Sunday, December 17, 2006

A Cure for Lactose Intolerance*

Dr. B is lactose intolerant. And I mean really lactose intolerant. He became this way over 10 years ago, and got to the point where a pat of butter used in a pan to cook his chicken would give him bloating, gas, diarrhea, water retention, stomach cramps and a really lovely attitude. Needless to say, neither of us liked this much, so after searching the web and the libraries for information, I gave up on curing him and I began reading labels, changing recipes, cooking with olive oil, and avoiding anything dairy in our house. (Except for my ice cream of course. He ate Tofutti.) We lived this way for a decade. We didn't like it much, but what choice did we have?

We found out by reading that some natural yogurts were easier for lactose-intolerants to digest, since the natural bacteria in it digested the lactose for him. Most supermarket yogurts had killed the bacteria and re-added new, weaker strains. Those did not work for him at all (trust me, I smelled the evidence.) The greek restaurant in town, with its "homemade" yogurt from the Greek markets in Chicago, was the only place we could find yogurt he could eat.

Then, we moved to France. Dairy was everywhere, and there was no avoiding it. But there was yogurt--good quality, lots of bacteria, delicious, fresh yogurt. And it was cheap and easy to find. He began eating it every day, often twice a day. By eating it every day, he raised the level of 'good' bacteria in his stomach, and they did the work for him. (If he missed a few days, all the symptoms came roaring back.)

In France, he could eat cheese. And butter. (There was NO margarine in our house. Yay!!!) And croissants. And even ice cream. I know. Amazing, right?

Coming back here, we were worried about finding a yogurt that would work for him. Yoplait and Dannon (Danone), though French brands, were nothing like the same thing in France. We started at our local food co-op, and tried several of the more 'natural' brands--the non-commercial, we-wear-Birkenstocks-and-don't-shave-our-pits, our-cows-are-really-mellow kinds of yogurt. And we found one that not only works for him, but tastes like the yogurt did in France. We can even get it at many regular grocery stores.

The brand we buy is Mountain High Natural Yogurt. It's in a navy-blue tub, with a black and white cow on it. We like the plain, but they do have some flavors. He eats about 8 oz. a day. I am sure there are other brands that will do the job, too. We just really like the flavor and texture of this one, and it really works.

And now, we get to watch movies over a bowl of ice cream again. Together.

Yay, Bacteria!!!

*I use the term "cure" very unscientifically. But it worked for us!


PutYourFlareOn said...

When we got back to St Louis after vising you guys we found that they sold Activa in the grocery stores! We were excited because Activa is what we eat in France. They called it Bio for a long time and just changed the name. I think you remember it, right? Well we tasted it and to our disapointment they had americanized it. It was weak flavored and had gelatin in it! YUCK! Julien said that the yogurt we had at your house was the best yogurt he had in the US. So, try it people! It's gooood!

Needles to say, we were glad to get home to Paris and stock up on our yummy French bacteria filled yogurts!

Sonya said...

Hi there, I've been reading you since shortly after you went to Paris. If you can't find a decent yogourt try Bio-K, a yogourt-like probiotic at Health food stores or some probiotic capsules. Make sure you keep these in the fridge so they stay alive!

Congrats on the baby that's terrific news!

Mandy said...

Thanks for the recommendation. I found some REAL yogurt at my local organic grocery store!


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