Tag Archives: food allergies

leaky gut

Freaky Deaky Leaky Gut

Have you heard of Leaky Gut? Chances are your doctor hasn’t, or if he has, it wasn’t during medical school. It is a relatively new diagnosis, yet to be accepted by all medical practitioners.  It covers a range of symptoms such as bloating, cramping, brain-fog, migraines, and aches and pains. The cause is not always clear, but could be food intolerances, parasites, high sugar diet, drugs, an underlying condition like celiac, even stress.

Another term for Leaky Gut is intestinal permeability. When many people think of the intestines, they think of a garden house. The intestine is over 25 feet long, and it does process food from start to finish through digestion, but the walls are not solid. Instead it is made of millions of cells held together with microscopic spaces in between. When everything is healthy, these spaces selectively allow nutrients to pass from the intestine to be absorbed into the blood stream, while pushing the toxins and waste out of the body. When something goes wrong, these little spaces become bigger, and allow undigested particles, waste, and toxins into your body. Your immune system attacks them as foreign invaders causing an auto immune response. They also end up in your joints, nerves, and brain, causing further damage to your system.

If you suspect you could have leaky gut, you should discuss your concerns with a provider. There is no test for Leaky Gut, but he or she will probably recommend blood and urine tests to look at your nutrient absorption and food tolerances. If you aren’t sure, try taking this quiz below.

This quiz isn’t intended to diagnose your problems nor does it provide a comprehensive health analysis. Only your Doctor can do that.

 

After eating do you experience abdominal pain or bloating?

A. Almost always

B. More often then I think is normal

C. It happens sometimes

D. Rarely to never

 

How often are you stuck in the bathroom dealing with either constipation or diarrhea?

A. Almost always

B. More often then I think is normal

C. It happens sometimes

D. Rarely to never

 

Have you ever noticed mucous or blood in your stool?

A. Almost always

B. More often then I think is normal

C. It happens sometimes

D. Rarely to never

 

Do you ever feel extremely tired for no reason, confused, or suffer from poor memory or mood swings?

A. Almost always

B. More often then I think is normal

C. It happens sometimes

D. Rarely to never

 

Do you have any known food allergies, sensitivities or intolerance ?

A. Yes, there is a long list of foods I need to avoid

B. Yes, I need to avoid the big triggers like wheat and dairy

C. I suspect I may have food allergies or sensitivities

D. None

 

Are you troubled by sinus or nasal congestion, asthma, hay fever, or airborne allergies?

A. Almost always

B. More often then I think is normal

C. It happens sometimes

D. Rarely to never

 

Do you have eczema or notice frequent skin rashes or hives?

A. Almost always

B. More often then I think is normal

C. It happens sometimes

D. Rarely to never

 

How often do you notice joint pain or swelling, or arthritic like pain?

A. Almost always

B. More often then I think is normal

C. It happens sometimes

D. Rarely to never

 

Do you take NSAIDS anti inflammatory medicines such as Aspirin, Tylenol, Motrin?

A. Almost daily

B. Once a week

C. Every now and then

D. Rarely to never

 

RESULTS: If you answered A to the above Leaky Gut could definitely be the culprit to your health issues. If you answered B you should still consider discussing Leaky Gut with your doctor. If you answered C or D you probably have good digestive health.

 

In most cases, a Leaky Gut can be healed over time with a healthy, tailored diet free of GMOs, processed foods, refined sugars, and full of nutrients and probiotics. Considering how large of an organ the intestine is, and how it works with virtually every system in your body, it is clear how good nutrition whether or not you have Leaky Gut will improve your well being.
 

 

While confirming a few facts before writing this blog post I came across the photo. It shows a third generation rat fed GMO soy. Yes that is hair growing inside of its mouth. Soy what, huh?

Soy What

Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew there were mixed reviews of soybeans and soy products, but I thought “so what?” It is not like we eat that much soy. Then we found out Andrew was allergic to soy and I began to read labels. It is literally in almost everything. Here is what I have since learned about soy and why my whole family will be avoiding it.

What is soy: The soybean is the seed of the soy plant, which is in the pea family. You can eat the beans (soy beans) or the whole pod (edamame). It can be ground into soy flour or squeezed into soy oil. Soy milk is the product of cooked beans, and that can be pressed into tofu. There is also tempeh, miso and natto, made of fermented cooked soybeans. The most important distinction to be made between all these forms of soy seems to be whether or not it is fermented. The fermentation process appears to remove the harmful effects of soy, discussed below.

GMO: The scariest thing about soy is that 91% of soy that is produced has been Genetically Modified. See my earlier post on the huge dangers of GMO. Crops that have been genetically modified are sure to have higher levels of residual pesticides and disrupt the bodies digestive function. Because GMO crops can be sprayed with heavy round up they can be cheaply produced. So cheap in fact that soy has become a staple feed crop. 80% of soy is used as animal feed. So even if you avoid soy, you still get the harmful affects through the meat you eat. GMO crops are linked to increase in food allergies. One UK study found that soy allergies are up 50% since the introduction of GMO soy in the early 2000s.

soyThe Anti-Health Food: The Soy Association of North America will have you believe that Soy is a miracle food and is healthy for you. The truth is the opposite. Eating soy can actually leach nutrients out of your body. Some of the natural toxins found in soy are saponins, soyatoxin, phytates, protease inhibitors, oxalates, goitrogens and estrogens. Big fancy words for chemicals that can interfere with how your body digests protein. Tiny amounts would go unnoticed, but as I mentioned earlier, a stroll down the grocery isle perusing ingredients shows that Americans are eating more soy than ever before, probably without realizing it.

Hemagglutinin is a clot-promoting substance that causes your red blood cells to clump together and deprive your cells of oxygen. Goitrogens are substances that block the synthesis of thyroid hormones. You have probably heard about the increase in diagnosed thyroid function problems. Phytates (phytic acid) preventing the absorption of certain minerals, including calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc which your body needs to be healthy. A compound in soy called Isoflavones closely resemble human estrogen. This is why some menopausal women are encouraged to take soy as a natural supplement. However, these compounds are known to disrupt endocrine function, may cause infertility, and may promote breast cancer in women. My naturopathic doctor suggested that even if my son was not allergic to soy, he should still avoid it due to the estrogen like affects.

The Westin A. Price foundation lists these additional harmful effects of soy.

  • Vitamin B12 analogs in soy are not absorbed and actually increase the body’s requirement for B12.
    • Soy foods increase the body’s requirement for vitamin D.
    • Fragile proteins are denatured during high temperature processing to make soy protein isolate and textured vegetable protein.
    • Processing of soy protein results in the formation of toxic lysinoalanine and highly carcinogenic nitrosamines.
    • Free glutamic acid or MSG, a potent neurotoxin, is formed during soy food processing and additional amounts are added to many soy foods.
    • Soy foods contain high levels of aluminum which is toxic to the nervous system and the kidneys.

The Fact Disconnect: Dr. Oz says soy can be healthy but also warns that soy can throw hormones “out of whack.”  On the other side, Dr. Kaayla Daniel, author of The Whole Soy Story, points out thousands of studies link soy to malnutrition, digestive distress, immune-system breakdown, thyroid dysfunction, cognitive decline, reproductive disorders and infertility. Why is there this disconnect? Because soy is a commercial product and there is a soy industry out there promoting it, wrapping it up and advertising it as a health food. According to the Soyfoods Association of North America soy food sales increased from $300 million to nearly $4 billion from 1992 to 2006.  From 2000 to 2007, U.S. food manufacturers introduced more than 2,700 new soy-based foods, and new soy products continue to appear on your grocer’s shelves. Consider baby formula, much of which is soy based. Soy formula offers no nutritional value over milk based formulas, and children with dairy allergies are just as likely to have soy allergies, but it is marketed as a healthier alternative. According to this article 25% of infants are on a soy formula.

Soy What?: So all in all, it was pretty easy for us to choose to say goodbye to soy. This is harder said than done because it is in a lot of processed foods. It can show up as it lecithin, monosodium glutamate (MSG), hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP), textured vegetable protein (TVP), vegetable gum, natural flavoring, and vegetable broth. If I had any doubts before, they are certainly gone now. While confirming a few facts before writing this blog post I came across the photo which I added to the top of this page. It shows a third generation rat fed GMO soy. Yes that is hair growing inside of its mouth. Soy what, huh?

Special Occasion Food and Elimination Diets

Lets face it, special occasions are all about the food. For some events the food is the highlight of the day, such as Birthday cakes, Thanksgiving turkeys, and Easter eggs. Sometimes it is small things you may not even realize you associate with events, like a cold beer after a day of yard work. It might be something unique to you. My husband likes to go to the gym, because he knows he will stop for a raspberry turkey flat bread afterwards. I specifically remember drinking a NA beer with teammates after a big mission in Iraq thinking, we are drinking this beer not out of taste, and certainly not for a buzz, but out of custom. This sort of food custom brings comfort. We share meals together to strengthen our bonds. Food is a huge part of our culture.

When we learned that my son, Andrew, was allergic to 16 foods, to include wheat, rice, oats, milk, cheese, eggs, soy, coconut. bananas, yeast, and more, I didn’t know what I would cook for him. I had mastered those kid friendly meals such as macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets, but during the elimination diet phase of his treatment I couldn’t give him most normal kid food. For breakfast is was apple slices and sunflower butter. Lunch could be a chicken breast and broccoli. Snack was a big wedge of watermelon. Dinner an ear of corn and bunch of grapes. All in all very little cooking for me and pretty healthy for him, but I longed to give Andrew those  special occasion meals. Sunday morning waffles were a treat he looked forward to all week. In our house Fridays were pizza nights.

This replaced Sunday morning waffles and scrambled eggs

This replaced Sunday morning waffles and scrambled eggs

In the beginning I called every dinner I made “dinner miracle.” Below is a picture of a “pizza” I made from spouted corn tortillas, tomato sauce, and chopped cauliflower. Andrew loved this. School lunches were the hardest because they had to travel via Andrew’s swinging back pack.

Fake pizza, featured here with a warm quinoa salad and turkey

Fake pizza, featured here with a warm quinoa salad and turkey

It was easy to stay focused on the diet for us. After three days Andrew’s eczema had cleared 100%.  After a week he stopped complaining of tummy aches. He was having an easier time sleeping and staying focused. Even a plantar wart on his foot that had been bothering him for a year went away on its own. After three months we began adding food back in to Andrews diet to see if there were foods he tested reactive to that he could actually tolerate now that his gut was healing. Our Naturopathic Doctor said it was up to us which to try first. We started with those foods that would allow us to bring back some of our family traditions. As of today, we have added rice, coconut, and yeast back into his diet. This was huge over the summer because it meant I could buy him almond milk ice cream, which contains rice syrup and coconut oil. It also means he can eat Daiya almond milk cheese. I can make quinoa pasta with Daiya cheese and call it Fake mac’n’cheese.

Recently I posted a blog about making an allergen free pumpkin pie. It was important to me do make this seasonal treat. It would often be easier for me to have Andrew eat before we go out, but I recognize that this would deprive him of the fellowship of eating with others. Depending on where we are going there may be no menu options for Andrew. Below is a picture I took of Andrew at a local restaurant patio where we were celebrating the end of my husband’s soccer season. I had packed him almond butter truffles. They totally melted and had lost their shape, but as you can see Andrew didn’t mind. He was happy to be at the table.

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Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. It will be the first Thanksgiving where we are allergen conscious, and also the first thanksgiving where I am not cooking. I am not packing any food as we head to Philly to see my in laws, but rather I am leaving it up to my father-in-law. Worst case scenario…I know for a fact my boy eats turkey legs.

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