Mar 22

Babies With Food Allergies

I recently received a question from a very frustrated mother regarding food allergies.

I am breastfeeding my son who is 6 months old. He is showing signs of food allergies even before eating solids. What do you suggest I do? I am off of gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, nightshades… Dr suggested cutting out nuts too… Running out of food options & nervous to try giving him solids at this point. Tried giving him bananas yesterday & he broke out in hives & his right eye swelled.

My response:

Let me begin by saying that I’m sorry you have had to go through this!  Food allergies seem to be more common as our food supply is increasingly tinkered with.

The easiest and least costly method of managing food allergies is elimination, which is exactly what you are doing! I understand your concerns regarding beginning solid foods and waiting until your child is 7 months old is completely reasonable.  However, research has shown that babies who begin solid foods are less likely to have food allergies.  Yes, your child has food allergies already, but you don’t want them to worsen.

I recommend starting with a homemade pureed vegetable.  You will need to decide which vegetable you think your child will tolerate best.  Some vegetables recommended are spinach, collard greens, beets, and carrots.  I also don’t recommend starting rice cereal for a baby that is already exhibiting food sensitivities.  Since your child is already producing large amounts of the antibody IgE (immunoglobulin E), avoid foods that are known to have an inflammatory response.  Sadly, rice may be one of those foods, although not always.

In fact, since your child is still having allergies while on a gluten-free diet, you may want to avoid all grains.  Quinoa, oats, spelt, millet, amaranth, corn, potatoes and others may have a cross-reactive response associated with gluten. There are lab assays that can be done that assess IgG and IgA antibodies that are associated with gluten and known foods that cross-react with gluten.  However, this is a blood test, and I am not sure that you’d want to go that route.

If and when you do decide to try a grain, I recommend starting with sweet potatoes (not really a potato).  However, make sure you have started green vegetables before you begin carrots, sweet potatoes or any other sweet fruit or vegetable.

I also recommend introducing cultured foods into your own diet and your baby’s diet.  Sally Fallon is a huge proponent of incorporating tried and true cultured foods in our modern diet.  In her book Nourishing Traditions, she states: The proliferation of lactobacilli in fermented vegetables enhances their digestibility and increases vitamin levels. These beneficial organisms produce numerous helpful enzymes as well as antibiotic and anti carcinogenic substances. Their main by-product, lactic acid, not only keeps vegetables and fruits in a state of perfect preservation but also promotes the growth of healthy flora throughout the intestine.

Avoiding sugar, white flour, refined and/or hydrogenated vegetable oils, heated/refined salt and caffeine is also recommended.  All of these foods are refined and devoid of healthful nutrients.  Aim to eat a variety of fruit and vegetables as opposed to the typical few foods offered in our local grocery stores.  Visiting a farmer’s market that offers organic, local and in season fruits and vegetables is a great place to start!

Also, to ensure that there is enough chloride in your diet to produce hydrochloric acid, I recommend adding a high quality, unheated and untreated salt, like Pink Himalayan salt.  This will also improve the body’s ability to digest foods.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women and growing children also need plenty of fat-soluble vitamins.  Sadly, these are missing in our diets today due to the avoidance of butter, cream, fish, eggs and organ meats.  In fact, due to industrialized farming, our cows (dairy and beef) are very low in these fat-soluble vitamins, if there contain any at all, which our grandparents enjoyed on a daily basis.

It is possible that you and your baby have a “leaky gut”.  One diet that may be considered is the Gut and Psychology Diet (GAPS diet), which is an offshoot of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD).  In the GAPS diet, you will need to avoid all grains, starchy vegetables, sugar or any other commercial sweeteners, lactose (milk sugar), starchy beans, soy beans, all processed food and all “food additives”.  By removing starches, we eliminate food for any pathogens that may be in the gut.

There is so much more I could say about food quality, but I think I would need to write a book!  I hope that these few guidelines can help you in your quest for a nutrient dense diet that your baby, and you, can tolerate.

Aug 14

EPIDEMIC

“Sixty-eight percent of Americans found to be overweight or obese” (Business & Health), “Nearly 4 in 10 are clinically obese in some states…” (Mail Online),  “Obesity is common, serious and costly” (CDC); these are just a few of the headlines that dominate American news today.

What has happened in America?  Have we become lazy?  Have we become apathetic?  Do we lack understanding about proper nutrition?  Do we eat to many processed “foods”?  Are we in denial?  A big resounding YES, to all of those questions!   Do we care?

Dictionary.com defines apathy as having or showing little or no emotion.  Also, not interested or concerned, indifferent or unresponsive.  Has the “fat acceptance” movement allowed us to look the other way as to not offend anyone?  As a true believer about people being all shapes and sizes, at what point do we put our foot down and say enough is enough?

The larger concern is the increase in heart disease risk, cancer, hypertension, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, polycystic ovary syndrome and thyroid problems that are related to overweight and obesity.

A recent survey revealed that Americans are in denial and that despite the surging prevalence of obesity, only 1 out of 10 Americans think that their diet is unhealthy.  What is a healthy diet?

First, Americans need to have a better idea of what portion sizes look like.  If we should be consuming 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, what does that look like? When you serve the vegetables next to your rice or potatoes, is the vegetable serving larger or smaller than the grain?  We tend to serve ourselves a smaller portion of vegetable and a larger portion of grains.  A good way to estimate a serving is by using your own fist, about a cup.  However, ½ cup is typically a serving for grains.  So, if you have a cup of rice, you are having 2 servings.

We also need to stop eating highly processed foods and soda; limit eating out and consuming “shelf stable” prepackaged food, and eliminate fast food.  The majority of these foods are completely devoid of nutrients, high in fat and sodium, contain fillers and flavor enhancers and makes us feel bad.  To make a food shelf stable, the food industry has to remove all the wonderful living enzymes so that the food won’t spoil. This process turns these living foods into dead foods.  They also have to add sodium and other flavor enhancers so that we think it tastes good.  When in fact, without all of those additives, the food item would taste horrible.  Once these dead foods enter our body our digestive system isn’t quite sure how to metabolize it.  So, it sits in our stomach for days, causing a stomachache, heartburn or other ailments which can all lead to weight gain.

So, what should Americans be eating?  Real food!  Fresh fruits and vegetables, organic and grass fed meats and poultry, whole grains, free range eggs, coconut oil and unheated olive oil.  The fresher, the better!  Our bodies are designed to be fueled by real food.  I truly believe one of the reasons obesity has become an epidemic is because we have moved away from consuming real food.  So, let’s hear it for increasing our consumption of real, unadulterated food in America!

Oct 12

Broccoli Health Benefits Require the Whole Food, Not Supplements

Broccoli PictureA study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry reported that many of the health benefits associated with eating broccoli require consumption of the whole vegetable.  The researchers suggest that this is because key phytonutrients are poorly absorbed and are of far less value if taken as a supplement, according to the new research.

Broccoli, along with cauliflower, Brussells sprouts, cabbage and more, are considered cruciferous vegetables.  These vegetables contain glucosinolates (a big word!), a sulphur containing compound on the outer part of the vegetable.  They are then metabolized in the body to specific phytonutrients called isothiocyanates (I know, another big word!).  Sulforaphane is one of the isothiocyanates being studied along with erucin.   Researchers have suggested that sulforaphane is a powerful anti-cancer agent.

These important chemicals are  found in the whole food form and contain their own enzymes to assist in the metabolism of glucosinolates to obtain the compounds, sulforaphane and erucin.  Their research revealed that the metabolites of these compounds were significantly lower in the subjects who were taking supplements compared to those eating the whole food.

Although some nutrients, such as folic acid, are more highly absorbed as a supplement, the research suggests that the same does not apply to the health benefits of broccoli.  So, lets keep eating our broccoli and continue to help our children love it too!

Oct 11

Chocolate Lovers Have Fewer Strokes

Chocolate ChunksSwedish researchers have found that a sweet tooth may not be such a bad thing!  An article published in the October 18th issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that more than 33,000 Swedish women between the ages of 49 and 83 who consumed chocolate, seemed to have a lower risk of stroke.

The study showed a 20% reduced risk of stroke for women who ate approximately two candy bars (2.3 ounces) per week.  Since the average American consumes 10-12 pounds of chocolate per year (approximately 3.5 ounces per week), we are already consuming more than the women who showed risk reduction benefits.

Chocolate contains flavanoids, which provides antioxidants that can stifle LDL oxidation (“bad” cholesterol).  This oxidation can lead to cardiovascular disease, which includes stroke.  The researchers also found that adding chocolate reduced blood pressure, lowered insulin resistance and reduced blood clot formation.  While the study found an association between chocolate and reduced stroke risk, it did not prove a cause-and-effect.

The chocolate that was eaten contained 30% cocoa solids, which is higher than most dark chocolate consumed in The U.S.  Although this new information is fascinating, we must view it with the proper perspective.  So, don’t go raid your nearest grocery store and stock up on chocolate! However, when you do purchase chocolate, look for a brand that contains a high percentage of cocoa.

Sep 14

Women With Menopause Are NOT Finding Help From Soy

SoybeanA study funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and conducted at The University of Miami concluded that soy did not prevent bone loss or ease hot flashes. The randomized, prospective trial found that women in both groups experienced the same amount of bone loss. In fact, more women in the soy group experienced hot flashes than those in the placebo group.