Currently viewing the tag: "allergy"

Flavourings and preservatives have been used for centuries to enhance the taste and freshness of food. Do you wonder if they may be unsafe to eat?, or have you tried to identify all the additives that are in your food ?

Additives are not naturally found in food. They serve a number of purposes;

  • Colours  that add or restore lost colours to food.
  • Preservatives that help protect against food deterioration caused by bacteria.
  • Antioxidants that slow down or stop the oxidative deterioration of foods, e.g. when fats and oils go rancid.
  • Artificial sweeteners which impart a sweet taste for fewer calories than sugar, but also cheaper to use.
  • Flavour enhancers that improve the taste and aroma of food.
  • Presentation and texture enhancers e.g. thickeners, gelling agents, emulsifiers, emulsifiers.
  • Nutrient additions that increase the nutrient value of foods

Without many additives our food may not taste as nice, bread would go sour more quickly. Some foods will no longer be worth eating due to their low nutrient value.

Traditional methods of preservation include; smoking, salting, vinegar and drying are accepted for their long standing safe historical use. The use of additives has to go through a lengthy process to prove that they are safe to use, but despite this there are still many concerns. Below are some of the problems that additives may give rise to.

Allergy

  • Sulphite and sulphur dioxide (E220-28) have been known to cause allergic reactions. Specifically, asthma sufferers should avoid sulphur dioxide gas due to increased sensitivity, but there are also recorded cases of worsening of asthma after drinking soft drinks containing it. They are mainly found in dried fruits, dessicated coconut, relishes and fruit-based pie fillings.
  • Food colours like tartrazine (E102) can cause mild allergic reactions and some studies show that sunset yellow (E1 10) can cause tumours.
  • Annatto, a natural food colouring found in margarine, cheese, smoked fish and cakes is implicated in allergic reactions and irritable bowel.

Cancer

  • Aspartame (E951) has been linked to various cancers(1,2,3), although studies by US National Cancer Institute and European Food Safety Authority concluded that it did not increase the risk of cancers.
  • Erythrosine is a red food colour. Research has highlighted concerns about its potential tumour formation and inhibition of the normal functioning of the thyroid.
  • Allura red has been associated with cancer in mice but evidence is not consistent.
  • Nitrites and nitrates (E249-52) may convert to potentially carcinogenic nitrosamines.

Hyperactivity

  • Although a definitive link has not yet been established food colours like, sunset yellow (E110), quinoline yellow (E104), carmoisine (E122), allura red (E129), tartrazine (E102) and ponceau 4R (E124) have been associated with hyperactivity in some children. These are commonly found in a variety of processed foods, especially in children’s sweets, confectionary, squashes, soft drinks, jams and cakes. Prevalence of hyperactivity is estimated to be about 2.5%.
  • Aspartame has also been linked with changes in behaviour.

Headaches

  • MSG (monosodium glutamate- E621) is a flavour enhancer can cause headaches in some people. Although in a recent review there was no conclusive direct evidence.
  • Aspartame is also linked with causing headaches.

Other


The Bottom Line

Additives are overused in the processed foods industry, so try to avoid them as much as possible.

  • Keep processed foods to a minimum, including sweets, lollies, soft drinks and cakes.
  • Be careful of foods that are presented as low-fat, sugar-free as majority will contain some form of additive.
  • Not everyone reacts to additives in the same way. If you experience signs of reacting to certain foods, then minimise or avoid eating it.
  • If your child shows signs of hyperactivity of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) then eliminating some colours from their diet may prove beneficial.
  • Always read food labels to be fully aware of what you are buying.

 

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Puffy eyes, Runny nose, Sneezing and headaches…..  ?

Slowly but surely we are moving into the allergy season. The combination of sun, fresh flowers and grass and warm air could be the end of a good spring or summer.

Good News! although the seasons are unavoidable, the need for antihistamines and a constant supply of tissues can be avoided with a few simple steps.

Hydration: Make sure you are well hydrated. On average drinking 2 –2.5 litres of fluids (includes drinks and soups) daily will ensure that your body functions can be optimised.

Supplements:  Start taking supplements now so that your body is fully protected when the allergy season starts. These are called ‘essential’ because the body is unable to synthesize them and they have to be obtained directly from food sources.  Supplements  are to be taken not necessarily as a treatment, but to support general health. They will top-up any existing nutrient deficiencies. To get the most benefit choose a formula that is right for your health needs. Here are some recommendations;

  • Vitamin C with bioflavonoids – strengthens the immune system
  • Acidophilus/probiotics-  support the gut, and helps the immune system
  • Multivitamin/mineral – supports vitamin and mineral deficiency or  added requirements
  • EPA/DHA fish oils –  provides omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are not normally produced in the body
  • Quercetin – anti-oxidant and anti- histamine action

Honey: Honey is one of the best natural allergy treatments. In particular if you can find honey that has been produced locally. Take a teaspoon full of honey daily for at least 6 wks before the allergy season starts.

Acupuncture & Acupressure: Effective both as a treatment and prevention for allergies and headaches, acupuncture regulates the body functions thus reducing the allergy response. The best part is that you can do it YOURSELF, but can prolong the effects of acupuncture treatments therefore requiring less frequent treatments. A great time to start is 4-6 weeks before the allergy season, but if you miss this preventative window you can still use it. It is not usual for people to experience immediate clearing of sinuses and heaviness of the head.

Face allergy

Specifically, there are 7 acupuncture points that can work wonders. All it takes is a little concentration and your fingers. Stimulating the points is not a substitute for real acupuncture but is excellent as a preventative measure and for treatment of sudden allergy attacks.

 

So, where to press?

Six points on the face. Three on each side, Bladder 2, Stomach 2 and Large Intestine 20.  All three points are pressed with firm circular pressure symmetrically on each side moving in the direction shown on the picture.

 

Spleen 5The seventh point is Spleen 5, located just below and distal to the medial malleolus (prominent bone on the inner ankle). In Chinese medicine allergies are linked to ‘dampness’ and this point acts on it. Dampness in the body is not healthy and acts like heavy sludge causing obstruction. You need only hold and press this point on one leg and massage it gently with tiny circular movements. The easiest position is to sit cross legged.

Seasonal allergy sufferers no longer need to stay indoors or suffer its effects. No more, thanks to acupuncture !

 

Note: This is a revised version of an previous post published 13/6/2016.

It’s not uncommon for the proponents of conventional and of holistic systems of medicine to feel that they inhabit competing camps in the war to alleviate human suffering. In fact, Western and Eastern medicine are essential branches on the great tree of scientific knowledge.  Many of us are working towards the ideal of a continuum of care that provides the very best treatment to all patients. Western medicine has achieved remarkable triumphs.  Vaccination against many infectious diseases has greatly reduced their incidence; science has eradicated smallpox and come close to doing the same for polio.  It has saved millions of children from the scourges that once prevented so many from reaching their fifth birthday.

The specialties of surgery and emergency medicine save countless lives every day.

After decades of clinical practice I still wonder; Where does Western medicine fall short?  In the promotion of lifelong wellness; in the diagnosis and treatment of complex disorders; in the unnecessary or excessive use of pharmaceutical drugs; in safe, effective, ongoing pain management.

We’re certainly making progress in bringing these two branches of medicine closer, for example;  acupuncture has been proven to offer effective pain relief and increasingly accepted in medical pain clinics, and it doesn’t carry the risks associated with drug-based analgesia. Integration of auricular acupuncture in addiction clinics is another measure of its success. There is worldwide recognition of acupuncture for anxiety and stress particularly in cancer treatment, post traumatic stress disorder amongst veterans, and its potential value as anesthesia during surgical procedures.

I have always found that it is necessary to treat the whole person, and not just deal with an immediate crisis or what presents as their most significant symptom. I wanted to share this story (to ensure anonymity names and certain details have been changed).

Ria’s Story-  “Please… I Just Want the Pain to Stop”.

In the hospital waiting room Ria’s stomach churns and twists once again sending shooting pains throughout her body, followed by a cold sweat.  Over the past six months, she’s seen six different doctors; has endured repeated blood tests and other procedures.  No one has been able to offer her a definitive diagnosis. After each visit, she’s sent home with different prescriptions but no effective treatment for the repeated, alternating bouts of diarrhoea and constipation, sometimes nausea too.  Pain medication doesn’t bring any relief.  Her husband Pete feels equally anxious and frustrated.

Visits to six different doctors, blood tests and investigations all have proven to be unhelpful – there is no definitive diagnosis. Each time she is sent home with new meds, pain medication doesn’t work, one tells her that she is stressed and emotionally disturbed and prescribes her antidepressants another says there is some inflammation in her spleen, but nothing else. Ria is desperate, her symptoms are worsening.

Ria is beginning to doubt herself; wondering if it really is “all in her mind.”  She’s afraid to eat because everything just makes her feel worse, and she’s now two sizes smaller.

After yet another round of tests, Ria’s new consultant is also perplexed by her symptoms.  His examination of her shows nothing significant.  He’s ruled out cancer or other serious disease; all her other results are relatively normal. But fortunately for her, this doctor takes the time to listed to her and has a positive view of complementary therapies; he understands that functional disorders often underlie a patient’s stress and anxiety.  He knows that food intolerance is increasingly common and is often very hard to properly pinpoint. He asks her if she would be willing to accept a referral to a holistic physician.  Ria has always had an interest in complementary therapies and gladly agrees. He also gives her advice on juicing and enrolls her on to a mindfulness course.

As a holistic practitioner, I see Ria’s physical and emotional distress to be strongly interrelated, but requiring individual attention, with this in mind I begin acupuncture treatments. Almost immediately, they help to ease her distressed state and bring some relief for her stomach pain.

Over a period of months I guide Ria to make changes to her diet.  Together we develop a plan to identify problem foods. She learns about carbohydrate intolerance and how the FODMAP diet can help.  Ria finds the mindfulness course very effective in relieving her anxiety.  She began to realize her physical and emotional distress began years before the manifestation of painful bowel dysfunction.

Six months after starting treatment, Ria has made great progress.  She knows it will take time to regain the good health she thought was out of her reach, but she is no longer frightened and discouraged.  She is starting to take pleasure in eating again.  She and her husband are now enjoying what they thought might never be possible again–everyday pleasures.

 

If you are struggling with your Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms (IBS), don’t give up just yet instead, Take back control !

IBS is a functional disorder athat affects the colon and causes irritable of the lining of the colon. Symptoms can include; diarrhea and/or constipation, bloating, gas and abdominal cramps. Whilst a small proportion of sufferers need to take medication, most people can control it with dietary changes. Studies have shown that avoiding certain foods can help to reduced severity and fewer symptoms, with much improvement in quality of life.

All IBS Is Not The Same

Understanding your IBS is the best way to manage it. Some general tips are;

  • Have regular meal times, chew well and avoid eating in haste to help the process of digestion.
  • Drink at least 8 cups of fluids a day. This can include water, soups, herbal or non-caffeinated drinks.
  • Regular exercise has shown to help reduce symptoms.
  • Reduce stress
  • Benefit can be had from gaining advice on nutritional supplements e.g. multivitamins, essential fatty acids and probiotics to remedy any nutritional deficiencies that may have resulted due to prolonged IBS symptoms.
  • Complementary therapies like acupuncture can help to reduce symptoms and calm the digestive system. It is particularly effective for functional problems. It can also help to reduce stress caused by a busy and demanding lifestyle.

Dietary Changes

  1. Avoid or restrict drinking tea, coffee, alcohol and fizzy drinks.
  2. Avoid artificial sweeteners.
  3. Avoid fatty foods.
  4. Start to keep a food diary and when symptoms occur. This will help to identify problem foods.
  5. Avoid or limit foods that may worsen symptoms.
  6. If you have persistent or frequent bloating, a low FODMAP diet can help. FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. Essentially these are carbohydrate, but specifically FODMAPS are certain types of carbohydrates that are not easily broken down and so have difficulty being absorbed by the gut. Left undigested in the gut they quickly start to ferment to release gases resulting in bloating. Low FODMAP diet essentially involves restricting your intake of high FODMAP foods e.g. some fruits and vegetables, animal milk, wheat products and beans. There is a danger of eliminating too many foods, potentially impacting on general health. Thus seeking guidance from a knowledgeable professional will ensure that you maintain a healthy balanced diet. You can read more about the low FODMAP diet here.

Give Foods Another Chance

When you are actively experiencing IBS symptoms it can seem like you react to almost everything that you eat. Often people may have eliminated food that they are able to eat if their colon is not in a reactive state. Thus, after a minimum of 3-4 weeks of food avoidance or limitation, the colon will have rested and calmed down. At this time you can start to can bring back foods one at a time at a rate of one item per week. You might be pleased to discover that you’re only sensitive to one or two FODMAP carbs, not all of them e.g. wheat is a problem but dairy is OK.

Creating Your Own Personalised Diet

The aim is to find out what foods or other factors (e.g. stress) trigger your IBS symptoms. In this way you can create your own personal diet which gives you all the nutrients you need but only includes the foods that you can handle.

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What are FODMAPs?

FODMAPs are short chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols naturally occurring in foods or as an additive.  As a group they are known as FODMAPs (Fermentable Oliogosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols). Not all carbohydrates are considered FODMAPs and the content level also varies.

Collectively they have three common properties:

  1. Incomplete digestion and absorption. They can be classified into two groups;
    • Those that are partly absorbed FODMAPs (fructose, lactose polyols)
    • Those which are not absorbed in anyone (fructans and galactooligosaccharides)
  2. Osmotically active action drawing in water into the large bowel.
  3. Rapidly fermented by bacteria due to their short chain molecular structure.

FODMAP image
Low FODMAP diets are scientifically proven and was first pioneered in Melboune, Australia for the management of IBS. However, in the UK it is still a relatively new concept. The effectiveness of FODMAP diets is variable. In people with IBS it is around 70%. All FODMAPs have a role in symptom development, but the dietary amount varies across the different genetic, ethnic and dietary groups. For example people who can digest lactose, dairy products are not a problem. Fructans and fructose are most common in North American, Western and European diets. Furthermore, we have to consider that the rate of absorption of fructose in the small intestine is widely variable and consequently the effects experienced by different people will also vary.

How do FODMAPs affect the bowel?

Luminal distension is considered to be the common physiological cause of many functional gut disorders. It induces symptoms of pain, bloating and abdominal distension. This evidence comes from Barostat and gas infusion research studies. FODMAP food that has not been digested passes through the small intestine to the colon where they are fermented by the bacteria resulting in the release of gas causing bloating, wind and pain. Due to their osmotic nature water enters the colon resulting in loose motions and diarrhoea. Research has shown that in individuals with sensitive bowel function (e.g. IBS) FODMAPs tend to react more readily.

What can I do to find out what if FODMAPs affect me?

If you have gastrointestinal symptoms, diarrhoea, constipation, gas, bloating and/or cramping then you are more likely to be sensitive to the effects of FODMAPs. Reduce your intake of high FODMAP foods for 4-8 weeks and observe whether your symptoms improve. If they do then you can start to reintroduce some of the higher FODMAP food one at a time to see if your symptoms recur. You can track your symptoms in a diary or use a symptom tracker app.  The lists below will also be helpful.

  1. Low FODMAP shopping list (Kate Scarlata, 2014) PDF
  2. Low FODMAP food list (SIG, 2016) PDF 

Resources:

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Gradually we are moving from spring to summer and the combination of sun, fresh flowers and warm air, but for some its means puffy itchy red eyes, runny noses, sneezing and headaches.

Good News! although the seasons are unavoidable, the need for antihistamines and a constant supply of tissues can be avoided with a few simple steps.

Hydration: Make sure you are well hydrated. On average drinking 2 –2.5 litres of fluids (includes drinks and soups) daily will ensure that your body functions can be optimised.

Supplements: Taking regular supplements of multivitamins and essential fatty acids (EFA) such as omega-3 and omega-6. These are called ‘essential’ because the body is unable to synthesize them and they have to be obtained directly from food sources.  Multivitamins are to be taken not necessarily as a treatment, but to support general health. They will top-up any existing nutrient deficiencies. To get the most benefit choose a formula that is right for your health needs.

Acupuncture & Acupressure: Effective both as a treatment and prevention for allergies and headaches, acupuncture regulates the body functions thus reducing the allergy response. The best part is that you can do it YOURSELF, but can prolong the effects of acupuncture treatments therefore requiring less frequent treatments. A great time to start is 4-6 weeks before the allergy season, but if you miss this preventative window you can still use it. It is not usual for people to experience immediate clearing of sinuses and heaviness of the head.

Face allergy

Specifically, there are 7 acupuncture points that can work wonders. All it takes is a little concentration and your fingers. Stimulating the points is not a substitute for real acupuncture but is excellent as a preventative measure and for treatment of sudden allergy attacks.

 

So, where to press?

Six points on the face. Three on each side, Bladder 2, Stomach 2 and Large Intestine 20.  All three points are pressed with firm circular pressure symmetrically on each side moving in the direction shown on the picture.

 

Spleen 5The seventh point is Spleen 5, located just below and distal to the medial malleolus (prominent bone on the inner ankle). In Chinese medicine allergies are linked to ‘dampness’ and this point acts on it. Dampness in the body is not healthy and acts like heavy sludge causing obstruction. You need only hold and press this point on one leg and massage it gently with tiny circular movements. The easiest position is to sit cross legged.

Seasonal allergy sufferers no longer need to stay indoors or suffer its effects. No more, thanks to acupuncture !

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