was a filler paragraph later on in the release.

"The lactase enzyme market is rather stagnant, with the leading brands declining in sales. We believe this is because it's not the ideal solution to lactose intolerance -- it's not always easy to take a lactase pill before eating dairy, especially if you don't know that the food you're about to eat contains dairy," said Marshall Fong, who heads the marketing team at Ganeden. "Our Digestive Advantage Lactose Intolerance combines lactase enzyme plus probiotics to increase lactose digestion throughout the digestive tract. People love our product because it works, and because they don't need to take it with every meal."

Yes, that's mostly marketing speech. But that first line jumps out. It may even be true. (Oh, I'll hear from them tomorrow.)

The lactase enzyme market is pretty much down to Lactaid, some natural foods brands, and lots of cheap house brand imitations of Lactaid. No new national brands have entered the market for years. The amount of shelf space given to them in stores - always the best indicator of how well something is selling - hasn't grown in many years.

Yet awareness of lactose intolerance is as high as its ever been.

So you aren't doing your part.

Go out and spend some money.

Here's the weird part. Digestive Advantage Lactose Intolerance Lactase Plus Formula and Lactaid and its imitators usually aren't shelved together in the store. How that helps us I can't imagine. Stores need to get their acts together. Tell your store managers.

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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Lactase Drops: A New Crisis?

Remember how excited I was when I was able to announce just two years ago Huge News! Lactase Drops Return to U.S. In that post I talked about Pharmax Liquid Lactase, a company from Washington, that was making lactase and distributing in the U.S.

Oops. If you go to search for the drops on Amazon you see this:

Currently unavailable.
We don't know when or if this item will be back in stock.

If you go to any other site that lists Pharmax lactase drops you'll see an equivalent disclaimer, saying that it is "backordered" or "out of stock."

I can't find any information on why this should be, although I do see at the Pharmax LLC site that in
May 2009, Pharmax LLC, previously owned by Dr Nigel Plummer, was acquired by Seroyal USA Inc. The merger has brought together three strong and functionally distinct brands, Pharmax, Genestra and Unda.

I don't know whether the parent company decided to stop selling the drops or this is just a temporary production problem. Pharmax had one of those but then resumed making the drops.

What if they don't?

For Americans, the best bet is to get them from Canada. Both Lactaid and Lacteeze brands can easily be found from a number of sellers by doing a search on lactase drops. Lots of people bought them from Canada before they popped up in the U.S. again and I guess we can go back to the old ways if necessary.

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Lactase Drops vs. Lactase Pills

Buying a lactase pill is easy. Go into any supermarket, or pharmacy, or discount store, or even most convenience stores and you'll find them in all sizes, shapes, spending ranges, and states of chewability. You can slip them into your pocket and have them available at any moment to pop into your mouth with food.

So wouldn't it be great if you could just crumble them up and put them in your milk for later use?

But you can't.

The reason is that lactase is not as simple as lactose. All lactose is exactly the same. It's a disaccharide, a combination of two simple sugars, with only a couple of dozen atoms and a single arrangement.

Lactase is an enzyme, which means it's a protein. Proteins are huge and complex. The lactase protein can be found in nature in hundreds of forms and hundreds more can be made in a lab or can be created by using yeasts to form them in cultures. Each individual form of lactase will work to split - or digest - the lactose disaccharide into its simpler component parts. But each works best at a different temperature and different acidity and other variables.

Food scientists use these variables to make lactase for commercial use. Specifically, the lactase that is used in lactase pills is designed to stay stable in the heat and high acidity of a human stomach, where the pH is around 2 (range: 1 to 3.5).

The lactase that is used in lactase drops, on the other hand, is designed to be used when added to refrigerated milk and in almost neutral acidity. The acidity of milk is around 6.7. That's a bigger difference than it might seem at first. Each point on the pH scale is ten times more acid than the next. That means that the stomach is around 100,000 times as acid as milk.

One type of lactase just can't be substituted for the other. They will work poorly if at all.

At least we have both.

Or do we? That's tomorrow's topic.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Gluten Free Throughout the Year

Nutritionist Melissa Diane Smith, author of Going Against the Grain, has written a new book, Gluten Free Throughout the Year: A Two-Year, Month-to-Month Guide for Healthy Eating. It has 30 recipes, but is not strictly a cookbook, having mostly tips about gluten-free living.

You can read an excerpt from the book here. has an interview with Smith about the book.

Q: What are some of the main issues and topics you cover in your book?

A: Everything from gluten-free traveling and gluten-free parties, to the difference between lactose intolerance and a milk allergy, to the little-known troubles that people have with corn. Inc. trade paperback
182 pages
List price: $14.95
e-book price: $13.95

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I got a great email recently.

As a father of 5 children, 2 of whom with food allergies, I am very aware of the difficulties and anxieties that go along with having to manage food allergies/intolerances on a daily basis. In my experience, dining out has been one of the greatest challenges and sources of frustration.

As a result of this, I decided two years ago to create an easy-to-use online guide to allergy-friendly restaurants for the benefit of our entire community. I am writing you today in an effort to introduce you to this new website, AllergyEats (, with the thought that you might find it a valuable tool to share with your readers.

AllergyEats is a peer-based guide with a database that includes over 600,000 US restaurants. Individuals with food allergies or intolerances can rate any restaurant experience by answering 3 simple questions (adding comments if they like). The process can take under a minute. The answers to these questions are translated into a simple “allergy-friendliness” rating.

Other users can then go to AllergyEats when seeking an allergy-friendly restaurant. By simply typing in the geographic location they’re interested in, users can see a restaurant’s “allergy-friendliness” rating, as well as other useful information where available, such as menus, allergen lists, gluten-free menus, nutrition guides, industry certifications, and more.

AllergyEats is new, having been live for roughly 10 weeks. However, where awareness has blossomed, initial reaction has been fantastic and word-of-mouth has driven many ratings quickly (the Boston metro area achieved over 200 ratings in this short amount of time!). Each additional rating, anywhere in the country, increases the value of AllergyEats as a tool for our entire food allergy community. That is why major food allergy and Celiac organizations have endorsed or become friends of AllergyEats so quickly (please see these tabs on the site)... and there are more to come!

The overall look of the site is great and easy to use. Typing in at least your state and zip code is necessary to narrow down that huge database, but you can search by distance, by restaurant name, and by ten allergens: Peanuts, Dairy, Wheat, Fish, Sesame, Tree Nuts, Eggs, Gluten, Shellfish, and Soy. If you find a restaurant that looks good you can get a Google map and directions.

The problem, of course, is that 99% of local restaurants have not been rated yet. Chains do have very useful links to nutritional information and allergen pages, however.

It's the usual chicken and egg problem. The site would be more helpful if people used it and added ratings, but getting people to use a site with no ratings is a challenge.

That's why Paul emailed me, to get the word out, and I'm glad to help. Go there, rate a few restaurants, and tell your friends.

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Saturday, May 08, 2010

Lactose Intolerance in Infants

You're a mammal. I'm a mammal. We're all mammals. And that means we all are programmed genetically to drink mother's milk until we are weaned.

So lactose intolerance and infants should be two terms never used together. Yet a pediatric gastroenterologist I once interviewed told me that 10-15% of his patients were lactose intolerance.

To explain this, two facts are needed. One is that the intestines of an infant are delicate and a whole variety of problems can interfere with the lactase-making ability. The other is that a pediatric gastroenterologist is going to see a non-representative sampling of a) all infants and b) sick infants. Even so, maybe one percent of all babies suffer from temporary lactose intolerance at any given moment. The usual term for LI that is caused by an outside source rather than natural shutdown is Secondary LI, but Temporary LI is often used for babies as a reminder to the suffering parents that the condition will probably go away as soon as the child's intestines heal.

At The MedGuru site, Dr. Sania Siddiqui has a decent summary of what to look for and do. It's very basic but a good place to start for information.

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Thursday, May 06, 2010

Vegan On the Cheap Cookbook

This is the almost perfect time to put out a cookbook on cheap eats. Things were a lot worse last year, but people weren't spending money then. Now consumers are beginning to shell out the dollars. Cautiously.

So a cookbook titled Vegan on the Cheap: Great Recipes and Simple Strategies that Save You Time and Money has got a lot going for it.

Author Robin Robertson is a longtime vegan who has:

written nearly twenty cookbooks, including 1,000 Vegan Recipes, Vegan Planet, Vegan Fire and Spice, Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker, and Quick-Fix Vegetarian. For more information about her books and for sample recipes, visit her website at and her blog at

Before she began writing cookbooks, Robin was a restaurant chef and cooking teacher. When she left the restaurant business in the late 1980s, Robin became vegan for ethical reasons. Over the years, she has fine-tuned her plant-based diet into an eclectic and healthful cooking style which she thinks of as a creative adventure with an emphasis on the vibrant flavors of global cuisines and fresh ingredients. In addition to writing cookbooks, Robin writes 'The Global Vegan' column for VegNews Magazine.

Product Description
You don't have to blow your budget to eat great meatless and dairy-free meals every day.

With Vegan on the Cheap, you can enjoy delicious vegan meals every day of the week. Veteran food writer and vegan authority Robin Robertson provides 150 mouth-watering, exciting recipes that cost just 50 cents to $2 per serving-hefty savings to go with hearty vegan meals.

This book presents great options for savory soups and stews, satisfying salads, hearty noodle dishes, first-class casseroles, favorites for the slow cooker, and meatless and dairy-free recipes for classics like pizza, burgers, and sandwiches. Plus, there's even a chapter for desserts to satisfy every sweet tooth. Throughout the book, smart tips and creative ideas help you save money by cooking in bulk, prepping meals in advance, and finding tasty ways to reuse leftovers.

Includes 150 money-saving recipes for delicious vegan meals like Walnut-Dusted Fettuccine with Caramelized Vegetables and Fresh Pear Galette.

From the Back Cover

The ultimate vegan budget cookbook—easy recipes for delicious food that costs no more than $2 per serving!

With the price of fresh vegetables, fruit, and meatless and dairy-free foods on the rise, it's tougher than ever to eat great-tasting vegan meals without blowing your budget. In Vegan on the Cheap, Robin Robertson gives you a big bang for your buck with 150 exciting, mouthwatering recipes—all for just 50 to $2 per serving.

You'll find great options for savory soups and stews, satisfying salads, hearty noodle dishes, first-class casseroles, slow-cooker favorites, quick-and-simple skillet dinners, plus vegan versions of classic foods like pizza, burgers, and sandwiches. Even if you cook every night, these recipes won't let you run out of ideas any time soon!

And, Vegan on the Cheap provides plenty of tips and strategies for everyday savings:

Manage your food budget with handy cost-per-serving icons for each recipe

Make your own meat alternatives like seitan at a fraction of the cost of packaged proteins

Prepare and stockpile big batches of ingredients that will keep for weeks

Cook it once but enjoy it twice with "Two-for-One Meals"

Wiley trade paperback
272 pages
List price: $17.95

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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Yours Truly by Tofutti

"Crunchy sugar cones lined with rich chocolate, topped with smooth creamy vanilla and dipped in a thick chocolate coating with chocolate cookie crunchies."

Sounds good? Notice what isn't mentioned? Well, what goes in sugar cones? Ice cream, of course. In fact, this sounds exactly like Nestle's Drumsticks. "Creamy vanilla dipped in a rich, extra-thick chocolatey coating—all in a crispy, chocolatey-lined sugar cone with a chocolatey surprise." Hmmm. That doesn't mention ice cream either, now that I look at it. (Technically, it isn't. The first ingredient is whey, not milk or cream. Surprise.) Whatever Drumsticks might be, though, they're certainly dairy.

Not Yours Truly by Tofutti, though. Like all Tofutti products it's non-dairy, even parve, made from corn and soy oil, soy protein, and tofu powder. Tofu powder! Who knew you could powder tofu?

You should be expecting a picture now. Certainly a link. You're not going to get one. That's because that's not even a hint of a mention of Yours Truly cones on the Tofutti website. I can find mentions of the product on the Internet dating back to last August, but no pictures at all. Even more oddly, the Canadian Tofutti site does mention it.

Yours Truly Cones
A crunchy sugar cone lined with rich chocolate topped with smooth creamy vanilla Tofutti and dipped in a thick chocolate coating with chocolate cookie crunchies.

Why is this odd? The cones are the only product not listed on the ingredients page.

Yours Truly by Tofutti. Mystery cones, creamy vanilla smothered in an enigma, dipped in a conundrum, and sprinkled with mystification.

UPDATE: A review of Yours Truly cones can be found here.

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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Enough to Put You Off Dairy Forever

Garlic ice cream? Spleen and artichoke ice cream?

Wait. It's gets worse. Horse flesh ice cream.

Julian Madison posted images of strange, weird, and appalling ice creams from around the world at the Food Network.

Fish ice cream. Spaghetti and cheese ice cream.

And the absolute ultimate.

The mind boggles.

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Monday, May 03, 2010

Dairy and the New Food Pyramid

In yesterday's post I heaped scorn upon Dr. Mark Hyman, a doctor whose trip into alternative medicine has taken what I consider to be deadly detours.

However, he cited Dr. Walter C. Willett as someone against the supposed beneficial uses of dairy. Dr. Willett is as mainstream as medicine gets. He's the Chair of the Department of Nutrition and Fredrick John Stare Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. Moreover, he's led the most important large and long-term studies of health that pretty much anyone has done anywhere.

1. the 121,700-member Nurses' Health Study, initiated by Dr. Frank Speizer at the Channing Laboratory;

2. the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, a cohort of 52,000 men; and

3. the Nurses' Health Study II, a cohort of younger women numbering 116,000

When I kept railing at the small numbers and lack of meaning of studies on lactose intolerance found in the most exhaustive possible search of specific studies on lactose intolerance, milk, and calcium by the researchers presenting at the NIH state-of-the-science conference on Lactose Intolerance, I kept hoping they would cite some studies as major as the Nurses' Health Study. They never did.

The conclusions drawn from the Nurses' Study are opposed to all the conclusions drawn by the smaller, but more specific studies, done on dairy and calcium.

I found an article based on a Los Angeles Times article that is no longer online that summarizes Willett's understanding on the subject.
When Willett and his colleagues investigated the milk-drinking habits of 72,000 women in the Nurses' Health Study, they found that milk consumption was not associated with a lower risk of hip fracture, a measure of bone strength. In fact, women who drank milk twice a day were as likely to suffer a bone break as women who drank it once a week.

Likewise, the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study failed to find a relationship between calcium intake and bone fractures in more than 43,000 men. And a 2003 Swedish study of more than 60,000 women, which was published in the journal Bone, found no association between dietary calcium intake and fracture risk.

"We do need some calcium -- it's essential -- but the question is, how much?" says Willett, author of the 2001 book "Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy." He believes the body needs 500 to 700 milligrams of calcium daily rather than the 1,000 to 1,500 milligrams a day recommended by the dietary guidelines.

Why the difference?
Most clinical trials -- studies in which one group of people increases calcium intake and another group does not -- have shown that adding calcium to the diet increases bone density. But most clinical trials last for less than three years, says Diane Feskanich, an investigator for the Nurses' Health Study. "It could be that bone density does not continue to increase in the long run -- in fact, a study that went on for three years found that after an initial increase in bone density, it did not continue to increase in the third year."

Observational studies such as the Nurses' Health Study "are usually run over many years and in this way better suited to determine the long-term effects of high calcium intakes," Feskanich says.

Because of this, Willett was a long-time critic of the government Food Pyramid, and he wasn't afraid to say why the Pyramid was so bad.
There was not much receptivity in the 1990s, when we raised these criticisms of the food guide pyramid. It was almost an accepted religious belief that fat was bad and carbohydrates were good. Then there were lots of economic interests behind the food pyramid as well. Clearly the dairy industry is extremely well represented in the food pyramid. The beef industry is there, and it's very convenient that beef is combined along with fish and poultry and nuts and legumes. So each one of those industries can say: It's healthy to have three servings a day of our product.

In fact, the Harvard School of Public Health drew up a complete alternate food pyramid to promote what they suggest should really be in a proper diet.

Here's the part that the Hymans of the world won't tell you. The Healthy Food Pyramid contains dairy. It has this to say.
Dairy (1 to 2 Servings Per Day) or Vitamin D/Calcium Supplements

Building bone and keeping it strong takes calcium, vitamin D, exercise, and a whole lot more. Dairy products have traditionally been Americans' main source of calcium and, through fortification, vitamin D. But most people need at least 1,000 IU of vitamin D per day, far more than the 100 IU supplied by a glass of fortified milk. (See the multivitamins section, below, for more information on vitamin D needs.) And there are other healthier ways to get calcium than from milk and cheese, which can contain a lot of saturated fat. Three glasses of whole milk, for example, contains as much saturated fat as 13 strips of cooked bacon. If you enjoy dairy foods, try to stick mainly with no-fat or low-fat products. If you don't like dairy products, taking a vitamin D and calcium supplement offers an easy and inexpensive way to meet your daily vitamin D and calcium needs.

That's not exactly in line with Willett's older pronouncements. The needs and the evidence has indeed changed over time.

And compare this:
Choose fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese. If you choose milk or yogurt that is not fat-free, or cheese that is not low-fat, the fat in the product counts as part of the discretionary calorie allowance.

If sweetened milk products are chosen (flavored milk, yogurt, drinkable yogurt, desserts), the added sugars also count as part of the discretionary calorie allowance.

For those who are lactose intolerant, lactose-free and lower-lactose products are available. These include hard cheeses and yogurt. Also, enzyme preparations can be added to milk to lower the lactose content. Calcium-fortified foods and beverages such as soy beverages or orange juice may provide calcium, but may not provide the other nutrients found in milk and milk products.

That sound awfully similar, doesn't it? Know where it comes from? From the new, revised government MyPyramid Food Pyramid.

Notice the difference between the two? The Harvard pyramid is incredibly complicated. The consuming public is not. In one of the posts on the conference I talked about the problem of comprehension a frightfully large percentage of the American population has with even the most basic food terms. The new Food Pyramid was drastically simplified because of this very problem. In fact, read how wonderfully easy-to-understand the new presentation is:
Six swaths of color sweep from the apex of MyPyramid to the base: orange for grains, green for vegetables, red for fruits, a teeny band of yellow for oils, blue for milk, and purple for meat and beans. Each stripe starts out as the same size, but they don't end that way at the base. The widths suggest how much food a person should choose from each group. A band of stairs running up the side of the Pyramid, with a little stick figure chugging up it, serves as a reminder of the importance of physical activity.

MyPyramid contains no text. According to the USDA, it was "designed to be simple," and details are at

That's taken directly off the Harvard Healthy Pyramid page.

I left off a few sentences, though.
Unless you've taken the time to become familiar with the Pyramid, though, you have no idea what it means. Relying on the Web site to provide key information—like what the color stripes stand for and what the best choices are in each food group—guarantees that the millions of Americans without access to a computer or the Internet will have trouble getting these essential facts.

The USDA also chose not to put recommended numbers of servings on the new Pyramid because these differ from individual to individual according to weight, gender, activity level and age. Instead, it offers personalized Pyramids at

That's a problem, although not a completely fair one. The government provides a wide variety of print materials, some targeted at Spanish-speaking audiences, mothers and mothers-to-be, and different ages. I'm sure America is awash in print explanations of the Pyramid.

The other legitimate objection is that MyPyramid is not accurate or give specifics. Notice that the Healthy Food Pyramid has a dozen parts.

That's the big issue. I face it every time I sit down at the keyboard and so does every other writer about health, diet, and nutrition. How much information to give? How much to simplify? What understanding can you assume your audience has? Will they get confused by too much detail or suffer if detail is slighted?

Harvard and the government came down on very different sides of this issue. I've given you both. Read them, download them, print out the posters. Decide for yourselves.

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Sunday, May 02, 2010

Is Dairy Really Bad for You After All?

In my 28-part series (28? Oh, yeah. Really. 28.) on the NIH state-of-the-science conference on Lactose Intolerance, I summarized presentation after presentation that said that Americans needed calcium in their diets to prevent a wide variety of health and bone issues, that they weren't getting this calcium from their current diets, and that they should therefore have more dairy products to get the needed calcium.

It's only fair to say that other distinguished scientists disagree not only with the conclusion, but with the premise. Calcium does not help with these disorders and dairy is not necessary.

Google News threw up - a bad choice of words, sorry - a link to an article that covered this. That link has vanished as mysteriously as it appeared, but I tracked down the original. It appeared in January on Mark Hyman's Ultrawellness site titled Dairy: 6 Reasons You Should Avoid It at all Costs.

He cites the work of Walter C. Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health is listing those six reasons.

1. Milk doesn't reduce fractures. Contrary to popular belief, eating dairy products has never been shown to reduce fracture risk. In fact, according to the Nurses' Health Study dairy may increase risk of fractures by 50 percent!

2. Less dairy, better bones. Countries with lowest rates of dairy and calcium consumption (like those in Africa and Asia) have the lowest rates of osteoporosis.

3. Calcium isn't as bone-protective as we thought. Studies of calcium supplementation have shown no benefit in reducing fracture risk. vitamin D appears to be much more important than calcium in preventing fractures.

4. Calcium may raise cancer risk. Research shows that higher intakes of both calcium and dairy products may increase a man's risk of prostate cancer by 30 to 50 percent. Plus, dairy consumption increases the body's level of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) -- a known cancer promoter.

5. Calcium has benefits that dairy doesn't. Calcium supplements, but not dairy products, may reduce the risk of colon cancer.

6. Not everyone can stomach dairy. About 75 percent of the world's population is genetically unable to properly digest milk and other dairy products -- a problem called lactose intolerance.

Hyman's name rang a bell so I searched back through my posts to find Detox Your Brain, Not Your Diet. Oh, him. Detoxification is serious quackery. He's also one of those who think that diet is the way to treat autism and his thinking on it is just as bad as his opinions on detox, as this post from ScienceBlogs should make abundantly clear. Hyman uses cites and references as magicians do hand gestures, purely as distraction. If you go to the Ultrawellness site or read any of Hyman's many books, be sure to detoxify your brain afterward.

Does that mean the Willett therefore is also a quack? Not at all. But Willett is more interesting than a simplistic anti-dairy crusader. I'll take that up tomorrow.

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Saturday, May 01, 2010

Chocolate Cake Brownies

If you're getting as sick of the snide comments about what to feed people who can't eat "anything" as I am your secret wish is probably that they someday need to cope with serious allergies and then see how whiny they are.

In the meantime, how about a recipe for Chocolate Cake Brownies that uses no dairy, wheat, or eggs.

Von Broussard of the Record Live of Orange Country, Texas provides a recipe.

It uses rice milk, flaxseed meal, brown rice flour, and amaranth flour, which can be found in natural food stores and similar sections of large supermarkets.

One caution. Although the original intent of the recipe was to have no sugar because it was for a diabetic. Instead, the recipe uses honey.

That's problematical. While not every form of sugar is equally bad for diabetics, there's no good evidence that honey is an allowable substitute. You'll find websites that disagree with that. Not surprisingly, they're honey sites. (Sugar in small doses is allowable: what I'm saying is that if you're avoiding sugar in a situation, calling it honey doesn't improve it.) There is also something called sugar-free honey but that's neither sugar nor honey but can be used as a substitute in recipes.

Anyway, test the recipe. Let me know the results.

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