Over the past 30 years I have learned a lot about Allergies… or rather food related allergies. Did you know that a form of Asthma can be related to eating gluten? Did you know that skin disorders can be related to Phosphate and Soy? Did you know that Acid Reflux and physical exhaustion can be related to eating dairy products? The things that we ingest can sometimes be directly linked to what we eat.
While there are principles to eating, it is essential that you are in fact listening to yourself, your body and all the elements of yourself to test your own body on what works for it.
I have noticed recently when I have more than a few nuts the night before or the morning of a run, I have a hard time breathing. My inhale is rough and the exhale sounds like wheezing. Even in the same week I have tried this out to test myself by not eating them at all the day before and I run a clean 7.4 minute mile. The evening after my run, I had two handfuls of nuts (mix of tree nuts and peanuts) and the next morning I ran a wheezy 8.6 minute mile. I would say that this is a fluke, but numbers aside the results are relatively the same. I am my own allergen specialist in this sense because I choose to do things that make me feel good and right.
How do Allergies begin?
As taken from the FAAN (Food Allergy and Anaphalaxis Network) Food allergy occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks a food protein. This can manifest in several ways depending on your body and your other food sensitivities, intolerance or allergies. Ingestion of the offending food may trigger the sudden release of chemicals, including histamine, resulting in symptoms of an allergic reaction. The symptoms may be mild (rashes, hives, itching, swelling, etc.) or severe (trouble breathing, wheezing, loss of consciousness, etc.). A food allergy can be potentially fatal.
Your body goes through transition with age, but young children from the age of 5+ typically outgrow food intolerance or sensitives they had very early on. There is some debate in both the emerging markets and the Western world on whether introduction to items like peanuts in small doses from age 3 months and beyond does in fact help to lessen the % of allergy to these foods. Planeat.tv has an interesting case study in the film about a study in China on milk intolerance they discuss. Also Duke University Medical Center is focusing on Peanut allergies with children – most specifically understanding why children don’t get as many peanut allergies in India or countries with high-concentrations of peanuts in the diet.
What are the core allergens?
Eight foods account for 90 percent of all food-allergic reactions. They are milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat. There are currently 14 main allergens that exist in the raw and processed food in our diet, 15 if you include MSG. In processed foods there are ways of masking the raw ingredients and you have to be careful to observe the label and label requirements in the country that you are in. There are also a host of other potential food-related allergens – the most interesting being latex (which can manifest in mangoes, bananas, avocados and potatoes).
- Glutinous Grains
- Sesame Seed
- Sulphur Dioxide and Sulphate
- MSG (monosodium glutamate)
Do GM or GMO crops create food allergies?
Recently this has been an area of interest in the media, especially since we are starting to discover just what GM/GMO crops are doing to our bodies. There has been some research conducted in the area of corn and soy/soya production (particularly on the Monsanto soy bean which accounts for 98% of the worlds soy production) where in a single year in the UK after the introduction to the Monsanto bean, Soy/Soya Allergies rose by 50%. Reactions can be all over the map, but the most common is skin irritation and rash. About 60% of all processed foods contain some form of Soy or Soya Lecithin which is even found in gum.
Food Intolerance and Type 2 Diebetes
There is a rising increase of people, more specifically concern around children, who are being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. This is its own topic in itself, since the idea of ingesting food not good for you and causing a physical reaction or medical condition as a result is perhaps a form of intolerance or allergy to the food ingested. In this case we will suggest wheat as a type of food which causes obesity from over consumption with an inflammatory response within the intestinal structure most commonly known as a ‘gluten intolerance.’ The studies have concluded that there is a direct correlation between gluten intolerance and type 2 diabetes.
How do you cure food allergies?
I am blessed to be surrounded by a ‘family’ of interested parties in my well-being. My good friend Jason Pinto (important because he spends a lot of time researching allergies, foods and information on this topic for me, so I would suggest to call him the TILT Allergen Research Specialist) sent me this article called The Peanut Puzzle from a back issue of the New Yorker. It is a fantastically non-conclusive article about a little girl Maya and her parents dream for her to be able to eat ‘normal kid food’ like pizza and muffins. This manifested in a several year study where Maya was fed foods with the allergic allergens in order to create a tolerance around them. Ultimately she was able to achieve a certain level of tolerance and be able to join in the fun of unhealthy eating of over-processed foods. Her mother couldn’t be more thrilled.
My conclusion of the article is that the desire to introduce items to our diet that our bodies don’t want in order to ‘fit into’ society is where we are going wrong. Instead, listening to the reactions of our bodies and being contented to make concessions based on those reactions is actually what we need to do in order to survive as a human population. If instead we are ingesting foods which are bad for us, getting sick and curing the sickness with medication, we are ultimately putting ourselves into another form of dependency. Acceptance is the first step. So, I would suggest one uses a food allergy as a sign and finds an alternative food to be interested in.
How are restaurants and packaging companies accommodating for Food Allergies?
By nature of the game, if someone has (using an example) an allergy to a type of nut, it is best to avoid all unpackaged food and only go with a packaged product. This ensures that cross contamination can be avoided as well as
Having grown up with 7 major food allergies and being initially raised as Macrobiotic and Vegan I could have made the choice to be plagued by my ‘condition’ all of my life. Instead I have embraced it, eat a full and balanced diet and live outside of a bubble, medication-free. Learn more about my story here.