Self-diagnosis is a perilous endeavor, and it needs to be approached cautiously. All diagnosis, from all sources, should be treated with skepticism, curiosity, and exploration.

Some years ago I began to experience intermittent bouts of gastrointestinal distress. The cause was unknown. Measures such as more carefully washing vegetables, washing hands more frequently, things that could easily have been performed inadequately, were given attention. These measures made no difference at all, and the periods of distress remained unexplained.

The winter of 2014/15, when I spent the winter alone here at Mist Cottage, I enjoyed eating a bit of Ricotta Cheese each day. During that time my bouts of distress increased immensely. At the time I thought it might be the result of missing Attila so very much. But to my surprise, when I ran out of Ricotta Cheese, and ceased to eat it daily, my symptoms disappeared within 24 hours. Aha! Finally a clue to what might be going on.

Since that time, I have experimented with dairy products, and found that the gastrointestinal distress returned every time I consumed them. And so, I have diagnosed myself as lactose intolerant. The other possibility was a dairy allergy, but since my Mom is lactose intolerant, I decided to go with that as my first theory. And the results of my experiments have been consistent with the symptoms of lactose intolerance.

Some weeks ago I began to make my own yogurt. I read quite a few journalistic pieces, and scientific journal articles, to determine if yogurt would irritate my system. There seemed some hope that my body might not react to the low concentration of lactose in yogurt, and that a few weeks exposure would tell all.

I have been eating my homemade yogurt every morning, for breakfast, or as a snack, for a few weeks now. My gastrointestinal system has not appreciated the experiment, and distress has been increasing as the days have passed. Over this same time period I have been experiencing short, mysterious, uncalled for, periods of mild sadness., and mild insomnia. I found this surprising. My first thoughts on this were that winter weather was the cause, or even the news of the unhappy spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Yesterday yogurt made from regular milk was removed from my diet.

Yesterday I made a new batch of yogurt. This time I used 1% lactose free milk. This lactose free yogurt was consumed for breakfast yesterday, and again last evening as a snack.

Today my gastrointestinal distress has disappeared. I slept soundly though the night. Today, thus far, I have experienced no periods of sadness. I suspect lactose as the culprit in all instances. And since I am still eating a dairy product, while my symptoms have disappeared, a dairy allergy is no longer considered a possibility.

The decision to consume fermented food daily was made last summer. Homemade Sauerkraut was a big success here, delicious, crunchy, and good for us. BUT for someone on a low-sodium regime, it gobbled up all of the daily quota, which required reducing sodium everywhere else. No, that would not do. So I searched for an alternative, and settled on yogurt, which I enjoy with a bit of syrup or jam.

Choosing milk to make yogurt has been a sequential experiment. 1% milk was chosen as it limits dairy fats and cholesterol in the diet. Regular milk was preferred, if possible, because it is half the price of specialty milks, such as lactose free milk. So the first phase of the experiment, with 1% regular milk, is over, it will not do. So far the yogurt made with 1% lactose free milk seems to have resolved the issues noted with regular milk. But time will tell.

The new batch of yogurt, strained, made with 1% lactose free milk.



Date: 10:00 AM EST Wednesday 26 February 2020
Current Conditions Light Snow
Wind: NNE 27 km/h
Wind Chill: -7
Temperature: -0.6°C
Pressure: 101.6 kPa
Dew point: -4.3°C
Visibility: 24 km
Humidity: 76%


“When the conduct of men is designed to be influenced, persuasion, kind unassuming persuasion, should ever be adopted. It is an old and true maxim that ‘a drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall.’ So with men. If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend. Therein is a drop of honey that catches his heart, which, say what he will, is the great highroad to his reason, and which, once gained, you will find but little trouble in convincing him of the justice of your cause, if indeed that cause is really a good one.”

Abraham Lincoln
16th president of US
1809 – 1865

This fails to take into account that people who are ruled by avarice and greed regard sincerity as a weakness to be exploited, seek no justice, regard reason as a flexible and useful tool, and seek no sincere friendships.

But as for the majority of ordinary people, I think Mr. Lincoln is correct.


  1. Teri

    Not to dissuade you in anyway, but I know I would want to hear about this with milk use. I will say, however, the researchers messed up by not looking at yogurt separately in this study.

    I will say, though, that once or twice a week I’ll have cereal with Fairlife lactose free milk. I almost never had milk before Fairlife became available. Not due to lactose reactions but just because I do better with fewer sugars.

    I think I missed the explanation, why did you decide to start eating fermented foods?

  2. Teri, that is an interesting study. What immediately comes to my mind is BHT. I wouldn’t touch milk from the USA, in Canada BHT cannot be used. Although the study says Canadians were involved in the study, I wonder what proportion of the women studied were from Canada, the population here is much smaller than that of the USA. The study in the article doesn’t mention the use of BHT in USA milk and milk products.
    I did not explain why I am eating fermented foods, you did not miss that.
    I’ve decided to include fermented foods, experimentally to see if that improves gut health for me. There are some studies that indicate it might be of benefit.

    “Among the food components known to influence the composition of the microbiota are fermentable fibers and prebiotics that enrich for particular members of the gut microbiota. Another route by which the gastrointestinal microbiota may be modulated is via consumption of probiotics—live microbes consumed at a dose sufficient to provide beneficial effects (Hill et al., 2014). Probiotics, however, are temporary members of the microbiome and rarely persist more than a few days (Tannock, 2003; Derrien and van Hylckama Vlieg, 2015; Zhang et al., 2016).”


    Of course everyone is unique, so what studies show may not be what goes on for me, so I am experimenting with ferments. I will say, that the Sauerkraut gave me quite a boost, improving my gastrointestinal system, and since the effect potentially only lasts for a few days, daily consumption was decided upon.

  3. Sandy, Intersting article! The article covers a lot of ground, but doesn’t list references, which I would check if they were available. As you point out it doesn’t mention lactose, so who knows what to make of it. I’ve read from non-scientific sources that dairy and gluten are bad for the gut, and although that may be true for some, I know that gluten is important in my diet. My gut health improves by leaps and bounds when I include whole bread products in my daily diet. Lactose, I know for me, has the opposite effect. Now I will find out how dairy affects me.

  4. Gluten IS bad for me, my 23andme confirmed it as I have many markers for celiac disease (if my own experiences with consumption and abstinence were not enough to prove it). It found I’m okay with lactose, though.

    I’m sure the probiotic additions are helpful. I’ve added a probiotic pill to my diet, as I often fail to have yogurt. I like the 2% Face brand yogurt, no BHT. I’ve found that while I am not lactose intolerant, I’ve found I’m better off if I avoid consuming huge qualities of cheese. It seems a definite correlation between mountains of cheese and grotesque amounts of phlegm! But yogurt doesn’t seem to do that. Is it hard to make your own yogurt? I don’t recall seeing lactose free versions at the grocery store.

  5. Joan, yes, gluten is bad for some people, I am not adversely affected by it. Just goes to support the notion that we all know our own bodies best!
    I didn’t know that Face brand yogurt has no BHT, how wonderful there are BH-free products available. There are sources that link phlegm to dairy products, and cheese is a very concentrated dairy product.
    It is really, really easy to make your own yogurt. I know of no lactose free yogurts in the stores here, so I am glad it is so easy to make it.
    Basically, you heat about 5 cups of milk to 180F to kill off any bacteria present, then you cool it to lukewarm, then you add a few tablespoons of active yogurt to the milk, stir to mix thoroughly, then set the bowl of milk in a warm but not hot place for 4 to 8 hours, it varies according to the conditions and personal taste re the finished product. Then it is done. I bought a nylon filter from amazon to filter mine, and I collect the whey to bake with, most of the lactose is in the whey so I only bake for Attila with it. For lactose free yogurt, you just use lactose free milk.
    I started with regular milk because I had hope I could tolerate it. The lactose free milk I am now using costs twice as much as regular milk. The Fairlife milk in the store costs four times as much as regular milk. I don’t add cream, or jello, or pudding mix, or condensed milk to my yogurt, as I don’t need the calories or the chemicals, but many people add that stuff, so it make yogurt that is more pudding than anything else. I cannot afford to eat pudding every day!

  6. Joannie, I do remember that attack, how awful! My distress this time around was not so intense as that, thank goodness. Good to know the triggers, I am figuring it out, better late than never, and this body keeps evolving on me, lol.

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