Friday, February 25, 2011

Food allergies, Food intolerances, or just plain bad for you food.

Many people have food allergies.  My son used to break out in eczema from head to toe if he had dairy or white flour (yes, white flour -- they tested him allergic to wheat, but he never actually had problems with whole wheat foods).   A missionary we know is so allergic to beans that he has to carry around medication to give himself a shot if he accidentally ingests some beans so his throat won't swell shut.  I've heard of children with such extreme peanut allergies who have died from unknowingly eating something with peanut butter in it.

I'm not sure if I have any food allergies.  I know that during peak hayfever months (pretty much March through November with August off), if I eat or drink any dairy products, I'll have allergy symptoms within minutes.  I don't really consider that a food allergy because those foods don't cause the same health problems when it's not allergy season.  I have found, however, that when I eat dairy products, I get sick easier -- catch the common cold or flu that's going around.  I definitely notice a difference with mucus (I know -- no one likes to read that word) when I eat dairy and not without.

What I've come to understand for my body is that certain foods weaken my immune system.  Dairy products is one of them.  Processed foods, even sugar and flour, also weaken my immune system.   It's not that my body is actually allergic to them.  It's just that my body has to work harder to figure out how to assimilate them into (or eliminate them from) my body and this energy makes my body not as able to fight germs.  I also think that many foods we eat in the Standard American Diet (SAD) are inflammatory, which weakens our bodies and brings a host of problems (asthma, allergies, arthritis, just to name a few).

So I find it interesting when I talk to my friends and explain how when I just eat whole foods and stay away from processed foods and animal products that this or that health problem improves immensely that they often respond with things like "I don't have any food allergies" or "If I had problems like that, I'd change my eating too, but I don't, so . . . " -- but they don't seem to realize that the health problems they have could be alleviated by healthy eating too. 

I actually heard a doctor's assistant at the dermatologist's office tell my child that skin problems are not related to how we eat, (but to make our moms happy, we should just eat healthier anyway -- but it doesn't affect your skin ).  I wanted to challenge him with a big, "Hmmph!  Have you had  any experience with this?  Where did you get that opinion?  That doesn't make any sense to me.  Wouldn't a car drive better with clean fuel that was actually made for the car to drive at it's optimum level?"  Instead I just shook my head inside and told my son afterward that I didn't agree with that at all.

Enough rambling.  Just wanted to set the record straight since I keep it in other times that you don't have to have something as bad as a food allergy to keep yourself away from certain foods that are so prevalent in the SAD.  Food allergies are real and valid to be sure.  But so is the fact that many things we eat just make it hard for our bodies to be healthy and strong. 

Off to do some yoga.  TTFN!

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