Category Archives: Food Allergies

Hypoallergenic Food

Listen, you’ve heard the term hypoallergenic as it relates to your jewelry, your skin care products, and your laundry detergent, but have you ever thought about the food you eat? Have you ever thought about if what you eat is hypoallergenic? No, no. NOT sterile. Hypoallergenic doesn’t mean sterile!

You don’t blink an eye when a friend says, “Oh, I can’t wear cheap earrings. My ears get sore.” You get that! We can all relate to people needing hypoallergenic jewelry or skin products. But have you ever thought about the food you eat and whether or not it’s hypoallergenic to your system?

Yes, indeed! Just like these external substances can lead to immune reactions, so can the food you eat! However, the food you eat leads to a chain reaction of internal immune system activation that doesn’t just sit right there at the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

You have immune cells lining the intestines which sample the foods you eat and decide whether or not they like it. Whether you like the food doesn’t matter. Whether the food you eat is healthy or not doesn’t matter. If the immune cells sample it and don’t like it, they are going to send out signals (histamines, prostaglandins, interleukins, interferons, and other cytokine signals) in the blood stream which can affect any organ system in your body: you stomach, your brain, your skin, your reproductive system, your lungs, your connective tissue (joints, as an example), your thyroid.

My Oligoantigenic (What!?!?) Diet

When I first started down this fascinating nutrition avenue a little over four years ago (from a classic diet of cereal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, and pizza or pasta for supper), one of the first things I learned about and tried was an “oligoantigenic diet.” I had read that some people with the same gastrointestinal malady that I suffered from had been treated in a medical research study with an oligoantigenic diet!

What in tarnation is an oligoantigenic diet? I’d never heard of that! Basically, it is a strict, hypoallergenic diet that allows only foods which are accepted to be very mild on the body’s immune system. Once I figured out that I could think of an oligoantigenic diet as a type of “hypoallergenic” diet, I got it! Choose foods which cause the least known reactions! For those of you familiar with a strict elimination diet, you know what I’m talking about here too.

So I started on a (miserable) diet consisting of three foods which don’t seem to rile up people’s immune systems too much: lamb (I didn’t even like lamb), plain sweet potato (I had only ever eaten those as fries), and white rice (which I had never eaten plain). Did I mention it tasted miserable? But persistence led me on a food journey of a lifetime (for a lifetime).  And as I’ve heard it said, “I didn’t know I was feeling so bad till I started feeling so good!”

An oligoantigenic diet (or hypoallergenic diet) is NOT meant to be a long-term diet. A person starts with a small group of 3-5 foods and builds from there, learning to observe signs and symptoms that tell him or her that a particular food category raises immune reactions (by observing for headaches, GI changes, spikes in fatigue, skin rashes, and other clues).

The Pesky Foods

Never once going through pharmacy school, medical school, residency, and hundreds of hours of continuing education did I ever hear about a hypoallergenic, oligoantigenic diet or even an anti-inflammatory diet. (I was served plenty of donuts, bagels with cream cheese, and pizza, though.) It took me going after my own health to learn about nutrition.

Since my oligoantigenic diet, I’ve done a lot more reading. What I’ve found is that the same foods that doctors KNOW are immune provoking because they cause true, life- threatening food allergies, are the same foods that can be removed to lighten the load of a body stressed by health problems. By removing known immune-provoking, inflammmatory-producing foods, the body gets a rest from the prostaglandins, histamine, interleukins, interferons, and other cytokines that it makes in response to something it thinks is harmful.

Although any food can cause allergic and sensitivity issues, there are eight foods that are medically known to cause the majority of the reactions. Why? These foods have what I call “pesky proteins.” They have proteins in them that have very, very strong bonds, making them difficult for our digestive tracts to break down. The better food is broken down into its smallest parts in our intestinal tracts, the less inflammatory it is to us.

The pesky eight foods are:

Peanuts
Tree nuts
Milk products
Egg
Wheat
Soy
Fish
Shellfish

These are the common drop-dead if you eat them allergenic foods. But I’m not talking about drop-dead allergies here. I’m talking about you and me and Mr. Smith walking around with headaches, bloating, fussy guts, allergies, asthma, psoriasis, eczema, depression, fatigue, puffy eyelids, puffy faces, coronary artery disease, increasing forgetfulness, dry and itchy eyes, chronic sinus problems, joint pain–do I HAVE to keep going? I sure can. Sometimes by simply eliminating the above food categories (with NO cheating), a person can gauge how much food is affecting their health.

Enter Anti-Inflammatory Diets

Since trying my three ingredient, hypoallergenic diet, I’ve discovered a whole world of anti-inflammatory type diets, which aren’t as strict as an oligoantigenic (hypoallergenic) diet. I find it fascinating that these diets often eliminate the Pesky Eight foods, capitalizing on what we know about the immune system and health! However, anti-inflammatory type diets incorporate and expand further on the idea of the immune system and inflammation in the role of health problems.

Each named anti-inflammatory diet (sometimes called autoimmune diets) has its own unique quirks. In general, though, these diets do three things.

  1. Eliminate most of the Pesky Eight foods (although seafood is usually encouraged if a person knows they are not truly allergic) and a few other problematic foods which don’t make the top eight. (Things like corn, any gluten grains, beef, chocolate, citrus, tomato, and beans)
  2. Eliminate processed foods, refined foods, including sugars.
  3. Include abundant vegetables and fruits.

Anti-inflammatory diets (autoimmune diets) seek to eliminate the most common food problem causers and also try to bring in food problem solvers.

Conclusion

Diets in general can be overwhelming, and when they talk about restricting food groups, diets can be downright terror-provoking. As I’ve journeyed away from an oligoantigenic elimination diet, my own diet landed very similarly to many of these anti-inflammatory type diets. It wasn’t by choice and planning. That’s just how it fell. I can’t eat many of the Pesky Eight foods and feel good doing so. My body likes hypoallergenic food best.

I hear a lot of people say that no good diet restricts food groups. I really, really understand what they’re saying. However, LOOK AT THE PESKY EIGHT! They are good, healthy foods!!!!! But if the GI tract immune system triggers a cascade that sets the rest of the body on edge, you’re not going to feel good.

So please, when someone says they can’t eat dairy or wheat, give them a break. When they say they can’t eat eggs or beef, give them a nod. It’s just as frustrating for them as it is you. And if you have any nagging health problems, talk with your doctor about a dietary referral to see if an oligoantigenic food trial helps you gain control of any of your issues.

Don’t use anything on my site as medical guidance or instruction. I hope it sparks curiosity to help you want to learn more. And, oh yes, I like to think that for most people, autoimmune type diets can be expanded with a whole health approach.

Be well. Be curious.

Terri

We eliminated dairy from our house for many, many months.  Slowly, with experimentation, we have found some sources that agree with most of us in the house.  I appreciate the vitamin K2 and butyrate found in select dairy products that are grass-fed and/or aged, and so I would like some dairy in my kids’ diets.  Dairy is not mandatory for health, and if it causes you symptoms, you have some more work to do before adding it back in.  But if it honestly causes no symptoms on close scrutiny, it adds wonderful flavor to foods and some important nutrients.

I write articles on whole foods living for a fun, quarterly magazine called Molly Green. We get the magazine in print and read it over breakfast. I love the kids to see me reading something tangible and not just reading on The Black Machine (insert Imperial Death March song). This quarter’s article is about different ways that dairy intolerant people may tolerate some dairy: A1 beta-casein versus A2 beta-casein, fat-rich sources versus protein-rich sources, milks from different animals, and fermentation. Click over if you’re interested…

look inside >
5051
Milk

EAT REAL. BUT EAT RIGHT FOR YOU!

Terri

Outsmart Your Diet

 

“You’ve started a gluten-free, dairy-free diet, and you’re feeling pretty zippy. Household purchases of tissues for allergy symptoms are down, and household purchases of toilet paper for gastrointestinal regularity are up. The kids no longer complain of tummy aches and itchy rashes. Your energy level feels amazing. As long as Enjoy Life® chocolate chips and Rice Dream® are around, what is there not to love about eating this way? Why doesn’t every doctor prescribe a gluten-free, dairy-free diet? You just can’t understand it!

Enter nutrient deficiencies. Wheat products and dairy products, despite being pesky foods for the body to digest, pack huge nutrient punches. They are even vehicles for specifically added nutrients which are deficient in our diets, such as folic acid in bread and vitamin D in milk. Doctors know that an improperly implemented gluten-free, dairy-free diet is a set-up for nutritional disaster. They have nightmares of vitamin D-deficient women with broken hips and spina bifida-afflicted newborns from folic acid deficiency. Gluten-free, dairy-free diets make them cringe inside.

A poorly thought-out gluten- and dairy-free diet that relies on processed gimmick products can lead to nutritional deficits—sometimes causing problems much worse than those originally set out to be cured. None of us want that, particularly for vulnerable children. In addition, going gluten-free before an appropriate celiac disease work-up really complicates matters because celiacs should not have a speck of gluten. Please make sure to talk to your doctor about changes in your family’s diet and don’t be afraid to ask for a referral to a nutritionist to help you. This article is not intended to be medical advice but instead to raise awareness. So what are the most common deficiencies when gluten and dairy are cut out and how can they be addressed?

CALCIUM: Dairy is hands-down the easiest way to meet calcium requirements, and calcium is necessary for all of your cells to function. Although it is absolutely possible to obtain the recommended calcium intake without dairy products, it requires exceptional diligence and a willing palate. Good food sources of calcium besides dairy include kale, collard greens, Brussels sprouts, peas, dried figs, and bone-in canned salmon and sardines. When we eliminated dairy two and a half years ago, my kids ate just about none of those foods. Now, they will eat bites of every single one. However, it takes about three cups of cooked kale or one can of sardines to equal the 300 mg of calcium in a glass of milk or cup of yogurt—and that’s not even enough calcium for one day. My kids are good, but they aren’t that good! I work very hard to serve calcium-rich, natural foods daily, but I also choose to supplement with calcium fortified non-dairy milk and a calcium supplement. If you use a non-dairy milk (such as almond milk, rice milk, or coconut milk), be sure to shake it well because the calcium often sinks to the bottom…” (Molly Green Magazine)

If you’re on a gluten-free, dairy-free diet, you need to outsmart it so you can be tip-top healthy.  Can you guess the other nutrients besides calcium that you’d miss out on if you eliminate gluten and dairy? Can ya’?  What do you think they are?  What non-processed foods (and yes, I do consider rice milk and gluten-free English muffins to be processed) do you think you can use to bolster them?  Find out by clicking over to Molly Green On-Line where I write for the wonderful price of free.  If your fingers are broken and you can’t–or you’re just tired of being jacked around all the time by internet personalities–then take a stab in the comments, and I’m happy to share what I know in conversations there.  It won’t be laid out so nicely with great, amazing graphics, but it’ll get you the information.  And THAT–is what I care about!

Seriously, ask away.  I just want you to have the information.  Not dogma.  Not a one-sided view.  Not entrenched, inflexible opinion.  Information, pure and simple (although often quite complex 🙂 ).  And I don’t care if you get it here, in Molly Green, or anywhere else, as long as its accurate.  You never learn if you don’t ask questions.  You never learn if you think you know the answers already.

Enjoy your weekend!

~~Terri

rainbow ymarshmallows


An oops:  The HSD is becoming a family project.  I decided that if blogging and sharing was that important to me (and it is), I was going to have to enlist the help of my children.  They have been a huge part of why nutrition has become so important to me, and they teach me how to help other parents and children transition to better food choices.  So, we have started incorporating computer and technology skills into our homeschooling.  The girls are learning about downloading, editing, and uploading photos.  They are learning about Facebook and how to share links on it.  They are learning how to post blog posts and create recipes.  Soon, I hope we can learn how to change fonts and add graphics.  However, despite the “Don’t push the blue ‘Publish’ button” warning– well, the blue “Publish” button got pushed while I was taking my mandatory MuTu walk (LOL!  That’s a core body strengthening program to help close a diastasis after pregnancy.).  Un-edited, un-revised, and not yet mom-scrutinized, here is a post started by my second child.  Enjoy a glimpse into our real life. 

marshmallow2

rainbow marshmallows

Yum.

 it was project fair day. (a day when you make a board to show what you have been working on) mine was genes. I was looking up how to make a model of a gene and since you have to use different colors for resemblance  of what there for. I needed to color them. so after words I was planning on giving (three of them) some to anyone who wanted some. mary the oldest of sister  in the family can NOT! eat food die! so I found natural food die I put 3-5 drops in a bowl and added in a few mini little drops of water and I got white marshmallows and rolled a few around in the color that I wanted it. and waited…and waited…and waited for about five minutes and viola! raindbow marshmallows

please remember this is about as big as a treat as you should get in a month or maybe a year  

Home style.

 

 

Compromise 2

Whether you have diabetes or an autoimmune disease which you manage with nutrition, every bite counts.  Continued compromises can create failure.  It is December.  A month easily filled with excuses and excess.  Make it a goal now to come out better than you went in once January hits!  You are in control of what goes into your mouth and your kids’ mouths, even if it doesn’t feel that way.  Make some rules and stick to them.  Maybe something like nothing with artificial colors.  Or no eating out all month.  Or only one glass of wine at a social event.  Or no refined flour products.  You know what’s up.  You know your weak spots, and they’re likely different from mine.  But step back.  Be honest.  Make a plan.

There is no cookie worth a blood sugar of 300.  No piece of Pillsbury dough worth joint pain and swelling.  No piece of cheese worth sitting on the toilet for.  No month of parties worth 5 extra pounds.

Make your home a safe zone.  Today.  December 1st.  Give all the unopened, easy packaged snacks to the food bank.  Give the opened ones to friends.  Or throw in the trash and dump leftover Thanksgiving gravy on top so there are no second chances.  (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m glad.)  Don’t buy more.  Get rid of foods you know are not edifying to your body.

Come out of December better than you went in.

~~Terri

What Kids Who Are Being Forced To “Eat Healthy” Want

As agreed upon and written by three little scheisters who have given up artificial colors, artificial flavors, most added preservatives, most grains, sugar, and dairy because they felt sorry for vegetables and fruits feeling so left out.

FrankenBerry Cereal

Yes. If they had wanted this and would have eaten it two years ago, it would have been in the cupboard. If we can change, so can you!

Dear Mom,

Here’s what we want.  If you’re going to make us eat and drink “healthy,” could you…

♥  Please remember that straws make everything better?

♥  Please make hot cocoa on cold and snowy days?  (We use coconut milk.)

♥  Make fun and yummy smoothies?

♥  Use fun and colorful cups?

♥  Buy yummy fruits like bananas, apples, and grapefruit?

♥  Occasionally let us have cookies, cake, cupcakes, ice cream, Lara bars, and juice?  (Almonds and almond flour to the rescue.)

♥  Let us make our own soup or let us add some stuff to it until we like it?

♥  Make a face with vegetables on our plates?

Sincerely,
Your Girls

There you have it.  That’s what three kids, ages 9, 8, and 4 said they wanted to help them eat “healthy.”  (The word “healthy” is a four-letter word in my house, a waste of breath and proper vocabulary.  Teeth on edge feeling:  Ditch the Word “Healthy.”)

“Mom, when I’m BIG, I’M going to eat WHATEVER I want.” —-Sure.  It’ll go great with your pink hair, all black clothes, and new boyfriend.  Go for it.  At this time, my job will already have been reduced to “advisor-when-asked” anyhow.  The many nights you climbed into my bed will be long forgotten until you decide to complete the circle with scheisters of your own.

Terri

G is also for "grainless granola bars".

Smoothie pops

A is for apples with nutbutter piped on top

Halloween Side Effects

English: Candy corn, specifically Brach's cand...

English: Candy corn, specifically Brach’s candy corn. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today is Halloween.  I would ask that you watch your child’s behavior and complaints over the next 3-4 days.  If you observe something, don’t just blame it on “sugar.”  What is sugar often accompanied by?  Red food dye.  Blue food dye.  Yellow food dye.  Dairy.  Wheat.  Nuts.  High fructose corn syrup.  Preservatives.  Artificial flavors like vanillin.

In our family I expect to see some of the following in my children, and I know what to expect from each child for the next several days:

  • Insomnia
  • Over-excitability and fidgeting (temporary ADHD-like symptoms)
  • Crying
  • Most out of the ordinary anger outbursts
  • Stuffy nose
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Sneezing
  • Stomach aches
  • Headaches
  • Constipation
  • Bloating

So if I know it’s coming why do I allow it?  I don’t know.  They like to eat the candy?

And if I know the red food dye or artificial flavoring does that, does the child get a free ticket for anger and meanness?  No.

Do I understand all of this food stuff?  No, but I’m now convinced that it makes a huge difference.

I am glad for all the food diaries we kept, the food exclusion/food inclusion/food exclusion/food inclusion/food exclusion/food inclusion we persevered in, and all the information becoming available which allowed us to pinpoint so many things we took to be a part of our and our kids’ personalities and physicalities–which were related to food.  Today, many of these symptoms are a choice in our family.  Why we’d still choose to inflict them on ourselves with food on special occasions where we want to feel tip-top is beyond me.  So as a mom, as a former working doctor who saw all this stuff and prescribed Zyrtec and Allegra and Flonase and Singulaire and Miralax and lactulose and Tylenol and Ritalin and Adderall and Concerta and Zoloft and Paxil and Prozac and more–perhaps for constant food exposure rather than an intrinsic problem–I ask you to consider food.  Be diligent.  To truly test the theory will require a bulldog nature because labels are so confusing and food is everywhere.

Happy Halloween.  Go eat your candy–with awareness.

Terri

(My party is over.  Back to resistant starch, fiber, short chain fatty acids, butyrate, and improper physiology.)