Sunday, February 26, 2012

Is My Food Making Me Sick?

By Meredith Terranova of Eating and Living Healthy

There is nothing more frustrating than when the foods you eat leave you feeling sick. The reality is you have to eat, but wouldn't it be wonderful to understand how to pick the foods that help you feel great?

The culprit to your problems might be a food intolerance, food allergy, and in some cases Celiac Disease. In order to determine if one of these is the cause, it is important to understand their differences.

Food allergies affect about 2 to 4% of adults and 6 to 8% of children. Food intolerances are much more common. In fact, nearly everyone at one time has had an unpleasant reaction to something they ate. Some people have specific food intolerances. Lactose intolerance, the most common food intolerance, affects about 10% of Americans.

Food allergies arise from sensitivity to chemical compounds (proteins) in food. They develop after you are exposed to a food protein that your body thinks is harmful. The first time you eat the food containing the protein, your immune system responds by creating specific disease-fighting antibodies (called immunoglobulin E or IgE). When you eat the food again, it triggers the release of IgE antibodies and other chemicals, including histamine, in an effort to expel the protein "invader" from your body. Histamine is a powerful chemical that can affect the respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, skin, or cardiovascular system.

As a result of this response, food allergy symptoms occur. The allergy symptoms you have depend on where in the body the histamine is released. If it is released in the ears, nose, and throat, you may have an itchy nose and mouth, or trouble breathing or swallowing. If histamine is released in the skin, you may develop hives or a rash. If histamine is released in the gastrointestinal tract, you likely will develop stomach pains, cramps, or diarrhea. Many people experience a combination of symptoms as the food is eaten and digested.

Food allergies often run in families, suggesting that the condition can be inherited. On the other hand there are many factors that may contribute to food intolerance. In some cases, as with lactose intolerance, the person lacks the chemicals, called enzymes, necessary to properly digest certain proteins found in food. Also common are intolerances to some chemical ingredients added to food to provide color, enhance taste, and protect against the growth of bacteria. These ingredients include various dyes and monosodium glutamate (MSG), a flavor enhancer.

Substances called sulfites are also a source of intolerance for some people. They may occur naturally, as in red wines or may be added to prevent the growth of mold.

Salicylates are a group of plant chemicals found naturally in many fruits, vegetables, nuts, coffee, juices, beer, and wine. Aspirin also is a compound of the salicylate family. Foods containing salicylates may trigger allergy symptoms in people who are sensitive to aspirin. Of course, any food consumed in excessive quantities can cause digestive symptoms.

Food allergies can be triggered by even a small amount of the food and occur every time the food is consumed. People with food allergies are generally advised to avoid the offending foods completely. On the other hand, food intolerances often are dose related.

People with food intolerance may not have symptoms unless they eat a large portion of the food or eat the food frequently. I like to explain this as "cumulative effect." For example, a person with lactose intolerance may be able to drink milk in coffee or a single glass of milk, but becomes sick if he or she drinks several glasses of milk. Also, yogurt may not cause a problem, but cheese on a pizza or full fat ice cream could cause an immediate issue.

Now that you understand the difference between food allergies and intolerance, let's take it a step further and discuss the foundation of Celiac Disease. (from the Celiac Disease Site)

Celiac Disease is:

an inherited disease. Celiac disease effects those with a genetic predisposition.
linked to genetically transmitted histocompatibility cell antigens (HLA DR3-DQ2, DR5/7 DQ2, and DR4-DQ8). Other genetic links are being discovered.

COMMON. Approximately 1 in 133 people have CD, however, only about 3% of these have been diagnosed. This number is based upon a milestone multi-center study of blood samples collected from 13,145 people from February 1996 to May of 2001. This means that there were over 2.1 million undiagnosed people with celiac disease in the United States in 2001.

characterized by (IgA mediated) damage to the mucosal lining of the small intestine which is known as villous atrophy.

responsible for the malabsorption of nutrients resulting in malnutrition.
linked to skin blisters known as dermatitis herpetiformis (DH).
not age-dependent. It may become active at any age.

Celiac Disease is NOT:

simply a food allergy (IgA).
an idiosyncratic reaction to food proteins (mediated by IgE).
typified by a rapid histamine-type reaction (such as bronchospasm, urticaria, etc.).

The Damaging Proteins

The term "gluten" is, in a sense, a generic term for the storage proteins that are found in grains. In reality, each type of protein - gliadin in wheat, secalin in rye, hordein in barley, avenin in oats, zein in corn and oryzenin in rice - is slightly different from the others. The "gluten" in wheat, rye, barley, and in a much lower amount, oats, contains particular amino acid sequences that are harmful to persons with celiac disease. The damaging proteins are particularly rich in proline and glutamine (especially the amino acid sequences which are in the following orders: Pro-Ser-Gln-Gln and Gln-Gln-Gln-Pro). As peptides, some such as 33-MER, cannot be broken down any further. In people with celiac disease, 33-MER stimulates T-cells to produce antibodies. The antibodies, in turn, attack the villi in the small intestine, reducing their ability to absorb nutrients. It is important to note that these sequences are NOT found in the proteins of corn and rice.

The Nature of the Injury
The damage to the small intestine (the jejunum) caused by this disease is very slow to develop and is insidious. It is:

almost certainly mediated by the immune system.

associated with ANTIBODIES to gliadin, reticulin and/or endomysial (smooth muscle) proteins.

probably not directly caused by the antibodies, though they may be signals for cell-mediated immunity.

probably produced by the cellular immune system (T cells) - but only when gluten-type prolamins are present.

reversible, in most cases, to completely normal bowel function, if the injurious protein is excluded from the diet.

How Does One "Catch" Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease cannot be "caught," but rather the potential for CD may be in the body from birth. Its onset is not confined to a particular age range or gender, although more women are diagnosed than men. It is not known exactly what activates the disease, however three things are required for a person to develop CD:

being born with the necessary genes. The Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) genes specifically linked to celiac disease are DR3, DQ2 and DQ8.

some environmental, emotional or physical event in one's life. While triggering factors are not fully understood, possibilities include, but are not limited to adding solids to a baby's diet, going through puberty, enduring a surgery or pregnancy, experiencing a stressful situation, catching a virus, increasing WBRO products in the diet, or developing a bacterial infection to which the immune system responds inappropriately.

containing WBRO, or any of their derivatives.

Why is defining this information so important?

Over the past two years the growth in people and then products with the above or combinations of the above has been 200%. The issue is that often times people are misinformed or misdiagnosed themselves, and often either instead of eliminating offender or by eliminating the offender tend to also eliminate essential nutrients from their diet.

If you feel as though you fit into one of the above categories, please send Meredith an email to discuss if an elimination diet is right for you or if you need to be further tested for other GI diseases/disorders. There is no need for the food you eat to make you sick, so now is the time to take a close look!


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