FOOD, FACTS and FADS

Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health


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Have a Food Allergy? Food for Thought?

Ever since Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle in 1906, have we had so much food adulteration occurring in our food supply.  Here is the current problem:

  • Food allergies are on the rise that began about 2007. Many allergic reactions can cause a serious health crisis (i.e. anaphylaxis) which can be fatal.
  • This anomaly occurs primarily in the U.S. and is less common in most other countries in the world.
  • Despite the widely known fact that correlation does not equal causation, research suggests a causative factor may be something in the U.S. environment (food supply).
  • The food supply currently has many new ingredients that did not exist in the past; some or one of these may be triggering subtle reactions of our immune system since its primary function is to recognize foreign proteins.
  • GMO ingredients are just one of these relatively recent additions and critics suggest a connection with allergic reactions.   Another possibility is that intentional food additives have been added without proper safety testing such as emulsifiers, artificial colors or flavors, for example. One unintentional additive includes the explosive use of glyphosate on food crops, and is a widely used herbicide. The World Health Organization suggests it may be carcinogenic although this has not yet been officially established.
  • Food allergies are contributing to burgeoning health care costs as well as affecting our health, especially our children.

What can we do?  Recent surveys indicate that consumers want GMO labeling and have expressed a growing interest in fewer ingredients and more organic choices. The problem is enhanced by the fact that some of these ingredients are controversial as to their toxicity potential. More clarification is certainly needed.

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FYI: A proposal to label GMO foods was on the 2012 ballot in California and designated as Prop 37. By the way, the legislation did not pass.  For a previous post, CLICK HERE.

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The Complexities of Food Sensitivities

Most people when confronted with a negative reaction to certain foods simply say “I’m allergic to” (fill in the blank). Self-diagnoses and treatments are common and result in the development of unnecessary restrictive diets and disordered eating.

The following article aptly attempts to wade through  the confusion and complexities of food allergies, intolerances or sensitivities in order to increase some understanding of what to do about these poorly defined and understood afflictions. Even many physicians fail to differentiate the confusion surrounding the problems.  We now have food labels that support a long list of “NO’s) – gluten, wheat, lactose, soy, nuts, high fructose corn syrup, antibiotics, hormones, preservatives, etc. etc.  No wonder people are challenged even when going to the supermarket.

Food allergies can be life-threatening, so it is important to identify which food(s) are the culprits. Keeping a food and symptom diary or beginning an elimination diet with oral challenges should not be attempted without professional help like your physician, physician assistant, or registered dietitan/nutritionist (RDN) who specializes in food intolerances.

The article is a long read, but if you think you may have any food sensitivity, it may be worth the time spent before any self diagnosis or treatment is undertaken. Search this blogsite for information on food alleriges, intolerances, FODMAPs and gluten or wheat intolerance disorders.

CLICK HERE.


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Some Sense About Food Dyes

Food colors can cause reactions in sensitized individuals.  The color additive FD&C Yellow No. 5, listed as tartrazine on medicine labels, may cause itching and hives in sensitive people. It is found in beverages, desserts, and processed vegetables. All foods that contain FDA-certified color additives, must list them by name in the ingredients list.  Colors that are exempt from certification such as dehydrated beets and carotenoids, do not have to be specifically identified and may be listed on the label as “artificial color.” They still must meet safety standards. (Nutrition: Science and Application, Third Edition)

Click HERE for a previous post on this topic.

CLICK HERE.


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Food Allergies: A Taste Could Be Dangerous

EpiPens are portable epinephrine-dispensing de...

EpiPens are portable epinephrine-dispensing devices which can be used to alleviate the symptoms of severe, acute allergies. (Photo credit: Wikipedia

A food allergy is an abnormal physical reaction of the immune system to a particular food. Food allergens are proteins that are not broken down during cooking or by enzymes in the body during digestion. In contrast, a food intolerance is an adverse reaction to a food that does not invoke an immune response, e.g. lactose intolerance.

When a food allergen enters the blood, it can cause a drop in blood pressure; when they are near the skin, hives can develop; when they make their way to the lungs, asthma can occur. The reactions can appear quickly as a few minutes after eating the offender. This may result in an anaphylactic reaction, which are severe, life-threatening reactions that cause constriction of the airways in the lungs which inhibits the ability to breathe.

Eggs, milk and peanuts are the most common sources of food allergies in children. In adults, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, wheat, soy and eggs are most common. These foods together cause 90 percent of all reactions to food allergens. Some children will outgrow their reactions to milk and up to 20 percent of them outgrow a peanut allergy. Adults are rarely able to rid themselves of a food allergy once it is established.

Food allergies appear to be increasing.  See a previous post HERE.  The following article discusses some of the reasons they be on the rise.

CLICK HERE.