Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Journey toward Lactose Tolerance

I've started documenting my experiment with going 38 days without dairy while taking a powder called Lactagen which supposedly guarantees to cure my lactose-induced agony once and for all. (Warning: Log contains explicit details of abdominal discomfort.)

Day 1: Stirred up a 1.25 cc scoop of powder with an 8 oz. cup of yogurt with no problem.

Day 2: Stirred up another 1.25 cc scoop of powder with an 8 oz. cup of yogurt. No problem.

Day 12: Mixed powder with hot green tea. Had a salad with dressing which may have contained dairy ingredients. Major bloating and stomach pain ensued.

Day 15: Mild constipation. Stomach gurgling. Went to an all-you-can-eat Italian food and wine night at Il Forno in WLA. Scraped cheese off the pizza. *sniff* Agitated stomach.

Day 17: The regimen has me taking 12 times more powder than on my first day. The powder has a slightly sweet taste but is pretty harmless. Still, it's getting to be a lot to drink down with a 6 oz. glass of water.

Day 18: Stress at work drove me to head to the nearest chocolate store. I chose four dark pieces filled with buttercream, their top seller, and cherry. One piece wouldn’t hurt, I thought. And just how much dairy is contained in chocolate?? A few hours later my colon was gurgling ever so slightly. Crap.

Day 21: I've become increasingly gassy and all backed-up. You know that feeling when you really wanna poo, but no matter how many times you try you just can't seem to? That was me today, all day.

Day 22: I find that when I drink the powder with room temp water I start to feel a little sick in the stomach. And then I get the runs. Psychological perhaps? Powder with cold juice slowly consumed throughout the meal seems to go down smoother.

Day 27: After a dinner of cold Japanese noodles (hiyashi chuka), I had a Starbucks Chai tea with soymilk. You know, sometimes I wonder if those Starbucks people mess with their customers by just adding a little soy and finishing up with regular milk 'cause wouldn't ya know it, I got the runs! So two thoughts came to mind: 1) if I did ingest regular milk then it's just completely counterproductive to my regimen and 2) I'm only eight days away from drinking regular milk, so shouldn't I be able to tolerate it somewhat now? I'm starting to worry...

Day 28: This is the equation I drew up while at Urth Cafe:

Vegetarian Chili + 1/2 chicken pesto sandwich = irritable bowel?!

There was a non-dairy pesto option which I of course requested... and yet.... I really think I have more than one issue here.

Day 34: Took my four scoops of powder without any ill-effects. Maybe my stomach is finally used to it now that it's over. Today is my last day of the powder before the moment of truth when I have my first glass of real milk. ...I'm a little scared.

Day 35 (6.18.07): MOMENT OF TRUTH

11 a.m.: I chose my first poison -- 8.25 oz bottle of Nestle Chocolate Milk. Gulp, gulp, gulp, and down it went within a 15 minute span. A couple hours go by and all is well. Minor gurgling if anything. Then a couple more hours pass and my abdomen starts talking to me. Not as much as usual, but enough to worry a little. Didn't get my morning poop out of the way so I walk over to the loo. Solid, solid, solid....oooh~ yikes... runny. The tail end of it, that is. Damn.

I read some online testimonials and some say that they, too, experienced some discomfort on their 35th day, but were able to built their tolerance after a few more days. ...So I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Honestly, I'm just amazed at myself for even drinking a whole cup of milk. That's a daring feat in itself.

4 p.m.: Okay, I officially have the runs. Send your condolences to pirikara[at]gmail.com =(

9 p.m.: Had a cup of regular ice cream without incident. But maybe that's cause my insides are all cleaned out and there's nothing left to expunge.

Day 36 (6.19.07):

9:45 a.m.: I'm slowly and cautiously drinking a 10.67 oz. carton of Alta Dena milk. It's giving me the heebie jeebies, though so far my stomach is holding up.

8 p.m.: I had a burger tonight from The Counter and washed it down with a glass of Trader Joe's milk. (89 cents!) It was far less stinky than Alta Dena and best yet... I stayed completely solid the whole night! (^o^)/ I'm hoping this isn't just a fluke.

Day 37 (6.20.07):

8:45 a.m.: Was running late for work so I down a cup of milk and took off. So far, all is well. (!!)

4:30 p.m.: Okay, I spoke too soon. Cappuccino blast, yo.

8:30 p.m.: Another cup of milk down the hatch... without incident. Seems like I digest dairy better at night for some reason.

Day 38:

9 a.m. Today is officially the last day of my Lactagen stint. Yet, somehow I know I'm gonna have to continue working on it. This morning, I picked up a Chai Latte at a corner tea shop. It took a lot of effort to keep myself from requesting soy milk. "L-L-Low fat milk, please," I stuttered. It scared me to see that my drink was pure white, from the inch-thick froth right down to the base. I stirred it up and took a sip. Sublime.

Two hours have passed and, so far, all is well.

July 10, 2007: A couple weeks have passed since I ended my journey toward lactose tolerance. Last night I was craving Broguiere milk from Whole Foods, so I ran to the store half an hour before closing. I'm sure you've seen it, the one in the glass bottle sporting the tag line, "So fresh, even the cow doesn't know it's missing." It's super tasty and I love it with my morning corn flakes.

I know that my lactose isn't 100% cured. And perhaps it's only a temporary setback of me going on antibiotics this past week for a, well, female issue. The way antibiotics work is that it wipes out all bacteria in your system, both good and bad. So it's really up to your body to re-grow lactobacillus so that it can get back to work against all the milk and ice cream.

Just before dashing off to work this morning, I downed a cup of milk. My stomach has been a little gurgly at times, but nothing cataclysmic. I'm just gonna keep at it day by day. It's really is a good feeling though, to take milk for granted. Drinking it here and there like it's nobody's business. =)

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Anonymous said...

so how is it going with the Lactagen

Pirikara said...

Hello Anonymous,

It goes.


Kevin said...

So it looks like its not working? =\ I might just give it a try, so many people have had success with it. Have you always been lactose intolerant?

Doug said...

I wait with bated breath...

If you can go without pizza I'm sure you'll do fine - just keep thinking about the upside :) or the potential upside.

Pirikara said...

Hi Kevin- No, it's not necessarily not working. I really won't know until I take my first gulp of milk on the 35th day. I just didn't expect side effects while taking the lactobacillus. I've looked online for warnings about side effects to no avail.

landofmason said...

hang in there bub!

Doug said...

the runs, hehe, good to see this is a no-holds-barred update. Maybe it was the caffeine?

Jeni said...

We need more details on the poo! I love poo talk!

Douglas Cress said...

So good to see things are working out. From the outset, this sounded too good to be true.

Tokyoastrogirl said...

Cappucino blast!!! Love it.

landofmason said...

My dad should copyright 'cappucino blast'! i'm more than happy to go back to urth cafe for another genmai futomaki. ok i really meant the matcha latte. maybe you can order one with milk next time. good luck!

Anonymous said...

this thing supposed to cure lactose intolerance?!

you should know :

asians have a high prevalence of this disorder

the enzyme is absent, there is no cure to bring it back (except some gene therapy ... or enzyme replacement-popping pills)

Dr.Gray said...

I have a father that has had a problem with lactose for a while now. He just developed it one day pretty much out of nowhere. So I understand what you are going through. Sometimes as we get older (even if we are not that old) we develope different issues with our bodies. All I can say is that all things change, we need to adapt and move on (I had to change from coffee to tea for health issues recently). Sometimes the things you love most can be the worst for you.

Josh said...

So did the lactose tolerance turn out to be permanent?

Pirikara said...

Hi Josh....Unfortunately, no. I went approximately a year and then it slowly crept back. It might've had to do with the fact that I needed to take antibiotics at one point because I was sick. I definitely don't think Lactagen is bogus, though it's certainly not a cure-all.