Posts filed under Food

The Link Between Allergies, Digestion and Holistic Medicine

This past Sunday, I received an email from one of my allergy friends who I've met via this website, Kerry (Hi, Kerry!). She sent me a great research paper written by her which I'm turning around and I just have to share it with YOU :-)

But first, here's a little bit about Kerry:

She's a retired elementary school teacher (who is currently volunteering as a tutor in a first grade classroom).  Kerry has a keen interest in chemical allergies since her propylene glycol/polyethylene glycol allergy diagnosis almost two years ago.  Because of her own digestion issues, she's  also done a lot of research about the importance of our intestinal flora for good health. As Kerry says,  "I have learned that there truly is a "Leaky Gut Syndrome" and believe it plays a major role in the development of allergies".

THIS. IS. WHY. I love blogging about allergies and eczema - we learn an incredible amount from each other! While this website is not a substitute for the doctor, I look at it as a VERY VALUABLE supplement and a necessary one, at that. My health improved because of advice you guys have given me and it's changed my world.

After my allergy and eczema diagnosis, the doctors could only do so much. They couldn't tell me all of the ingredients propylene glycol is hidden within and they couldn't follow me around every day to give advice on how to avoid touching things like doorknobs which could potentially contain nickel. I figured out that stuff on my own.

Kerry's story started with the diagnosis of propylene glycol (which I share) and polyethylene glycol allergies. Then a GERD diagnosis topped it all off.

She is SUPER awesome and aaall about the research. In fact, she's emailed me in the past with other helpful tid bits she learned. Kerry rocks. 

This time, she's worked up a research paper delving into the relationship of allergies, our digestion and holistic medicine. It's called "The Allergy-Gut Connection". I touched on the subject of leaky gut in the past and think it's an important thing for all of us to learn more about. 

Here's a snippet of Kerry's story:

“My allergy story began with a BANG with my diagnosis of propylene glycol (PG)/polyethylene glycol (PEG) allergies in April, 2014. These ubiquitous, petroleum- based chemicals are used extensively in the production of food, beverages, pharmaceuticals, personal care and household products. Not easy allergens to avoid! My previous experiences with allergies were more typical—hay fever for the last 40 years and Bactrim, a sulfa drug, for the past 25 years.

This PG/PEG diagnosis was part of the poor health I had been experiencing for the last 10 years. Initially, I was shocked to be experiencing such severe allergic contact dermatitis, but after doing some research, it became clear to me that my compromised gastrointestinal system was to blame. My life-long compromised gut was exacerbated by traditional medical care. For 10 years, my
first dermatologist prescribed tetracycline, an antibiotic, for my facial acne. Later in life, when I was diagnosed with GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease), I was prescribed a proton pump inhibitor (Prevacid—pre OTC) for 11 years. Antibiotics and reduced stomach acid, I believe, negatively altered my gut microbes making me susceptible to allergies. Even though tetracycline and Prevacid may have helped my symptoms of acne and GERD, they did not address the root cause of both conditions. Unfortunately, even to this day, acne and GERD are still treated in a similar manner by conventional medical professionals.”

Go grab a nice hot mug of tea or hot water and enjoy this informative read:

(The 14 page document will open immediately within your browser. Then hit save or print in the upper right hand corner. The file is in PDF format and is pretty tiny - just 750 KB)

How To Survive the Holidays with Allergies & Eczema

If you're like me, when you consider the holidays (which usually means being in a different home/environment)... you immediately think about aaaall the "X" factors aka the things that could disrupt your health. You may also consider whether or not it's really a good idea to go through with it.

When I go over to somebody's house, I have to think of things like: 

  • Do they have a cat?
  • Is their furniture made of polyester?
  • Will I be able to eat anything they're serving?
  • Does their silverware contain nickel?
  • Do they use air fresheners I may be allergic to?

In order to conquer your allergies and eczema you REALLY have to stick to your guns about controlling the environment you're in. It can get aggravating doing all the extra work, but when I get annoyed... I just try to think about how much it will benefit me... and take a deep breath... and tell myself again ;-)

Add travelling into the mix and you've just added another level of difficulty. Some families really like to get away for the holidays and do it up!

Take for example, when I went on a sailing trip for a week in St. Martin. I knew that I could possibly have an eczema flare due to an allergic reaction to the boat. Why? Because I'm allergic to polyester and propylene glycol which is used to make polyester resin which is what most boats are made of.

I gave it a shot, though. I mean, how was I going to pass up the once in a lifetime opportunity of living on a private catamaran in the Caribbean for a week? That would be cray-zay.

So, I go on the trip aaand my skin did flare up... womp, womp. It was pretty uncomfortable. Getting my skin to calm down on a hot, sticky boat is next to impossible... So, no more boat trips for me, but I'm still glad I got to experience what it's like to float around the Caribbean for a week (it's BEAUTIFUL).

While the holidays can be challenging, we owe it to ourselves to try to figure out a way to enjoy this special time - despite our allergies and/or eczema. With a little planning, some sacrifice and a positive attitude... you will probably be able to make it work!

Here are some helpful posts to help get you through it:

Got any tips to share?

What Are The Top Eight Food Allergens?

While I've somehow managed to avoid having all top eight food allergies, I know that many of you haven't. Personally, I'm allergic to a bunch of the garbage chemicals found in processed food. Food allergies, though? They are incredibly common these days.

In fact, it's estimated that there are up to 15 million Americans affected by food allergies. 

Food allergies have been on the rise for years and they can be deadly. With about two children in each classroom having them... we need to stand up and pay attention! Allergies are no joke!

Many people will say that food allergies are aaaall in our head and we're really "just fine" and people actually had these issues in the past, but weren't so sensitive about it, pffft.

Uh uh - NOT TRUE.

The CDC did a study on and food allergies in children HAVE approximately doubled since 1997. While the reason for the increase isn't quite clear, facts are facts and people need to respect that. People also need to respect the well being of others.

Peanut allergy seems to be the one everybody talks about the most, but there are seven more. These were dubbed the "top 8" by the powers that be because:

These eight food allergies account for 90 percent of all allergic reactions to food!

Wow.

The allergens that made this list are those you'll find listed in the allergen statement after ingredient lists as so many people react to them.

Here they are - the top 8 food allergies:

  1. egg
  2. fish
  3. milk
  4. peanut
  5. soy
  6. shellfish
  7. tree nuts
  8. wheat

Do you have any of these allergies?

Got any tips for the newbies? Post up in the comments!

If you're a newbie or are looking for more information, check out the "Resources For The Newly Diagnosed" by F.A.R.E. by clicking here.

 

Source: F.A.R.E., CDC 1, CDC 2

Work In Progress

I have suffered with eczema for 13 years. It just popped up one day and decided to never leave. My most common flare ups occur on my face which has severely affected my self confidence. Going through high school with a weird rash all over your body was really tough. Eventually we linked it to quite a few food allergies and that alleviated it for about 5 years. I had the occasional flare up here and there but nothing major. This winter my husband and I moved to a new state with a different climate and here I sit with a flare up on my face again. My job requires me to be on stage with a camera in my face every weekend and I dread having to try and cover it up because that doesn’t help a thing. I’ve been on a fairly recent journey to try and become more natural with my products and more whole in my eating to try and overcome this. I found your blog and have been so encouraged. No one in my circle has suffered from eczema so I’m just walking around embarrassed with no one to talk too or help me out. Finding your blog and the links to others and realizing that there is a community for people who suffer from eczema is amazing. Hopefully I can find a way to heal and I know your blog will provide me with so much knowledge! Thank you for all you do!
— anonymous Allergista reader

I'm so happy that you found me as well as our eczema community! I know what a great advantage it can be to hear other people's stories and solutions. Eczema can really feel like a never ending battle sometimes.

Ugh, high school kids can be really mean... I'm so sorry to hear that you went through that. Having your eczema in such an obvious place - especially having to frequently be in front of a camera - can't be easy! Here's what I do when my eczema freaks out and as far as products go, there are great stores on both the allergy resource page and the eczema resource page.

Major life changes like moving or stressful events can really flare up our eczema, so I'm hoping that yours will be able to calm down with a little TLC and move on to adjusting to your new environment.

I wish you a speedy recovery! Hang in there and make sure to reach out to all of us if you need to! That's what we're here for :-)

XO