Allergies

The following article is a blog I wrote for Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation. Copyright is owned by PPNF. Visit their blog here.

 

“Milk: it does the body good.”

Remember this popular advertising tagline from the American Dairy Council from a couple decades ago?

Truth in advertising is often a slippery slope, and nowhere is this more apparent than in food marketing. Yes, milk can do the body good, but only if it has the same beneficial bacteria that you likely drank when you were breast-fed as an infant. In other words, milk does the body good–if it’s raw (unpasteurized).

Mark McAfee, the CEO of Organic Pastures, one of the largest organic, raw dairy producers, is pre-med trained, an educator for various health departments, and has lectured at Stanford Medical School, Rutgers and several other institutions. He educates farmers, consumers, legislators and government officials about the safety and nutritional benefits of raw dairy products.

McAfee recently spoke at Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation’s San Diego headquarters about the health benefits of raw milk and the politics behind its production. The 90-minute lecture is the latest lecture in PPNF’s educational videos. Access it here on YouTube. Read on to learn some of McAfee’s key points and why you may want to consider drinking raw milk in your pursuit of optimal health.

Raw Dairy Controversy

Because much of the public equates raw dairy with playing Russian Roulette with their health, risking bacterial illness or worse, unpasteurized milk is a controversial subject, often caught up in the political machinations of Washington, D.C., pitting the likes of McAfee and other raw dairy producers and raw milk consumers against  conventional dairy (read: pasteurized) lobbyists and regulators from the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and officials from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Currently, only eight states in the U.S. allow the sale of raw milk. Even in the states that allow the sale of it, however, SWAT teams have raided purveyors of raw milk at gun-point, such as this Amish dairy farmer in Pennsylvania or this food co-op in Los Angeles. There have been dozens of other raids coordinated at the behest of the FDA, with agents sweeping in as if these farmer’s market merchants were selling weapon’s grade uranium or anthrax.

On the FDA’s website, it states that 1500 people from 1993 to 2006 became sick as a result of raw milk. That comes out to 115 people a year during that time frame. Over 40,000 people a year die in traffic accidents, yet there is no ban on cars. Almost 450,000 a year die from smoking in the U.S. and obviously there is still no federal ban on cigarettes. 

By far, more people die every year from getting struck by lightning than consuming raw milk. In fact, according to McAfee, nobody in the U.S., in the modern era, has died from drinking grass-fed only raw-milk. By further comparison, McAfee states that one thousand people EACH DAY, in California, are stricken with campylobacter (bacteria) from eating tainted chicken. 

A bio-diverse, living, whole, delicious food

Raw milk offers beneficial enzymes and healthy bacteria. It’s a natural, whole, real food, contrary to the irradiated, sterilized, boxed and preserved foods common in the American diet. Although the FDA prohibits McAfee’s Organic Pastures dairy from posting any testimonials on its website, plenty of testimonials about raw milk exist on websites such as the Raw Milk Institute documenting how people have turned their health around from consuming raw milk.

Why is raw milk so beneficial?

It’s only been in the last decade that researchers are discovering the mind-boggling intricacies of the immune system. And what/where is the immune system? It’s the billions of bacteria in the gut. We now know that approximately 80 percent of our immune system is located in the gut. It is very difficult to maintain optimal health when the gut is not properly populated with good bacteria.

McAfee, in his lecture at PPNF, discusses how researchers recently learned that bacteria seems to act democratically, that is, majority rules. If there’s a prevalence of healthy bacteria, the bacteria will “decide” to fight against harmful pathogens. It’s only when we colonize our guts with enough beneficial bacteria that our immune system activates, acting like a benevolent army, protecting us from foreign invaders.

Raw milk, since it is unpasteurized, contains a diverse portfolio of beneficial bacteria.

It’s important to consume raw milk from healthy cows, eating the grass that nature intended. Why? Eating grains and other unnatural foods causes the milk from cows to be nutritionally deficient in the vitamins and minerals needed to sustain life. A cow consuming grains is deficient in nutrients and will produce a nutritionally deficient milk. Furthermore, cows eating grains are loaded with antibiotics as they are usually kept in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and are not obtaining the nutrition they need from their food to keep healthy. Ideally, your dairy (and beef) consumption will come from cows that are 100% grass fed.

Lactose intolerance

There’s a misconception that certain races, specifically African-Americans and Asians, are lactose intolerant, meaning these groups lack the enzyme, lactase, that breaks down milk sugar, lactose.

In reality, these groups, and the majority of the 30 percent of the U.S. lactose-intolerant population, are pasteurization-intolerant, not lactose-intolerant. Pasteurized milk is one of the most allergenic foods. Raw milk, according to McAfee, stabilizes cells and prevents allergies from forming; pasteurized milk kills bacteria at high heat and triggers, in McAfee’s words, an intracellular mass- cell degradation, which leads to allergies and their unpleasant symptoms such as phlegm and mucous.

The destruction of the cells creates a foodstuff that's not recognized by the body. What you then get is a degradation of the milk-sugar enzyme, lactase, hence the lactose intolerance. And allergies.  And autoimmune disorders. In other words, pasteurized milk creates unpleasant immune responses to dead bacteria.

If you’d like to learn more about the latest raw milk news and its standing with federal health officials as well as the latest research on immunology and raw milk’s role in boosting immunity, watch McAfee’s lecture.

 

French bread with caution tape on it

There's no shortage of gluten-free offerings in your pantry, but your body still doesn't feel right. Misleading labeling or cross-contamination are two reasons why you aren't reaping the benefits of your new diet plan.

 
Photo: jwblinn/Shutterstock
You’re sick and tired of being sick and tired … and bloated and foggy-brained. An allergist or doctor tests you for food allergies and tells you that you should avoid gluten. You’ve been gluten-free for a while, but you’re still experiencing some of the following symptoms:
 
  • gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea and cramping
  • skin breakouts (hives, eczema, swelling)
  • joint pain or migraine headaches
  • mood changes
  • immune disruption
 
With the explosion in gluten-free offerings, you would think your food allergy symptoms would vanish. Gluten-free product sales in 2011 exceeded $6 billion, almost a 20 percent increase from 2010.
 
Despite the glut of gluten-free offerings — including gluten-free beer — an increasing number of people still feel bloated. In addition, more people are developing Celiac disease or non-Celiac sensitivity. But why? Here are a few possible reasons: 
 
1. Products labeled gluten-free aren’t really gluten-free: Gluten-free labeling — at least in some cases — offers the same dubious promise as “cage-free” or “natural.” In an attempt to regulate gluten-free foods in 2007, the Food and Drug Administration proposed to allow manufacturers to label a food “gluten-free” if the food does not contain 20 or more parts-per-million gluten, among other parameters. But if a food contains 19 ppm gluten, it still might trigger an allergy or sensitivity.
 
2. Gluten-free foods contain other allergens: When most people think of gluten, they think of the protein in wheat. But other foods including rye, oat, barley, soy, dairy, eggs and tree nuts could trigger symptoms. Take soy for example. “Soybeans are high in phytic acid, which can block the uptake of essential minerals. Soy also has enzyme inhibitors that block the action of enzymes needed for protein digestion,” says Carolyn Dean, medical director of the nonprofit Nutrional Magnesium Association.
 
3. Cross-contamination: According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infections Diseases (NIAID), almost 90 percent of allergic reactions to egg, milk or peanuts occurred because a child accidentally consumed the food, whether because of misread food labels or because a food allergen came into contact with other foods — a problem better known as cross-contamination. Many food processors use the same facilities or equipment to create different foods. Your beloved gluten-free pretzel might be made on the same conveyor belt as whole-wheat bread. 
 
4. Preservatives: Although a mouthwash might be labeled free of gluten, it could contain preservatives, which according to a study by Johns Hopkins, is one possible factor in an increased risk of allergies in children. Soda certainly has no gluten in it, but a study in the Journal of Attention Disorders links sodium benzoate, a common preservative in soft drinks, to ADHD in college students. “When it comes to diagnosing potential food sensitivities, artificial sweeteners are one of the most likely culprits of distress,” says Dr. Timothy Morley, medical director of BodyLogicMD of Midtown Manhattan.
 
5. Corn conundrum: Although Harvard Medical School’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center says on its website that a true allergy to corn is rare, some medical professionals now doubt that claim. Corn and its derivatives (sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup, cornstarch, maltodextrin, xanthan gum) have become ubiquitous in Western food. “Any food can be a potential allergen, especially one we are exposed to frequently such as corn,” says Kelly Morrow, associate professor of nutrition and exercise science at Bastyr University.
 
A study in Plant Foods for Human Nutrition concluded that “some maize prolamins [plant proteins] contain amino acid sequences that resemble wheat gluten.” 
 
“Corn is the fourth food, along with gluten, dairy (casein) and soy that can damage the villi of the small intestine and cause them to atrophy,” says Dr. John Symes,” referring to finger-like structures in the gut that are responsible for absorbing nutrients.
 
6. Genetically modified organisms (GMO, or GM foods): Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food consumption including infertility, immune dysregulation, accelerated aging, dysregulation of genes associated with cholesterol synthesis, insulin regulation, cell signaling, and protein formation, and changes in the liver, kidney, spleen and gastrointestinal system, according to the American Academy of Environmental Science. (And here’s one original medical study that shows how mice that were fed GMO-soy developed ageing livers.)
 
Another study published in the International Journal of Biological Sciences concluded: “In three GM maize varieties … new side effects linked to the consumption of these cereals were revealed, which were … mostly concentrated in kidney and liver function, the two major diet detoxification organs … [i]n addition, some effects on heart, adrenal, spleen and blood cells were also frequently noted.
 
Are you gluten-free but still have food allergies? Tell us about it in the comments below.
 
Judd Handler is a health writer in Encinitas, Calif., and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Pollen

What foods shouldn't you eat if you want to keep pollen allergies in check?

 
Spring time is in full, well, spring. Allergists are having a field day treating patients with hay fever. But horrible puns aside, pollen allergies are no joke.
 
Up to 70 percent of those with pollen allergies experience unpleasant reactions after eating certain foods. Here are some of those foods to avoid for pollen allergies.
 
Most of the time, fresh fruits and raw, uncooked vegetables and certain seeds and nuts cause the allergic reactions.
 
For people who experience what's medically called 'Oral Allergy Syndrome' (OAS; also referred to as 'food-pollen allergy syndrome' and 'fruit-pollen syndrome'), the following symptoms may occur after eating the offending food:
  • itchy or swollen lips
  • tingling at the back of the throat
  • scratchiness on the roof of the mouth
  • watery or itchy eyes
Although symptoms can be serious, most reactions of OAS are minor and occur in the mouth or throat.
 
Why do certain foods cause allergic reactions?
In a food-pollen allergy, the primary problem is the pollen, not the food itself.
 
When certain fruits, vegetables, seeds or nuts are consumed, typically during spring and early fall when inhalant allergies are more common like hay fever, the body's immune system recognizes and essentially mistakes a plant protein in the food for pollen, and this irritant triggers what allergy specialists call a cross-reaction.
 
FigsCut to the chase. Which foods should I avoid?
It depends what tree or weed allergy you have. For those allergic to grass pollens, you’ll want to avoid:
  • oranges
  • tomatoes
  • melons
  • figs
As noted above, foods that cause a pollen-like allergic reaction are usually fresh or raw. If you love oranges but notice they cause a reaction, orange juice, although it's not as nutritiously-dense as an orange, might not cause the reaction. Same thing with tomatoes: freshly picked ones from the vine might cause an itchy throat, but tomato paste might not trigger a negative reaction.

 

If you're allergic to weed pollens, specifically ragweed, the following foods may trigger OAS:
  • banana
  • cantaloupe
  • cucumber
  • melons
  • zucchini
  • artichoke
  • teas of Echinacea, chamomile and hibiscus
Some other foods that trigger OAS in more than one type of allergy include:
  • apples
  • almonds
  • celery
  • strawberry
  • cherries
How long after I eat something that triggers allergies will I notice symptoms?
Almost immediately. Most allergists would agree that OAS symptoms appear no more than half an hour after eating.
 
Besides not eating certain foods, what else can I do to avoid OAS?
Eliminate or greatly reduce artificial additives, artificial sweeteners and pesticides, as they could potentially cause bronchial spasms and histamine reactions of the eyes, ears, nose, throat and skin.
 
cooked veggiesAlso, boost your immune system. The weaker your immunity, the more likely your body will experience a cross reaction. Drink plenty of water, exercise daily, get at least 7 hours of sleep a night and supplement with anti-oxidants (under the care of a doctor or nutritionist).
 
If you use anti-allergy medicine, try to choose natural anti-inflammatory and natural anti-histamine nutritional supplements.
 
Fruits and vegetables are vital food groups to consume daily for optimum health. During allergy seasons, consume more cooked vegetables and try to eliminate the offending raw fruits. Use a food journal to determine which foods are triggering allergic reactions.
 
Judd Handler is a freelance health writer in Encinitas, California.
 
Photos: chatirygirl/Flickr; naotakem/Flickr

 

Symptoms of wheat allergies include hives, difficulty breathing and nausea.

Wheat allergies can kick in after eating bread.(rainydayknitter/Flickr)
Almost everyone loves cakes, cookies and other baked goodies. Eating these foods, however, can cause numerous health problems for those who have wheat allergies.
 
Not sure if you’re one of them? Well, if you’re wondering why your nose is congested and your eyes are watery, itchy and have dark rings, you might have sensitivity to products containing wheat. These are all wheat allergy symptoms.
 
It’s more common for children to display more obvious symptoms of wheat allergies but if you’ve been bombarding your system with wheat products for decades, your immune system could start turning against you.
 
A wheat allergy is an abnormal immune system reaction to one or more proteins found in wheat. The immune system has developed a specific antibody (a pathogen fighter) to one or more of the four major wheat proteins, including gliadin, which is the bane of all people with Celiac Disease.
 
People with Celiac Disease (an autoimmune disorder) have to go on a 100 percentgluten-free diet. Although not everyone who has a wheat allergy needs to go totally gluten-free, many people with wheat sensitivity follow similar dietary restrictions.
 
Other wheat allergy symptoms
For those who are allergic, eating pizza, muffins, fried-battered foods, soy sauce and other foods with wheat could induce hives, difficulty breathing (including asthma) and nausea.
 
A rare but very strong reaction to wheat proteins can cause a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis. People severely allergic to bee stings or peanuts can relate all too well, and often carry with them an “EpiPen”, which is an injectable dose of epinephrine (adrenaline).
 
Diagnosing Wheat Allergies
Skin test: An allergist or doctor who is able to do food allergy testing may choose to drop tiny particles of wheat allergen extracts onto the forearm. About 15 minutes after the drops are left on the skin, if you develop red, itchy bump where the allergens were placed, you know you have at least intolerance to wheat (more on the distinction between allergy and intolerance below)
 
Blood test: If you’re taking medications or if you have some other skin condition, your doctor may forgo the skin test and choose instead to draw some blood that screens for specific allergy-causing antibodies to top various casino www.svenskkasinon.se common allergens, including wheat proteins.
 
Wheat intolerance vs. Wheat Allergy
If you have a true wheat allergy, you’re a rare breed. It’s estimated that less than one percent of the U.S. population suffers from wheat allergies, whereas some estimates peg those with some form of wheat intolerance at nearly 20 percent.
 
Allergies usually trigger a response from the immune system; intolerances don’t involve a major immune response and can often be subtle and take hours to develop. It may show up days later as eczema, a belly ache, or even some mood swings; a true allergy can exhibit symptoms within minutes.
 
Avoiding wheat: easier said than done
Obviously, if you have an intolerance or allergy to wheat, it’s best to avoid wheat all together. But realize that even if you do your best to avoid wheat, you may end up being exposed to it when consuming other products like oats, as the wheat may have been in contact with the oats during the production process.
 
Reading food labels will tell you if a specific food was made in a facility that also processes wheat. To be on the safe side, opt for gluten-free products, although there is no governing body to certify gluten free foods. You can call the Celiac Foundation or visit their website to inquire about a particular label.
 
Some sources of wheat proteins are obvious, such as the aforementioned baked products and bread. If you are intolerant or allergic to wheat, it’s wise to avoid all flours as much as possible. (Again, cross-contamination is the main concern.)
 
Not-so-obvious sources of wheat
  • Beer
  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
  • Soy sauce
  • Condiments such as ketchup
  • Meat, crab or shrimp substitutes
  • Coffee substitutes
  • Meat products, such as hotdogs
  • Dairy products, such as ice cream
  • Natural flavorings
  • Gelatinized starch
  • Modified food starch
  • Vegetable gum
Judd Handler is a wellness consultant and lifestyle coach. His New Year’s Resolution is to eat less wheat and go gluten-free as much as possible. He can be reached atThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Symptoms range from rashes, hives and itching all the way to anaphylactic shock.

 
Peanuts are one of the most common causes of food allergies. (iStock)Peanuts
Approximately 12 million people in the U.S. experience food allergy symptomsduring their lifetime.
 
In fact, one in 25 adults – or one out of every 17 kids age 3 and under – suffers from food allergies. Symptoms can appear within as little as two minutes or up to two hours after exposure.
 
If you’re one of these people, you’re likely to experience at least one of the following symptoms:
  • rashes
  • hives
  • itching
  • swelling
  • wheezing and breathing difficulty
  • swollen lips or eyelids
Some people experience severe gastrointestinal symptoms from food allergies such as:
  • vomiting
  • cramps
  • diarrhea
In extreme cases, food allergies, especially to peanuts and shellfish, can lead to death from anaphylactic shock.
 
Most common food allergies
According to WebMD, the most common food allergies for adults are shellfish (shrimp, crayfish, lobster and crab), peanuts, tree nuts (such as walnuts), fish and eggs.
 
For children, eggs, milk and peanuts cause the most food allergy problems, WebMD reports.
 
Further complicating matters, there’s also the possibility of cross-reactions.
 
What this means is that some people who are allergic to certain plants will also exhibit allergic reactions to certain foods.
 
For example, some people who are allergic to ragweed will also have an allergic reaction when they eat a melon or a banana.
 
Avoiding food allergies
It’s important to get in touch with your body and recognize any symptoms. Eliminating offending foods is the only tried and true way to avoid flare ups.
 
You can have your physician or allergist do a skin test for food allergies, but keep in mind that just because your skin shows sensitivity, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll experience allergic reactions, at least not severe ones.
 
Keeping a food journal is one of the best ways to learn how to eliminate foods that trigger reactions.
 
What’s causing the upswing in food allergies?
Technically speaking, food allergy symptoms manifest themselves when the immune system mistakenly takes a harmless food item for an enemy. A series of reactions leads to the release of chemicals such as histamine. In turn, these chemicals cause the allergic reaction, which will vary depending upon the location in the body where they were released.
 
Looking at food allergies from a wider perspective, let’s examine some of the possible causes for the recent upswing in cases.
 
Western society scrubs itself clean of all germs with heavily-marketed anti-bacterial soap. Could this germ phobia cause for an increase in food allergies?
 
That’s one theory that’s been circulating among physicians, allergists and naturopaths and holistic healers for at least the past two decades.
 
According to this theory, the anti-bacterial soap could actually weaken your immune system, causing it to attack a particular food substance and release histamines and other inflammatory chemicals in your body. The belief is that your immune system needs to mature and get stronger and the way to do that is through normal exposure to bacteria and allergens.
 
So, if you have a toddler and keep your house spic and span, neutralizing all foreign microscopic invaders—both good and bad—your child may become more vulnerable to developing food allergies because their immune system has never learned to fend for itself.
 
Processed foods, breast milk from mother to infant, and cross contamination from processors who produce many different food products in the same facility, are some of the other theories accounting for the increased incidence of food allergies.
 
Got other ideas on food allergy symptoms? Leave us a note in the comments below.
 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. is a wellness consultant and health freelance writer in Encinitas, California.

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