Dec
11
2010
--

ASTHMA AND THE FOOD FAMILY CONCEPT

ASTHMA AND THE FOOD FAMILY CONCEPT
To a layperson a tomato is quite different from a potato, but to an allergic person they may amount to the same thing, because they both contain solanine, a natural chemical to which some people are allergic. Although people talk about ‘food allergies’ or intolerances, often people are not sensitive to the foods per se, but rather to some natural chemical which in most cases is common to a group of foods known as a food family.
The potato, for example, is a member of the nightshades family, as are tomatoes, capsicums, eggplants and tobacco. All these foods contain solanine, a natural chemical which is potentially toxic and to which some people may be sensitive. In fact, some nutritional scientists claim that an intolerance of or allergy to nightshades is a common cause of some types of arthritis. All these foods also contain nicotine, so that it is possible for someone to be ‘allergic’ to tobacco and therefore affected by eating some of these foods after being exposed to tobacco smoke for a long time.
In other cases people may not be allergic to any component of the foods but rather to something extraneous to it, like the moulds which grow on tea leaves, dried fruit, cream cheese, melons and indeed most left-overs which are allowed to stay in the fridge overnight. From here on things become even more complicated.
If someone who is allergic to moulds/fungi reacts to yeast it is because yeast is a fungus. But so is Candida, the organism responsible for thrush, a condition that can exist on the skin, in the digestive system or in the genital areas. If such a person suffers with a Candida infection, chances are that treating it will make the allergy worse, at least for a while.
Some people are ‘allergic’ to wheat. This could mean that they are hypersensitive to the gluten, in which case they must avoid rye, malt, oats and barley as well. Unfortunately gluten-sensitive patients may also need to avoid some of the non-grain foods which contain gluten, such as milk, buckwheat, cassava, arrowroot and tapioca. They can usually eat brown and white rice and millet, however, because these grains are gluten free. On the other hand, some people appear to be sensitive to some other factor in grains apart from gluten. These patients usually cannot eat brown rice, millet, wheat, rye, oats, barley, malt or corn, although white rice, buckwheat, cassava, arrowroot and tapioca are allowed.
Then there is the special problem of corn. Apart from its potential allergenicity as part of the grains group, this food appears to evoke its own special kind of intolerance. Most commercial adhesives, as well as talcum powder, can provoke a reaction in a corn-sensitive patient. We had a case of one such patient almost fainting on our doorstep after licking a stamp. Some years ago a little girl of about four was brought to me by her desperate parents. ‘She screams, cries and carries on every night when put to bed.’ This was most prevalent in the summer months. They thought it may have had something to do with the heat, or humidity. I won’t bore you with all the details of our many months of investigation, but in the end I discovered that the poor child was so sensitive to corn that when her mother gave her a freshly ironed and starched nightdress, sweat caused some of the corn-laden starch to be absorbed into her body via the skin. This irritated her nervous system to such an extent that she could not sleep! I have seen at least half a dozen similar cases of children who suffered asthma attacks only at bedtime.
Some people are similarly affected by talcum powder, with which they religiously dust their bodies daily. Just as Feingold mistakenly postulated that all hyperactive children were only sensitive to chemical additives and salicylates, without giving any consideration to the twin possibilities of lowered immuno-competence caused by vitamin and mineral deficiencies and the likelihood of allergies to other common foods, so many investigators have fallen for the trap of ‘cutting off potential reactions by postulating different degrees of allergenicity for individual members of each food family.
You will hear and read learned pronouncements about wheat being more allergenic than rice, when in fact all one can say is that, statistically, there are fewer people with an intolerance to rice than to wheat, which is because more people are sensitive to gluten than to other grain factors. This, of course, doesn’t help the unfortunate patient who is told to keep on eating rice only to discover, years later, that his gastrointestinal tract is inflamed enough to cause ulcers, colitis or perhaps even Chron’s disease!
But, patients sometimes say that they felt better when they first gave up wheat. Of course they did! If you are beaten over the head with two sticks and I remove one stick, you will feel better for a while. After all, only half as much beating is going on. Eventually, however, you will suffer the cumulative consequences of even the single beatings.
There are further complications. Some writers on allergies have said that peanuts cause more problems than beans. This is true, but it may well be that people react to the moulds which form on nuts rather than to the peanuts themselves. Oranges do tend to trigger off more headaches than grapefruit or lemons but then oranges contain synephrine, a powerful stimulant of a chemical neural transmitter (norepinephrine) which is released at the nerve endings.
Having said that, I must admit that not all members of a particular food family will necessarily cause reactions in all allergic patients. The problem is to know who is sensitive to what, and how much. Obviously one would not be able to correlate the enormous variations possible within even a relatively small group of patients, so there is only one practical answer.
First, one must have a detailed medical history which, in the hands of an experienced therapist, will often elicit some important information. For example, if the patient has suffered from urticaria (hives) during childhood then the nutritionist immediately knows that there is a reasonable chance the patient is allergic to salicylates and will carry out an intradermal, end pointing or challenge test, regardless of the results of a skin scratch test.
We do know that there are some valid generalisations, however. Statistically, more people are allergic to egg whites than to chicken, to soya than to lentils, to wheat than to rice, and so on, so one starts with at least some idea of what is more likely to cause harm. The family history will also provide some clues, as will the actual presenting symptoms because, once again, there are some statistical correlations between certain food intolerances and the body systems that tend to be affected by them. Milk and other dairy products often target the respiratory tract, for example, while grains feature more prevalently in digestive problems.
Many trials, some double blind, have shown that some patients who react to one member of a food family show no reaction at all when challenged by another member of the same family. So it is possible that one may feel unwell after eating tomatoes, but can munch away on potatoes every day without feeling any different. The problem with accepting such research results as dogma is that they seldom work in actual clinical practice where one finds all sorts of patients who react to various combinations of foods in ways that are a tribute to Roger Williams’ principles of biochemical individuality.
Then we have the problem of not knowing whether the lack of reaction is simply due to the fact that the patient eats one or the other food less often, or more often, than other members of the same food family. Finally, the absence of any visible or subjective reaction does not altogether exclude the possibility that the food may, in fact, be harmful. An individual’s resistance varies from day to day, even from hour to hour. A patient who is not visibly affected by eggs on Monday morning, when he is relaxed and otherwise healthy, may well have a severe reaction on Thursday night, when he has the flu. Because the first dictum of health professionals is ‘Thou shalt do no harm’, the only way is to play safe and ask the patient’s body to tell you, by monitoring its subtle signals if it considers the ingestion of a particular food a form of stress.
For this reason it is better to start by avoiding all members of a suspect food family and then to test each member separately. But how does one do that? The usual test may not provide the answer. One must measure as many physiological parameters of the stress response as possible. That means carefully questioning and testing the patient for his or her responses.
There isn’t much point in asking the patient, ‘How do you feel?’ You have to ask his or her body. Pulse rates may vary or remain unchanged when someone is challenged with, say, milk. If the presenting complaint were asthma, then a lung function test with a sensitive spirometer may well register some changes. Other responses may not occur for hours, or even a couple of days, so the therapist needs to find out how the patient felt and responded for at least 24 hours after the ingestion of the challenging food. This can only be achieved by either giving the patient a diary to fill in over the 24-48 hours following the challenge test, or by very careful and thorough questioning about possible delayed reactions.
One of the best and simplest tests for food allergies is the intradermal or the sublingual challenge test.
*40\145\2*
To a layperson a tomato is quite different from a potato, but to an allergic person they may amount to the same thing, because they both contain solanine, a natural chemical to which some people are allergic. Although people talk about ‘food allergies’ or intolerances, often people are not sensitive to the foods per se, but rather to some natural chemical which in most cases is common to a group of foods known as a food family.
The potato, for example, is a member of the nightshades family, as are tomatoes, capsicums, eggplants and tobacco. All these foods contain solanine, a natural chemical which is potentially toxic and to which some people may be sensitive. In fact, some nutritional scientists claim that an intolerance of or allergy to nightshades is a common cause of some types of arthritis. All these foods also contain nicotine, so that it is possible for someone to be ‘allergic’ to tobacco and therefore affected by eating some of these foods after being exposed to tobacco smoke for a long time.
In other cases people may not be allergic to any component of the foods but rather to something extraneous to it, like the moulds which grow on tea leaves, dried fruit, cream cheese, melons and indeed most left-overs which are allowed to stay in the fridge overnight. From here on things become even more complicated.
If someone who is allergic to moulds/fungi reacts to yeast it is because yeast is a fungus. But so is Candida, the organism responsible for thrush, a condition that can exist on the skin, in the digestive system or in the genital areas. If such a person suffers with a Candida infection, chances are that treating it will make the allergy worse, at least for a while.
Some people are ‘allergic’ to wheat. This could mean that they are hypersensitive to the gluten, in which case they must avoid rye, malt, oats and barley as well. Unfortunately gluten-sensitive patients may also need to avoid some of the non-grain foods which contain gluten, such as milk, buckwheat, cassava, arrowroot and tapioca. They can usually eat brown and white rice and millet, however, because these grains are gluten free. On the other hand, some people appear to be sensitive to some other factor in grains apart from gluten. These patients usually cannot eat brown rice, millet, wheat, rye, oats, barley, malt or corn, although white rice, buckwheat, cassava, arrowroot and tapioca are allowed.
Then there is the special problem of corn. Apart from its potential allergenicity as part of the grains group, this food appears to evoke its own special kind of intolerance. Most commercial adhesives, as well as talcum powder, can provoke a reaction in a corn-sensitive patient. We had a case of one such patient almost fainting on our doorstep after licking a stamp. Some years ago a little girl of about four was brought to me by her desperate parents. ‘She screams, cries and carries on every night when put to bed.’ This was most prevalent in the summer months. They thought it may have had something to do with the heat, or humidity. I won’t bore you with all the details of our many months of investigation, but in the end I discovered that the poor child was so sensitive to corn that when her mother gave her a freshly ironed and starched nightdress, sweat caused some of the corn-laden starch to be absorbed into her body via the skin. This irritated her nervous system to such an extent that she could not sleep! I have seen at least half a dozen similar cases of children who suffered asthma attacks only at bedtime.
Some people are similarly affected by talcum powder, with which they religiously dust their bodies daily. Just as Feingold mistakenly postulated that all hyperactive children were only sensitive to chemical additives and salicylates, without giving any consideration to the twin possibilities of lowered immuno-competence caused by vitamin and mineral deficiencies and the likelihood of allergies to other common foods, so many investigators have fallen for the trap of ‘cutting off potential reactions by postulating different degrees of allergenicity for individual members of each food family.
You will hear and read learned pronouncements about wheat being more allergenic than rice, when in fact all one can say is that, statistically, there are fewer people with an intolerance to rice than to wheat, which is because more people are sensitive to gluten than to other grain factors. This, of course, doesn’t help the unfortunate patient who is told to keep on eating rice only to discover, years later, that his gastrointestinal tract is inflamed enough to cause ulcers, colitis or perhaps even Chron’s disease!
But, patients sometimes say that they felt better when they first gave up wheat. Of course they did! If you are beaten over the head with two sticks and I remove one stick, you will feel better for a while. After all, only half as much beating is going on. Eventually, however, you will suffer the cumulative consequences of even the single beatings.
There are further complications. Some writers on allergies have said that peanuts cause more problems than beans. This is true, but it may well be that people react to the moulds which form on nuts rather than to the peanuts themselves. Oranges do tend to trigger off more headaches than grapefruit or lemons but then oranges contain synephrine, a powerful stimulant of a chemical neural transmitter (norepinephrine) which is released at the nerve endings.
Having said that, I must admit that not all members of a particular food family will necessarily cause reactions in all allergic patients. The problem is to know who is sensitive to what, and how much. Obviously one would not be able to correlate the enormous variations possible within even a relatively small group of patients, so there is only one practical answer.
First, one must have a detailed medical history which, in the hands of an experienced therapist, will often elicit some important information. For example, if the patient has suffered from urticaria (hives) during childhood then the nutritionist immediately knows that there is a reasonable chance the patient is allergic to salicylates and will carry out an intradermal, end pointing or challenge test, regardless of the results of a skin scratch test.
We do know that there are some valid generalisations, however. Statistically, more people are allergic to egg whites than to chicken, to soya than to lentils, to wheat than to rice, and so on, so one starts with at least some idea of what is more likely to cause harm. The family history will also provide some clues, as will the actual presenting symptoms because, once again, there are some statistical correlations between certain food intolerances and the body systems that tend to be affected by them. Milk and other dairy products often target the respiratory tract, for example, while grains feature more prevalently in digestive problems.
Many trials, some double blind, have shown that some patients who react to one member of a food family show no reaction at all when challenged by another member of the same family. So it is possible that one may feel unwell after eating tomatoes, but can munch away on potatoes every day without feeling any different. The problem with accepting such research results as dogma is that they seldom work in actual clinical practice where one finds all sorts of patients who react to various combinations of foods in ways that are a tribute to Roger Williams’ principles of biochemical individuality.
Then we have the problem of not knowing whether the lack of reaction is simply due to the fact that the patient eats one or the other food less often, or more often, than other members of the same food family. Finally, the absence of any visible or subjective reaction does not altogether exclude the possibility that the food may, in fact, be harmful. An individual’s resistance varies from day to day, even from hour to hour. A patient who is not visibly affected by eggs on Monday morning, when he is relaxed and otherwise healthy, may well have a severe reaction on Thursday night, when he has the flu. Because the first dictum of health professionals is ‘Thou shalt do no harm’, the only way is to play safe and ask the patient’s body to tell you, by monitoring its subtle signals if it considers the ingestion of a particular food a form of stress.
For this reason it is better to start by avoiding all members of a suspect food family and then to test each member separately. But how does one do that? The usual test may not provide the answer. One must measure as many physiological parameters of the stress response as possible. That means carefully questioning and testing the patient for his or her responses.
There isn’t much point in asking the patient, ‘How do you feel?’ You have to ask his or her body. Pulse rates may vary or remain unchanged when someone is challenged with, say, milk. If the presenting complaint were asthma, then a lung function test with a sensitive spirometer may well register some changes. Other responses may not occur for hours, or even a couple of days, so the therapist needs to find out how the patient felt and responded for at least 24 hours after the ingestion of the challenging food. This can only be achieved by either giving the patient a diary to fill in over the 24-48 hours following the challenge test, or by very careful and thorough questioning about possible delayed reactions.
One of the best and simplest tests for food allergies is the intradermal or the sublingual challenge test.
*40\145\2*
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