Saturday, September 7, 2013

Healing your food allergies naturally? Is it even possible?

More than four years ago when I started on this journey of truly 'healthy' eating with non-chemical, unprocessed, unadulterated foods and 'clean' eating I never thought this would be even remotely possible but I am here to tell you that it IS 'possible'.  I was tested REPEATEDLY for multiple, multiple allergies to pollens, 'pests' (insects) and foods and was allergic to more things than you could possibly shake a stick at!  I met with a nutritionist that specialized in helping people in my situation and was handed a 'list' of foods that literatlly was only FORTY foods long.

That was it - forty foods that I COULD eat.  It was very, very short indeed.  I just cried and cried.  What on earth was I suppose to eat?  Following that day set in depression, many fights with my husband and family about food and how we were going to eat that first year.  I didn't even know HOW to cook anymore.  My eldest daughter then got the idea that we start researching foods and watching the Cooking Channel and The Food Network.  I learned to 'Can' my own foods (a long process of learning!) and I learned and learned some more!

I learned 'how' to substitute things.  I learned that if I couldn't have chicken or pork, try veal or lamb or even gator.  We tried sweet potato noodles, use tapioca noodles, learned to make gluten free items (that are amazing by the way!) and then started making our own spice blends.  We started our business out of this need to have good foods as well.  Our friends wanted our products.  I also found that the 'sulfites' from foods were also in body care products as I continued to have problems with 'itching' all over and it spread over into laundry detergent.   We learned to make our own of that as well.  I now have just learned to make dishwasher tabs (more to follow with that!).  We also started making and selling that these items as I figured if I was having these issues from all these chemicals and preservatives, others had to be as well.

I also started taking probiotics.  Over 70 percent of our immune system is in our gut (stomach) and if all these 'bad' things are being 'eaten' it is destroying our gut (hence our immune system!).  To heal our gut, we must replace the 'good' bacteria that has been lost by eating over-processed foods, taking antibiotics, etc.  As a provider when I have patient I have to give antibiotics to I now recommend probiotics to every single patient to protect their gut (hence immune system!).

I started reading up on how to 'heal' my immune system (and gut) and watched the movie 'Genetic Roulette'.  It all made sense now!  Over the last eight months, I have slowly started coming off all the medication that I had been on (over fifteen of them!) and I now only take FIVE!!  One is only 'as needed' so really I only take four on a daily basis and will likely not ever get off of them as two are antihistamines.  Another is for my blood pressure which goes up if I have a bad HAE attack.  The last is a preventive medication for my headaches (which the dose is reduced in half and I'm hoping to reduce that again).  The as needed medication is for my HAE which is a very, very expensive injectable medication.  I would love to never have to take medication but know that isn't likely going to happen.

So, what happened?  I still have many allergies.  I'm still allergic to all the grasses, trees, weeds, and mildews, and cats but my gut has healed tremendously and many of my food allergies are now gone.  It has been confirmed through ELISA testing (a form of blood testing) from an allergist.  Does this mean I am going to go back and eat everything again.  Absolutely NOT!  I was previously allergic to chicken, pork and turkey.  I no longer test allergic to them!  I will not go and eat 'commercial' versions though.  If I do eat any it will be antibiotic free, chemical free, pasture raised meats.  I also tested no longer allergic to honey!  That right there might help my pollen allergies!!  I will be getting some Raw local honey for sure!!

Tonight my family and I are going to have a pasture raised, antibiotic free, chemical free chicken using our own seasonings with organic veggies.  We will see how I feel over the next three days (just like an infant adding a new food again!).  If all is good I will get some pork from the same farmer!!  I am so, so very excited by all of this as I thought I would never be able to eat some of my favorite foods again!!

Now, this does NOT mean that all food allergies can be healed!!  I would NEVER recommend that someone avoid foods they are allergic to and just start eating them again after a while.  I was tested and retested!  As always, consult with your own healthcare provider about your own circumstances.  I am just giving you my situation.  Have a great week!!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Fall Pollen and Ragweed

Every year I see more and more people come in during this time of year with allergies.  I also see on the side of the road a whole LOT of this pretty yellow flower!  I would love to stop and 'pick' some but know better as I would be in the hospital if I did.  What causes such horrible allergies to develop and why are they worsening every year?  There is two different things going on here.  Our food supply continues to worsen with food processing, adding chemicals, preservatives, hormones, and antibiotics to our food slowly destroying our gut which is where the majority of our immune system is.  In eating these things, we slowly lose our ability to know the difference between what is 'foreign' and what isn't in the body.  This is how an allergy slowly develops (our body develops 'antigens' to the pollens).  When we eat food related to that pollen, the body can't recognize the protein anymore as a 'normal' protein and we have a 'reaction' to it. That's allergies in a nutshell.

So, what is ragweed?  Ragweed is a pollen given off by a plant. "Ragweeds are flowering plants in the genus Ambrosia in the sunflower family Asteraceae. Common names include bitterweeds and bloodweeds" (pictured above).  Many people have problems with "oral allergy syndrome" (OAS) as the pollen attaches to other foods/plants during the fall season as it sheds from the plant.  This is what causes the 'oral allergy' symptoms when they eat the other foods.  The pollen gets in the mouth and causes the irritation.  If you have general allergy to a food, it is a different type of reaction.

Symptoms of OAS include tingling of the mouth, itching, and even swelling/edema of mouth/tongue/lips.  General allergies include nasal swelling, congestion, runny nose, sneezing.  If you have symptoms limited to just the mouth, it is likely OAS.  If it is more 'general' symptoms, you are likely allergic to the food itself.

"The foods that most commonly cause oral allergy syndrome in ragweed allergy sufferers are banana, chamomile tea, cucumber, dandelion, Echinacea, melon (cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon), sunflower seeds and zucchini."  Many people that are truly allergic to ragweed and have problems with these foods should avoid eating them as allergies can worsen over time and food allergies are difficult at best to reverse (if not impossible).  If you have ragweed allergies follow-up with your allergist/PCP is highly recommended!