When my husband died I was 23 years old.

When my husband died I was 23 years old. The next few years were stressful, to put it mildly, and by the time I was 27 my hair had started turning white. I started dyeing when I was in my early thirties. Every month I have a battle with myself. I want to let my hair grow out white - and yet I am scared of the interim two years in which the half white/black hair looks unkempt.

A study by the Northern Illinois University and Colorado State University, and published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science, shows that stress has the same effect on dogs. Researchers met 400 owners who answered a 42 item questionnaire on their dog’s behaviour, age and health. These were the findings: Dogs that go through tough times go grey. Young dogs between 1-4, whose owners rated them as very anxious and impulsive, were far more likely to have prematurely grey muzzles than calmer, better treated dogs.

To gauge anxiety levels, researchers asked questions about behaviour, including whether the dog destroyed things when left alone, whether the dog had hair loss during vet exams, or when it entered new places, and whether the dog cringed or cowered in response to groups of people.

To rate impulsivity, the researchers asked whether the dogs jumped on people, whether they could be calmed, if they had a loss of focus and whether they were hyperactive after exercise. Researchers, who had never met the dogs, graded them on a scale of 0 to 3, with 0 indicating no muzzle greyness and 3 indicating full muzzle greyness. Female dogs had higher levels of greyness than males, researchers found. Moreover, dogs that showed fearfulness toward loud noises, and unfamiliar animals and people, tended to have increased greyness.

Other studies published in Experimental Dermatology have shown that stress changes hair colour in mice by accelerating aging. (Political leaders move rapidly to white hair within a few months of taking office.)

Colour changes take place all the time in dogs.White dogs tend to develop a rust-coloured stain beneath their eyes, because the tears wet the hair and encourage the growth of a red-tinted yeast which darkens to a brownish colour over time. Stains, from dyes and minerals in a dog's food and water, show up in dogs with white coats. Minerals found in tap or well water also can stain the hair around his mouth; plastic feeding bowls may harbour tiny cracks that house bacteria which grow in the hair, causing discoloration as they multiply. Artificial colouring in food can transfer to his hair as he eats, leaving him with a stained ring around the mouth.

Dogs lick themselves clean during grooming, but this can result in unsightly stains in an otherwise clean coat. Bacteria present in saliva can grow and multiply in the dog’s hair, causing a stain to appear and darken over time. The most common problem areas for licking-caused stains are the legs, paws and nether-regions.

The most frequent reason for a dog to persistently lick himself is allergies. The fur is stained brown. It eventually goes away once the allergies clear up. But, many dogs need prescription medications to help with the itching. The most effective medicines are steroids such as prednisone.

Black dogs often develop dark brown patches and this is sometimes due to the sun which bleaches the coat to make it lighter. However, colour patches are also due to malnutrition. Sometimes steroids, antifungals, chlorambucil, or antacids change the coat colour.

A deficiency of copper or tyrosine in the food can also cause the colour of the coat to change. Copper-rich foods are shellfish, beans, nuts, kidney & liver, whole grains, sesame seeds, barley, turnip greens, and molasses and tyrosine-rich foods-- tofu, lima beans, yogurt, cheese, chicken, bananas.

An excess of zinc then interferes with copper absorption . Zinc-rich foods include legumes, cereals, meat. If the dog is getting more zinc-rich foods than copper-rich foods an imbalance causes a black coat to lighten. Milk and eggs interfere with copper absorption. The dog needs a varied diet. Black hair fading to brown is another example of how important food is to pet health. Excessive or harsh shampoos also affect Dobermans, Dachshunds, Great Danes, Yorkshire Terriers, Whippets, and Greyhounds and cause their coats to change colour.

There are a number of medical conditions that can cause hair loss, or changes in pigmentation, in dogs. These range from infectious skin conditions, such as mange and flea dermatitis, to hormonal deficiencies such as hypothyroidism or Cushing's disease, to more serious illnesses such as cancer.

Cushing's disease is a hormonal defect that causes changes in coat colour in dogs. There is an increase in corticosteroids in the body in this disease - either due to increased production by the body, or as a side effect of high doses, or prolonged therapy with corticosteroids. Hair loss, thinning of skin, hyperpigmentation, easy bruising, seborrhea, black heads, lethargy, increased thirst and urination and pot-bellied appearance, are common signs of this.

Hypothyroidism, resulting from decreased production of thyroid hormone, is another hormonal disorder that affects the skin and hair in dogs. Hair loss, dry and brittle hair, seborrhea; secondary bacterial and yeast infections and changes in skin pigmentation may occur.

Malassezia pachydermatis is a yeast found on the skin and ears of dogs. Though a normal inhabitant of these regions, an abnormal overgrowth of the yeast can cause dermatitis, or inflammation of the skin. Patches of skin becoming darker and epidermal thickening, irritation of skin and loss of hair are common signs in this disease. Malassezia dermatitis can affect any breed of dog, but these breeds are more prone: poodles, basset hounds, cocker spaniels, and dachshunds.

Sometimes the nose colour of a dog changes. Black noses turn chocolate brown to light pink; more common in Yellow Labs, Golden Retrievers, Poodles, and Dobermans. There is no known cause and no remedy.

Lentigo is inherited in pugs and involves circular brownish-black areas of coloration.

Dachshunds have an inherited problem called Acanthosis in which the skin darkens. Puppies sometimes change colour as they mature. For instance, Dalmatians and Australian cattle dogs start off pale and get their markings as they age. Great Dane puppies start mostly black and get more tan as they mature. Beagles do the same. Finally, some breeds do change colour over their lifetimes. Bearded Collies have a dominant greying gene. Born jet black, the coat turns to light silver in a year and then grey as the dog grows. Old English Sheepdogs also have this gene.

The ravages of time affect everyone who is lucky enough to age. Skin and hair are especially susceptible to changes relating to maturing. As an individual goes through life, hair changes. It may grow thinner, coarser. It may change colour. It is especially common for darkly pigmented hair to become lighter. Pigment takes a great deal of energy for the body to make. Bodies are prone to directing resources towards other needs. Like people, dogs tend to lose pigmentation in their fur as they get older. Generally, white or greying fur on an elderly or middle-aged dog is most noticeable around the muzzle, although white or grey hairs can spring up throughout the dog's entire coat. If your dog is advanced in years but otherwise healthy, then greying or thinning hair is most likely nothing to worry about.

Dogs are incredibly sensitive beings who pick up on our emotions and energy very quickly. They do not deal at all well with anxiety, stress and negative energy. Too much stress, such as constant arguing and fighting in the house, can cause dogs to suddenly lose their fur or get white hair. They can be disturbed by changes in routines, new homes or loud noises, travelling, and going to the vet. After removing the source of the stress from the dog's environment, or removing the dog from the stressful situation, its fur will most likely grow back in time – but the white hair will remain.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Pets And Children: Best Breeds For Kids.

Emily Ridgewell Arts professional and a pet enthusiast from sunny LA. Emily has a creative energy and an aesthetic sense of living, where everything beautiful is worth sharing!

Pets And Children: Best Breeds For Kids

Emily Ridgwell writing style

I never thought the day would come when I would recommend the drinking of milk!.

I never thought the day would come when I would recommend the drinking of milk! But it has and I am recommending the drinking of camel milk. The Foods Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)has, on December 2, 2016 , put camel milk on its list of animal products that can be marketed for human consumption. This decision has come as a result of sustained lobbying by Sahjeevan, the NGO that is working to save camels and pastoral breeders. However, since FSSAI is, after all, ruled by government bureaucracy, they cannot do anything without making major mistakes. So some worthy (read idiot) in the Food Standards Bureau has written that the standard for camel milk has to be 3.0% fat. This is unrealistic, as camels in India are open grazed and their milk has 1.5 - 2.5% fat. FSSAI has been made aware of this discrepancy and has agreed to revise the standards when a study by a credible agency samples fat in camel milk in India.

Drink camel milk for three reasons:

1. It will save the camels. Camels are in steep decline. In 2012 there were 4 lakh camels – down from 10 lakh in 2008. Now they are less than a lakh. They arefound in the five states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Haryana, UP and Bihar. Of these, 80% are found in Rajasthan, largely bred by the Raika community of pastoralists. There are 9 recognised breeds of camels in India, of which 7 are in Rajasthan. There are 2 crore camels in the world – and India is the only country where they are declining, because keeping them has become increasingly unviable for the pastoralists. Their traditional way of life has been attacked by disappearing grazing lands, mechanized farming, parasitic disease. The Raikas also find themselves struggling to survive in the face of active hostility towards their migratory traditions.

In Rajasthan the number of Raika herders have dropped more than 70% from the 1990s. The number of camels has fallen so drastically in the past 30 years that it has prompted the Rajasthan government to declare it as their state animal in 2014, hoping to increase protection for the animal.

With draught requirements being replaced with motorised options, camels are increasingly being illegally sold for meat. Everyday 100 or so are brought out of Rajasthan – even when the law there says that no camels can be taken outside the state – and cut in Mewat /Baghpat/ Meerut, or sent to Bangladesh. If we could drink camel milk then the herders could earn thousands every month and they would have an incentive to keep them.

2. Camel milk cannot be extracted in the same cruel fashion as cow and buffalo milk. The camels are free grazing. They cannot be locked up and their male children sold to the butchers, as they simply won’t give milk. Female camels’ thirteen-month gestation period must conclude in a live birth followed by suckling, else the female camel will stop producing milk. Unlike a dairy cow, which is parted from her calf when it is born and then gives milk for six to nine months, a camel can share her milk with the farmer and her calf for twelve to eighteen months. Therefore, pastoralists will be the main suppliers.

3. Camel milk is much better for you than cow or buffalo milk.

It is a superfood for diabetics. With 67 million sufferers, India has the highest population of diabetics in the world. Camel milk contains 52 units of insulin per litre, which is 60% of the average necessary external insulin administration for type 1 diabetics, and helps to regulate blood sugar levels, giving your body the insulin intake it needs in the most natural form. A study conducted on 24 Type 1 Diabetes patients, who consumed camel milk along with standardized exercise and standardized diet concluded that “There was a significant improvement in the microalbuminuria after receiving camel milk for 6 months. A significant reduction in the mean dose of insulin for obtaining glycemic control was achieved.” There is evidence that Camel milk helps with diabetic nephropathy.

One of the major complaints which diabetics have is that their pancreases do not function efficiently to process the sugar into its energy components. Camel milk improves the pancreatic function of the body, thus enabling the proper breaking down and absorption of blood sugar. A study conducted over 3 months compared the effects of camel’s milk and cow’s milk on a group of diabetic and non-diabetic men. The diabetics who were given camel’s milk, showed a decrease in fasting blood sugar levels and in blood glucose after eating. Their average blood sugar levels (HbA1c) were also reduced.

One of the serious complications of Diabetes is delayed wound healing and the consequent high chances of bacterial infections. A study demonstrated that camel whey proteins expedite the healing of diabetic wounds, by enhancing the immune response of wounded tissue cells .

Research has shown that camel milk might be helpful for people with autism, Type 1 diabetes, food allergies, hepatitis B and other autoimmune diseases, according to dietitians at The Ohio State University, Wexner Medical Centre, and in the journal Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice. “Studies have shown that the consumption of camel milk increases the bodies' production of antioxidant enzymes thereby lowering oxidative stress within the body.”

Camel’s milk contains A2 beta casein, unlike breed cows like Holstein or Friesian which produce milk that contains A1 beta casein. A1 beta casein is broken down into a peptide called beta-casomorphin-7 (BCM-7), whichsuppresses the immune system, causes inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract and has been implicated in the development of Type 1 diabetes.

It apparently is also good for autistic children. A study, published in the 2005 edition of the International Journal of Human Development, cited anecdotal evidence of improvements in young autistic patients who switched from cow to camel’s milk. A study by Baba Farid Centre for Special Children (BFCSC), along with National Research Centre on Camel (NRCC) and All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi alsoclaims that camel milk is beneficial for autistic children. Autism is often accompanied by gut problems, food allergies and food intolerance. Camel milk does not contain beta lactoglobulin, the allergen present in the milk of ruminants.

Nutritionally, camel’s milk is lower in total fat, saturated fat, but equal to cow’s milk in protein. It has ten times more iron and 5 times more vitamin C than cow's milk. One cup of camel milk contains approximately 107 calories and 293 milligrams of calcium (more than any other milk) besides 5.4 grams of proteins. It has a higher amount of magnesium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and copper, Vitamins C, Vitamin A, D, C, B1, B2 & E. Immunity boosting lysozome and lactoferrin (antimicrobial agents) and less fat, whey protein, lactose and zinc. Cholesterol in camel milk is lower than in cow or goat milk. It is considered safe for children allergic to bovine milk. In many countries, camel milk is given to babies suffering from malnutrition.

Is camel milk something new? Camel milk production is more than 18,40,201 tons per year globally, with Somalia making the most. In 2006, in view of its medical value, UN declared camel milk as a superfood.

But camels, because they have not been tampered with genetically and given hormones and antibiotics as cows and buffaloes have been, produce only 4-5 litres a day – as against 40 litres that cows are made to produce. So there is less of it, and it is more expensive. The upside is that it is totally organic, and you do not get deadly poisons in it like oxytocin – which every single litre of cow/buffalo milk has in India and which gives tuberculosis, cancer and other diseases.

Where can you buy camel milk? You can get it from the Bikaner based National Research Centre on Camels. India's first camel milk microdairy project, was set up in 2016 by LPPS, an NGO working with Raika camel breeders. The Kumbhalgarh Camel Dairy, based at the LPPS Camel Conservation Centre at Sadri, Rajasthan, produces pasteurised camel milk and cheese products and distributes it to Delhi.

You can order it online from Camelicious, a company in Dubai which has recently launched its range of Camel Milk Products like Camel Milk Powder, Camel Milk Ghee, and Camel Milk Cheese for online sale of camel milk in India. Or you can ask your local supermarket to get it. If there is demand, there will be supply.

Environmentally, camel milk is much better than any other milk. It has supported pastoral communities for centuries. Herders survive solely on milk when taking the camels on long distances to graze in arid environments. It is an alternative to cow dairy farming in dry regions of the world where bovine farming consumes large amounts of water and electricity. In fact, camels contribute to de-desertification, according to UNESCO. Camels, with their ability to go 21 days without drinking water, and produce milk even when feeding on low-quality fodder, are a sustainable option for food security in difficult environments.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

When you buy fish or eat it in restaurants, you should be told whether it is caught from wild waters or farm raised.

When you buy fish or eat it in restaurants, you should be told whether it is caught from wild waters or farm raised.

We are told that fish have beneficial Omega 3 fatty acids that improve the health of the heart and promote mental health. But is your fish healthier than mutton or chicken? Not if you are buying farm raised fish.

Industrial fish farming, or aquaculture, is the fastest growing form of food production in the world. 50% of the world's seafood now comes from fish farms. By 2011, global farmed fish production topped beef production, and the gap increased in 2012 when 66 million tons of farmed fish were produced, compared to 63 million tons of beef. The farmed seafood industry continues to ramp up to the tune of $60 billion in revenue a year.

Has taking factory farming to the water had any ill effects – to your health and to the planet?

At first glance, farmed fish may seem like a good idea to help protect wild seafood populations from overfishing. The government’s agriculture ministry is going all out to promote fish farming. Not one bureaucrat has pointed out the dangers of this – probably because our bureaucrats don’t know much and their egos prevent them from learning.

In reality, however, the industry is plagued with the problems of pollution, disease and inferior nutritional quality.

Farm raised fish grow up eating corn, soy feed, animal and human faeces. This is nothing like their natural diet. As a result they have 50% less Omega 3, protein, calcium and iron. These fish have a high risk of disease and parasitic infestation and are loaded with antibiotics.

Does eating them protect our wild fish? On the contrary, many farmed fish are being fed a small fish diet. These tiny prey fish, like anchovies and herring, are not being farmed anywhere. They are caught in the millions by trawler nets, pulped and fed to farmed fish. As a result, both species are in danger of extinction. Since they are almost gone, so are species that depend on them. Scientists blame aquaculture for the decline in whales, dolphins, seals, sea lions, penguins, albatross and many other species. They state "Rather than relieving pressure on wild fish, growing these large carnivores [salmon and tuna on fish farms] requires a steady supply of prey that are caught and ground into oil and meal. As the industry grows, it is straining the existing supply of prey fish, putting additional pressure on populations that cannot supply the demand." The Jevons Paradox says that "as production methods grow more efficient, demand for resources actually increases – rather than decreasing, as you might expect," This is precisely what has happened with aquaculture. As fish farming became more efficient, demand for wild fish has increased significantly. This has, in turn, put increased demand on the oceans.

Fish are farmed by stuffing them so thickly in artificial ponds that they cannot swim and are cheek by jowl with each other – like chickens in battery cages. The close quarters where farmed fish are raised, combined with their unnatural diets, means disease spreads quickly. Because most farmed fish are often raised in pens in the ocean, pathogens spread and contaminate wild fish swimming past. Sea lice, a type of crustacean found parasitizing captive fish, have become a significant problem and have been blamed for the declining numbers of wild fish, as well as the species that eat them – animals and birds. Other types of lethal viruses which spread from fish farms are also now being detected in wild populations, including leukaemia viruses and influenza.

Concentrated antibiotics, pesticides and other chemicals are commonly used to fight farm fish diseases and parasites. These wash into the water and are found miles away.

Farmed fish often escape into the wild seas. The escaped fish breed with wild fish, and research shows that these hybrid-born fish are less viable and die earlier, contaminating the entire gene pool and harming the future of the wild population. For instance, new research from the University of Melbourne has shown that half of the world’s most popular fish - farmed salmon – have a hearing loss because of a deformity of theearbone. Fish have ears and they use them for hearing and balance, just like we do. This deformity has broader implications. Each year, billions of captive-bred juvenile salmon are released into rivers in North America, Asia and Europe to increase wild populations. Their survival is 20 times lower than that of wild salmon. Loss of hearing plays a major role. And when they breed with wild populations, this could decimate them as well.

Scientists have raised serious concerns about high levels of contaminants, like lead and cadmium in farm-raised fish, which enter your body where they bind to your cells. In 2006 Russia banned Norwegian farmed salmon (top producer in the world) for this reason. Instead of reducing the toxic ingredients, Norway has lobbied the EU to raise the permissible level of toxins in salmon feed, which has now been granted!! The new, official recommendation to Norwegian women of childbearing age, or who are pregnant, is to limit their consumption!

The most common farm-raised fish are: salmon, tilapia, catfish, “sea” bass and cod. (Don’t be fooled by menu descriptions. “North Atlantic Salmon” and “Chilean Sea Bass” are farmed breeds and not the oceans where they are caught.) Because farm-raised fish are kept in cages, they have the tendency to be fatter with a higher concentration of omega-6 acids. The problem with getting too many omega-6 acids is that they cause inflammation. Studies show that farm raised Tilapia worsens inflammation in the human body and can lead to heart disease, arthritis, asthma and other serious health problems. Scientists have found that the inflammatory potential of tilapia is far greater than that of pork/bacon. According to USDA data, farm raised salmon has 52% more fat than those caught wild. Toxins are stored in fat and the fat in farm raised salmon is found to be contaminated with over 100 pollutants and pesticides.

According to the Environmental Working Group in 2004 Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a set of carcinogenic manmade chemicals, are 11 times higher in farm-bred salmon compared to wild salmon. “The first-ever tests of farmed salmon from U.S. grocery stores show that farmed salmon are probably the most PCB contaminated protein source in the food supply.” In three independent studies, scientists tested 37 fish meal samples from six countries and found PCB contamination in nearly every sample (Jacobs 2002, Easton 2002, and CFIA 1999). PCBs were banned in the U.S. in the late 1970s and are among the “dirty dozen” chemical contaminants slated for global phase-out under the UN treaty on persistent organic pollutants. PCBs have been linked to cancer and impaired foetal brain development. Once these toxic chemicals enter your system, it takes 7 to 11 years to flush out. Other species of farmed fish have been found contaminated with methylmercury.

The source of the fish you eat may not be something you’ve ever thought about. But you should. For instance, farm-raised salmon meat is grey and has to be dyed to look like normal salmon does. SalmoFan is a colour chart fish farmers use to pick various shades of salmon-coloured fish dyes.

Anyone concerned about their own health, and the world around them, should try to find out where their fish came from and avoid farmed fish completely. And perhaps educate the government on their new fish farm policy.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Even an ahinsak like me makes an exception for the mosquito. I may not kill them myself – but I have the usual array of anti-mosquito devices to protect my house

Even an ahinsak like me makes an exception for the mosquito. I may not kill them myself – but I have the usual array of anti-mosquito devices to protect my house: from various versions of Goodnight to a much healthier and better smelling cowdung and camphor biscuit that we set alight every evening. In the bird pond, we have put small black fish called Gambusia which are voracious mosquito egg/larvae eaters.

Mosquitoes are the most deadly animals on the planet – as dangerous as the human being (and that is saying a lot!). They spread malaria, dengue, yellow fever, West Nile virus, Rift Valley fever. In 2015, 438,000 people died from malaria, according to WHO. 30,000 died of yellow fever and 22,000 with dengue. Mosquitoes have killed more people than warring humans. In fact, during wartime, more soldiers die of malaria than from bullets. And now comes Zika which has brought an entire subcontinent to its knees. Imagine being pregnant and finding out that, because you were bitten by a mosquito, your baby will be born with a small head and brain. The mosquitoes that have been implicated in this awful disease are day-biting mosquitoes Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. Day biters are so much more dangerous than night biters because we have no protection against them at all.

And its not just humans. Dogs and cattle go crazy when mosquitoes buzz around them. Prior to the 1800s, mosquitoes did not exist on the Hawaiian Islands, so the wildlife there had no natural resistance to the diseases they can carry. When mosquitoes arrived as hitchhikers on human ships, countless species of native Hawaiian birds were decimated by diseases such as avian pox virus. And this is the story of all islands.

If the mosquito were bigger, it would be so much easier to kill. Humans have almost exterminated every large species of animal. If it were in the ground, we could deal with it as well – after all we have destroyed earthworms and thousands of other insects through our mad use of pesticides.

But it grows in temporary little puddles of water anywhere, in ponds that are not cleaned, in old tyres left in garbage dumps, in half filled tins. It travels. As the planet warms it goes higher to areas that were untouched because they had low temperatures.

Who can stop this tiny killing machine? Every day one country or another declares war on it. And that immediately brings joy to the chemical manufacturers. But nothing works. We are the only country in the world that still uses DDT and we have killed more people and birds with this chemical than mosquitoes which are immune to it.

Or perhaps a lot. There are 3,500 species of mosquito and they play a major role in nature. Male mosquitoes eat nectar, becoming major pollinators of some crops and flowers—even orchids. They eat aphids which are destroyers of plants. Mosquitoes themselves feed on decaying leaves, organic debris, and microbes.

Mosquito larvae are aquatic insects. The larvae are filter feeders that strain tiny organic particles, such as unicellular algae, from the water and convert them to the tissues of their own bodies, which are, in turn, eaten by fish. Mosquito larvae feed on detritus that floats and clogs the surface of the water, keeping the detritus from choking off nitrogen and oxygen necessary to the survival of plants below. Without mosquitoes to eat away the waste, the plants and the ecosystem they support could vanish as well, since they cannot gain access to the nutrients they depend on for life.

Mosquito larvae are nutrient-packed snacks for fish and other aquatic animals. Their role on the bottom of the food chain doesn't end at the larval stage, of course. As adults, mosquitoes serve as equally nutritious meals for birds, bats, and spiders, fish, frogs, tadpoles, salamanders, spiders, lizards, turtles, dragonflies, songbirds, swallows and bats. Would bats disappear if mosquitoes did? Perhaps not, because they eat other insects as well. But other creatures could. Remove mosquitoes and the ecosystem might experience a paradigm shift; numerous species might starve out, with newer species rising up to replace them. Removing them probably does not mean the end of all life, but in a few years’ time, the ecosystem will look vastly different to the one we know today.

Scientists simply don’t know how the mosquito fits into the food chain. Research has unravelled food webs of bigger mammals, such as lions or leopards, because they are easier to observe. But no one knows the entire impact of the mosquito. Obviously, if you remove an animal from an ecosystem something will change, but can we afford it when we don’t know what? Mosquitoes populated this planet long before man; the oldest mosquito fossils date back some 200 million years, to the Cretaceous period. They seem to be an integral part of several ecosystems, since they have co-evolved with many species along the way. Presumably, sometime after large animals evolved, some insects started to take advantage of the rich nutrient source that is their blood. The insects that were best at eating vertebrate blood prospered, and their offspring, with mutations that made this task easier or more effective, prospered even more. Their distant descendants are today's mosquitoes.

What would happen if these creatures were eradicated completely? According to some ecologists, the loss of mosquitoes would harm most ecosystems. Others believe that other organisms would step in and assume mosquitoes’ role as food sources, detritivores, and pollinators.

The good part of their eradication? So many diseases would disappear, so many people would get a good night’s sleep without inhaling chemicals, and so much money that is now being spent on mosquito coils, bednets and medicines would be saved, so many hospital beds would be freed up. All good.

The bad part? Eradication of mosquitoes cannot be done without destroying the world. If we use even more pesticides the damage to the environment would be colossal. As it is these pesticides give millions of people cancer. I would rather have malaria than cancer.

If you wanted to change the habitat you’d have to clear forests. You'd have to create a desert essentially to get rid of water sources. If you introduced a lot of predators - like fish, dragon flies – they might finish the mosquitoes but then they're going to start taking care of other things you don't want them to take care of.

Mosquitoes actually dictate ecosystems. For example, each year when the snow melts in the Arctic tundra, mosquitoes hatch from their eggs. These insects serve as an important food source for migratory birds. Mosquitoes even impact the migratory routes of caribou. As caribou move through the Arctic, they take certain routes specifically to avoid mosquito swarms. These migratory routes then impact plant distribution, dictate the feeding behaviour of wolves etc. Not just animals, mosquito-borne diseases have effectively protected people who reside in certain malaria-endemic regions from the influences of foreign intruders - whether those be military or commercial.

Elimination of mosquitoes might make the biggest ecological difference in the Arctic tundra. If that biomass vanished, the number of migratory birds that nest in the tundra could drop. In the absence of their larvae, hundreds of species of fish would have to change their diet to survive. And the loss of these or other fish could have major effects up and down the food chain. Many species of spider, salamander, lizard and frog would also lose a primary food source. One ecological effect of eliminating mosquitoes is that you will have even more people, and an increased human population could outweigh the benefits of a healthier one. Do humans serve any meaningful purpose in nature? Is there a purpose to nature or are we all here because we have traits that allow us to survive?

When you spend a weekend watching Hollywood horror movies based on mosquitoes

When you spend a weekend watching Hollywood horror movies based on mosquitoes – ‘Mosquito Man’, ‘Skeeter’, ‘How a Mosquito Operates’, ‘Sucker’ (the story of a suicidal man transformed into a vengeful mosquito) and ‘Mosquito’, then you realize how important the mosquito is to the economy. Imagine the number of people employed by these movies - actors, directors, script writers, animators, stuntmen, makeup artists, spot boys, distributors, popcorn sellers and ushers.

The mosquito is the largest employer in the world. It makes millionaires out of ordinary people. Even I have benefitted by getting space in a newspaper for this article. And so do at least ten thousand people who blog about the mosquito regularly. So do junior newspaper reporters who, running out of ideas, write about the “new breakthrough” in the battle against malaria. and the columnists who give advice on how to keep the bites away (wear yellow, don’t wear yellow), the newsprint makers who sell so much more paper to accommodate the news and printers who print out miles of statistics on the mosquito every year.

Look at the gadgets. The Good Knight owner who had so much money that he put it into Malayali films in which elephants sat on chairs and smoked cigarettes (I met him when the film got banned!) There are strange blue light gadgets that lie in offices and consume electricity while waiting for mosquitoes to fly into them. There are things that plug in to the wall near your bed, coils and sticks, and Fogging machines that patrol through your streets poisoning man and mosquito alike. Weed killers, lawn mowers, concrete layers, pond and marsh drainers. Manufacturers, labour, staff, distributers, shareholders – everyone makes money.

Then come the insect repellent creams like Odomos and at least a hundred different “ayurvedic” anti mosquito pastes, creams and sprays. “Natural alternative” skin patches made with vitamin B. If each company employs 100 people plus the distributors, how many would that be?

The ‘machhardanis’ that we all grew up with, the tents saturated with anti mosquito chemicals that are sold on the roadsides. The cloth makers should give the creature a big thank you for the long sleeves that everyone in a mosquito area wears - More cloth, more money. Perfumers have found that perfume repels more mosquitoes than Deet, so that is the new selling gimmick.

Now the heavy hitters: the chemical companies that have destroyed so much of the world while trying to kill the mosquito; all the companies that manufacture DDT which, despite being banned, is used everywhere. Larvicides are chemicals, like Methoprene, Pyriproxyfen, applied to water to control mosquito larvae. Adulticides like malathion, Permethrin, Resmethrin, Sumithrin, Scourge and Anvil are used in spraying to control adult mosquitoes. Synergists like Piperonyl Butoxide and MGK-264 which are not toxic to the mosquitoes themselves, but make Adulticides more effective. All these chemicals are dangerous – pyrethroids are neurotoxins and have been linked with liver and thyroid failure. All the chemicals listed above cause human cancer. So, thousands of doctors are given jobs and hospitals flourish – all because of the mosquito. Pyrethroids are highly toxic to fish, crustaceans, and bees; So more doctors get jobs when you eat poisoned fish and crabs. And once the bees all disappear, I am sure thousands of people will have to be employed to manually pollinate the fruit trees so that we can continue to eat. Please include the foggers, sprayers who are employed by the mosquito. And the people who make the thousands of cans that carry the chemicals. Because fogging is so dangerous, the market has created respirator masks with replaceable cartridges. So lots of more people have been given jobs to protect you from things that are invented to kill mosquitoes. Imagine the legions of advertising agencies and sales representatives.

Government municipal agencies should also thank the mosquito, because they can pretend to buy chemicals to fog the towns and divert the money. Many daughters have been married off and many sons of middle level bureaucrats have gone abroad to study on mosquito money.

Have I included all the thousands of people and scientists who have written reports on how these chemicals are extremely toxic? After all they get grants to do study after study proving the same thing – That none of these pesticides have any effect on mosquitoes and at the same time are harmful to human health. None of what they say has any effect on the pesticide industry or government regulations. But they all, bless the mosquito, get lifelong research jobs. Millions of scientists research the mosquito all day, every day: whether they can sterilize it, whether it can spread Aids, whether crossing one species with another will make them ineffective, modifying mosquito genetics to make them flightless, creating transgenic bacteria which eat mosquito guts etc. Inventors of non oily films across water. Researchers who have found a chemical that disables the part of the insect's brain that smells humans. Others who find a way to switch off the mosquitoes’ heat detection ability. Vaccine makers who experiment on thousands of children in Africa without any luck. Scientists who work on introducing scorpion venom into mosquito genes. Pills which, when swallowed, kill any biting mosquito. Ovi traps to attract egg laying females. Recently a British company, called Oxitec, opened a genetically modified mosquito farm in Brazil to produce millions of GM insects which will (hopefully) battle the other mosquitoes.

How many mad scientists, during the Second World War, escaped war duty in Germany and Japan by working in laboratories to create malarial mosquitoes and their carriers. The Germans tried to halt the march of the Allies into Italy by introducing millions of larvae of malaria-carrying mosquitoes. British and American soldiers survived due to quinine. The Italian population didn’t - malaria cases rose from 1,217 in 1943 to 54,929 in 1944.

Let us not forget the people employed directly by mosquitoes. Mosquito inspectors who come regularly to inspect my pond. All the thousands of people who work in Public Health Institutions and sanitation companies around the world. All the mosquito “biologists”.

This is a partial list of the current vacancies advertised by mosquito control agencies in the US:

Labourers to operate tractors, lawnmowers, weed-eaters and other equipment in mosquito spraying programmes, Mosquito Control Division Manager to oversee budget, planning, operations, research, and personnel, Manager Mosquito Abatement, Program Extension Agent Mosquito Management Services, Vector Ecologist, Operations Supervisor Mosquito Services, Land Stewardship Seasonal Fellow in Controlling Invasive Species, Research Assistant lymphatic filariasis, Manager Public Health Community Programme, Research Entomologist, Research Geneticist, Information Technology Intern, Biologist / Entomologist / Toxicologist, Industrial Hygienist / Chemist, Program Assistant Zika, Seasonal Assistant Vector Control, Senior Environmental Health Inspector, Zika Technical Advisor, Environmental Health Specialist (Full-time and Part-time), Executive Assistant to Public Health Officer, Senior Environmental Health Inspector, Pest Control Specialist, Vector Control Inspector, Education Coordinator Vector Control, Integrated Vector Management Compliance Officer, Urban Water Compliance Planner, Entomologist, Communications and Knowledge Officer Tropical Health, Seasonal Vector Technician, Street Maintenance Crew Leader, Administrative Assistant Mosquito & Vector Control, Public Health Sanitarian, Environmental Health Director, Mobile Application Developer.

We employ doctors, nurses, ward boys, hospital management, and ambulances for those afflicted with malaria, encephalitis, zika, dengue, West Nile virus, chikungunya. The glucose manufacturers, the syringe guys, the medicines, the quinine manufacturers. The pharma companies earn no less than a billion dollars every year from the mosquito bitten. And they employ millions of people.

Have we left out the aquaculture industry? The fish bred for human eating are fed millions of mosquito larvae which are specially grown for the industry. I had to buy Gambusia fish for my pond so that larvae are eaten – imagine how many fish are bred for this purpose and released into still waters.

In all this we forget the main economic importance of mosquitoes. They are eaten by other insects which, in turn, are eaten by birds and animals who are either eaten by us or used by us for our own well being. For instance mosquitoes in the Arctic regions decide how the caribou move to avoid the mosquito swarms. The local hunters follow these paths and get their food. Mosquitoes eat aphids which otherwise would destroy all our plants. They serve as pollinators as well. Mosquitoes influence the development of agricultural areas by preventing or limiting the use of infested territory. Dredgers, swamp fillers, tree cutters – all owe their living to mosquitoes. They decide whether a party is held outside or inside, whether windows are open or not. The air conditioning industry owes a lot to these pests.

Their final employment is, of course, the people who bury and cremate humans. Mosquitoes have killed more than half the people who ever lived. More people have died in wars from malaria than from bullets and bombs. Even now mosquitoes cause anywhere from 1 million to 2.7 million deaths each year. Imagine the employment of thousands of grave diggers and priests, crematoria staff, professional mourners, hearses, white sheet sellers and florists.

The only thing that hasn’t happened is mosquitoes as human food. But even that will happen. Entomophagy (eating insects by people) has been recommended by the UN as the only way to save the planet.

Could the mosquito be God? If it disappears, so do the jobs of at least 150 million people. The economy of entire countries will be ruined, Wall Street stocks will come crashing down, pharma companies will go bankrupt. The population will double within a year and food will run out. People will come onto the streets and riots will ensue.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

I hate press conferences. I always manage to talk myself into controversy

I hate press conferences. I always manage to talk myself into controversy. The problem is that I am always trying to think of better ways to do something. In my current job it is ways to get rid of malnutrition by feeding our children better, or how to stop putting medical people into jail while stopping girl children from being killed in the womb. It’s difficult to survive a new idea. There are so many entrenched “experts” who will trash any new thought. It took me 9 years to stop dissection in schools – simply because biology teachers felt that their students needed to kill rats and frogs in order to become doctors. Now no one remembers the millions of animals that were killed.

Most politicians prefer to take a current system and then tweak it gradually. Unfortunately I don’t believe that a patient can have less or more of a medicine that doesn’t work, for it to work.

To come back to press conferences: after the questions of my ministry are over, and attempts have been made to make me say something political, there will be two inevitable questions – one from Kerala and one from Himachal Pradesh.

The Kerala reporter will ask about the “menace of stray dogs “and the Himachal reporter about “the menace of stray monkeys”.

This article is an attempt to set both issues at rest.

Let me start with the obvious, but is not: I did not give birth to either species! I did not multiply them or make them a problem!

In fact I am part of the scientific solution. And it is because neither of these states listen that they have a problem.

People don’t care about the number of dogs. They simply want dogs that will stay out of the way, not spread disease including rabies and will not bite. The solution of sterilization is a tested method for all these problems. Make a sterilization centre in every district – as mandated many times over by the High and Supreme Courts – sign an MOU with an NGO, which has been trained and recognized by the Animal Welfare Board, and pay them to sterilize the dogs over 5 years. When the male / female dogs are picked for sterilization they are also given anti-rabies injection that lasts for three years (the average life of a street dog is never more than 4 years) and if they have any other disease, like mange, they are kept by the NGO till they are disease free and then returned to the same area where they live out their lives harmlessly and happily. No sterilized dog ever bites. The only time a dog bites is when the female is on heat and the male is driven insensate with lust. He will fight with other males, cross boundaries into other territories and in the process some human will get bitten. The second reason is when the female has had babies and she is so frightened that they will be killed (as 90% are in the first two weeks, by cars, vicious humans who think nothing of stoning little puppies, starvation and cold) that she guards them strenuously and bites anyone who comes near them. The third reason is something that is easily preventable by adjusting human behaviour. If you constantly abuse / hit a dog, he will lose his innate trust in human goodness and then he will bite someone whom he thinks is going to be mean to him – because meanness is all that he has ever seen. Once a dog is sterilized and returned to his / her own place he will NOT bite as he has no sexual desire left, she will not bite because she will have no children – and if you are nice to them or ignore them at best, they will not bite the residents of the area as they know their habits intimately. Kerala kills all its dogs all the time. Happy healthy creatures who would make excellent pets and guard dogs, are made into “menaces” by politicians and newspapers for no reason. The panchayats lap up this regular hate mongering because, according to the law, they get Rs.75 for each dog they kill, so any panchayat leader who is dipping his hands into the till kills fifty dogs, and then claims he has killed 500. The Chief Minister, who is a good human being, has repeatedly given money to start sterilization centres. At the moment three Kerala districts are running them well – and you never hear of “dog menace” in them. The entire state of Kerala has fewer dogs than Delhi – and yet the hype by the papers carries on. If they would just relax for two years and let the experts do their work, everyone would breathe easier. By the way, government spends 700 crores per month to remove polio. The Environment Ministry spends less than 50 lakhs a year on removing rabies. If the programme could be taken up by the Health Ministry – which has taken Haryana on an experimental basis - and 100 crores spent yearly, we would have a good healthy small, population of dogs within 10 years. It has taken 20 years for polio – I guarantee half that time.

Now for the monkeys and Himachal Pradesh. Veterinary doctors who should have their licences taken away combined their brains with those of forest officers and decided that the only way to get rid of the “monkey menace” in Himachal was to sterilize the monkeys as well.

Unfortunately, this is the worst possible decision. Dogs are more or less solitary. Monkeys live, like humans, in large extended families. If you trap a single monkey, then two things happen: the family rushes away from their own territory/area. They get very angry with humans. So they enter areas that they are unfamiliar with, because now they are too scared to go back to an area where their relative was trapped. Now they enter people’s homes and fields in search of new larders and in the process hurt humans and themselves and destroy crops. The single monkey that has been captured usually breaks a limb during this hideous capturing process (Himachal pays Rs.500 to anyone who captures a monkey) and is sterilized while in terrible pain. He / she usually dies (the mortality of Himachal’s monkeys by the so called vets is unbelievably high). If he/she survives, it is left at the place where it was picked up. But by then the family has disappeared and the troupe replacing them will not accept this poor animal. So, to survive, he enters human homes and becomes predatory. Sterilization in monkeys has resulted in the opposite of what happens in dogs. It has no impact at all on the population of monkeys: that is in any case reducing drastically because of poisoning, shooting and other illegal ways: from 85 lakhs in the 80s they are now a mere 5 lakhs in the whole of India. The difference is that they are sharing space with humans.

Why do we have this problem in Himachal and Uttarakhand? Because the Government of India pays money every year to the state forest departments to set fire to the edges of forests. The logic is that if trenches are dug and the leaves in them set on fire then the forest will not catch fire during the dry season. But the forest ranger sees this as bonus money. He doesn’t dig trenches, he doesn’t map vulnerable forest ranges. He simply cuts a large number of trees illegally and then sets fire to the forest to hide his criminal activity. The fire eats the underbrush, the new trees, berries, vines, soft grasses, new shoots which are the food of wild boar, monkeys, deer, nilgai and other grass eaters every January/February – and so the hungry animals come out. I have urged time and again that if this nonsense is stopped the monkeys will retreat from human habitations almost immediately. Secondly, we must start planting Indian fruit and berry trees in the middle of forests so that animals remain there. But the forest department refuses to stop the firelines as it will stop the large amount of “pocket money” that the centre gives to each forest ranger. If Himachal and Kerala would only listen, we could create a more real set of “menaces” that could occupy press conferences – paedophiles, children molesters, kidnappers, wife beaters etc!

Twenty five years ago I wrote a quiz book called Wise and Wonderful published by Rupa.

Are you lactose intolerant?

Do you experience bloating, intestinal cramps and excessive gas in your stomach often? This could be lactose insensitivity which is a very common reason for digestive problems.

Lactose is a sugar found in milk and milk products. Lactose should be broken down in your upper intestine by the enzyme lactase. Most people in India have varying degrees of lactose insensitivity, making it difficult for them to digest sugar. But since the pain and bloating differs, people often don’t connect the two.

Technically, as infants, humans produce lactase in our digestive systems and can digest milk. As we enter adolescence the enzyme in the body starts decreasing and with it the ability to break down lactose. This is natural because milk is for infants and humans are the only animals that drink milk beyond infancy. All Asians and 75% Africans and Caribbeans, 50% Europeans and 35% Americans have degrees of lactose intolerance. The only people who can really digest milk are Northern European whites and Americans of North European descent who have a genetic mutation to deal with lactose. Unfortunately, it was these North Europeans who colonized much of the world and they brought their eating habits with them; which is why America, colonial Africa and Asia started drinking milk.

So, while your background defines whether you can tolerate dairy or not, most governments push milk aggressively, and food manufacturers find milk sugar a cheap ingredient and add it to wide variety of processed products; which is why the largest selling medicine in the world is a lactose digestive.

How sensitive you are depends on how much lactase enzyme your system is still producing. Some people can drink a glass of milk without apparent side effects. Some can have just a spoonful in their tea or coffee or on their cereal and it triggers off a gastric upset.

Why does lactose cause gas and abdominal pain?

When your body does not produce enough lactase in your small intestine, all your milk/milk products pass through to the large intestine undigested. Bacteria in your colon love lactose and quickly ferment it. This fermentation creates lots of gas. Due to the high levels of protein in the milk, the gas is very smelly. These extra gases bloat the intestine causing spasms and cramps. When the pressure from the gas interferes with water absorption in the colon it causes diarrhoea. Some people experience bloating and flatulence in 15 mins.-2 hrs. after ingesting milk or its products. Gurgling or rumbling sounds in your belly, loose stools or throwing up are common symptoms.

While passing wind almost immediately is the best thing to happen, apart from being uncomfortable it is also embarrassing for you - both the smell and the noise are not socially acceptable. Smell has a decisive role in changing mood and it becomes very annoying for people to share your space.

Since this is such a common problem, why do most people not realize it. One of the reasons is that since food containing lactose (paneer with vegetables for instance) travels much slower than liquid, it may take hours for the symptoms to appear. You could have eaten something in the morning and end up with gas in the evening without making any connection between the two.

Here is a list of food and drinks that contain lactose.

Milk is obviously the first product that you should avoid, especially cow and goat milk. All dairy milk, even skimmed milk, has extremely high levels of milk sugar. All protein powders have concentrated lactose. Butter and all cream contain slightly less than milk but enough to cause you trouble. Freshly made cheese- feta, paneer etc. has a large amount. The harder the cheese, the less lactose it contains. For instance, parmesan will have much less than mozzarella. Ice cream is particularly bad because not only is it made from milk, but manufacturers add extra milk sugars to sweeten it. Good quality curd, made at home and without any flavouring has the least amount of lactose. But commercial yogurt is simply thickened, sweetened milk with very little beneficial bacteria in it. All yogurts are made with live cultures, but many yogurts go through a process called "heat treatment" that kills the bacteria. Check the label for the words "contains live and active cultures.". Canned soup has lactose – especially if it is “creamy”. So do packaged savoury snacks, especially if they are cheese flavoured. Milk chocolate, cakes, puddings, biscuits, doughnuts have lactose, as do premade sauces, gravies and salad dressings like mayonnaise. Breakfast cereals are sometimes made with milk powder or solids and then you eat them with more milk. Bread, baked goods, instant breakfast drinks, instant potatoes, instant soups, pancake, cookie, and biscuit mixes, margarine and salad dressings too. Even processed meats like sausages, luncheon meat have lactose. Pizza with its combination of soft cheese, bread and perhaps processed meat is the worst thing you can eat. Start looking at labels for the words lactose, milk solids, milk powder, milk protein, non-fat dried milk, casein, sodium caseinate and whey. Strangely enough, birth control pills, headache tablets and some drugs and supplements also contain lactose. By themselves they are unlikely to have a major effect but if your food is bad, it all adds up.

If you are lactose intolerant, it is far more serious that just cramps, bloating and flatulence. If the colon is constantly deluged by fermenting lactose it can leave the digestive system permanently weakened with harmful bacterial overgrowth and weakened immunity. If you are Indian, take it for granted that you have some level of intolerance. Sometimes the small intestine stops making lactase after a short-term illness such as stomach flu or as part of a lifelong disease such as cystic fibrosis. Or the small intestine sometimes stops making lactase after a surgery to remove a part of the small intestine. In rare cases, new-borns are lactose-intolerant – this is serious because diarrhoea causes dehydration. Some premature babies have temporary lactose intolerance because they are not yet able to make lactase. Lactose intolerance increases as you get older.

You need to check out what harm you are doing to yourself. The best way to check this is to avoid eating all milk and dairy products to see if your symptoms go away. If they do, then you can try adding small amounts of milk products to see if your symptoms come back.

There are two tests that doctors have: the Hydrogen Test Breath Test. Before the test, you need to avoid certain foods, medicines and cigarettes. On the day of the test, you will drink a liquid that contains lactose and then breathe into a machine several times over a couple of hours. If the hydrogen levels in your breath are high, you may have lactose intolerance. The other test is the Lactose tolerance test. This test measures your blood sugar after you eat or drink lactose. After midnight on the night before the test, you should not eat or drink anything. On the day of your test, you will drink a liquid that contains lactose, which may cause gas or pain in your belly. Then your blood will be tested every 30 minutes for 2 hours. If your blood sugar levels do not rise, you may be lactose-intolerant. You may also be asked to bring in a sample of your faeces. The faeces of a person who has lactose intolerance is usually loose or watery and foamy.

There is no cure for lactose intolerance. But you can treat your symptoms by replacing milk products; with soy milk/cheese. If you are worried about getting enough calcium, you can easily get it from all greens, bhindi, broccoli, saag, almonds, and all soyas. You can use non-dairy creamers in your coffee. If you cannot bear the thought of life without milk, ice cream, cheese and pizzas you can take lactase supplements of which the best known is Lactaid 9000 Fc. You need to take these pills just before your lactose based food. The capsules start at 1000 FC for those with slight insensitivity. But pills always have their own fallout.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

How weird human beings are. Ask a normal person to touch a snail and they recoil in horror.

Are you lactose intolerant?

Do you experience bloating, intestinal cramps and excessive gas in your stomach often? This could be lactose insensitivity which is a very common reason for digestive problems.

Lactose is a sugar found in milk and milk products. Lactose should be broken down in your upper intestine by the enzyme lactase. Most people in India have varying degrees of lactose insensitivity, making it difficult for them to digest sugar. But since the pain and bloating differs, people often don’t connect the two.

Technically, as infants, humans produce lactase in our digestive systems and can digest milk. As we enter adolescence the enzyme in the body starts decreasing and with it the ability to break down lactose. This is natural because milk is for infants and humans are the only animals that drink milk beyond infancy. All Asians and 75% Africans and Caribbeans, 50% Europeans and 35% Americans have degrees of lactose intolerance. The only people who can really digest milk are Northern European whites and Americans of North European descent who have a genetic mutation to deal with lactose. Unfortunately, it was these North Europeans who colonized much of the world and they brought their eating habits with them; which is why America, colonial Africa and Asia started drinking milk.

So, while your background defines whether you can tolerate dairy or not, most governments push milk aggressively, and food manufacturers find milk sugar a cheap ingredient and add it to wide variety of processed products; which is why the largest selling medicine in the world is a lactose digestive.

How sensitive you are depends on how much lactase enzyme your system is still producing. Some people can drink a glass of milk without apparent side effects. Some can have just a spoonful in their tea or coffee or on their cereal and it triggers off a gastric upset.

Why does lactose cause gas and abdominal pain?

When your body does not produce enough lactase in your small intestine, all your milk/milk products pass through to the large intestine undigested. Bacteria in your colon love lactose and quickly ferment it. This fermentation creates lots of gas. Due to the high levels of protein in the milk, the gas is very smelly. These extra gases bloat the intestine causing spasms and cramps. When the pressure from the gas interferes with water absorption in the colon it causes diarrhoea. Some people experience bloating and flatulence in 15 mins.-2 hrs. after ingesting milk or its products. Gurgling or rumbling sounds in your belly, loose stools or throwing up are common symptoms.

While passing wind almost immediately is the best thing to happen, apart from being uncomfortable it is also embarrassing for you - both the smell and the noise are not socially acceptable. Smell has a decisive role in changing mood and it becomes very annoying for people to share your space.

Since this is such a common problem, why do most people not realize it. One of the reasons is that since food containing lactose (paneer with vegetables for instance) travels much slower than liquid, it may take hours for the symptoms to appear. You could have eaten something in the morning and end up with gas in the evening without making any connection between the two.

Here is a list of food and drinks that contain lactose.

Milk is obviously the first product that you should avoid, especially cow and goat milk. All dairy milk, even skimmed milk, has extremely high levels of milk sugar. All protein powders have concentrated lactose. Butter and all cream contain slightly less than milk but enough to cause you trouble. Freshly made cheese- feta, paneer etc. has a large amount. The harder the cheese, the less lactose it contains. For instance, parmesan will have much less than mozzarella. Ice cream is particularly bad because not only is it made from milk, but manufacturers add extra milk sugars to sweeten it. Good quality curd, made at home and without any flavouring has the least amount of lactose. But commercial yogurt is simply thickened, sweetened milk with very little beneficial bacteria in it. All yogurts are made with live cultures, but many yogurts go through a process called "heat treatment" that kills the bacteria. Check the label for the words "contains live and active cultures.". Canned soup has lactose – especially if it is “creamy”. So do packaged savoury snacks, especially if they are cheese flavoured. Milk chocolate, cakes, puddings, biscuits, doughnuts have lactose, as do premade sauces, gravies and salad dressings like mayonnaise. Breakfast cereals are sometimes made with milk powder or solids and then you eat them with more milk. Bread, baked goods, instant breakfast drinks, instant potatoes, instant soups, pancake, cookie, and biscuit mixes, margarine and salad dressings too. Even processed meats like sausages, luncheon meat have lactose. Pizza with its combination of soft cheese, bread and perhaps processed meat is the worst thing you can eat. Start looking at labels for the words lactose, milk solids, milk powder, milk protein, non-fat dried milk, casein, sodium caseinate and whey. Strangely enough, birth control pills, headache tablets and some drugs and supplements also contain lactose. By themselves they are unlikely to have a major effect but if your food is bad, it all adds up.

If you are lactose intolerant, it is far more serious that just cramps, bloating and flatulence. If the colon is constantly deluged by fermenting lactose it can leave the digestive system permanently weakened with harmful bacterial overgrowth and weakened immunity. If you are Indian, take it for granted that you have some level of intolerance. Sometimes the small intestine stops making lactase after a short-term illness such as stomach flu or as part of a lifelong disease such as cystic fibrosis. Or the small intestine sometimes stops making lactase after a surgery to remove a part of the small intestine. In rare cases, new-borns are lactose-intolerant – this is serious because diarrhoea causes dehydration. Some premature babies have temporary lactose intolerance because they are not yet able to make lactase. Lactose intolerance increases as you get older.

You need to check out what harm you are doing to yourself. The best way to check this is to avoid eating all milk and dairy products to see if your symptoms go away. If they do, then you can try adding small amounts of milk products to see if your symptoms come back.

There are two tests that doctors have: the Hydrogen Test Breath Test. Before the test, you need to avoid certain foods, medicines and cigarettes. On the day of the test, you will drink a liquid that contains lactose and then breathe into a machine several times over a couple of hours. If the hydrogen levels in your breath are high, you may have lactose intolerance. The other test is the Lactose tolerance test. This test measures your blood sugar after you eat or drink lactose. After midnight on the night before the test, you should not eat or drink anything. On the day of your test, you will drink a liquid that contains lactose, which may cause gas or pain in your belly. Then your blood will be tested every 30 minutes for 2 hours. If your blood sugar levels do not rise, you may be lactose-intolerant. You may also be asked to bring in a sample of your faeces. The faeces of a person who has lactose intolerance is usually loose or watery and foamy.

There is no cure for lactose intolerance. But you can treat your symptoms by replacing milk products; with soy milk/cheese. If you are worried about getting enough calcium, you can easily get it from all greens, bhindi, broccoli, saag, almonds, and all soyas. You can use non-dairy creamers in your coffee. If you cannot bear the thought of life without milk, ice cream, cheese and pizzas you can take lactase supplements of which the best known is Lactaid 9000 Fc. You need to take these pills just before your lactose based food. The capsules start at 1000 FC for those with slight insensitivity. But pills always have their own fallout.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Are you lactose intolerant?

Are you lactose intolerant?

Do you experience bloating, intestinal cramps and excessive gas in your stomach often? This could be lactose insensitivity which is a very common reason for digestive problems.

Lactose is a sugar found in milk and milk products. Lactose should be broken down in your upper intestine by the enzyme lactase. Most people in India have varying degrees of lactose insensitivity, making it difficult for them to digest sugar. But since the pain and bloating differs, people often don’t connect the two.

Technically, as infants, humans produce lactase in our digestive systems and can digest milk. As we enter adolescence the enzyme in the body starts decreasing and with it the ability to break down lactose. This is natural because milk is for infants and humans are the only animals that drink milk beyond infancy. All Asians and 75% Africans and Caribbeans, 50% Europeans and 35% Americans have degrees of lactose intolerance. The only people who can really digest milk are Northern European whites and Americans of North European descent who have a genetic mutation to deal with lactose. Unfortunately, it was these North Europeans who colonized much of the world and they brought their eating habits with them; which is why America, colonial Africa and Asia started drinking milk.

So, while your background defines whether you can tolerate dairy or not, most governments push milk aggressively, and food manufacturers find milk sugar a cheap ingredient and add it to wide variety of processed products; which is why the largest selling medicine in the world is a lactose digestive.

How sensitive you are depends on how much lactase enzyme your system is still producing. Some people can drink a glass of milk without apparent side effects. Some can have just a spoonful in their tea or coffee or on their cereal and it triggers off a gastric upset.

Why does lactose cause gas and abdominal pain?

When your body does not produce enough lactase in your small intestine, all your milk/milk products pass through to the large intestine undigested. Bacteria in your colon love lactose and quickly ferment it. This fermentation creates lots of gas. Due to the high levels of protein in the milk, the gas is very smelly. These extra gases bloat the intestine causing spasms and cramps. When the pressure from the gas interferes with water absorption in the colon it causes diarrhoea. Some people experience bloating and flatulence in 15 mins.-2 hrs. after ingesting milk or its products. Gurgling or rumbling sounds in your belly, loose stools or throwing up are common symptoms.

While passing wind almost immediately is the best thing to happen, apart from being uncomfortable it is also embarrassing for you - both the smell and the noise are not socially acceptable. Smell has a decisive role in changing mood and it becomes very annoying for people to share your space.

Since this is such a common problem, why do most people not realize it. One of the reasons is that since food containing lactose (paneer with vegetables for instance) travels much slower than liquid, it may take hours for the symptoms to appear. You could have eaten something in the morning and end up with gas in the evening without making any connection between the two.

Here is a list of food and drinks that contain lactose.

Milk is obviously the first product that you should avoid, especially cow and goat milk. All dairy milk, even skimmed milk, has extremely high levels of milk sugar. All protein powders have concentrated lactose. Butter and all cream contain slightly less than milk but enough to cause you trouble. Freshly made cheese- feta, paneer etc. has a large amount. The harder the cheese, the less lactose it contains. For instance, parmesan will have much less than mozzarella. Ice cream is particularly bad because not only is it made from milk, but manufacturers add extra milk sugars to sweeten it. Good quality curd, made at home and without any flavouring has the least amount of lactose. But commercial yogurt is simply thickened, sweetened milk with very little beneficial bacteria in it. All yogurts are made with live cultures, but many yogurts go through a process called "heat treatment" that kills the bacteria. Check the label for the words "contains live and active cultures.". Canned soup has lactose – especially if it is “creamy”. So do packaged savoury snacks, especially if they are cheese flavoured. Milk chocolate, cakes, puddings, biscuits, doughnuts have lactose, as do premade sauces, gravies and salad dressings like mayonnaise. Breakfast cereals are sometimes made with milk powder or solids and then you eat them with more milk. Bread, baked goods, instant breakfast drinks, instant potatoes, instant soups, pancake, cookie, and biscuit mixes, margarine and salad dressings too. Even processed meats like sausages, luncheon meat have lactose. Pizza with its combination of soft cheese, bread and perhaps processed meat is the worst thing you can eat. Start looking at labels for the words lactose, milk solids, milk powder, milk protein, non-fat dried milk, casein, sodium caseinate and whey. Strangely enough, birth control pills, headache tablets and some drugs and supplements also contain lactose. By themselves they are unlikely to have a major effect but if your food is bad, it all adds up.

If you are lactose intolerant, it is far more serious that just cramps, bloating and flatulence. If the colon is constantly deluged by fermenting lactose it can leave the digestive system permanently weakened with harmful bacterial overgrowth and weakened immunity. If you are Indian, take it for granted that you have some level of intolerance. Sometimes the small intestine stops making lactase after a short-term illness such as stomach flu or as part of a lifelong disease such as cystic fibrosis. Or the small intestine sometimes stops making lactase after a surgery to remove a part of the small intestine. In rare cases, new-borns are lactose-intolerant – this is serious because diarrhoea causes dehydration. Some premature babies have temporary lactose intolerance because they are not yet able to make lactase. Lactose intolerance increases as you get older.

You need to check out what harm you are doing to yourself. The best way to check this is to avoid eating all milk and dairy products to see if your symptoms go away. If they do, then you can try adding small amounts of milk products to see if your symptoms come back.

There are two tests that doctors have: the Hydrogen Test Breath Test. Before the test, you need to avoid certain foods, medicines and cigarettes. On the day of the test, you will drink a liquid that contains lactose and then breathe into a machine several times over a couple of hours. If the hydrogen levels in your breath are high, you may have lactose intolerance. The other test is the Lactose tolerance test. This test measures your blood sugar after you eat or drink lactose. After midnight on the night before the test, you should not eat or drink anything. On the day of your test, you will drink a liquid that contains lactose, which may cause gas or pain in your belly. Then your blood will be tested every 30 minutes for 2 hours. If your blood sugar levels do not rise, you may be lactose-intolerant. You may also be asked to bring in a sample of your faeces. The faeces of a person who has lactose intolerance is usually loose or watery and foamy.

There is no cure for lactose intolerance. But you can treat your symptoms by replacing milk products; with soy milk/cheese. If you are worried about getting enough calcium, you can easily get it from all greens, bhindi, broccoli, saag, almonds, and all soyas. You can use non-dairy creamers in your coffee. If you cannot bear the thought of life without milk, ice cream, cheese and pizzas you can take lactase supplements of which the best known is Lactaid 9000 Fc. You need to take these pills just before your lactose based food. The capsules start at 1000 FC for those with slight insensitivity. But pills always have their own fallout.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Shaktimaan, the police horse, will probably be the deciding factor in the Uttarakhand elections.

Are you lactose intolerant?

Do you experience bloating, intestinal cramps and excessive gas in your stomach often? This could be lactose insensitivity which is a very common reason for digestive problems.

Lactose is a sugar found in milk and milk products. Lactose should be broken down in your upper intestine by the enzyme lactase. Most people in India have varying degrees of lactose insensitivity, making it difficult for them to digest sugar. But since the pain and bloating differs, people often don’t connect the two.

Technically, as infants, humans produce lactase in our digestive systems and can digest milk. As we enter adolescence the enzyme in the body starts decreasing and with it the ability to break down lactose. This is natural because milk is for infants and humans are the only animals that drink milk beyond infancy. All Asians and 75% Africans and Caribbeans, 50% Europeans and 35% Americans have degrees of lactose intolerance. The only people who can really digest milk are Northern European whites and Americans of North European descent who have a genetic mutation to deal with lactose. Unfortunately, it was these North Europeans who colonized much of the world and they brought their eating habits with them; which is why America, colonial Africa and Asia started drinking milk.

So, while your background defines whether you can tolerate dairy or not, most governments push milk aggressively, and food manufacturers find milk sugar a cheap ingredient and add it to wide variety of processed products; which is why the largest selling medicine in the world is a lactose digestive.

How sensitive you are depends on how much lactase enzyme your system is still producing. Some people can drink a glass of milk without apparent side effects. Some can have just a spoonful in their tea or coffee or on their cereal and it triggers off a gastric upset.

Why does lactose cause gas and abdominal pain?

When your body does not produce enough lactase in your small intestine, all your milk/milk products pass through to the large intestine undigested. Bacteria in your colon love lactose and quickly ferment it. This fermentation creates lots of gas. Due to the high levels of protein in the milk, the gas is very smelly. These extra gases bloat the intestine causing spasms and cramps. When the pressure from the gas interferes with water absorption in the colon it causes diarrhoea. Some people experience bloating and flatulence in 15 mins.-2 hrs. after ingesting milk or its products. Gurgling or rumbling sounds in your belly, loose stools or throwing up are common symptoms.

While passing wind almost immediately is the best thing to happen, apart from being uncomfortable it is also embarrassing for you - both the smell and the noise are not socially acceptable. Smell has a decisive role in changing mood and it becomes very annoying for people to share your space.

Since this is such a common problem, why do most people not realize it. One of the reasons is that since food containing lactose (paneer with vegetables for instance) travels much slower than liquid, it may take hours for the symptoms to appear. You could have eaten something in the morning and end up with gas in the evening without making any connection between the two.

Here is a list of food and drinks that contain lactose.

Milk is obviously the first product that you should avoid, especially cow and goat milk. All dairy milk, even skimmed milk, has extremely high levels of milk sugar. All protein powders have concentrated lactose. Butter and all cream contain slightly less than milk but enough to cause you trouble. Freshly made cheese- feta, paneer etc. has a large amount. The harder the cheese, the less lactose it contains. For instance, parmesan will have much less than mozzarella. Ice cream is particularly bad because not only is it made from milk, but manufacturers add extra milk sugars to sweeten it. Good quality curd, made at home and without any flavouring has the least amount of lactose. But commercial yogurt is simply thickened, sweetened milk with very little beneficial bacteria in it. All yogurts are made with live cultures, but many yogurts go through a process called "heat treatment" that kills the bacteria. Check the label for the words "contains live and active cultures.". Canned soup has lactose – especially if it is “creamy”. So do packaged savoury snacks, especially if they are cheese flavoured. Milk chocolate, cakes, puddings, biscuits, doughnuts have lactose, as do premade sauces, gravies and salad dressings like mayonnaise. Breakfast cereals are sometimes made with milk powder or solids and then you eat them with more milk. Bread, baked goods, instant breakfast drinks, instant potatoes, instant soups, pancake, cookie, and biscuit mixes, margarine and salad dressings too. Even processed meats like sausages, luncheon meat have lactose. Pizza with its combination of soft cheese, bread and perhaps processed meat is the worst thing you can eat. Start looking at labels for the words lactose, milk solids, milk powder, milk protein, non-fat dried milk, casein, sodium caseinate and whey. Strangely enough, birth control pills, headache tablets and some drugs and supplements also contain lactose. By themselves they are unlikely to have a major effect but if your food is bad, it all adds up.

If you are lactose intolerant, it is far more serious that just cramps, bloating and flatulence. If the colon is constantly deluged by fermenting lactose it can leave the digestive system permanently weakened with harmful bacterial overgrowth and weakened immunity. If you are Indian, take it for granted that you have some level of intolerance. Sometimes the small intestine stops making lactase after a short-term illness such as stomach flu or as part of a lifelong disease such as cystic fibrosis. Or the small intestine sometimes stops making lactase after a surgery to remove a part of the small intestine. In rare cases, new-borns are lactose-intolerant – this is serious because diarrhoea causes dehydration. Some premature babies have temporary lactose intolerance because they are not yet able to make lactase. Lactose intolerance increases as you get older.

You need to check out what harm you are doing to yourself. The best way to check this is to avoid eating all milk and dairy products to see if your symptoms go away. If they do, then you can try adding small amounts of milk products to see if your symptoms come back.

There are two tests that doctors have: the Hydrogen Test Breath Test. Before the test, you need to avoid certain foods, medicines and cigarettes. On the day of the test, you will drink a liquid that contains lactose and then breathe into a machine several times over a couple of hours. If the hydrogen levels in your breath are high, you may have lactose intolerance. The other test is the Lactose tolerance test. This test measures your blood sugar after you eat or drink lactose. After midnight on the night before the test, you should not eat or drink anything. On the day of your test, you will drink a liquid that contains lactose, which may cause gas or pain in your belly. Then your blood will be tested every 30 minutes for 2 hours. If your blood sugar levels do not rise, you may be lactose-intolerant. You may also be asked to bring in a sample of your faeces. The faeces of a person who has lactose intolerance is usually loose or watery and foamy.

There is no cure for lactose intolerance. But you can treat your symptoms by replacing milk products; with soy milk/cheese. If you are worried about getting enough calcium, you can easily get it from all greens, bhindi, broccoli, saag, almonds, and all soyas. You can use non-dairy creamers in your coffee. If you cannot bear the thought of life without milk, ice cream, cheese and pizzas you can take lactase supplements of which the best known is Lactaid 9000 Fc. You need to take these pills just before your lactose based food. The capsules start at 1000 FC for those with slight insensitivity. But pills always have their own fallout.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

How many disgusting things do you eat in your food that you are not aware of?

Are you lactose intolerant?

Do you experience bloating, intestinal cramps and excessive gas in your stomach often? This could be lactose insensitivity which is a very common reason for digestive problems.

Lactose is a sugar found in milk and milk products. Lactose should be broken down in your upper intestine by the enzyme lactase. Most people in India have varying degrees of lactose insensitivity, making it difficult for them to digest sugar. But since the pain and bloating differs, people often don’t connect the two.

Technically, as infants, humans produce lactase in our digestive systems and can digest milk. As we enter adolescence the enzyme in the body starts decreasing and with it the ability to break down lactose. This is natural because milk is for infants and humans are the only animals that drink milk beyond infancy. All Asians and 75% Africans and Caribbeans, 50% Europeans and 35% Americans have degrees of lactose intolerance. The only people who can really digest milk are Northern European whites and Americans of North European descent who have a genetic mutation to deal with lactose. Unfortunately, it was these North Europeans who colonized much of the world and they brought their eating habits with them; which is why America, colonial Africa and Asia started drinking milk.

So, while your background defines whether you can tolerate dairy or not, most governments push milk aggressively, and food manufacturers find milk sugar a cheap ingredient and add it to wide variety of processed products; which is why the largest selling medicine in the world is a lactose digestive.

How sensitive you are depends on how much lactase enzyme your system is still producing. Some people can drink a glass of milk without apparent side effects. Some can have just a spoonful in their tea or coffee or on their cereal and it triggers off a gastric upset.

Why does lactose cause gas and abdominal pain?

When your body does not produce enough lactase in your small intestine, all your milk/milk products pass through to the large intestine undigested. Bacteria in your colon love lactose and quickly ferment it. This fermentation creates lots of gas. Due to the high levels of protein in the milk, the gas is very smelly. These extra gases bloat the intestine causing spasms and cramps. When the pressure from the gas interferes with water absorption in the colon it causes diarrhoea. Some people experience bloating and flatulence in 15 mins.-2 hrs. after ingesting milk or its products. Gurgling or rumbling sounds in your belly, loose stools or throwing up are common symptoms.

While passing wind almost immediately is the best thing to happen, apart from being uncomfortable it is also embarrassing for you - both the smell and the noise are not socially acceptable. Smell has a decisive role in changing mood and it becomes very annoying for people to share your space.

Since this is such a common problem, why do most people not realize it. One of the reasons is that since food containing lactose (paneer with vegetables for instance) travels much slower than liquid, it may take hours for the symptoms to appear. You could have eaten something in the morning and end up with gas in the evening without making any connection between the two.

Here is a list of food and drinks that contain lactose.

Milk is obviously the first product that you should avoid, especially cow and goat milk. All dairy milk, even skimmed milk, has extremely high levels of milk sugar. All protein powders have concentrated lactose. Butter and all cream contain slightly less than milk but enough to cause you trouble. Freshly made cheese- feta, paneer etc. has a large amount. The harder the cheese, the less lactose it contains. For instance, parmesan will have much less than mozzarella. Ice cream is particularly bad because not only is it made from milk, but manufacturers add extra milk sugars to sweeten it. Good quality curd, made at home and without any flavouring has the least amount of lactose. But commercial yogurt is simply thickened, sweetened milk with very little beneficial bacteria in it. All yogurts are made with live cultures, but many yogurts go through a process called "heat treatment" that kills the bacteria. Check the label for the words "contains live and active cultures.". Canned soup has lactose – especially if it is “creamy”. So do packaged savoury snacks, especially if they are cheese flavoured. Milk chocolate, cakes, puddings, biscuits, doughnuts have lactose, as do premade sauces, gravies and salad dressings like mayonnaise. Breakfast cereals are sometimes made with milk powder or solids and then you eat them with more milk. Bread, baked goods, instant breakfast drinks, instant potatoes, instant soups, pancake, cookie, and biscuit mixes, margarine and salad dressings too. Even processed meats like sausages, luncheon meat have lactose. Pizza with its combination of soft cheese, bread and perhaps processed meat is the worst thing you can eat. Start looking at labels for the words lactose, milk solids, milk powder, milk protein, non-fat dried milk, casein, sodium caseinate and whey. Strangely enough, birth control pills, headache tablets and some drugs and supplements also contain lactose. By themselves they are unlikely to have a major effect but if your food is bad, it all adds up.

If you are lactose intolerant, it is far more serious that just cramps, bloating and flatulence. If the colon is constantly deluged by fermenting lactose it can leave the digestive system permanently weakened with harmful bacterial overgrowth and weakened immunity. If you are Indian, take it for granted that you have some level of intolerance. Sometimes the small intestine stops making lactase after a short-term illness such as stomach flu or as part of a lifelong disease such as cystic fibrosis. Or the small intestine sometimes stops making lactase after a surgery to remove a part of the small intestine. In rare cases, new-borns are lactose-intolerant – this is serious because diarrhoea causes dehydration. Some premature babies have temporary lactose intolerance because they are not yet able to make lactase. Lactose intolerance increases as you get older.

You need to check out what harm you are doing to yourself. The best way to check this is to avoid eating all milk and dairy products to see if your symptoms go away. If they do, then you can try adding small amounts of milk products to see if your symptoms come back.

There are two tests that doctors have: the Hydrogen Test Breath Test. Before the test, you need to avoid certain foods, medicines and cigarettes. On the day of the test, you will drink a liquid that contains lactose and then breathe into a machine several times over a couple of hours. If the hydrogen levels in your breath are high, you may have lactose intolerance. The other test is the Lactose tolerance test. This test measures your blood sugar after you eat or drink lactose. After midnight on the night before the test, you should not eat or drink anything. On the day of your test, you will drink a liquid that contains lactose, which may cause gas or pain in your belly. Then your blood will be tested every 30 minutes for 2 hours. If your blood sugar levels do not rise, you may be lactose-intolerant. You may also be asked to bring in a sample of your faeces. The faeces of a person who has lactose intolerance is usually loose or watery and foamy.

There is no cure for lactose intolerance. But you can treat your symptoms by replacing milk products; with soy milk/cheese. If you are worried about getting enough calcium, you can easily get it from all greens, bhindi, broccoli, saag, almonds, and all soyas. You can use non-dairy creamers in your coffee. If you cannot bear the thought of life without milk, ice cream, cheese and pizzas you can take lactase supplements of which the best known is Lactaid 9000 Fc. You need to take these pills just before your lactose based food. The capsules start at 1000 FC for those with slight insensitivity. But pills always have their own fallout.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

How Much Wood Pulp Do you Eat?

Are you lactose intolerant?

Do you experience bloating, intestinal cramps and excessive gas in your stomach often? This could be lactose insensitivity which is a very common reason for digestive problems.

Lactose is a sugar found in milk and milk products. Lactose should be broken down in your upper intestine by the enzyme lactase. Most people in India have varying degrees of lactose insensitivity, making it difficult for them to digest sugar. But since the pain and bloating differs, people often don’t connect the two.

Technically, as infants, humans produce lactase in our digestive systems and can digest milk. As we enter adolescence the enzyme in the body starts decreasing and with it the ability to break down lactose. This is natural because milk is for infants and humans are the only animals that drink milk beyond infancy. All Asians and 75% Africans and Caribbeans, 50% Europeans and 35% Americans have degrees of lactose intolerance. The only people who can really digest milk are Northern European whites and Americans of North European descent who have a genetic mutation to deal with lactose. Unfortunately, it was these North Europeans who colonized much of the world and they brought their eating habits with them; which is why America, colonial Africa and Asia started drinking milk.

So, while your background defines whether you can tolerate dairy or not, most governments push milk aggressively, and food manufacturers find milk sugar a cheap ingredient and add it to wide variety of processed products; which is why the largest selling medicine in the world is a lactose digestive.

How sensitive you are depends on how much lactase enzyme your system is still producing. Some people can drink a glass of milk without apparent side effects. Some can have just a spoonful in their tea or coffee or on their cereal and it triggers off a gastric upset.

Why does lactose cause gas and abdominal pain?

When your body does not produce enough lactase in your small intestine, all your milk/milk products pass through to the large intestine undigested. Bacteria in your colon love lactose and quickly ferment it. This fermentation creates lots of gas. Due to the high levels of protein in the milk, the gas is very smelly. These extra gases bloat the intestine causing spasms and cramps. When the pressure from the gas interferes with water absorption in the colon it causes diarrhoea. Some people experience bloating and flatulence in 15 mins.-2 hrs. after ingesting milk or its products. Gurgling or rumbling sounds in your belly, loose stools or throwing up are common symptoms.

While passing wind almost immediately is the best thing to happen, apart from being uncomfortable it is also embarrassing for you - both the smell and the noise are not socially acceptable. Smell has a decisive role in changing mood and it becomes very annoying for people to share your space.

Since this is such a common problem, why do most people not realize it. One of the reasons is that since food containing lactose (paneer with vegetables for instance) travels much slower than liquid, it may take hours for the symptoms to appear. You could have eaten something in the morning and end up with gas in the evening without making any connection between the two.

Here is a list of food and drinks that contain lactose.

Milk is obviously the first product that you should avoid, especially cow and goat milk. All dairy milk, even skimmed milk, has extremely high levels of milk sugar. All protein powders have concentrated lactose. Butter and all cream contain slightly less than milk but enough to cause you trouble. Freshly made cheese- feta, paneer etc. has a large amount. The harder the cheese, the less lactose it contains. For instance, parmesan will have much less than mozzarella. Ice cream is particularly bad because not only is it made from milk, but manufacturers add extra milk sugars to sweeten it. Good quality curd, made at home and without any flavouring has the least amount of lactose. But commercial yogurt is simply thickened, sweetened milk with very little beneficial bacteria in it. All yogurts are made with live cultures, but many yogurts go through a process called "heat treatment" that kills the bacteria. Check the label for the words "contains live and active cultures.". Canned soup has lactose – especially if it is “creamy”. So do packaged savoury snacks, especially if they are cheese flavoured. Milk chocolate, cakes, puddings, biscuits, doughnuts have lactose, as do premade sauces, gravies and salad dressings like mayonnaise. Breakfast cereals are sometimes made with milk powder or solids and then you eat them with more milk. Bread, baked goods, instant breakfast drinks, instant potatoes, instant soups, pancake, cookie, and biscuit mixes, margarine and salad dressings too. Even processed meats like sausages, luncheon meat have lactose. Pizza with its combination of soft cheese, bread and perhaps processed meat is the worst thing you can eat. Start looking at labels for the words lactose, milk solids, milk powder, milk protein, non-fat dried milk, casein, sodium caseinate and whey. Strangely enough, birth control pills, headache tablets and some drugs and supplements also contain lactose. By themselves they are unlikely to have a major effect but if your food is bad, it all adds up.

If you are lactose intolerant, it is far more serious that just cramps, bloating and flatulence. If the colon is constantly deluged by fermenting lactose it can leave the digestive system permanently weakened with harmful bacterial overgrowth and weakened immunity. If you are Indian, take it for granted that you have some level of intolerance. Sometimes the small intestine stops making lactase after a short-term illness such as stomach flu or as part of a lifelong disease such as cystic fibrosis. Or the small intestine sometimes stops making lactase after a surgery to remove a part of the small intestine. In rare cases, new-borns are lactose-intolerant – this is serious because diarrhoea causes dehydration. Some premature babies have temporary lactose intolerance because they are not yet able to make lactase. Lactose intolerance increases as you get older.

You need to check out what harm you are doing to yourself. The best way to check this is to avoid eating all milk and dairy products to see if your symptoms go away. If they do, then you can try adding small amounts of milk products to see if your symptoms come back.

There are two tests that doctors have: the Hydrogen Test Breath Test. Before the test, you need to avoid certain foods, medicines and cigarettes. On the day of the test, you will drink a liquid that contains lactose and then breathe into a machine several times over a couple of hours. If the hydrogen levels in your breath are high, you may have lactose intolerance. The other test is the Lactose tolerance test. This test measures your blood sugar after you eat or drink lactose. After midnight on the night before the test, you should not eat or drink anything. On the day of your test, you will drink a liquid that contains lactose, which may cause gas or pain in your belly. Then your blood will be tested every 30 minutes for 2 hours. If your blood sugar levels do not rise, you may be lactose-intolerant. You may also be asked to bring in a sample of your faeces. The faeces of a person who has lactose intolerance is usually loose or watery and foamy.

There is no cure for lactose intolerance. But you can treat your symptoms by replacing milk products; with soy milk/cheese. If you are worried about getting enough calcium, you can easily get it from all greens, bhindi, broccoli, saag, almonds, and all soyas. You can use non-dairy creamers in your coffee. If you cannot bear the thought of life without milk, ice cream, cheese and pizzas you can take lactase supplements of which the best known is Lactaid 9000 Fc. You need to take these pills just before your lactose based food. The capsules start at 1000 FC for those with slight insensitivity. But pills always have their own fallout.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

There is nothing that the human will not use in order to make herself / himself more alluring.

Are you lactose intolerant?

Do you experience bloating, intestinal cramps and excessive gas in your stomach often? This could be lactose insensitivity which is a very common reason for digestive problems.

Lactose is a sugar found in milk and milk products. Lactose should be broken down in your upper intestine by the enzyme lactase. Most people in India have varying degrees of lactose insensitivity, making it difficult for them to digest sugar. But since the pain and bloating differs, people often don’t connect the two.

Technically, as infants, humans produce lactase in our digestive systems and can digest milk. As we enter adolescence the enzyme in the body starts decreasing and with it the ability to break down lactose. This is natural because milk is for infants and humans are the only animals that drink milk beyond infancy. All Asians and 75% Africans and Caribbeans, 50% Europeans and 35% Americans have degrees of lactose intolerance. The only people who can really digest milk are Northern European whites and Americans of North European descent who have a genetic mutation to deal with lactose. Unfortunately, it was these North Europeans who colonized much of the world and they brought their eating habits with them; which is why America, colonial Africa and Asia started drinking milk.

So, while your background defines whether you can tolerate dairy or not, most governments push milk aggressively, and food manufacturers find milk sugar a cheap ingredient and add it to wide variety of processed products; which is why the largest selling medicine in the world is a lactose digestive.

How sensitive you are depends on how much lactase enzyme your system is still producing. Some people can drink a glass of milk without apparent side effects. Some can have just a spoonful in their tea or coffee or on their cereal and it triggers off a gastric upset.

Why does lactose cause gas and abdominal pain?

When your body does not produce enough lactase in your small intestine, all your milk/milk products pass through to the large intestine undigested. Bacteria in your colon love lactose and quickly ferment it. This fermentation creates lots of gas. Due to the high levels of protein in the milk, the gas is very smelly. These extra gases bloat the intestine causing spasms and cramps. When the pressure from the gas interferes with water absorption in the colon it causes diarrhoea. Some people experience bloating and flatulence in 15 mins.-2 hrs. after ingesting milk or its products. Gurgling or rumbling sounds in your belly, loose stools or throwing up are common symptoms.

While passing wind almost immediately is the best thing to happen, apart from being uncomfortable it is also embarrassing for you - both the smell and the noise are not socially acceptable. Smell has a decisive role in changing mood and it becomes very annoying for people to share your space.

Since this is such a common problem, why do most people not realize it. One of the reasons is that since food containing lactose (paneer with vegetables for instance) travels much slower than liquid, it may take hours for the symptoms to appear. You could have eaten something in the morning and end up with gas in the evening without making any connection between the two.

Here is a list of food and drinks that contain lactose.

Milk is obviously the first product that you should avoid, especially cow and goat milk. All dairy milk, even skimmed milk, has extremely high levels of milk sugar. All protein powders have concentrated lactose. Butter and all cream contain slightly less than milk but enough to cause you trouble. Freshly made cheese- feta, paneer etc. has a large amount. The harder the cheese, the less lactose it contains. For instance, parmesan will have much less than mozzarella. Ice cream is particularly bad because not only is it made from milk, but manufacturers add extra milk sugars to sweeten it. Good quality curd, made at home and without any flavouring has the least amount of lactose. But commercial yogurt is simply thickened, sweetened milk with very little beneficial bacteria in it. All yogurts are made with live cultures, but many yogurts go through a process called "heat treatment" that kills the bacteria. Check the label for the words "contains live and active cultures.". Canned soup has lactose – especially if it is “creamy”. So do packaged savoury snacks, especially if they are cheese flavoured. Milk chocolate, cakes, puddings, biscuits, doughnuts have lactose, as do premade sauces, gravies and salad dressings like mayonnaise. Breakfast cereals are sometimes made with milk powder or solids and then you eat them with more milk. Bread, baked goods, instant breakfast drinks, instant potatoes, instant soups, pancake, cookie, and biscuit mixes, margarine and salad dressings too. Even processed meats like sausages, luncheon meat have lactose. Pizza with its combination of soft cheese, bread and perhaps processed meat is the worst thing you can eat. Start looking at labels for the words lactose, milk solids, milk powder, milk protein, non-fat dried milk, casein, sodium caseinate and whey. Strangely enough, birth control pills, headache tablets and some drugs and supplements also contain lactose. By themselves they are unlikely to have a major effect but if your food is bad, it all adds up.

If you are lactose intolerant, it is far more serious that just cramps, bloating and flatulence. If the colon is constantly deluged by fermenting lactose it can leave the digestive system permanently weakened with harmful bacterial overgrowth and weakened immunity. If you are Indian, take it for granted that you have some level of intolerance. Sometimes the small intestine stops making lactase after a short-term illness such as stomach flu or as part of a lifelong disease such as cystic fibrosis. Or the small intestine sometimes stops making lactase after a surgery to remove a part of the small intestine. In rare cases, new-borns are lactose-intolerant – this is serious because diarrhoea causes dehydration. Some premature babies have temporary lactose intolerance because they are not yet able to make lactase. Lactose intolerance increases as you get older.

You need to check out what harm you are doing to yourself. The best way to check this is to avoid eating all milk and dairy products to see if your symptoms go away. If they do, then you can try adding small amounts of milk products to see if your symptoms come back.

There are two tests that doctors have: the Hydrogen Test Breath Test. Before the test, you need to avoid certain foods, medicines and cigarettes. On the day of the test, you will drink a liquid that contains lactose and then breathe into a machine several times over a couple of hours. If the hydrogen levels in your breath are high, you may have lactose intolerance. The other test is the Lactose tolerance test. This test measures your blood sugar after you eat or drink lactose. After midnight on the night before the test, you should not eat or drink anything. On the day of your test, you will drink a liquid that contains lactose, which may cause gas or pain in your belly. Then your blood will be tested every 30 minutes for 2 hours. If your blood sugar levels do not rise, you may be lactose-intolerant. You may also be asked to bring in a sample of your faeces. The faeces of a person who has lactose intolerance is usually loose or watery and foamy.

There is no cure for lactose intolerance. But you can treat your symptoms by replacing milk products; with soy milk/cheese. If you are worried about getting enough calcium, you can easily get it from all greens, bhindi, broccoli, saag, almonds, and all soyas. You can use non-dairy creamers in your coffee. If you cannot bear the thought of life without milk, ice cream, cheese and pizzas you can take lactase supplements of which the best known is Lactaid 9000 Fc. You need to take these pills just before your lactose based food. The capsules start at 1000 FC for those with slight insensitivity. But pills always have their own fallout.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Millions of people experience heart burn at some time.

Are you lactose intolerant?

Do you experience bloating, intestinal cramps and excessive gas in your stomach often? This could be lactose insensitivity which is a very common reason for digestive problems.

Lactose is a sugar found in milk and milk products. Lactose should be broken down in your upper intestine by the enzyme lactase. Most people in India have varying degrees of lactose insensitivity, making it difficult for them to digest sugar. But since the pain and bloating differs, people often don’t connect the two.

Technically, as infants, humans produce lactase in our digestive systems and can digest milk. As we enter adolescence the enzyme in the body starts decreasing and with it the ability to break down lactose. This is natural because milk is for infants and humans are the only animals that drink milk beyond infancy. All Asians and 75% Africans and Caribbeans, 50% Europeans and 35% Americans have degrees of lactose intolerance. The only people who can really digest milk are Northern European whites and Americans of North European descent who have a genetic mutation to deal with lactose. Unfortunately, it was these North Europeans who colonized much of the world and they brought their eating habits with them; which is why America, colonial Africa and Asia started drinking milk.

So, while your background defines whether you can tolerate dairy or not, most governments push milk aggressively, and food manufacturers find milk sugar a cheap ingredient and add it to wide variety of processed products; which is why the largest selling medicine in the world is a lactose digestive.

How sensitive you are depends on how much lactase enzyme your system is still producing. Some people can drink a glass of milk without apparent side effects. Some can have just a spoonful in their tea or coffee or on their cereal and it triggers off a gastric upset.

Why does lactose cause gas and abdominal pain?

When your body does not produce enough lactase in your small intestine, all your milk/milk products pass through to the large intestine undigested. Bacteria in your colon love lactose and quickly ferment it. This fermentation creates lots of gas. Due to the high levels of protein in the milk, the gas is very smelly. These extra gases bloat the intestine causing spasms and cramps. When the pressure from the gas interferes with water absorption in the colon it causes diarrhoea. Some people experience bloating and flatulence in 15 mins.-2 hrs. after ingesting milk or its products. Gurgling or rumbling sounds in your belly, loose stools or throwing up are common symptoms.

While passing wind almost immediately is the best thing to happen, apart from being uncomfortable it is also embarrassing for you - both the smell and the noise are not socially acceptable. Smell has a decisive role in changing mood and it becomes very annoying for people to share your space.

Since this is such a common problem, why do most people not realize it. One of the reasons is that since food containing lactose (paneer with vegetables for instance) travels much slower than liquid, it may take hours for the symptoms to appear. You could have eaten something in the morning and end up with gas in the evening without making any connection between the two.

Here is a list of food and drinks that contain lactose.

Milk is obviously the first product that you should avoid, especially cow and goat milk. All dairy milk, even skimmed milk, has extremely high levels of milk sugar. All protein powders have concentrated lactose. Butter and all cream contain slightly less than milk but enough to cause you trouble. Freshly made cheese- feta, paneer etc. has a large amount. The harder the cheese, the less lactose it contains. For instance, parmesan will have much less than mozzarella. Ice cream is particularly bad because not only is it made from milk, but manufacturers add extra milk sugars to sweeten it. Good quality curd, made at home and without any flavouring has the least amount of lactose. But commercial yogurt is simply thickened, sweetened milk with very little beneficial bacteria in it. All yogurts are made with live cultures, but many yogurts go through a process called "heat treatment" that kills the bacteria. Check the label for the words "contains live and active cultures.". Canned soup has lactose – especially if it is “creamy”. So do packaged savoury snacks, especially if they are cheese flavoured. Milk chocolate, cakes, puddings, biscuits, doughnuts have lactose, as do premade sauces, gravies and salad dressings like mayonnaise. Breakfast cereals are sometimes made with milk powder or solids and then you eat them with more milk. Bread, baked goods, instant breakfast drinks, instant potatoes, instant soups, pancake, cookie, and biscuit mixes, margarine and salad dressings too. Even processed meats like sausages, luncheon meat have lactose. Pizza with its combination of soft cheese, bread and perhaps processed meat is the worst thing you can eat. Start looking at labels for the words lactose, milk solids, milk powder, milk protein, non-fat dried milk, casein, sodium caseinate and whey. Strangely enough, birth control pills, headache tablets and some drugs and supplements also contain lactose. By themselves they are unlikely to have a major effect but if your food is bad, it all adds up.

If you are lactose intolerant, it is far more serious that just cramps, bloating and flatulence. If the colon is constantly deluged by fermenting lactose it can leave the digestive system permanently weakened with harmful bacterial overgrowth and weakened immunity. If you are Indian, take it for granted that you have some level of intolerance. Sometimes the small intestine stops making lactase after a short-term illness such as stomach flu or as part of a lifelong disease such as cystic fibrosis. Or the small intestine sometimes stops making lactase after a surgery to remove a part of the small intestine. In rare cases, new-borns are lactose-intolerant – this is serious because diarrhoea causes dehydration. Some premature babies have temporary lactose intolerance because they are not yet able to make lactase. Lactose intolerance increases as you get older.

You need to check out what harm you are doing to yourself. The best way to check this is to avoid eating all milk and dairy products to see if your symptoms go away. If they do, then you can try adding small amounts of milk products to see if your symptoms come back.

There are two tests that doctors have: the Hydrogen Test Breath Test. Before the test, you need to avoid certain foods, medicines and cigarettes. On the day of the test, you will drink a liquid that contains lactose and then breathe into a machine several times over a couple of hours. If the hydrogen levels in your breath are high, you may have lactose intolerance. The other test is the Lactose tolerance test. This test measures your blood sugar after you eat or drink lactose. After midnight on the night before the test, you should not eat or drink anything. On the day of your test, you will drink a liquid that contains lactose, which may cause gas or pain in your belly. Then your blood will be tested every 30 minutes for 2 hours. If your blood sugar levels do not rise, you may be lactose-intolerant. You may also be asked to bring in a sample of your faeces. The faeces of a person who has lactose intolerance is usually loose or watery and foamy.

There is no cure for lactose intolerance. But you can treat your symptoms by replacing milk products; with soy milk/cheese. If you are worried about getting enough calcium, you can easily get it from all greens, bhindi, broccoli, saag, almonds, and all soyas. You can use non-dairy creamers in your coffee. If you cannot bear the thought of life without milk, ice cream, cheese and pizzas you can take lactase supplements of which the best known is Lactaid 9000 Fc. You need to take these pills just before your lactose based food. The capsules start at 1000 FC for those with slight insensitivity. But pills always have their own fallout.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

New horrors come my way almost every month.

Are you lactose intolerant?

Do you experience bloating, intestinal cramps and excessive gas in your stomach often? This could be lactose insensitivity which is a very common reason for digestive problems.

Lactose is a sugar found in milk and milk products. Lactose should be broken down in your upper intestine by the enzyme lactase. Most people in India have varying degrees of lactose insensitivity, making it difficult for them to digest sugar. But since the pain and bloating differs, people often don’t connect the two.

Technically, as infants, humans produce lactase in our digestive systems and can digest milk. As we enter adolescence the enzyme in the body starts decreasing and with it the ability to break down lactose. This is natural because milk is for infants and humans are the only animals that drink milk beyond infancy. All Asians and 75% Africans and Caribbeans, 50% Europeans and 35% Americans have degrees of lactose intolerance. The only people who can really digest milk are Northern European whites and Americans of North European descent who have a genetic mutation to deal with lactose. Unfortunately, it was these North Europeans who colonized much of the world and they brought their eating habits with them; which is why America, colonial Africa and Asia started drinking milk.

So, while your background defines whether you can tolerate dairy or not, most governments push milk aggressively, and food manufacturers find milk sugar a cheap ingredient and add it to wide variety of processed products; which is why the largest selling medicine in the world is a lactose digestive.

How sensitive you are depends on how much lactase enzyme your system is still producing. Some people can drink a glass of milk without apparent side effects. Some can have just a spoonful in their tea or coffee or on their cereal and it triggers off a gastric upset.

Why does lactose cause gas and abdominal pain?

When your body does not produce enough lactase in your small intestine, all your milk/milk products pass through to the large intestine undigested. Bacteria in your colon love lactose and quickly ferment it. This fermentation creates lots of gas. Due to the high levels of protein in the milk, the gas is very smelly. These extra gases bloat the intestine causing spasms and cramps. When the pressure from the gas interferes with water absorption in the colon it causes diarrhoea. Some people experience bloating and flatulence in 15 mins.-2 hrs. after ingesting milk or its products. Gurgling or rumbling sounds in your belly, loose stools or throwing up are common symptoms.

While passing wind almost immediately is the best thing to happen, apart from being uncomfortable it is also embarrassing for you - both the smell and the noise are not socially acceptable. Smell has a decisive role in changing mood and it becomes very annoying for people to share your space.

Since this is such a common problem, why do most people not realize it. One of the reasons is that since food containing lactose (paneer with vegetables for instance) travels much slower than liquid, it may take hours for the symptoms to appear. You could have eaten something in the morning and end up with gas in the evening without making any connection between the two.

Here is a list of food and drinks that contain lactose.

Milk is obviously the first product that you should avoid, especially cow and goat milk. All dairy milk, even skimmed milk, has extremely high levels of milk sugar. All protein powders have concentrated lactose. Butter and all cream contain slightly less than milk but enough to cause you trouble. Freshly made cheese- feta, paneer etc. has a large amount. The harder the cheese, the less lactose it contains. For instance, parmesan will have much less than mozzarella. Ice cream is particularly bad because not only is it made from milk, but manufacturers add extra milk sugars to sweeten it. Good quality curd, made at home and without any flavouring has the least amount of lactose. But commercial yogurt is simply thickened, sweetened milk with very little beneficial bacteria in it. All yogurts are made with live cultures, but many yogurts go through a process called "heat treatment" that kills the bacteria. Check the label for the words "contains live and active cultures.". Canned soup has lactose – especially if it is “creamy”. So do packaged savoury snacks, especially if they are cheese flavoured. Milk chocolate, cakes, puddings, biscuits, doughnuts have lactose, as do premade sauces, gravies and salad dressings like mayonnaise. Breakfast cereals are sometimes made with milk powder or solids and then you eat them with more milk. Bread, baked goods, instant breakfast drinks, instant potatoes, instant soups, pancake, cookie, and biscuit mixes, margarine and salad dressings too. Even processed meats like sausages, luncheon meat have lactose. Pizza with its combination of soft cheese, bread and perhaps processed meat is the worst thing you can eat. Start looking at labels for the words lactose, milk solids, milk powder, milk protein, non-fat dried milk, casein, sodium caseinate and whey. Strangely enough, birth control pills, headache tablets and some drugs and supplements also contain lactose. By themselves they are unlikely to have a major effect but if your food is bad, it all adds up.

If you are lactose intolerant, it is far more serious that just cramps, bloating and flatulence. If the colon is constantly deluged by fermenting lactose it can leave the digestive system permanently weakened with harmful bacterial overgrowth and weakened immunity. If you are Indian, take it for granted that you have some level of intolerance. Sometimes the small intestine stops making lactase after a short-term illness such as stomach flu or as part of a lifelong disease such as cystic fibrosis. Or the small intestine sometimes stops making lactase after a surgery to remove a part of the small intestine. In rare cases, new-borns are lactose-intolerant – this is serious because diarrhoea causes dehydration. Some premature babies have temporary lactose intolerance because they are not yet able to make lactase. Lactose intolerance increases as you get older.

You need to check out what harm you are doing to yourself. The best way to check this is to avoid eating all milk and dairy products to see if your symptoms go away. If they do, then you can try adding small amounts of milk products to see if your symptoms come back.

There are two tests that doctors have: the Hydrogen Test Breath Test. Before the test, you need to avoid certain foods, medicines and cigarettes. On the day of the test, you will drink a liquid that contains lactose and then breathe into a machine several times over a couple of hours. If the hydrogen levels in your breath are high, you may have lactose intolerance. The other test is the Lactose tolerance test. This test measures your blood sugar after you eat or drink lactose. After midnight on the night before the test, you should not eat or drink anything. On the day of your test, you will drink a liquid that contains lactose, which may cause gas or pain in your belly. Then your blood will be tested every 30 minutes for 2 hours. If your blood sugar levels do not rise, you may be lactose-intolerant. You may also be asked to bring in a sample of your faeces. The faeces of a person who has lactose intolerance is usually loose or watery and foamy.

There is no cure for lactose intolerance. But you can treat your symptoms by replacing milk products; with soy milk/cheese. If you are worried about getting enough calcium, you can easily get it from all greens, bhindi, broccoli, saag, almonds, and all soyas. You can use non-dairy creamers in your coffee. If you cannot bear the thought of life without milk, ice cream, cheese and pizzas you can take lactase supplements of which the best known is Lactaid 9000 Fc. You need to take these pills just before your lactose based food. The capsules start at 1000 FC for those with slight insensitivity. But pills always have their own fallout.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Two months ago the Ministry of Health raided the kingpin of the illegal oxytocin trade in India.

Are you lactose intolerant?

Do you experience bloating, intestinal cramps and excessive gas in your stomach often? This could be lactose insensitivity which is a very common reason for digestive problems.

Lactose is a sugar found in milk and milk products. Lactose should be broken down in your upper intestine by the enzyme lactase. Most people in India have varying degrees of lactose insensitivity, making it difficult for them to digest sugar. But since the pain and bloating differs, people often don’t connect the two.

Technically, as infants, humans produce lactase in our digestive systems and can digest milk. As we enter adolescence the enzyme in the body starts decreasing and with it the ability to break down lactose. This is natural because milk is for infants and humans are the only animals that drink milk beyond infancy. All Asians and 75% Africans and Caribbeans, 50% Europeans and 35% Americans have degrees of lactose intolerance. The only people who can really digest milk are Northern European whites and Americans of North European descent who have a genetic mutation to deal with lactose. Unfortunately, it was these North Europeans who colonized much of the world and they brought their eating habits with them; which is why America, colonial Africa and Asia started drinking milk.

So, while your background defines whether you can tolerate dairy or not, most governments push milk aggressively, and food manufacturers find milk sugar a cheap ingredient and add it to wide variety of processed products; which is why the largest selling medicine in the world is a lactose digestive.

How sensitive you are depends on how much lactase enzyme your system is still producing. Some people can drink a glass of milk without apparent side effects. Some can have just a spoonful in their tea or coffee or on their cereal and it triggers off a gastric upset.

Why does lactose cause gas and abdominal pain?

When your body does not produce enough lactase in your small intestine, all your milk/milk products pass through to the large intestine undigested. Bacteria in your colon love lactose and quickly ferment it. This fermentation creates lots of gas. Due to the high levels of protein in the milk, the gas is very smelly. These extra gases bloat the intestine causing spasms and cramps. When the pressure from the gas interferes with water absorption in the colon it causes diarrhoea. Some people experience bloating and flatulence in 15 mins.-2 hrs. after ingesting milk or its products. Gurgling or rumbling sounds in your belly, loose stools or throwing up are common symptoms.

While passing wind almost immediately is the best thing to happen, apart from being uncomfortable it is also embarrassing for you - both the smell and the noise are not socially acceptable. Smell has a decisive role in changing mood and it becomes very annoying for people to share your space.

Since this is such a common problem, why do most people not realize it. One of the reasons is that since food containing lactose (paneer with vegetables for instance) travels much slower than liquid, it may take hours for the symptoms to appear. You could have eaten something in the morning and end up with gas in the evening without making any connection between the two.

Here is a list of food and drinks that contain lactose.

Milk is obviously the first product that you should avoid, especially cow and goat milk. All dairy milk, even skimmed milk, has extremely high levels of milk sugar. All protein powders have concentrated lactose. Butter and all cream contain slightly less than milk but enough to cause you trouble. Freshly made cheese- feta, paneer etc. has a large amount. The harder the cheese, the less lactose it contains. For instance, parmesan will have much less than mozzarella. Ice cream is particularly bad because not only is it made from milk, but manufacturers add extra milk sugars to sweeten it. Good quality curd, made at home and without any flavouring has the least amount of lactose. But commercial yogurt is simply thickened, sweetened milk with very little beneficial bacteria in it. All yogurts are made with live cultures, but many yogurts go through a process called "heat treatment" that kills the bacteria. Check the label for the words "contains live and active cultures.". Canned soup has lactose – especially if it is “creamy”. So do packaged savoury snacks, especially if they are cheese flavoured. Milk chocolate, cakes, puddings, biscuits, doughnuts have lactose, as do premade sauces, gravies and salad dressings like mayonnaise. Breakfast cereals are sometimes made with milk powder or solids and then you eat them with more milk. Bread, baked goods, instant breakfast drinks, instant potatoes, instant soups, pancake, cookie, and biscuit mixes, margarine and salad dressings too. Even processed meats like sausages, luncheon meat have lactose. Pizza with its combination of soft cheese, bread and perhaps processed meat is the worst thing you can eat. Start looking at labels for the words lactose, milk solids, milk powder, milk protein, non-fat dried milk, casein, sodium caseinate and whey. Strangely enough, birth control pills, headache tablets and some drugs and supplements also contain lactose. By themselves they are unlikely to have a major effect but if your food is bad, it all adds up.

If you are lactose intolerant, it is far more serious that just cramps, bloating and flatulence. If the colon is constantly deluged by fermenting lactose it can leave the digestive system permanently weakened with harmful bacterial overgrowth and weakened immunity. If you are Indian, take it for granted that you have some level of intolerance. Sometimes the small intestine stops making lactase after a short-term illness such as stomach flu or as part of a lifelong disease such as cystic fibrosis. Or the small intestine sometimes stops making lactase after a surgery to remove a part of the small intestine. In rare cases, new-borns are lactose-intolerant – this is serious because diarrhoea causes dehydration. Some premature babies have temporary lactose intolerance because they are not yet able to make lactase. Lactose intolerance increases as you get older.

You need to check out what harm you are doing to yourself. The best way to check this is to avoid eating all milk and dairy products to see if your symptoms go away. If they do, then you can try adding small amounts of milk products to see if your symptoms come back.

There are two tests that doctors have: the Hydrogen Test Breath Test. Before the test, you need to avoid certain foods, medicines and cigarettes. On the day of the test, you will drink a liquid that contains lactose and then breathe into a machine several times over a couple of hours. If the hydrogen levels in your breath are high, you may have lactose intolerance. The other test is the Lactose tolerance test. This test measures your blood sugar after you eat or drink lactose. After midnight on the night before the test, you should not eat or drink anything. On the day of your test, you will drink a liquid that contains lactose, which may cause gas or pain in your belly. Then your blood will be tested every 30 minutes for 2 hours. If your blood sugar levels do not rise, you may be lactose-intolerant. You may also be asked to bring in a sample of your faeces. The faeces of a person who has lactose intolerance is usually loose or watery and foamy.

There is no cure for lactose intolerance. But you can treat your symptoms by replacing milk products; with soy milk/cheese. If you are worried about getting enough calcium, you can easily get it from all greens, bhindi, broccoli, saag, almonds, and all soyas. You can use non-dairy creamers in your coffee. If you cannot bear the thought of life without milk, ice cream, cheese and pizzas you can take lactase supplements of which the best known is Lactaid 9000 Fc. You need to take these pills just before your lactose based food. The capsules start at 1000 FC for those with slight insensitivity. But pills always have their own fallout.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

My mother died of breast cancer.

Are you lactose intolerant?

Do you experience bloating, intestinal cramps and excessive gas in your stomach often? This could be lactose insensitivity which is a very common reason for digestive problems.

Lactose is a sugar found in milk and milk products. Lactose should be broken down in your upper intestine by the enzyme lactase. Most people in India have varying degrees of lactose insensitivity, making it difficult for them to digest sugar. But since the pain and bloating differs, people often don’t connect the two.

Technically, as infants, humans produce lactase in our digestive systems and can digest milk. As we enter adolescence the enzyme in the body starts decreasing and with it the ability to break down lactose. This is natural because milk is for infants and humans are the only animals that drink milk beyond infancy. All Asians and 75% Africans and Caribbeans, 50% Europeans and 35% Americans have degrees of lactose intolerance. The only people who can really digest milk are Northern European whites and Americans of North European descent who have a genetic mutation to deal with lactose. Unfortunately, it was these North Europeans who colonized much of the world and they brought their eating habits with them; which is why America, colonial Africa and Asia started drinking milk.

So, while your background defines whether you can tolerate dairy or not, most governments push milk aggressively, and food manufacturers find milk sugar a cheap ingredient and add it to wide variety of processed products; which is why the largest selling medicine in the world is a lactose digestive.

How sensitive you are depends on how much lactase enzyme your system is still producing. Some people can drink a glass of milk without apparent side effects. Some can have just a spoonful in their tea or coffee or on their cereal and it triggers off a gastric upset.

Why does lactose cause gas and abdominal pain?

When your body does not produce enough lactase in your small intestine, all your milk/milk products pass through to the large intestine undigested. Bacteria in your colon love lactose and quickly ferment it. This fermentation creates lots of gas. Due to the high levels of protein in the milk, the gas is very smelly. These extra gases bloat the intestine causing spasms and cramps. When the pressure from the gas interferes with water absorption in the colon it causes diarrhoea. Some people experience bloating and flatulence in 15 mins.-2 hrs. after ingesting milk or its products. Gurgling or rumbling sounds in your belly, loose stools or throwing up are common symptoms.

While passing wind almost immediately is the best thing to happen, apart from being uncomfortable it is also embarrassing for you - both the smell and the noise are not socially acceptable. Smell has a decisive role in changing mood and it becomes very annoying for people to share your space.

Since this is such a common problem, why do most people not realize it. One of the reasons is that since food containing lactose (paneer with vegetables for instance) travels much slower than liquid, it may take hours for the symptoms to appear. You could have eaten something in the morning and end up with gas in the evening without making any connection between the two.

Here is a list of food and drinks that contain lactose.

Milk is obviously the first product that you should avoid, especially cow and goat milk. All dairy milk, even skimmed milk, has extremely high levels of milk sugar. All protein powders have concentrated lactose. Butter and all cream contain slightly less than milk but enough to cause you trouble. Freshly made cheese- feta, paneer etc. has a large amount. The harder the cheese, the less lactose it contains. For instance, parmesan will have much less than mozzarella. Ice cream is particularly bad because not only is it made from milk, but manufacturers add extra milk sugars to sweeten it. Good quality curd, made at home and without any flavouring has the least amount of lactose. But commercial yogurt is simply thickened, sweetened milk with very little beneficial bacteria in it. All yogurts are made with live cultures, but many yogurts go through a process called "heat treatment" that kills the bacteria. Check the label for the words "contains live and active cultures.". Canned soup has lactose – especially if it is “creamy”. So do packaged savoury snacks, especially if they are cheese flavoured. Milk chocolate, cakes, puddings, biscuits, doughnuts have lactose, as do premade sauces, gravies and salad dressings like mayonnaise. Breakfast cereals are sometimes made with milk powder or solids and then you eat them with more milk. Bread, baked goods, instant breakfast drinks, instant potatoes, instant soups, pancake, cookie, and biscuit mixes, margarine and salad dressings too. Even processed meats like sausages, luncheon meat have lactose. Pizza with its combination of soft cheese, bread and perhaps processed meat is the worst thing you can eat. Start looking at labels for the words lactose, milk solids, milk powder, milk protein, non-fat dried milk, casein, sodium caseinate and whey. Strangely enough, birth control pills, headache tablets and some drugs and supplements also contain lactose. By themselves they are unlikely to have a major effect but if your food is bad, it all adds up.

If you are lactose intolerant, it is far more serious that just cramps, bloating and flatulence. If the colon is constantly deluged by fermenting lactose it can leave the digestive system permanently weakened with harmful bacterial overgrowth and weakened immunity. If you are Indian, take it for granted that you have some level of intolerance. Sometimes the small intestine stops making lactase after a short-term illness such as stomach flu or as part of a lifelong disease such as cystic fibrosis. Or the small intestine sometimes stops making lactase after a surgery to remove a part of the small intestine. In rare cases, new-borns are lactose-intolerant – this is serious because diarrhoea causes dehydration. Some premature babies have temporary lactose intolerance because they are not yet able to make lactase. Lactose intolerance increases as you get older.

You need to check out what harm you are doing to yourself. The best way to check this is to avoid eating all milk and dairy products to see if your symptoms go away. If they do, then you can try adding small amounts of milk products to see if your symptoms come back.

There are two tests that doctors have: the Hydrogen Test Breath Test. Before the test, you need to avoid certain foods, medicines and cigarettes. On the day of the test, you will drink a liquid that contains lactose and then breathe into a machine several times over a couple of hours. If the hydrogen levels in your breath are high, you may have lactose intolerance. The other test is the Lactose tolerance test. This test measures your blood sugar after you eat or drink lactose. After midnight on the night before the test, you should not eat or drink anything. On the day of your test, you will drink a liquid that contains lactose, which may cause gas or pain in your belly. Then your blood will be tested every 30 minutes for 2 hours. If your blood sugar levels do not rise, you may be lactose-intolerant. You may also be asked to bring in a sample of your faeces. The faeces of a person who has lactose intolerance is usually loose or watery and foamy.

There is no cure for lactose intolerance. But you can treat your symptoms by replacing milk products; with soy milk/cheese. If you are worried about getting enough calcium, you can easily get it from all greens, bhindi, broccoli, saag, almonds, and all soyas. You can use non-dairy creamers in your coffee. If you cannot bear the thought of life without milk, ice cream, cheese and pizzas you can take lactase supplements of which the best known is Lactaid 9000 Fc. You need to take these pills just before your lactose based food. The capsules start at 1000 FC for those with slight insensitivity. But pills always have their own fallout.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

If you meditate properly, over a period of time you can develop parts of your brain to do things that normal people can’t do:

Are you lactose intolerant?

Do you experience bloating, intestinal cramps and excessive gas in your stomach often? This could be lactose insensitivity which is a very common reason for digestive problems.

Lactose is a sugar found in milk and milk products. Lactose should be broken down in your upper intestine by the enzyme lactase. Most people in India have varying degrees of lactose insensitivity, making it difficult for them to digest sugar. But since the pain and bloating differs, people often don’t connect the two.

Technically, as infants, humans produce lactase in our digestive systems and can digest milk. As we enter adolescence the enzyme in the body starts decreasing and with it the ability to break down lactose. This is natural because milk is for infants and humans are the only animals that drink milk beyond infancy. All Asians and 75% Africans and Caribbeans, 50% Europeans and 35% Americans have degrees of lactose intolerance. The only people who can really digest milk are Northern European whites and Americans of North European descent who have a genetic mutation to deal with lactose. Unfortunately, it was these North Europeans who colonized much of the world and they brought their eating habits with them; which is why America, colonial Africa and Asia started drinking milk.

So, while your background defines whether you can tolerate dairy or not, most governments push milk aggressively, and food manufacturers find milk sugar a cheap ingredient and add it to wide variety of processed products; which is why the largest selling medicine in the world is a lactose digestive.

How sensitive you are depends on how much lactase enzyme your system is still producing. Some people can drink a glass of milk without apparent side effects. Some can have just a spoonful in their tea or coffee or on their cereal and it triggers off a gastric upset.

Why does lactose cause gas and abdominal pain?

When your body does not produce enough lactase in your small intestine, all your milk/milk products pass through to the large intestine undigested. Bacteria in your colon love lactose and quickly ferment it. This fermentation creates lots of gas. Due to the high levels of protein in the milk, the gas is very smelly. These extra gases bloat the intestine causing spasms and cramps. When the pressure from the gas interferes with water absorption in the colon it causes diarrhoea. Some people experience bloating and flatulence in 15 mins.-2 hrs. after ingesting milk or its products. Gurgling or rumbling sounds in your belly, loose stools or throwing up are common symptoms.

While passing wind almost immediately is the best thing to happen, apart from being uncomfortable it is also embarrassing for you - both the smell and the noise are not socially acceptable. Smell has a decisive role in changing mood and it becomes very annoying for people to share your space.

Since this is such a common problem, why do most people not realize it. One of the reasons is that since food containing lactose (paneer with vegetables for instance) travels much slower than liquid, it may take hours for the symptoms to appear. You could have eaten something in the morning and end up with gas in the evening without making any connection between the two.

Here is a list of food and drinks that contain lactose.

Milk is obviously the first product that you should avoid, especially cow and goat milk. All dairy milk, even skimmed milk, has extremely high levels of milk sugar. All protein powders have concentrated lactose. Butter and all cream contain slightly less than milk but enough to cause you trouble. Freshly made cheese- feta, paneer etc. has a large amount. The harder the cheese, the less lactose it contains. For instance, parmesan will have much less than mozzarella. Ice cream is particularly bad because not only is it made from milk, but manufacturers add extra milk sugars to sweeten it. Good quality curd, made at home and without any flavouring has the least amount of lactose. But commercial yogurt is simply thickened, sweetened milk with very little beneficial bacteria in it. All yogurts are made with live cultures, but many yogurts go through a process called "heat treatment" that kills the bacteria. Check the label for the words "contains live and active cultures.". Canned soup has lactose – especially if it is “creamy”. So do packaged savoury snacks, especially if they are cheese flavoured. Milk chocolate, cakes, puddings, biscuits, doughnuts have lactose, as do premade sauces, gravies and salad dressings like mayonnaise. Breakfast cereals are sometimes made with milk powder or solids and then you eat them with more milk. Bread, baked goods, instant breakfast drinks, instant potatoes, instant soups, pancake, cookie, and biscuit mixes, margarine and salad dressings too. Even processed meats like sausages, luncheon meat have lactose. Pizza with its combination of soft cheese, bread and perhaps processed meat is the worst thing you can eat. Start looking at labels for the words lactose, milk solids, milk powder, milk protein, non-fat dried milk, casein, sodium caseinate and whey. Strangely enough, birth control pills, headache tablets and some drugs and supplements also contain lactose. By themselves they are unlikely to have a major effect but if your food is bad, it all adds up.

If you are lactose intolerant, it is far more serious that just cramps, bloating and flatulence. If the colon is constantly deluged by fermenting lactose it can leave the digestive system permanently weakened with harmful bacterial overgrowth and weakened immunity. If you are Indian, take it for granted that you have some level of intolerance. Sometimes the small intestine stops making lactase after a short-term illness such as stomach flu or as part of a lifelong disease such as cystic fibrosis. Or the small intestine sometimes stops making lactase after a surgery to remove a part of the small intestine. In rare cases, new-borns are lactose-intolerant – this is serious because diarrhoea causes dehydration. Some premature babies have temporary lactose intolerance because they are not yet able to make lactase. Lactose intolerance increases as you get older.

You need to check out what harm you are doing to yourself. The best way to check this is to avoid eating all milk and dairy products to see if your symptoms go away. If they do, then you can try adding small amounts of milk products to see if your symptoms come back.

There are two tests that doctors have: the Hydrogen Test Breath Test. Before the test, you need to avoid certain foods, medicines and cigarettes. On the day of the test, you will drink a liquid that contains lactose and then breathe into a machine several times over a couple of hours. If the hydrogen levels in your breath are high, you may have lactose intolerance. The other test is the Lactose tolerance test. This test measures your blood sugar after you eat or drink lactose. After midnight on the night before the test, you should not eat or drink anything. On the day of your test, you will drink a liquid that contains lactose, which may cause gas or pain in your belly. Then your blood will be tested every 30 minutes for 2 hours. If your blood sugar levels do not rise, you may be lactose-intolerant. You may also be asked to bring in a sample of your faeces. The faeces of a person who has lactose intolerance is usually loose or watery and foamy.

There is no cure for lactose intolerance. But you can treat your symptoms by replacing milk products; with soy milk/cheese. If you are worried about getting enough calcium, you can easily get it from all greens, bhindi, broccoli, saag, almonds, and all soyas. You can use non-dairy creamers in your coffee. If you cannot bear the thought of life without milk, ice cream, cheese and pizzas you can take lactase supplements of which the best known is Lactaid 9000 Fc. You need to take these pills just before your lactose based food. The capsules start at 1000 FC for those with slight insensitivity. But pills always have their own fallout.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

We may try to protect our wildlife but it is vanishing rapidly.

Are you lactose intolerant?

Do you experience bloating, intestinal cramps and excessive gas in your stomach often? This could be lactose insensitivity which is a very common reason for digestive problems.

Lactose is a sugar found in milk and milk products. Lactose should be broken down in your upper intestine by the enzyme lactase. Most people in India have varying degrees of lactose insensitivity, making it difficult for them to digest sugar. But since the pain and bloating differs, people often don’t connect the two.

Technically, as infants, humans produce lactase in our digestive systems and can digest milk. As we enter adolescence the enzyme in the body starts decreasing and with it the ability to break down lactose. This is natural because milk is for infants and humans are the only animals that drink milk beyond infancy. All Asians and 75% Africans and Caribbeans, 50% Europeans and 35% Americans have degrees of lactose intolerance. The only people who can really digest milk are Northern European whites and Americans of North European descent who have a genetic mutation to deal with lactose. Unfortunately, it was these North Europeans who colonized much of the world and they brought their eating habits with them; which is why America, colonial Africa and Asia started drinking milk.

So, while your background defines whether you can tolerate dairy or not, most governments push milk aggressively, and food manufacturers find milk sugar a cheap ingredient and add it to wide variety of processed products; which is why the largest selling medicine in the world is a lactose digestive.

How sensitive you are depends on how much lactase enzyme your system is still producing. Some people can drink a glass of milk without apparent side effects. Some can have just a spoonful in their tea or coffee or on their cereal and it triggers off a gastric upset.

Why does lactose cause gas and abdominal pain?

When your body does not produce enough lactase in your small intestine, all your milk/milk products pass through to the large intestine undigested. Bacteria in your colon love lactose and quickly ferment it. This fermentation creates lots of gas. Due to the high levels of protein in the milk, the gas is very smelly. These extra gases bloat the intestine causing spasms and cramps. When the pressure from the gas interferes with water absorption in the colon it causes diarrhoea. Some people experience bloating and flatulence in 15 mins.-2 hrs. after ingesting milk or its products. Gurgling or rumbling sounds in your belly, loose stools or throwing up are common symptoms.

While passing wind almost immediately is the best thing to happen, apart from being uncomfortable it is also embarrassing for you - both the smell and the noise are not socially acceptable. Smell has a decisive role in changing mood and it becomes very annoying for people to share your space.

Since this is such a common problem, why do most people not realize it. One of the reasons is that since food containing lactose (paneer with vegetables for instance) travels much slower than liquid, it may take hours for the symptoms to appear. You could have eaten something in the morning and end up with gas in the evening without making any connection between the two.

Here is a list of food and drinks that contain lactose.

Milk is obviously the first product that you should avoid, especially cow and goat milk. All dairy milk, even skimmed milk, has extremely high levels of milk sugar. All protein powders have concentrated lactose. Butter and all cream contain slightly less than milk but enough to cause you trouble. Freshly made cheese- feta, paneer etc. has a large amount. The harder the cheese, the less lactose it contains. For instance, parmesan will have much less than mozzarella. Ice cream is particularly bad because not only is it made from milk, but manufacturers add extra milk sugars to sweeten it. Good quality curd, made at home and without any flavouring has the least amount of lactose. But commercial yogurt is simply thickened, sweetened milk with very little beneficial bacteria in it. All yogurts are made with live cultures, but many yogurts go through a process called "heat treatment" that kills the bacteria. Check the label for the words "contains live and active cultures.". Canned soup has lactose – especially if it is “creamy”. So do packaged savoury snacks, especially if they are cheese flavoured. Milk chocolate, cakes, puddings, biscuits, doughnuts have lactose, as do premade sauces, gravies and salad dressings like mayonnaise. Breakfast cereals are sometimes made with milk powder or solids and then you eat them with more milk. Bread, baked goods, instant breakfast drinks, instant potatoes, instant soups, pancake, cookie, and biscuit mixes, margarine and salad dressings too. Even processed meats like sausages, luncheon meat have lactose. Pizza with its combination of soft cheese, bread and perhaps processed meat is the worst thing you can eat. Start looking at labels for the words lactose, milk solids, milk powder, milk protein, non-fat dried milk, casein, sodium caseinate and whey. Strangely enough, birth control pills, headache tablets and some drugs and supplements also contain lactose. By themselves they are unlikely to have a major effect but if your food is bad, it all adds up.

If you are lactose intolerant, it is far more serious that just cramps, bloating and flatulence. If the colon is constantly deluged by fermenting lactose it can leave the digestive system permanently weakened with harmful bacterial overgrowth and weakened immunity. If you are Indian, take it for granted that you have some level of intolerance. Sometimes the small intestine stops making lactase after a short-term illness such as stomach flu or as part of a lifelong disease such as cystic fibrosis. Or the small intestine sometimes stops making lactase after a surgery to remove a part of the small intestine. In rare cases, new-borns are lactose-intolerant – this is serious because diarrhoea causes dehydration. Some premature babies have temporary lactose intolerance because they are not yet able to make lactase. Lactose intolerance increases as you get older.

You need to check out what harm you are doing to yourself. The best way to check this is to avoid eating all milk and dairy products to see if your symptoms go away. If they do, then you can try adding small amounts of milk products to see if your symptoms come back.

There are two tests that doctors have: the Hydrogen Test Breath Test. Before the test, you need to avoid certain foods, medicines and cigarettes. On the day of the test, you will drink a liquid that contains lactose and then breathe into a machine several times over a couple of hours. If the hydrogen levels in your breath are high, you may have lactose intolerance. The other test is the Lactose tolerance test. This test measures your blood sugar after you eat or drink lactose. After midnight on the night before the test, you should not eat or drink anything. On the day of your test, you will drink a liquid that contains lactose, which may cause gas or pain in your belly. Then your blood will be tested every 30 minutes for 2 hours. If your blood sugar levels do not rise, you may be lactose-intolerant. You may also be asked to bring in a sample of your faeces. The faeces of a person who has lactose intolerance is usually loose or watery and foamy.

There is no cure for lactose intolerance. But you can treat your symptoms by replacing milk products; with soy milk/cheese. If you are worried about getting enough calcium, you can easily get it from all greens, bhindi, broccoli, saag, almonds, and all soyas. You can use non-dairy creamers in your coffee. If you cannot bear the thought of life without milk, ice cream, cheese and pizzas you can take lactase supplements of which the best known is Lactaid 9000 Fc. You need to take these pills just before your lactose based food. The capsules start at 1000 FC for those with slight insensitivity. But pills always have their own fallout.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Animal con artists are so sophisticated that they make us look like amateurs

Animal con artists are so sophisticated that they make us look like amateurs. Mimicry – in appearance, scent, sound and behaviour (for instance a harmless red milk snake will change its colours to look like a venomous coral snake), camouflage, feigning death or injury, adopting threatening poses, verbal and tactical deception and straight out lying are some of the tricks they use to get food, save themselves or win contests. Some harmless species imitate poisonous species. Some change their behaviour so that the prey is lured in. A parent bird will feign a broken wing to attract a predator away from its defenceless offspring. Some moths use an effective stratagem against bats. When they hear the ultrasound emitted by hunting bats, they produce loud clicks to mimic the unpalatable Tiger moth so that they are not targeted. The "two-headed" snake of Central Africa has a tail that resembles a head and a head that resembles a tail. The snake even moves its tail in the way most snakes move their heads. This confuses the prey as to where the attack is originating from.

So many animals change their colouring to become invisible in their surroundings. Uroplatus geckos can become completely invisible. Katydids can change their body colouring and shape to match entire leaves, half-eaten leaves, dying leaves, leaves with bird droppings, sticks, twigs, and tree bark. Different chameleon species are able to change colours which include pink, blue, red, orange, green, black, brown, light blue, yellow, turquoise and purple. Some octopuses can use muscles in the skin to change both colour and texture taking on the spiky appearance of seaweed, or the scraggly, bumpy texture of a rock among other disguises. The mimic octopus combines its highly flexible body with its colour-changing ability to look like more dangerous animals such as lionfish, sea snakes and eels.

A wide range of animals, lizards, birds, rodents, beetles and sharks, will pretend to be dead, to avoid being killed, as predators will usually take only live prey. The male nursery web spider feigns death to avoid getting eaten by females during mating.

Some appear more threatening than they actually are. Mantis shrimps have front limbs known as smashers to attack. Baby mantis shrimps bluff by spreading their front limbs, even though their still-soft bodies mean that they cannot use their smashers without damaging themselves

Cuttlefish are amazing. They are able to simultaneously communicate two entirely different displays to two different observers. When a male cuttlefish courts a female in the presence of other males, he displays two different sides: a male pattern facing the female (courtship), and a female pattern facing away, to deceive other males.

Female marsh harrier courted a male to obtain access to food he had stored. She then took this food and fed it to chicks which had been fathered by another male. Ravens hide their food in caches. But if they feel they have been spied on, they frequently change cache sites, or recover their food items.

Apes are masters in tactical deception. A well-known example involves a chimpanzee that was approached from behind by a loud aggressive rival. The chimpanzee manipulated his lips several times before losing his fear grin and only after he had done so, he turned around to face the challenger, concealing his fearful expression.

In another experiment food was hidden and only one individual, named Belle, in a group of chimpanzees, was informed of the location. Belle was eager to lead the group to the food but when one chimpanzee, named Rock, began to refuse to share the food, Belle changed her behaviour. She began to sit on the food until Rock was far away, and then she would uncover it quickly and eat it. In an attempt to speed the process up, Rock looked away until Belle began to run for the food. On several occasions he would even walk away, acting disinterested, and then suddenly spin around and run towards Belle just as she uncovered the food.

Baboons use an exaggerated "looking" gesture which means the detection of a predator, to avoid attack by an adult male.

Junior Tufted Capuchins employ a vocal form of tactical deception when competing with dominant monkeys over valuable food resources. They will use alarm calls normally reserved for predator sightings to make the rest run away and then take advantage of the distraction to pilfer food.

The Alcon Blue butterfly caterpillar drops to the ground and emits a scent that fools Myrmica ants into believing that she is one of their own – only just a little bigger. They take her into their nest and feed and take care of her as if she is a queen. As soon as the caterpillar changes into a butterfly she escapes the nest before she is attacked. There are Australian spiders that smell and behave like ants: some are so convincing that the ants will allow a spider to live permanently as one of them. This spider will then feast upon its new friends, but it won’t eat all the ants, or even a significant number; instead, it extracts resources slowly, sustainably, and over time.

The Giant Geometer Moth Caterpillars take camouflage to the next level, incorporating elements of whatever plant they're eating, into their bodies – and end up smelling like the stick. This strategy fools hungry ants who march all over the moth larvae. If the same caterpillars are put onto a plant they have not sampled, the ants attack.

The harlequin filefish lives among coral reefs in the Indian Ocean. The fish fends off potential predators by eating – and smelling – like the Acropora coral it calls home. Coral-dwelling crabs or predatory cods can’t tell the difference between the smell of the coral eating filefish and the coral itself.

But it's not just about avoiding being eaten. Some sneaky moths, like male Asian Corn Borers, imitate bat sounds to make females freeze in fear, then take the opportunity to mate with them. These males are not good at copulation so they use this trick to improve their odds. Male yellow peach moths do even better. They use a similar sonic hoax to scare away rivals when they are in pursuit of a female.

Maneka Sanjay Gandhi

Pl. add: To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

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