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Dramatic Lactose Intolerant Sobbing
August 2, 2013 2:04 PM   Subscribe

"During the most recent ice age, milk was essentially a toxin to adults because — unlike children — they could not produce the lactase enzyme required to break down lactose, the main sugar in milk. But as farming started to replace hunting and gathering in the Middle East around 11,000 years ago, cattle herders learned how to reduce lactose in dairy products to tolerable levels by fermenting milk to make cheese or yogurt. Several thousand years later, a genetic mutation spread through Europe that gave people the ability to produce lactase — and drink milk — throughout their lives. That adaptation opened up a rich new source of nutrition that could have sustained communities when harvests failed." - The Milk Revolution - how a single mutation expanded (some) of humanity's diet. (Nature.com)
posted by The Whelk (158 comments total) 49 users marked this as a favorite

 
All hail milk.
posted by GuyZero at 2:08 PM on August 2, 2013


THERE WOULD BE NO ICE CREAM EATING WITHOUT THAT MUTATION!
posted by supermedusa at 2:13 PM on August 2, 2013 [12 favorites]


"Throughout their lives" is a bit misleading as I have been coming to realize as I get older. Damn you, lactose!
posted by Justinian at 2:15 PM on August 2, 2013 [18 favorites]


Ah dairy, my long-time foe. How I love you in cheese and ice cream, how you make me* suffer when I once again fall to your temptation.

*Not really me, per se. More like the people in my general vicinity a few hours later.
posted by jamaro at 2:16 PM on August 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


THERE WOULD BE NO ICE CREAM EATING WITHOUT THAT MUTATION!

The dietary Prometheus.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:20 PM on August 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Huh. Even Nature can't avoid the Internet commenting plague. But at least now I know that research on the spread of milk consumption and the associated genetic mutations is a Leftist plot. (Third comment down)

Seriously though, this is something that's fascinated me for a while. Nicely done.
posted by CrystalDave at 2:22 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pro tip: goats.
posted by entropone at 2:23 PM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Adult lactose tolerance is my mutant superpower.

THERE WOULD BE NO ICE CREAM EATING WITHOUT THAT MUTATION!

The mutations responsible for lactose tolerance that arose in west Africa, the Middle East, and south Asia are different. So northern Europeans and their descendants would stare enviously at the Senegalese, Arabs, Pakistanis, and Indians with their exotic frozen milk desserts, but there would still be ice cream.

Assuming northern Europe and America still ended up as rich without the mutation (unlikely, evidently), probably you could buy ice cream that had the lactose filtered out somehow and replaced with sucrose for $20/pint. Because non-dairy ice cream is almost worse than no ice cream.
posted by jedicus at 2:23 PM on August 2, 2013


Oh good, so all that praying to Cheezus I do is perfectly justified. As is my shrine to Gouda.
posted by JuliaIglesias at 2:27 PM on August 2, 2013 [16 favorites]


probably you could buy ice cream that had the lactose filtered out somehow

Couldn't you just do what they do with Lactaid and add lactase to the milk and then make ice cream from it? Would end up a little sweeter like Lactaid does but I don't think thats a huge concern with ice cream...
posted by wildcrdj at 2:28 PM on August 2, 2013


So glad I have this mutation, unlike my buddy who can no longer eat pizza without bombarding the area with noxious gases.
posted by infinitewindow at 2:29 PM on August 2, 2013


Ah dairy, my long-time foe. How I love you in cheese and ice cream, how you make me* suffer when I once again fall to your temptation.

Try Lactaid pills or your grocery store's generic equivalent.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:29 PM on August 2, 2013


There are so many Leftist Plots because there are so many Leftist Novels.
posted by b1tr0t at 2:30 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Lactaid ice cream is a cruel and monstrous thing. I AM PERFECTLY HAPPY BEING UNABLE TO EAT ICE CREAM FOR 7 MEALS A DAY THANKS
posted by elizardbits at 2:30 PM on August 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


you milk-drinking colonialist bastards are ruining my life
posted by elizardbits at 2:31 PM on August 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


WHELK I JUST SAW THE TITLE OF THIS THREAD HDU
posted by elizardbits at 2:32 PM on August 2, 2013 [24 favorites]


Tim Cahill's book Pass the Butterworms has some hilarious passages about when he traveled through Mongolia and how the clacking of the (aged) cheese disks they carried - and were carried by every other nomad - was inescapable.

I am grateful for my tolerance.
posted by rtha at 2:33 PM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Try Lactaid pills or your grocery store's generic equivalent.

Those only sort of work. Besides, like skunks and certain species of insects, having a potent built-in defense mechanism can be useful.
posted by jamaro at 2:35 PM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


imitation is the sincerest form of flattery elizardbits.
posted by The Whelk at 2:35 PM on August 2, 2013


Cheese! Seriously though, this is all very interesting. I live for cheese.
posted by mukade at 2:36 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Because non-dairy ice cream is almost worse than no ice cream.

My local Thai restaurant/coffee shop/hippy bakery has coconut milk ice cream that is better than just about every ice cream I have ever tasted ever. It's unbelievably good.

But fake-milk-based ice cream sounds vile. I'd rather just have the runs.
posted by restless_nomad at 2:38 PM on August 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


The mutations responsible for lactose tolerance that arose in west Africa, the Middle East, and south Asia are different. So northern Europeans and their descendants would stare enviously at the Senegalese, Arabs, Pakistanis, and Indians with their exotic frozen milk desserts, but there would still be ice cream.

The other possibility is that we'd use a different animal's milk for ice cream. Camel's milk, I've heard, is low enough in lactose that it's usually drinkable by lactose intolerant people.
posted by Copronymus at 2:39 PM on August 2, 2013


In the UK during WWII (apparently? this info is secondhand from drunk brit expats) they switched from dairy ice cream to some sort of vegetable oil-based monstrosity that is still somehow fairly common in stores there. It is pretty terrible.
posted by elizardbits at 2:40 PM on August 2, 2013


If someone could hook my four year-old up with this genetic mutation, I'd be much obliged, as it is straight-up Exorcist time in my house if the little dude accidentally has regular milk or ice cream.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:42 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Anyone with even a slight lactose intolerance knows the exact matrix of pills to foods (and sub genre of foods) that they can eat without resulting in 3 hours of gassy horrors.
posted by The Whelk at 2:43 PM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


A chocolate malt sounds pretty good right about now.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:43 PM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


they switched from dairy ice cream to some sort of vegetable oil-based monstrosity that is still somehow fairly common in stores there.

Crisco, you're thinking of. They usually just have a big scoop of crisco on a sugar cone, sometimes with jimmies, but often just plain.
posted by Greg Nog at 2:43 PM on August 2, 2013 [11 favorites]


FWIW, lactose-free milk isn't bad and most of the lactose-sensitive people I know can take it just fine. And yeah, Lactaid brand milk even makes some pretty solid ice creams now.

There are some good coconut milk ice creams, but it's worth noting that they all taste like [flavorname]/coconut.

The secret ingredient in soy milk ice creams is sadness.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:47 PM on August 2, 2013 [13 favorites]


One thing to be aware of is that a lot of aged cheese has no lactose, so can be safely eaten. Another reason to not eat crappy cheese.
posted by sauril at 2:47 PM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


The one great thing about having a lactose-intolerant kid is not having to chase the ice cream truck. To my young'n, all he's got is bomb pops and a bunch of stuff that makes you fart.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:51 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hey an FPP that saves me an AskMe:

Are there any ice cream shops left in NYC that serve non-dairy ice cream? Kyotofu, Lula's Sweet Apothecary and that shitty place in the West Village all closed.
posted by griphus at 2:51 PM on August 2, 2013


Honestly if you are lactose intolerant you should never ever believe anything a non-lactose intolerant person tells you about what they have heard about lactose intolerance and the things people can eat.

Actually you shouldn't believe other lactose intolerant people either.

DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH AT ALL TIMES is what I am saying I guess, because literally every single person's tolerance is vastly different. VASTLY.


on preview griphus try the lactaid ice creams they are tasty
posted by elizardbits at 2:54 PM on August 2, 2013 [12 favorites]


Clemmy's is pretty good lactose free ice cream. Actually, the flavor is awesome, it's just got a stickier texture that takes some getting used to, I guess.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:54 PM on August 2, 2013


The beverages that have haunted me my entire life: milk and any kind of alcohol.

Two facts: One, I used to love eating sweetened cereal as a kid. What American kid doesn't love fortified candy for breakfast? Two, the vast majority of Chinese people, through our long, often fragmented and frequently revisionist history do not possess the enzyme to break down lactose.

There's a gap of knowledge that exists when you're a zero generation immigrant growing up in a predominantly white community. You're far less likely to meet people who have the experience to tell you that you're doing it wrong. Drinking milk in the mornings without the ability to break down lactose? Doing it wrong.

I was a big kid when I was younger. Part of that was a healthy diet, part of that was having parents who would work late and wouldn't be home until 8pm almost every single day of the week. I was left home alone with a freezer in the garage full of cheap microwaveable dinners. I got pretty fat! There were times when I remember chowing down on two Hungry-Man dinners in a row while watching The Simpsons. That was my adolescence.

When you regularly chow down on 2000+ calories in less than half an hour, your stomach's elasticity begins to increase. Competitive eaters train themselves using the same strategy except they do it with something less calorie intensive like cabbages and lettuce. It was this elasticity that saved me from letting out a perpetual, never-ending gush of flatulence starting from 7am in the morning until 3pm when school let out. I'd spend my days in class stifling farts for hours and hours, clenching my buttcheeks in a herculean effort not to be that kid. When I could, I'd let out ninja toots, which required patient, minute contortions of my sphincter. Imagine having to urinate after an extremely long roadtrip but knowing that you must control the stream, to let it only trickle out, bit by bit, minute by minute, throughout the entire course of your day or else you'd be even more of the laughingstock that you already were. And that entire time your stomach is just roiling, its tectonics shifting, building and building pressure until you have stomach cramps and excuse yourself to the toilet to let out a monstrous fart, hoping that it would end but knowing that in mere minutes the pressure would soon be back. The only thing I had going for me was that due to the constant flushing, my toots were, for the most part, odorless (or so I think). But it's safe to say that my classmates inhaled far more than the daily single liter if I were around.

Anyway, If I had the ability to dislocate myself from the fabric of space and time, I'd bring Lactaid pills with me. And maybe the Guide to Getting it On because hoo-boy would that have relieved some anxiety.
posted by dubusadus at 2:55 PM on August 2, 2013 [32 favorites]


They organized a multidisciplinary project called LeCHE (Lactase Persistence in the early Cultural History of Europe)

The best part about STEM is silly names.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 2:55 PM on August 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Crisco scoops with sprinkles are surely one of the best things to come out of Rationing. Why would you eat something that melts down your arm at room temperature? I thought all American food had been replaced by corn products by now anyway.
posted by emilyw at 3:00 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, and some time ago and after some experimentation I realized that ingesting sixteen Lactaid meant I could eat pizza for the first time in literally years. So I ordered some and after it arrived, I was in the kitchen hastily tearing open Lactaid packets. For some reason the clumsiness the anticipation brought on was really familiar. That is when I realized just how similar, physically and emotionally, the situation was to trying to quickly get a prophylactic out of its foil wrapper.
posted by griphus at 3:02 PM on August 2, 2013 [55 favorites]


FWIW, lactose-free milk isn't bad

I usually use Lactofree brand milk, which suddenly showed up in UK supermarkets maybe a year ago I guess, and is pretty much universally superior to any lactose-less substitutes I've choked down (especially the one time I gave myself what I think was pine mouth with dubious nut milk and everything tasted like sadness for a week). It kinda sorta has an aftertaste if you really look for it, but it 99.9% just tastes like milk.

I'm almost jealous that lactose makes other intolerant people fart. For me what it does is make me comprehensively not fart while taking on the approximate shape and demeanour of Violet Beauregarde and hating literally everything in the world forever.
posted by emmtee at 3:02 PM on August 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


(All credit for convincing me to eat a fistful of Lactaid instead of two or three goes to elizardbits, whom I am now racing to discover the LD50 of lactase.)
posted by griphus at 3:05 PM on August 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


My local Thai restaurant/coffee shop/hippy bakery has coconut milk ice cream that is better than just about every ice cream I have ever tasted ever. It's unbelievably good.

There's also the frozen-banana-in-a-blender method, which works surprisingly well. (Throw in a spoonful of peanut butter, a dollop of chocolate syrup, and a pinch of ground coffee, and supreme deliciousness will be achieved.)
posted by Atom Eyes at 3:08 PM on August 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


I've been getting more lactose intolerant as I grow older, but it hasn't deterred me. I will continue eating entire pints of B&J's Strawberry Cheesecake ice cream, and I don't care how many subsequent hours I spend in crippling pain. Fuck you, genetics!
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:08 PM on August 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


Good lord I think I must have won the genetic lottery or something. Part Chinese but milk and alcohol don't bother me one bit. Baldness on my mother's side but a nice thick head of hair. Heart problems on my father's side but... Well, just have to knock on wood for the time being.

My brother, on the other hand, seems to have been given the short end of the stick. The poor, gassy, red-faced stick.
posted by backseatpilot at 3:11 PM on August 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


the LD50 of lactase

I've taken 12 to eat mac n cheese and it was mostly successful. I took 20 to have a creamy chicken soup and puked impressively. Average is 6 per dairy item.
posted by elizardbits at 3:14 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Buy it raw if you can.
posted by planetesimal at 3:21 PM on August 2, 2013


Between the celiac disease and the lactose intolerance, my digestive system can just go fuck itself.
posted by Rangeboy at 3:26 PM on August 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


I'm going to go get a sundae.
posted by Flunkie at 3:33 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


The better brands of lactose-free milk are good for nearly everything regular milk can do: cereal, mashed potatoes, etc. It's kinda meh to lousy as a standalone beverage, though. Almond milk, by contrast, is delicious as a beverage but useless in nearly every other regard. Oreos, for instance, do not react well to almond milk.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 3:34 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


And breast milk?
posted by Postroad at 3:37 PM on August 2, 2013


I'm drinking a big, tall glass of ice cold milk, feeling sorry for all of you who can't.
posted by double block and bleed at 3:41 PM on August 2, 2013


That's okay, milk tastes like farts anyway.


( now if it was a glass of delicious cheese...)
posted by The Whelk at 3:45 PM on August 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm drinking a big, tall glass of ice cold milk, feeling sorry for all of you who can't.

Forget lactose intolerance, what about the phlegm? Ugh. I've been off plain milk for decades now and it really improved my health.

*hork*
posted by GuyZero at 3:49 PM on August 2, 2013


In the UK during WWII (apparently? this info is secondhand from drunk brit expats) they switched from dairy ice cream to some sort of vegetable oil-based monstrosity that is still somehow fairly common in stores there. It is pretty terrible.

according to my British mil - who doesn't remember the war, but does remember rationing - non-dairy ice cream wasn't made with vegetable shortening, but with whipped lard.

as for a dairy revolution - I'm a dairy Jacobin.
posted by jb at 3:50 PM on August 2, 2013


Milk is just nasty. My cousins would drink the remaining milk from their cereal bowls, which I think is probably the grossest thing I've ever witnessed at a meal. My sister and I were horrified. We have an ethnic blend of lactose intolerant peoples in our family. Even our parents would buy little of it. Cheese and yogurt, though, there was no shortage of that. Also, has anyone tried this?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:55 PM on August 2, 2013


But fake-milk-based ice cream sounds vile. I'd rather just have the runs.

Neither sounds tasty. I'd just have ice cream instead.
posted by codswallop at 3:57 PM on August 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


Tofutti cutie/don't explode the booty.

Hah hah, just kidding I bit a tiny corner of one once and it was so heinous I buried the rest of it in the yard. I'm mega Northern European so I can guzzle the milks. Crazier than a sack of assholes tho.
posted by Divine_Wino at 4:13 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


One of the best/worst parts about archaeology is learning how awesome the history of things is: ancient wine! booze in general! that time we learnt to bake things! cheeses! Tempered with the pondering of the gross-sounding backstory of making the brie we know and love today. Like cheese grated into thick Greek wine for warriors, or, frankly, the history of whomever was like YES PUT THE MILK INTO A CAVE FOR A LONG TIME AND WAIT UNTIL IT'S A RAINBOW OF GREENS AND FUZZY LIKE A SHEEP and then we eat it today is a good day to die. Like just how many Bothans humans died on the path to Stilton?
posted by jetlagaddict at 4:16 PM on August 2, 2013 [30 favorites]


In the UK during WWII (apparently? this info is secondhand from drunk brit expats) they switched from dairy ice cream to some sort of vegetable oil-based monstrosity that is still somehow fairly common in stores there. It is pretty terrible.

I think there was a variation of that available in Montreal in the 70s. It was this -- fluid -- in a bronze-coloured can that was meant to replace whipping cream. It didn't, but we used it anyway. The texture of it as we poured it into the bowl and applied the beater really did remind us of motor oil.

And yeah, my sister and I still talk about the "edible oil-based product" label. It was hard to convince us of the "vegetable" part because the label didn't actually mention any foodstuffs at all.
posted by maudlin at 4:17 PM on August 2, 2013


Hey, lactose intolerant people, how are you with kefir? It's really lovely stuff and I'd hate to think you couldn't consume it.
posted by maudlin at 4:24 PM on August 2, 2013


Cool whip type frozen toppings are oil-based and taste just like Dairy Queen/probably any fast-food vanilla ice cream.

I may or may not know this from eating it out of the container.

Anyhow, it does have some dairy products in it but maybe you lactosies can handle it, if you can get past the fact that it tastes like Dairy Queen ice cream.
posted by windykites at 4:40 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Edible Oil Product? In Montreal? They don't have bagels in Toronto. They have donuts. Donuts made of edible oil product.
posted by GuyZero at 4:41 PM on August 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


Because we need to digest lactose in breast milk, everyone has the lactase gene (LCT) and so produces lactase at birth. But lactase production is greatly reduced ("down-regulated") after weaning, by around the age of five. How much it's decreased will vary and therefore the associated lactose intolerance will also vary.

For those who have a lactase persistence "gene" (this is murky — persistence has been found to be associated with variations of an intron on another gene, MCM6), the reduction will be variably lessened and therefore the associated lactose tolerance will vary. Note that you get a copy of LCT from each parent; if you get the persistence allele from one parent and not the other, your lactose reduction will be halved. You won't digest lactose as well as you would with two copies of lactose persistence variants, but you'll still be "lactose tolerant".

So, all in all, you can see how the end result of the small intestine production of lactase will vary quite a bit, for both the lactose tolerant and intolerant populations, and thus individuals will fall along a spectrum.

But that's not all. Your gut bacteria has a go at lactose, too. Our gut ecologies vary quite a bit. For those who lack the persistence allele and are lactose intolerant, their gut bacteria will digest (some of, most of) the lactose. This is where the gas production happens (and with lactose tolerant people, too) and so different variations of gut bacteria will produce different results for those who are intolerant. This is conjecture on my part; but I know that gut ecologies do vary quite a bit and so I think it's reasonable to hypothesize that this will affect the response that the lactose intolerant have to the ingestion of lactose.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:46 PM on August 2, 2013 [17 favorites]


Milk is just nasty. My cousins would drink the remaining milk from their cereal bowls, which I think is probably the grossest thing I've ever witnessed at a meal.

When I was a kid, after eating like 6 bowls of cocoa puffs, when the milk is all syrupy and chocloatey....

That was the best.


Huh. Even Nature can't avoid the Internet commenting plague. But at least now I know that research on the spread of milk consumption and the associated genetic mutations is a Leftist plot. (Third comment down)

Can anyone explain to me what that guy is going on about ? I tried to do some googling, but I must be dense, because I just don't get how theorized migration patterns are some sort of political plot.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 4:49 PM on August 2, 2013


Wow, that explains a lot. I always wondered why people would have invented cheese. It makes so much sense that it was invented to make milk edible.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 4:50 PM on August 2, 2013


TIL that "unable to digest and therefore caused gas" == "essentially a toxin"
posted by DU at 4:56 PM on August 2, 2013


a fistful of Lactaid

Spaghetti alfredo western.
posted by yoink at 4:59 PM on August 2, 2013 [12 favorites]


Dude, if I was given only milk to drink and nothing else I would eventually die from dehydration due to explosive diarrhea. So yeah, it's fucking toxic.
posted by elizardbits at 4:59 PM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Fermentation is the oldest means of preserving food - I'm sure that cheese and yoghurt were made to preserve a valuable nutrient longer; also, they figured out what to do with "spoiled" milk! Without refrigeration, milk is highly perishable.
posted by dbmcd at 5:02 PM on August 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


A dysentery bout in my twenties left me extremely lactose intolerant. I've found in the past year that I can drink a bit of kefir. I live in a great neighborhood for it: catering to Uzbekhs, Kazakhs, Caucasians, and Bukharans, my grocer stocks a dozen varieties of kefir and ryazhenka, none flavored, all inexpensive. Plus I can eat the occasional cheese, particularly Bulgaricum Kashkavalli.

Sadly ice cream is out, as shit floods, fart screams, low-grade fever and ankle inflation are not my kind of party. My handle is a cry in the night. Don't talk to me about lactaid, I still blow grease for hours.

Socializing requires ice cream like the human body requires oxygen. Woe is me, this world is a bitter lie.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 5:07 PM on August 2, 2013 [11 favorites]


"My cousins would drink the remaining milk from their cereal bowls, which I think is probably the grossest thing I've ever witnessed at a meal."

That's what I do. Otherwise it's just wasting the milk.

But, really, what I normally do is eat the cereal and then add more cereal, and repeat this process until the milk is gone. I guess that means I eat an unusually large amount of breakfast cereal at a sitting.

Anyway, it's in doing this that I've discovered a waning lactose tolerance. I guess in the last ten years I've found that I'll get all those lactose indigestion symptoms when I eat a bunch of breakfast cereal this way. But it also seems to depend upon the cereal.

I grew up drinking a glass of milk at every meal — and I've always enjoyed it. It was pretty far into adulthood for me before I lost that habit. Partly this was emphasized in my family because of the genetic bone disease we have (that's why I linked to OMIM above — I was doing some research on the disease yesterday and found it pretty useful), there'd been family lore that calcium was especially important and so we should drink lots of milk. It's pretty irrelevant, actually.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:12 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Cereal and milk discussion requires linking this. It's the law.
posted by maudlin at 5:14 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


No. This is Milk and Cereal.

previously
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 5:20 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Every time I eat ice cream and mozzarella cheese without discomfort I give thanks that the dairy-loving Norwegian genes overpowered the lactose intolerant American Indian genes.
posted by elsietheeel at 5:27 PM on August 2, 2013


Ice Cream Socialist: "Sadly ice cream is out, as shit floods, fart screams, low-grade fever and ankle inflation are not my kind of party."

Ice Cream Socialist can't eat ice cream? That's just... not right.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:35 PM on August 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm in my fifties and I still have a nice glass of ice-cold whole milk before I go to bed. I feel evil, in a way, after reading all these comments.

( I have type1 diabetes, and a glass of milk seems to have just the stuff to carry my blood sugar through the night. That, and I love ice-cold milk.)
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:37 PM on August 2, 2013


Can anyone explain to me what that guy is going on about ?....
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:49 PM on August 2


Eh, I just got that he was a raving racist, going on about how "the blonde, blued-eyed people were once again being denied their proper due".... Apparently as some sort of Leftist plot.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 5:38 PM on August 2, 2013


I'm in my fifties and I still have a nice glass of ice-cold whole milk before I go to bed

misread this as 'ice-cold whore milk.'


...which was, frankly, a lot more interesting for a minute there....
posted by hap_hazard at 5:47 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


misread this as 'ice-cold whore milk.'

I try not to discuss my misspent youth...
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:51 PM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am half-Polish and half-Northern/Western European. I take my ice cream coconut-milk style only. Genetics are a cruel joke--they had a 90% chance to get this right. Fuck you, genetics.

Also, let me tell you about the social awkwardness that is a pizza and ice cream party. Are you the asshole who asks for the salad/brownies/crappy non-dairy food? Or are you the asshole who doesn't say anything and then when everyone sits down to eat and you don't grab a plate, someone remembers and people fall all over themselves trying to find you a substitute?

Being a grown-up has actually made this situation worse: pizza and ice cream are both cheap social bonding at work and what are you, a Commie? Pizza and ice cream are the American way!

I'm seriously kind of dreading my birthday at my new job (and my birthday is months away): it's the responsibility of the person before to bring in dessert and the department standard is tres leches cake and ice cream. I don't think there's enough Lactaid pills in the world--I'm so intolerant of milk that it makes me barf.

Let's just skip over entirely the perils of preferring to not eat meat while concomitantly being lactose intolerant yet not being vegan.

And DU, man, what elizardbits said. Think diarrhea so sudden and strong that dehydration would occur in fairly short order if beer or clean water wasn't available (and there were times and places where clean water, at least, was in very short supply).
posted by librarylis at 5:55 PM on August 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Fermentation is the oldest means of preserving food - I'm sure that cheese and yoghurt were made to preserve a valuable nutrient longer; also, they figured out what to do with "spoiled" milk! Without refrigeration, milk is highly perishable.

Grunt: Ug.
Ug: Yeah Grunt.
Grunt: Guess what? I invented a way of preserving that liquid that makes us sick and gassy whenever we drink it. Now it will keep longer!
Ug: Great! /s ... Leave me alone.

↑ That is what I found confusing.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 5:56 PM on August 2, 2013


“If you're lactose intolerant and you drink half a pint of milk, you're going to be really ill. Explosive diarrhoea — dysentery essentially,”

Oh god oh god oh god why did my parents let me drink chocolate milk as a child when I asked for it at the diner. THEY KNEW WHAT WOULD HAPPEN.

Sorry, flashbacks.

Also those lactaid pills can go fuck directly off. Coconut milk ice cream is really delicious though!
posted by inertia at 6:04 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fermentation is the oldest means of preserving food - I'm sure that cheese and yoghurt were made to preserve a valuable nutrient longer; also, they figured out what to do with "spoiled" milk! Without refrigeration, milk is highly perishable.

I've heard it said that different rates of milk vs cheese consumption to this day in north vs south Europe are due to the fact that fresh milk lasts longer without refrigeration in the north vs the south due to temperature.

In the interest of giving the lactose-intolerant stomach cramps, here is the top 3 per capita annual milk consumption from Wikipedia.

Finland 183.9 litres
Sweden 145.5 litres
Ireland 129.8 litres

Or roughly ten times more fresh milk than cheese by weight. In Ireland from experience I'd guess that at least half of that ends up in cups of tea. Growing up we never bothered to put milk in the fridge because it was pretty much guaranteed to be gone by the end of the day anyway.
posted by kersplunk at 6:12 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also in Ireland I had butter so good it was like a fine smooth cheese and I wanted to put whole pats in my mouth damn the farty consequenses.
posted by The Whelk at 6:16 PM on August 2, 2013


Man, I am so sorry for y'all lactose intolerant types that will never know the joy of macaroni and cheese with a great big glass of milk. (I am also the kind of freak that drinks milk with everything, given the chance. Like pizza. And hot dogs. Yes, I know. Stop judging me.)
posted by dogheart at 6:17 PM on August 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Whelk, enjoy -- butter has a negligible amount of lactose.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 6:18 PM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Slate had an article about this a while back: The Most Spectacular Mutation in Recent Human History
posted by homunculus at 6:19 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


butter has a negligible amount of lactose

delicious fermented european-style butter, yes

cheap crappy american butter is not fermented and often has added whey

AKA POISONOUS FARTJUICE
posted by elizardbits at 6:22 PM on August 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


Also, milk (and sometimes yoghurt type drinks) are the principal line of defence my rural Irish tastebuds (which never tasted anything with any chilli in it til I went to college) have against all the Sichuan, Thai, etc. food I regularly subject them too.
posted by kersplunk at 6:25 PM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


cheap crappy american butter is not fermented and often has added whey

Oh god damnit, that's why?

I WISH I WAS A MUTANT
posted by inertia at 6:36 PM on August 2, 2013


Green Valley makes lactose free dairy yogurt, sour cream, and kefir, but not butter, ALAS.
posted by elizardbits at 6:43 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Lactaid used to work for me when I first became lactose intolerant a couple of years ago, but even taking half a dozen of them now is useless, as I learned the very hard way after eating some pizza last summer.

I have found that I can eat macaroni and cheese made with lactose-free milk and Cabot's Monterey Jack (one of several styles they make that are naturally lactose-free). I think I actually cried the first time we tried it after two years of avoiding mac-n-cheese, which has always been one of my most favorite meals.

My mother, my younger brother and I all became lactose-intolerant around the same time. My brother hates cheese and any dairy that isn't ice cream, so it has been no problem for him at all, damn him.
posted by briank at 6:45 PM on August 2, 2013


dogheart: "Man, I am so sorry for y'all lactose intolerant types that will never know the joy of macaroni and cheese with a great big glass of milk. (I am also the kind of freak that drinks milk with everything, given the chance. Like pizza. And hot dogs. Yes, I know. Stop judging me.)"

My lactose intolerance is pretty mild but just reading this is giving me stomach cramps.
posted by invitapriore at 7:04 PM on August 2, 2013


Being of solid northern european stock, and growing up mostly surrounded by the same, I didn't realize that there was such a thing as lactose intolerance until i was in my twenties, and it took even longer until I realized that lactose tolerance was the genetic oddity. It's amazing how oblivious one can be.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 7:06 PM on August 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Lactose tolerant right here. Suck it haters. Be afraid cows, be be very afraid.
posted by nowhere man at 7:14 PM on August 2, 2013


What cruel god inflicts lactose intolerance on a child born in THE DAIRY STATE. Woe is me.

I'm 38 and it seems to have gotten dramatically worse in the last year. The Lactaid, it does nothing. Soon I won't be able to have pizza, and what will I live for then? What meaning will life hold?
posted by desjardins at 7:17 PM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Big Dairy has long been and will forever be my sworn enemy.
posted by fatehunter at 7:18 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have tried cutting back on cow milk lately in favour of soy/almond milk, just for variety's sake. Now you guys are telling me that you can't stay a milk mutant all your life? This could be taken away from me? Noooooooooooooooo ....
posted by maudlin at 7:21 PM on August 2, 2013


My lactose intolerance is pretty mild but just reading this is giving me stomach cramps.

I just really like milk, okay?
posted by dogheart at 7:38 PM on August 2, 2013


I AM PERFECTLY HAPPY BEING UNABLE TO EAT ICE CREAM FOR 7 MEALS A DAY THANKS

LIES
posted by ersatz at 7:45 PM on August 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


I guess I have the half a gene, or something like that. I can do cheese - mostly - and some butter and usually sour cream and sometimes, although not always, I can do yogurt, but straight milk or ice cream? Forget it; it is to die. My completely lactose tolerant mother, who believed to the bottom of her heart that no child was healthy without at least one big glass of milk a day, never believed me. Sitting there at the table, refusing to drink it for hours, knowing that if I did I would be lying on my stomach on the floor crying within a couple of hours, is one of my less fond childhood memories. It's good to know that the half a gene exists.
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:45 PM on August 2, 2013


Soy "milk" is basically a big scam. You might as well drink YooHoo, because at least then you'll get some vague chocolatey taste with your unfermented soy extrusion.
posted by planetesimal at 7:47 PM on August 2, 2013


Soy milk (basic, unsweetened) is quite tasty, has some protein, and some calcium and vitamin D, to boot. I'm trying to find some tempeh so I can take in some fermented soy, too, but it's tough to find without a shitload of overly salty fake flavouring.
posted by maudlin at 7:57 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


In the article, they speculate about why it is that dairy became so important in north-west Europe.

They apparently didn't read much farming history to go along with the archeology. NW Europe is a wet climate where grain crops, especially wheat, often fail, but rain-loving grass thrives. There are also extensive wetlands (fens, marshes, bogs) throughout not just Ireland and Great Britain, but also (famously) the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and NW Germany. You can't grow arable crops in an undrained wetland, but you can feed cattle. (Sheep do well in salt marshes, but not in freshwater wetlands).

Green and pleasant lands are pretty to look at -- and they sustain livestock much better than arable crops. The medievals grew lots of arable crops due to population pressure, but it's no accident that after the Black Death a lot of land was converted to pasture, and a lot of those fields have remained pasture for the 700+ years since. You can tell, because the medieval plough pattern (ridge and furrow) may still be visible.

Also, I miss British cheese.
posted by jb at 8:09 PM on August 2, 2013 [14 favorites]


Soy milk and its new age brethren, almond milk and coconut milk, have made it possible for me to eat cereal for the first time since I was a little kid and hadn't yet connected the near constant abdominal pain with Cap'n Crunch. Thus I don't actually care if they are unfermented soy extrusion or possibly Alaskan pipeline tailings. I only wish I still liked Cap'n Crunch but alas, my tastebuds did grow up. Never mind! I still glory in almond granola flakes or whatever other grownup cerealy goodness I can find on the bargain aisle.
posted by mygothlaundry at 8:10 PM on August 2, 2013


mygothlaundry: an AskMe comment alerted me to the glory of soaked oatmeal.

1/3 cup raw oatmeal (large flakes, not steel cut), 3/4 cup alterna-milk of your choice, a couple of table spoons of nuts/seeds, a handful of berries. Leave in fridge overnight. Makes a gorgeous breakfast that doesn't need cooking to be edible.
posted by maudlin at 8:27 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love everything made of milk but detest just plain milk in a glass. Oily, too thick, guh. All the cheese and yogurt and ice cream though, yes please right here.
posted by dame at 8:27 PM on August 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Benny Andajetz: "I'm in my fifties and I still have a nice glass of ice-cold whole milk before I go to bed. I feel evil, in a way, after reading all these comments.

( I have type1 diabetes, and a glass of milk seems to have just the stuff to carry my blood sugar through the night. That, and I love ice-cold milk.)
"

The exact type of milk (whole preferred, but sometimes not available) is well loved.

I just need to work on adding the glass to the equation.

Yay bachelorhood?
posted by Samizdata at 8:31 PM on August 2, 2013


The mutations responsible for lactose tolerance that arose in west Africa, the Middle East, and south Asia are different. So northern Europeans and their descendants would stare enviously at the Senegalese, Arabs, Pakistanis, and Indians with their exotic frozen milk desserts, but there would still be ice cream.
This suggests that the global spread of adult lactose tolerance is not the result of colonization but of Diaspora, a very different biopolitical phenomenon.

Someone mentioned differences in lactose tolerance between self and sibling, and two words came to mind: the milkman.

I fucking love ice cream, whole milk, and most forms of dairy. I wish dairy farming in North America was more humane and sustainable.
posted by mistersquid at 8:39 PM on August 2, 2013


Tofutti cutie/don't explode the booty.

Yeah, but they contain palm oil, which is made from dead orangutans.

The mint ones are tasty. In a dead orangutan sort of way. Sigh.
posted by sebastienbailard at 8:44 PM on August 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


One of the tastiest smoothies I've ever had was vegan. Really it was a banana-inclusive milkshake: banana, peanut butter and chocolate vegan ice-notcream. (On Baldwin In Kensington market, for TO-based lactose intolerants). Though I didn't think to check for palm oil.
posted by jb at 8:51 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm of south Asian descent and am not at all lactose intolerant but my brother is. My parents are also not lactose intolerant.

I'm conclusion, genetics are a land of contrast.,
posted by sweetkid at 9:12 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


On the other hand my body seems quite angry with me if I have anything soy based
posted by sweetkid at 9:13 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, anything with soy in it does terrible things to my innards. Well, terrible for those around me, at least.
posted by dogheart at 9:14 PM on August 2, 2013


Man, I should always hit preview. But I'm glad to know it isn't just me!
posted by dogheart at 9:17 PM on August 2, 2013


Guess I'll just have to be the one to say it:

MILK--It does a body good.

Unless it doesn't. In which case I sit and read a whole MeFi thread of TMI. In RL I could simply walk away from any one of you with my hands over my ears saying lalalalalalala. But here....


shit floods, fart screams, low-grade fever and ankle inflation... I still blow grease for hours.

posted by BlueHorse at 9:36 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I became LI pretty much overnight a few years back. This was especially distressing as I was really into creating homemade ice creams and my family kept demanding it.

My initial forays into dairy-less ice creams were just based off of almond milk. Fat content was too low, and it created too icy a product. After much experimentation, I have developed a recipe that uses almond milk, about 8-10 egg yolks (I cook it custard style), and some coconut cream (not milk--to up the fat content and help mouth feel). Additional ingredients include tons of sugar, salt,a little guar gum powder, and sometimes some liquor (hey-it's just dairy free, not health food) . If I do a chocolate base, I use at least a cup of cocoa ( the fine powder makes for a velvety texture)

I often wish I could just go out and buy a carton of my recipe because I'm lazy.
posted by sourwookie at 9:45 PM on August 2, 2013


Again I will remind all fellow assploders that Justin's Nut Butters makes:

- vegan Nutella that is far superior to the original gloop
- vegan dark chocolate peanut butter cups that could subvert millennia-old religions with their glory and magnificence

OM NOM NOM
posted by elizardbits at 9:47 PM on August 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


But, really, what I normally do is eat the cereal and then add more cereal, and repeat this process until the milk is gone. I guess that means I eat an unusually large amount of breakfast cereal at a sitting.

I have three strategies:

1. What you do, using as little milk as possible.
2. Soy milk (love the taste, and it's never done me wrong).
3. Apple juice. Seriously, it's a fine substitute.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:19 PM on August 2, 2013


I'm 44, and nearly completely lactose intolerant. Lactaid barely makes a dent. I can tolerate some half and half in my coffee, and that's it.

Oh, and I also can't stand cheese.

Where was I born and raised? Wisconsin. Visiting home is *always* a treat.
posted by spinifex23 at 10:22 PM on August 2, 2013


serious question how do you know if you are farting because of lactose intolerance or farting just because?

These people who act like farting (and yes even noxious farting) is some sort of crazy oddity seem rather fussy to me.

Maybe Im lactose intolerant and dont know it. Or maybe i have a gene for extreme farting tolerance.

anyway

more serious question.

Since when do we humans evolve genetic mutations over the space of a few thousand years? Thats what maybe 50-100 generations? Seems like we could evolve something better if thats the case like wings or something.
posted by Colonel Panic at 10:28 PM on August 2, 2013


My dad is lactose intolerant and my mom is tolerant, but I don't think I got just half a gene. I can drink whole milk by the gallon, cream sauce, all kinds of cheese, buttermilk, ice cream, you name it. I'm very lucky as quite a few Chinese I know are not very tolerant of lactose.

I don't often take milk while at home as it's hard to get decent fresh milk here without paying through the nose for it. But when travelling, I always grab a large bottle of full milk and a bottle of double cream. Mmmm...cream.
posted by Alnedra at 10:36 PM on August 2, 2013


It's probable that many people develop an allergy rather than true intolerance if they didn't have it from youth. Epigenetics is fascinating but doesn't quite do that.
posted by planetesimal at 10:42 PM on August 2, 2013


erious question how do you know if you are farting because of lactose intolerance or farting just because?

Cause it's REALLY PAINFUL and GOES ON FOR HOURS and then you SHIT FOREVER OH GOD.
posted by The Whelk at 10:43 PM on August 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


Now, whether that allergy is a good biological reaction to lactose is a whole other can of creamy worms.
posted by planetesimal at 10:43 PM on August 2, 2013


Pretty much what The Whelk said.

Eat a negligible amount of dairy? Why yes, I wanted my stomach to blow up like a party balloon, thank you. Then the fun really begins. At least I have cats, so I can blame it on them. Yeah...the cats farted. Yes. That's right. The cats did it.
posted by spinifex23 at 10:45 PM on August 2, 2013


how do you know if you are farting because of lactose intolerance or farting just because?

Process of elimination, duh.
posted by jamaro at 10:48 PM on August 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


Seriously, I did not know I was lactose intolerant until I took a camping trip in the woods for a week and I wasn't double-downed in pain while shitting cause there is surprisingly less dairy on a long hike in the woods. Until that point I assumed everyone had a three hour period where they shat out all their insides. I didn't know another way.

After that I got an actual Doctor's appointment and I got a prescription for probotics, the kind with the warning that you need to keep this in the fridge or they will all die and after ten months of that and yogurt, I don't have the kind of painful, gassy, literally shitting everywhere reaction to dairy anymore (thanks Viking genes) but if I wanna eat a white pizza I need to take a few lactaide pills cause otherwise I'm gonna ruin someone's night.
posted by The Whelk at 10:52 PM on August 2, 2013


Also? Unsweetened almond milk is like a quart of Heaven on earth. Have a Hot Chocolate made out of that, and I'm one happy girl.
posted by spinifex23 at 10:52 PM on August 2, 2013


how do you know if you are farting because of lactose intolerance or farting just because?

dude

it's like freshman year's first jaeger pukefest except it comes out the other end

it's like someone knocked the top off a fire hydrant

it's like when L'Orient's magazine was fired at the Battle of the Nile

it is not particularly subtle
posted by elizardbits at 10:52 PM on August 2, 2013 [9 favorites]


which is to say, apparently I've got it seemingly under control but I remember SHITTING FOREVER AND ALSO GAS AND OH GOD OH FUCKING GOD.
posted by The Whelk at 10:58 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


my day really isn't complete until i have made a napoleonic wars reference about butts
posted by elizardbits at 11:08 PM on August 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


I feel for all you lactose intolerant folks, but I find it more interesting that we (Northern Europeans, blonde-ish blue-eyed-ish) might be descended from middle eastern dairy farmers instead of the locals.

Whoever they were?

Human migration patterns isn't something I've studied, but I will now.

FWIW, My doc told me to back off on the ice-cream and cheeses because of cholesterol.
posted by Mojojojo at 11:09 PM on August 2, 2013


BTW, I didn't mean to come off smug about my lactose tolerance. I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, so the whole painful bowel movements, gas, the damn cramps and all that? I can empathise, really.
posted by Alnedra at 12:01 AM on August 3, 2013


I don't know about plans for MeFi Summer Camp, but if MeFi Old Folks Home ever becomes a reality, I think have seen the future of its breakfast table conversations.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 12:52 AM on August 3, 2013 [10 favorites]


What is miak?
posted by Joe Chip at 1:32 AM on August 3, 2013


fart screams
it's like freshman year's first jaeger pukefest except it comes out the other end
I blow grease for hours.
Because I come to Metafilter for the poetry.
posted by qinn at 3:38 AM on August 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Jesus, this is like Tubgirl in print form.

(If you don't know the reference, my advice is not to look it up.)

I was never so happy to have all of that Norwegian/Swedish/Irish/English ancestry as I am right now. 48 and I still down ice-cold glasses of whole milk with no side effects.
posted by litlnemo at 4:16 AM on August 3, 2013


I discovered a couple years ago that most Kraft cheese is lactose free, and will even specifically say "0g of lactose" on the label. It was life-changing, but not as much as when I read that DiGiorno frozen pizzas use this magical lactose-free Kraft cheese. After years of pizza abstinence, that discovery almost made me cry with joy.

Disclaimer: I do not work for Kraft and have only verified the DiGiorno claim with my own lactose-averse digestive system. I am not responsible for any unexpected lactose symptoms, or weight gain caused by a newly increased consumption of cheese and/or pizza (SISTER-IN-LAW THIS MEANS YOU).
posted by phatkitten at 5:36 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


serious question how do you know if you are farting because of lactose intolerance or farting just because?

I've been lactose intolerant since I was a baby, and I once asked my mom how they figured out I was lactose intolerant and she was like ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING? IT WAS A HORROR SHOW WHEN YOU HAD DAIRY.

I also can't drink soy or almond milk because they make me itch. I just gave up on milk.
posted by inertia at 7:08 AM on August 3, 2013


Process of elimination is it, esp for those of us where the effects are more subtle (only bad gas, for example).

I'm also of the opinion that if your gas is quite stinky, esp on a regular basis, you're probably eating something your body doesn't like. And that isn't a good thing (again, IMO).

It is also good for relationships :)

Edit: Also, I can do Lactase milk in cereal, half & half in coffee (thank goodness) but can't do yogurt (except for the $$ lactose-free kind). And goat milk ice cream is the best, tho very $$$.
posted by evening at 7:12 AM on August 3, 2013


literally shitting everywhere

Oh that was you!
posted by iotic at 7:40 AM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Mr Corpse and I tried a 30-day Paleo challenge a few years ago (we're cool like that). One month without dairy left me exactly the same as when we started. He, however, went from lactose-isn't-that-great-but-no-biggie to full on lactose intolerant.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:50 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm extremely comforted to find I'm not the only one who takes lactaid with dairy and still end up throwing up half the night. (Though I do wonder if there's a slight allergy in there, as even dairy with low/no lactose affect me pretty badly.) And thanks Elizardbits and The Whelk for your accurate description of the grossness.
posted by Margalo Epps at 8:55 AM on August 3, 2013


He, however, went from lactose-isn't-that-great-but-no-biggie to full on lactose intolerant.

I am mildly lactose intolerant - I can't drink milk, and some soft cheese and yogurt fucks me up but good, but properly aged cheese seems totally fine - but if I have zero cheese for a while I get way more sensitive to all of it. I suspect that's the intestinal flora thing, at least in part.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:20 AM on August 3, 2013


sauril: "One thing to be aware of is that a lot of aged cheese has no lactose, so can be safely eaten. Another reason to not eat crappy cheese."

AHHH! Thanks! We've wondered why our kid has hit-or-miss luck with cheese. When I think of it, though, yeah, he does better with the aged provolone and gouda we have at home and worse with say, cheap cheddar at a restaurant. Makes a ton of sense. Adding this knowledge to the arsenal.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:40 AM on August 3, 2013


I was expecting this conversation to be way less gross.
posted by jenlovesponies at 9:54 AM on August 3, 2013


There's diagnostic tests that can determine if you are lactose intolerant, some by looking for the results of intestinal bacteria digesting the lactose that you didn't, or by the blood glucose changes when you do digest it, or by a biopsy or a genetic analysis.

If you're having a very strong reaction to dairy products, then I'd think (IANAD) that you'd want to know whether it's lactose intolerance or an allergic reaction because the latter could be life-threatening while the former isn't (but may seem like it is).

Maybe a physician or a scientist could correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think that an allergy would produce a lot of flatulence — that's really more a sign of bacterial activity than anything else. And it's not abnormal because we rely upon our gut flora to do a lot of different things and producing gases (mostly hydrogen, methane, and CO2) is the price we pay for it. Diarrhea, on the other hand, will happen both from an allergy and lactose intolerance. So very severe diarrhea without severe flatulence might be an indicator of an allergy as opposed to lactose intolerance.

With regard to the "half gene" terminology that people are using, presumably in response to my comment — that's really not the right way to talk about it. Your DNA is made up of pairs of genes, with one inherited from each parent. When the two genes are identical, that's called being homozygous; and when they differ, that's called being heterozygous. How this works out from the view of modern molecular biology isn't as simple as what we learned in high school about Mendelian inheritance because, for example, there's dominance, semi-dominance, and co-dominance. But, also, in reality the end result is usually from the interaction of multiple genes.

In the case of lactose intolerance, the end result comes from the function of the lactase gene LCT and whatever it is that regulates the expression of that gene — that appears to be genetically controlled by variations on another gene (from a molecular biology standpoint, it's not a lactose tolerance "gene", it's one or more locations on another, otherwise unrelated, gene that seems to control lactase reduction — but those working from a more abstracted evolutionary view will call the genetic basis for different phenotypes a "gene") and there's probably some epigenetics involved, too, for example, the age of onset of the reduction of lactase might be sensitive to diet. So this is especially complicated. But, basically, if you get the lactose tolerance "gene" from one parent but not the other, then because you have one copy of each, at the cellular level you're going to have a continued production of lactase, but not as much production as someone who has two copies of that "gene".

Everyone is lactose intolerant in the sense that there's a limit on the amount of lactose that we can digest within a unit of time — above that, the bacteria will then feast and you'll have the symptoms of intolerance. So because the tolerance level for ingestion of lactose varies, and because the composition of gut flora varies, and the severity of allergic reactions varies (and within individuals), someone's difficulty with dairy products can be very complicated to diagnose from symptoms alone.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:55 AM on August 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


serious question how do you know if you are farting because of lactose intolerance or farting just because?

Intensity, frequency and duration. Thankfully, I can handle cheese somewhat. Pizza or nachos are ok, if I'm pretty sure I'll be alone for the rest of the evening. Ice cream, or just plain milk is a no-go. I also belong to the group that didn't know abut lactose-intolerance until I was an adult and just assumed that being gassy and sick was just something that happened on occasion. Also the whole culture of "boys are gross and farty" didn't help. A 12 year old boy with the ability to loudly fart on command is pretty much the star of the slumber party. As a result, for a long time I would occasionally eat a bowl of cereal or have a milkshake and just ride out the ill effects because I was used to them.

I also don't enjoy any of the replacement milks. I'm pretty convinced that there's some added ingredient that doesn't agree with me. Some sort of standard thickener or stabilizer or something. because it doesn't matter what brand or if it's soy, rice or almond milk there's this weird taste/texture that makes me reject the notion of actually swallowing. But once I had an almond milk that was delicious and didn't have that at all. But I don't know what kind it was, and I got tired of experimenting trying to find it again.
posted by billyfleetwood at 12:22 PM on August 3, 2013


I have both lactose intolerance and food allergies. I'm sure my intolerance is an intolerance.

I accidentally (or on purpose) consume dairy? I merely become a fart machine.
I accidentally consume walnuts or strawberries? I can feel my lips swell, and then the wheezing comes. Then, it's Benedryl Time.

The intolerance is much less an issue than the allergy. My food is problematic.

(And I great ironies of ironies, I'm roughly half Norwegian and a fourth Irish. And a size able chunk of Italian. The rest of my family can consume gallons of milk without blinking. Yet, I get the genetic short stick. THANKS.)
posted by spinifex23 at 2:10 PM on August 3, 2013


I just came here to brag that thanks to my superior luck genes I have NO food allergies and can digest lactose like it's ice cream.
I only have to avoid hornets if I don't want to die from one sting but oh well.
posted by hat_eater at 3:21 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Apple juice. Seriously, it's a fine substitute.

Unless you have fructose intolerance, which often goes along with lactose intolerance.

And yes, I too took 30 something years to figure out I was lactose intolerant. Worse, increasingly intolerant. Lactaid used to work, now I need shovel fulls of it.

HOWEVER, I have noticed that if I eat the full-fat proper ice cream, I have less of a problem. Which you basically cannot buy in a supermarket. Gotta buy it at Baskin Robbins or Culvers. (Fun fact: frozen custard is just ice cream with a higher fat percentage.)

I gained 30 pounds after discovering this. Because when you can eat ice cream and not violently expel it a few hours later, you actually metabolize the calories. Ugh.

Next up: what's the deal with onions and garlic? Why are they sometimes great, and sometimes they cause the weeklong ulps?
posted by gjc at 3:32 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Next up: what's the deal with onions and garlic? Why are they sometimes great, and sometimes they cause the weeklong ulps?

Degree of cooked-ness, for me. Raw onions (and peppers, although I'm not sure garlic does this) cause the kind of problems for me that others have described in detail above regarding lactose. But cooked thoroughly (to transparency) I can eat onions just fine.
posted by restless_nomad at 3:58 PM on August 3, 2013


gjc, I did some Googling when I started to have issues with fresh garlic, and it turns out that there's a link between garlic and fructose malabsorption (which I have a mild case of). I can't find the exact link now, but there's a lot of information out there to sift through.
posted by phatkitten at 4:43 PM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm very sorry to hear about my fellow Wisconsin natives who are lactose intolerant, that's just awful.



So, um, I guess you won't be eating that cheese then?




I'd be happy to shoulder that burden for you.

I mean shoulder it with my mouth
posted by louche mustachio at 4:44 PM on August 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Just came in to say that there is a lactose free ice cream that does taste good and that would be Breyer's Vanilla or Chocolate Lactose Free. Real ice cream with minimal troubles.
posted by jadepearl at 5:07 PM on August 3, 2013


spinifex23: " Eat a negligible amount of dairy? Why yes, I wanted my stomach to blow up like a party balloon, thank you. Then the fun really begins. At least I have cats, so I can blame it on them. Yeah...the cats farted. Yes. That's right. The cats did it."

Start feeding the cats a grain-free diet and you lose that excuse, IME.

(I had a totally hostile reaction the other day when reading a review of a vegan restaurant that said something like "vegans sure love their cheese substitutes, don't they?" NO ACTUALLY WHAT IT IS IS THAT VEGANS BEING HUMAN ENJOY THE OOZY-WARM-GOOEY-CREAMINESS THAT COOKED CHEESE OFFERS THEY JUST DON'T WANT TO EAT DAIRY FOR ANY OF A NUMBER OF REASONS YOU SELF-SATISFIED JERK )
posted by Lexica at 9:07 PM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have been developing lactose intolerance for some time and I should probably start paying closer attention to that. I forget when I moved from milk to coconut drink or hazelnut milk for granola/oatmeal/etc. I also stick to coconut-based ice cream (current favorite flavors are from Steve's, though it appears they have dropped the Cookie Dough one?).

Fortunately I love coconut so this has been easy.

Less easy will be when/if I have to give up goat cheese and fresh mozzarella. Which I should probably do. But from reading this thread I have had it easy and I am really thankful for that.
posted by mountmccabe at 6:24 AM on August 4, 2013


I feel for all you lactose intolerant folks, but I find it more interesting that we (Northern Europeans, blonde-ish blue-eyed-ish) might be descended from middle eastern dairy farmers instead of the locals.

That's not what the article says or even suggests. It talks about a "two-step milk revolution", one being the technology of cheese (developed in the Middle East, but eventually spreading to Europe) the other being the lactose tolerance (arising in Europe).

From the article again:
“It could be that a large proportion of Europeans are descended from the first lactase-persistent dairy farmers in Europe”; it does not say those farmers or their lactose intolerant genes came from the Middle East. The Lactase Hotspots map would look very different if that were the case. As would genetic maps.
posted by mountmccabe at 6:40 AM on August 4, 2013


Actually looking again that even though it says this (the quote I meant to use above) "They proposed that the trait of lactase persistence, dubbed the LP allele, emerged about 7,500 years ago in the broad, fertile plains of Hungary" there is discussion of where those people in Hungary came from.

So I am mistaken.
posted by mountmccabe at 6:45 AM on August 4, 2013


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