Q And A Clearinghouse
3rd Quarter, 1998
Updated October 29, 1998
This page answers the
questions that arrived in the third quarter of 1998.
Send your questions to me, Steve Carper, at SteveCarper@CS.com.
Remember, I personally answer all questions that you send me, no
matter what. The ones that are of sufficiently general interest
get posted here, where I hope they can do the most good.
If you don't spot your question here, be sure to check my
Q and A Quick Finder Index.
Q.a. Some years ago a
doctor told me citrus fruits
contain milk sugar, which experience tells me is the case. Is this information
well known? I have never seen any
reference to it in the literature.
Q.b. A girlfriend who is LI claims
that chicken contains lactose and causes the exact same
symptoms for her as a nice big glass of milk. I think she's whacked. Is she?
a. This information is missing from the literature because there is
no foundation to it. Milk sugar is found in milk and nowhere else
in nature. The sugar in citrus fruits is fructose.
b. You bet she is.
Lactose comes from milk. Period. But people with LI often have
problems with other foods and confuse the symptoms.
Q. If I take lactose pills or lactose-reduced
milk, is this depriving the baby of any needed nutrients during pregnancy or
Absolutely not. All that happens is that the lactose, the sugar
in milk, is broken down to its parts. This is exactly what occurs
in digestion. Your body gets exactly the other nutrients it would
If lactase pills work for you, then take them as often as needed.
If you are still bothered by symptoms, then you may want to try
less milk and either increase your consumption of other foods high
in calcium or take calcium supplements. But LI will be the least
of your concerns.
Q. Other than cost, is there a problem with
using lactase tablets at every meal (or every lunch)? Is there a limit
on how many one should take?
No problems and no limits, although after the first few you're probably not
going to get much additional help by taking more.
For more information on everything lactase, see the
Lactase page in the LI Basics section of my web site.
Q. Is burping a symptom of LI?
Not normally. The gas almost always comes out the other end. You should
have your doctor look at stomach-related problems rather than
intestine-related problems like LI.
Q. I'm at the end of my
first week of eating no dairy products to see if I am LI.
Can I simplify this work a bit and assume that if the nutrition breakdown shows
0% calcium, that there is no lactose in the product?
Nope, sorry. Lactose is milk sugar. It has absolutely nothing to do with calcium.
The only way to tell whether a product is lactose free is to
study the ingredients list and make sure that there are no milk
products on it. If you aren't sure what all the names for milk
products are (and many people don't know that whey is mostly
lactose) you should check the
Dairy section of my web site and
take a look at the various pages there.
Q. Does being allergic to mother's milk necessarily
mean being allergic to cow milk? What's the best way to tell if a 5 month old is
As far as I know, no infants are ever allergic to mother's milk itself.
The allergy is to something in the milk. It is possible, if the mother
is drinking cow's milk, for some of the proteins to filter through into
the milk. The cow's milk itself is the true culprit. Of course, some other
contaminant may be to blame, anything from corn to onions or about a
The way to tell if an infant is allergic depends very much on the specifics
of the allergy. However, in many cases an allergic infant will react with a
rash or welt if you simply put a few drops of milk on an arm. In other cases,
you will have to notice a pattern of reactions to drinking the milk itself.
If you're really concerned, a formal allergy test can be done.
Q. Do you know any cases in which
the intake of dairy products is reduced to zero?
I have had people tell me that that cannot have any lactose, no matter
how small an amount. I think that the condition is rare among people
who have lost their lactase-producing ability naturally. However, people
who have secondary lactose intolerance -- lactose intolerance that is
the result of damage to the intestines -- are more likely to be completely
Damage to the intestines can come in many ways: from medicines,
from surgery, from intestinal diseases. If you've ever suffered any
problems with your intestines that may have left them damaged,
then they may heal in time.
Or they may be permanently damaged. Your doctors should be able to
tell whether this is the case from your medical history, so if they
have not raised this as a possibility, then your problem may be
from another cause.
Q. Do lactose intolerant people
get their reactions with an hour of eating the food that they are
intolerant to or are the
cramping and diarrhea a much longer-delayed reaction?
I wish I could give you a better answer, but I'm stuck with "it depends."
Some people seem to feel the effects right away. At other times,
and in other people, it can be delayed several hours.
However, if you regularly have cramping and diarrhea an hour
after every meal with lactose and not after meals that have none,
then I'd have to say lactose intolerance is a good bet. In any
case, I'm glad you're seeing your doctor. There is a very accurate
test for lactose intolerance that your doctor can arrange.
Of course, most doctors will try to rule out the more serious
diseases with similar symptoms first, so don't be surprised
if you're asked to take other tests in the beginning.
Q. I have recently been diagnosed as
Lactose intolerant and have been experiencing tremendous pain in
my legs when I am jogging. Is there a relationship and what can I do about it
As far as I know, there is no relationship between LI and any health symptoms
outside the intestines. I would investigate the usual causes of leg pain
(shin splints, back inflammation, etc.) before looking to milk as the problem.
Q. Do you have a list of items that contain casein?
Unfortunately, I don't have a list, nor do I know of a source.
There may be as many as 100,000 individual products found in
supermarkets and health food stores, many of them from regional or
local sources. And the list constantly changes as products
enter and leave the market, and as companies change their recipes.
It's just not practical for people who do this as a hobby or
a sideline to tackle anything that big.
All I can suggest (besides reading every ingredients list every time
-- it becomes automatic after a while, believe me) is to check
with some of the others on the web.
You might start with looking at my
LI Links page for sites with more information about casein.
Q. Do you think taking lactase artificially in
tablet form would induce the body's natural mechanism to decrease its natural
production. In other words do I become dependent on this tablet forever?
There is no evidence that using (or not using) lactase tablets
has any effect whatsoever on the body's natural supply of lactase.
For most people, the lactase-making ability declines with age.
Nothing is known that will slow it down; nothing (other than actual
damage to the intestines) is known that will speed it up.
You may need to use lactase tablets forever, but that is only because
your natural amount of lactase will be forever insufficient.