Food allergies, what’s up?

8 Feb

There are many ideas about why we are seeing more and more food allergies, especially among children today. Some say it has to do with changed farming practices and an increase in use of pesticides and herbicides, some say it is from an over-polluted environment making immune systems more vulnerable in general, some say it is because of an increase in vaccinations and medications in general, others say the opposite, and some say it is no different than it was centuries ago but that now it is better documented.

Whatever the reason, it is clear that documented food allergies are on the rise. In the United States, the most common food culprits are: egg, milk, peanut, tree nuts, wheat, crustacean shellfish, fish, and soy. Many classrooms and even schools opt to label themselves “nut free” zones to ensure the safety of those vulnerable. Butter Beans’ kitchen, is also a nut-free zone.

When it comes to food sensitivities and allergies, the symptoms really run the gamut from a runny nose, and itchy eyes, to achy joints and belly bloating, to fuzzy thinking, dizziness, asthma and anaphylactic shock. There are blood tests and skin prick tests, but at the end of the day, if you are dealing with symptoms that are not life threatening, the most fool-proof method of discovering what foods might be ailing you, is by testing the food yourself. If you suspect dairy for example, then you would opt to not eat ANY dairy for a week (easier said than done!), and then have your regular dose first thing in the morning, and see what happens. Symptoms either will show up immediately, or can take a couple of hours. You can keep a food diary where you write down how you feel right after eating a food, and then check back in with yourself two hours later. You can also check your pulse before eating, and ten minutes after. Very often, your pulse will change by up to 20 beats in response to a food sensitivity.

The good news is that many people outgrow their food induced symptoms, and others find that they tolerate said food if eaten once or twice a week, but just not everyday. This may be nature’s way of forcing variety on us.

Have you discovered a food sensitivity or allergy? If you have a story that has led to a triumphant adaptation in the kitchen, consider sharing your story with us for our cookbook.

Interested in learning more? Check out this study that was just released describing that boys, and in general more affluent children in England, have more peanut allergies that girls, and less affluent populations. Some think that living in ultra-clean (anti-bacterial) contexts are part of the problem.

Also check out the updated guidelines from the National  Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Thank goodness humanity has a great track record for adapting to new and different landscapes of all kinds.

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