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    Archive for the ‘lactose’ Category

    You Ask, I Answer: Goat Milk

    gleniskgoatsmilkI’ve heard that drinking goat milk and eating goat products is a good alternative for people that are lactose intolerant.

    I’ve also heard people claim that eating those products has helped clear up seasonal allergies.

    What is it about goat milk that makes it milder than cow milk?

    — Antoinette M.
    Austin, TX

    Goat milk contains slightly less lactose than cow’s milk, but the difference is not sufficient to make it anywhere near lactose-free or even lactose-intolerant-friendly.

    How come, then, people who can not tolerate cow’s milk can drink goat’s milk with no issues?  There are three likely scenarios:

    1. They are not lactose intolerant, but rather allergic to a particular type of casein protein found in cow’s milk that is missing from goat’s milk.
    2. They are not lactose intolerant, but rather allergic to agglutinin, another protein found in cow’s milk that is not in goat’s milk.
    3. Those people are neither lactose intolerant or allergic to agglutinin.  However, since a lack of agglutinin results in fat globules not being able to clump together, it makes goat’s milk easier to digest for many individuals.

    As far as goat’s milk and seasonal allergies, I have never heard of such a link.  Truthfully, I can’t theorize how that mechanism would work.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Whey Low

    scopeMy mom swears by a product called Whey Low.

    It’s a sugar substitute that contains sugar but is low in calories since it is not absorbed by the body.

    It seems most people don’t know about it, though.  Have you heard of it?  Is it legitimate?

    — Natasha (last name withheld)
    Raleigh, NC

    Whey Low, advertised as “sugar made healthy”, is a ‘sugar substitute’ made of sucrose (table sugar), fructose, and lactose.

    Gee, no wonder it is “guaranteed to taste like sugar” — it IS sugar.

    Why, then, does it claim to contain 75% fewer calories than sugar?  According to its creator, “the three natural sugars (simple carbohydrates) that comprise Whey Low work synergistically in the small intestine to interfere with the normal absorption of each other into the bloodstream.”

    Huh?  This makes absolutely no biochemical sense.

    If you take that concept one step further, then a milkshake comprised of chocolate milk (sucrose AND lactose) and a banana (fructose) contains only a quarter of the calories we believe it does.  Dare to dream, folks.

    Furthermore, how, exactly, does a company patent the not-too-imaginative combination of three sugars?

    It’s also slightly suspect that all clinical trials on this product have been performed by its parent company’s laboratory.  Why not ask an objective third party to validate the results?

    After whey-ing the evidence (more like lack thereof), I am not at all convinced.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Butter

    800px-nci_butterDoes butter contain lactose?

    I don’t see how it would, since it is 100% fat and lactose is a carbohydrate, but a lactose-intolerant friend told me his doctor said he can’t have butter.

    — Tim Gostile
    (Location withheld)

    Although butter contains a significantly lower amount of lactose than milk (milk is approximately 5 percent lactose, while most butter contains no more than 0.3 percent), it is not a lactose-free food.

    Butter is usually described as “100%” fat as a result of rounding.  If you want to get technical, butter is usually 99.7% fat.

    There are always varying degrees of lactose intolerance, but I know plenty of individuals with that condition who do not develop any symptoms if they consume butter (especially if we are talking about amounts as miniscule as one or two teaspoons used for cooking).

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    You Ask, I Answer: Red Mango

    When you blogged about Red Mango frozen yogurt, you endorsed it as a healthy treat.

    I also saw that in your recent ConAgra children’s frozen meal post, you commented negatively on the 18 grams of sugar it contained.

    A small, original (plain) Red Mango yogurt also has 18 grams of sugar.

    So now I’m slightly confused — is Red Mango good or bad? How can 18 grams be good in one thing, bad in another?

    — Lexi (last name withheld)
    New York, NY


    One of my biggest grips about food labels is that they do not differentiate between naturally-occurring sugars and added sugars.

    Naturally-occurring sugars are found in fruits and vegetables (in the form of fructose) as well as dairy (as lactose).

    Added sugars (mostly in the form of sucrose) are added on to foods during processing.

    Although naturally-occurring and added sugars offer the same number of calories (4 per gram), naturally-occurring sugars are different in the sense they “come with the package.”

    When you bite into an apple, you are getting sugars along with vitamins, minerals, and a wide variety of health-promoting phytonutrients (some of which we have yet to discover!).

    If you eat the same amount of sugar naturally found in an apple in the form of table sugar, you are getting empty calories (they are void of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.)

    In the case of Red Mango, the 18 grams of sugar refer to naturally-occurring AND added sugars. Approximately 10 to 12 of those grams are naturally-occurring, so you’re only getting 6 to 8 grams (1.5 to 2 teaspoons) of added sugar.

    By the way, I have a slight problem with Red Mango referring to their original flavor as “plain”, since plain flavors of regular (non-frozen) yogurt do not have any added sugar.

    In any case, this is very different from that frozen meal I posted about, which got its 18 grams of sugar from the chewy candies it offered as dessert.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Sugar in Yogurt

    My 3 year old daughter doesn’t like milk, so yogurt is one of her sources of calcium.

    When I buy yogurt for her, though, I don’t know how to determine which brands have too much sugar.

    One brand has 24 grams of sugar for 6 ounces. Is that too much?

    — Terri Korolev
    San Francisco, CA

    Dairy products’ food labels take some extra skill to analyze since manufacturers are not asked to differentiate between naturally-occurring sugars and added sugars.

    In this case, “naturally-occurring” sugars refers to lactose, the inherent sugar found in all dairy products.

    Unlike added sugars’ empty calories, naturally-occurring varieties co-exist with nutrients (the same can be said for fructose, which is present in fresh fruits.)

    When shopping for yogurts, keep in mind that 6 ounces of yogurt contain 12 grams of naturally-occurring sugars.

    This means that the yogurt you refer to contains an additional 12 grams (1 tablespoon) of added sugar.

    I am of the school of thought that children and adults should get no more than 10 percent of their total daily calories from added sugars.

    In the case of a 3-year old, that means no more than approximately 10 grams of added sugar a day.

    As a healthier alternative, see how she likes eating plain yogurt along with sweet fruits like bananas and pineapples.

    You can even make it fun for her by storing fresh banana slices in a Ziploc bag, freezing them, and mixing them in with her yogurt.

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    Simply Said: Lactose Intolerance

    Lactose intolerance occurs when our bodies are unable to digest lactose, the naturally occurring sugar in dairy.

    The digestion of lactose falls under the responsibility of an enzyme called lactase, which breaks up lactose into two simple sugars – glucose and galactose.

    These two sugars then travel through our digestive systems without problems.

    However, if someone’s body does not produce enough lactase, lactose charges full-steam ahead… until it reaches the gut. Then, it just sits there, patiently waiting for lactase to come break it down so it can continue its travels.

    Except lactase never arrives, so lactose is instead feverishly eaten up by bacteria in our gut, thereby causing gas, bloating, stomach cramps, and in some cases even diarrhea.

    Lactose intolerance is mainly seen in Asian, Native American, Latin American, and African American populations.

    Interestingly enough, regardless of your racial makeup, lactose intolerance becomes a more likely complication with each passing decade.

    Turns out that as we age, our bodies produce less lactase.

    The best way to know what you have for sure is simply by getting tested. While you can do this by undergoing an endoscopy, there is a much less invasive way – a breath test!

    If your body is successfully breaking down lactose, you wouldn’t have much hydrogen present in your breath. However, if lactose is fermenting in your gut, its levels will certainly be detectable.

    So what to do if you’re lacking lactase?

    For starters, never eat dairy products on an empty stomach or by themselves.

    You might also want to try lactose-free milk or take a lactase enzyme supplement before having dairy products.

    Eat your bacteria. That’s right! If you’re having yogurt, aim for those with live cultures, which will aid digestion.

    Play hard to get. Hard cheeses contain less lactose than soft varieties, so a Swiss cheese sandwich would go over better than a caprese salad with mozarella.

    Don’t gloss over food labels. Just because a food doesn’t fall under the “dairy” umbrella does not mean it is 100% safe.

    The biggest trap? An ingredient known as whey, which is derived from milk and contains lactose.

    Food shouldn’t be your only concern, either.

    About a quarter of prescription drugs contain lactose, as do the majority of birth control pills.

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    Numbers Game: Answer

    Approximately 40 million people in the United States fall into the “lactose intolerant” category.

    Tomorrow night, I’ll discuss what lactose intolerance is, how to determine if you truly have it, and what foods people with this intolerance should avoid (expect surprises!)

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    Numbers Game: Zero Tolerance

    Approximately _______ million people in the United States fall into the “lactose intolerant” category.

    a) 40
    b) 5
    c) 95
    d) 65

    Leave your guess in the “comments” section and come back on Sunday for the answer as well as an explanation of what lactose intolerance is and how to determine if you truly have it.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Yogurt Parfaits

    I had a Starbucks yogurt and fruit parfait this morning. It also has granola. I saw that it has 38 grams of sugar. Is that too much to have at breakfast? What should my maximum intake be for one day?

    — Patricia Roebuck
    New York, NY

    The combination of fruit, granola, and yogurt sounds very healthy. And, with the right ingredients, it can be. However, don’t forget that even healthy food has calories.

    An 8.5 ounce Starbucks yogurt-fruit-granola parfait provides 320 calories and 4 grams of fat. Ironically, a yogurt parfait at McDonald’s is approximately half the size and only provides 160 calories and 2 grams of fat.

    The 38 grams of sugar you saw noted for this parfait are a little misleading, since that number combines naturally occurring as well as added sugars. As far as healthy intakes are concerned, you only really need to be concerned with added sugars.

    For example, yogurt naturally has lactose, or milk sugar. Even plain, unflavored yogurt will have approximately 10 or 12 grams of sugar per 8 ounce serving.

    I suspect these parfaits are made with flavored yogurt, though, which contains added sugar. I would estimate the flavored yogurt is providing 15 grams (or almost 4 teaspoons’ worth) of added sugar.

    On the bright side, it seems to me that the fruits used in this parfait are fresh, as opposed to sugary jam, so in their case we are also talking about naturally-occurring sugars.

    If anything, the one ingredient to watch for is granola. Although it has long been associated with good health and clean living, granola is actually refined grains with sugar.

    Does that mean you should you avoid it at all costs? No. However, a lot of people seem to believe granola is a health food, which it isn’t. After all, a Starbucks parfait only contributes 1 gram of fiber to your diet.

    This is not to say that everything you eat needs to be high in fiber. However, don’t make the mistake of thinking that your granola parfait counts as a serving of whole grains.

    You should aim to have no more than 40 grams of added sugar a day. There are currently bills floating around Congress that would differentiate natural versus added sugars on food labels, which I think is a wonderful idea.

    I personally find Starbucks’ and McDonald’s parfaits a bit too sweet for my palate. I prefer to make my own with non-fat Greek yogurt, fresh fruits, uncooked oatmeal, and a tablespoon of flaxseed meal.

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