Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
Stars like Emmy Award winners Michael J. Fox and moms like Julie Bowen and Ali Larter have joined the efforts to label genetically engineered (GE) foods.
The celebrities are featured in a new Just Label It (JLI) video calling for the FDA to require labeling of GE foods. Fox, Bowen and Larter are joined in the video by 24 other entertainers like Chevy Chase and advocates and Just Label It (JLI) Chairman, Gary Hirshberg.
Bowen, a mother of three sons, shows her support for labeling by revealing a sign in the video with the message: “Every modern family has the right to know what’s in their food!”
As a mom, she gets it. And it’s a message many of us can relate to.
It’s great to see mothers like Bowen, Ali Larter, Kimberly Van Der Beek and Anne Heche stand up for their right to know what’s in the foods they are feeding their families, as it’s a right that’s already been given to eaters in dozens of countries around the world, even in China, Russia and India.
The United States remains one of the few developed countries in the world that has not yet labeled these ingredients, introduced into our food supply in the 1990s, in our foods.
The message in this video sums up the argument JLI has been making throughout the country: every American deserves the right to know about their food and whether they are eating or serving their families food that has been genetically engineered.
Just Label It is petitioning the FDA to update its 20-year-old voluntary guidelines and require labeling for GE foods, giving a voice to all Americans who are concerned about wha is going into the foods they are feeding their loved ones. Today, more than 1.2 million Americans have joined the petition. I hope you will too, so that together, we can have this same basic right enjoyed by citizens around the world.
To learn more, please visit Just Label It .
Bonnie Modugno, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian in private practice specializing in metabolism and sport nutrition. She is a friend of the AllergyKids Foundation, and we recently invited her to share her thoughts on the Stanford Study, the value of organic foods and other topics.
In an analysis of 237 studies of organic produce, meats and dairy foods, Stanford scientists determined that organic foods are no more nutritious than their conventional counterparts. The recent study published in The Annals of Internal Medicine has the food world spinning. The scientists looked at vitamin C in produce and omega three fatty acids in animal products among other nutrients and concluded that there just wasn’t enough difference to impact human health.
Human nutrition is a young science. The first “vitamin” was discovered early in the 20th century, the Recommended Dietary Allowances were first released in 1941 and the first dietary guidelines were established in 1980.
Since the beginning, nutrition science has been preoccupied with identifying essential nutrients. This early orientation has led too many nutrition scientists down a path of reductionist thinking, as if food were merely a delivery vehicle for essential nutrients in our diet. Today the rest of the food world is pushing back. Farmers, chefs, journalists, environmentalists, foodies, as well as many more integrative nutritionists, dietitians and other health care providers are crying foul.
The push back to the Stanford study has been enormous. Many Americans have become far too sophisticated in the post Omnivore’s Dilemma era to take the narrow findings of this study at face value. Every post I have read over the past two days immediately points to the real differences between organic and conventional food. To many consumers, the value of organic food production was never only about the nutrients.
The Problem with Reductionist Science
The traditional approach to studying nutrition is fragmented. Nutrition science often focuses on the smallest components of the diet, the essential nutrients. Most funding for nutrition research is appropriated for studies regarding specific nutrients.
It is easier to study a single nutrient compared to the overall diet. This is why you get to read front page stories telling you to avoid fat, or more specifically to eat more unsaturated fat, and even more specifically to consume more omega 3 fatty acids.
There is very limited research looking at overall dietary patterns, and even less linking the production of food to anything. Too often the only concern is what happens to man. Nutrition science tends to ignore the rest of our ecological home. Today, there is a need for nutrition science to connect more of the dots.
WHAT ABOUT THE VITAMINS AND MINERALS
Most critics of the Stanford study focus on the findings of the researchers. People want to think organic food must be far superior compared to conventionally raised foods. But research looking at nutrient content of organic versus conventionally grown food is mixed.
Sometimes conventional foods show higher nutrient content. (Although research shown below shows that organically grown produce has higher content more often) Still, this kind of data doesn’t often inspire the average Joe or Jane to pull out their hard earned cash to pay a premium for an organic product.
OMEGA THREE CONTENT IS DIFFERENT
The omega three fatty acid data is more compelling. Greater amounts of omega three fatty acids are thought to be health promoting. A lower ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 is linked to less inflammation. Less inflammation is associated with reduced risk of everything from cancer, diabetes, and heart disease to allergies, asthma, and more.
Grass fed beef is markedly different than beef from conventionally raised cattle. Grass fed beef contains more omega 3 fatty acids. Grass fed beef has a 2:1 ratio of omega six to omega three fatty acids; conventional beef has a ratio of 9:1. The greater amount of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in grass fed beef is bonus.
WHAT ABOUT ALL THE OTHER FACTORS THAT INFLUENCE HEALTH, NUTRITION AND DISEASE?
The Stanford’s study glaring omissions are exactly what has so many people energized about eating closer to the earth and preferentially choosing organic foods.
- People know that water is important. Runoff from conventional farms using conventional NPK fertilizer pollutes the waterways and creates dead zones in the oceans.
- Today’s educated consumers don’t want to consume added hormones in their food supply. The use of recombinant bovine growth hormone in dairy cows is far less common than it once was. Many consumers won’t buy milk containing rBGH.
- The educated food consumer knows that 80% of all antibiotics are used with animals, often in animal feed as a growth enhancer. They worry about the emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria.
- Today’s consumers are concerned about exposure to pesticides, insecticides and other chemical agents used in conventional farming. They are aware these substances pose risk to human health. They bio-accumulate in fat stores.
These agents are known endocrine disruptors. 95% of “persistent organic pollutants” enter our body via the food supply. These chemical agents impact all life forms, especially compromising biodiversity of insects and microbes in the soil.
- Consumers have every reason to be wary of genetically engineered and GMO foods. Studies regarding the safety of genetic engineering are inadequate.
Proponents of genetic engineering would like consumers to accept that GMO foods are “substantially equivalent” to traditionally cultivated foods. Currently, substantial equivalence is determined using 90 day studies with lab rats. No wonder the current initiative to label GMO foods in California garners huge public support.
WE CAN NOT AFFORD TO EAT ACCORDING TO REDUCTIONIST SCIENCE
When making food choices we can no longer afford to only consider the nutrient content of food. The way food is grown and harvested matters. They way in which food is processed matters. The methods and packaging used to transport our food matters.
Today nutrition scientists need to broaden their scope and consider their findings in much broader context. The range of issues impacting human health encompasses the health of our precious resources: the vitality of livestock, crop diversity, soil ecology, the health of our oceans, our supply of fresh water and clean air. Everyone connected to the food supply needs to understand and respect this truth. Good nutrition has never been just about the nutrients.
Bonnie Modugno, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian in private practice specializing in energy metabolism and sport nutrition. Bonnie works extensively with individuals and families addressing nutrition concerns throughout the lifecycle, with a special focus on maternal, infant and child nutrition. She is a speaker and author, writing her blog at www.muchmorethanfood.com
Written by Robyn O’Brien, founder of the AllergyKids Foundation, author of The Unhealthy Truth
Today, one in eleven children struggle with asthma, and one in four are affected by allergies. The incidence of allergy has increased significantly over the past two decades, and allergy to peanuts has more than doubled from 1997 to 2002. Approximately 30 million children – more than 1/3 of our kids – are affected by one of these four new childhood epidemics. This is not something we can just accept.
The official statistic holds that allergies affect some 7 million Americans, including about 6 percent of children below the age of three. That information comes courtesy of U.S. Food and Drug Administration Deputy Commissioner Lester M. Crawford, J., D.V.M., Ph.D., speaking before the Consumer Federation of America on April 22, 2002. But that data is now almost ten years old.
Since then, the only update we’ve had is from the Centers for Disease Control and a report issued in 2008 that said that there has been a 265% increase in the rate of hospitalizations related to food allergic reactions.
This begs explanation.
An allergy is basically an overreaction by your immune system to a protein that it perceives as a threat—for example, the proteins in particular types of food, the dust mite protein, or pollen. For people without allergies, these proteins are harmless. But if you’ve got an allergy, your immune system sees these proteins as dangerous invaders.
To drive the invader out, your immune system mobilizes all its resources: mucous, to flush out the intruder; vomiting, to force it out; diarrhea, to expel it quickly. Such conditions may make you feel sick, but they’re actually evidence of your body’s attempts to get well.
A key aspect of the immune response is known as inflammation, characterized by one or more of four classic symptoms: redness, heat, swelling, and pain. Inflammation doesn’t occur only in allergic reactions; it flares up whenever your body feels threatened, in response to a bruise, cut, bacteria, or virus as well as to otherwise harmless pollen, dust, or food. Scientists now believe that much of our immune system is found in our digestive tracts, where many of these inflammatory reactions occur in the form of stomachaches, cramping, nausea, bloating, and vomiting.
Ironically, the immune system’s inflammatory reaction—meant to heal and protect the body—often causes more problems than the initial “invader” in the cases when allergic reactions become life-threatening.
Common Symptoms of Food Allergy: Immediate Reactions
* rash or hives
* stomach pain
* itchy skin
* shortness of breath
* chest pain
* swelling of the airways to the lungs
Food Allergies and Food Sensitivity: Our Immune System Overreacts Again
At first glance, the distinction between “allergies” and “sensitivity” may seem like a meaningless word game. But understanding the relationship between these two conditions is crucial to grasping the true nature of the allergy epidemic—and to seeing how even the supposedly healthy foods in our kitchens may be harmful to our health.
As we’ve seen, allergies are an overreaction of our immune system, a kind of exaggerated response to a perceived danger. When a child comes in contact with these proteins (peanut, egg, wheat, etc.) her immune system “recognizes” the protein as dangerous, just as it would have seen the danger in the bacterium that causes pneumonia or the virus that causes mumps. In response, her immune system creates special “fighter” proteins called antibodies designed to identify and neutralize the “invader.”
These fighter proteins are known as immunoglobulin E, or IgE for short. When they’re released into the bloodstream, their purpose is to “seek and destroy” the invader, which they do by creating one or more of the classic food allergy symptoms, such as the hives, or the diarrhea with which other children respond, or, in more extreme cases, the anaphylactic shock that can kill a child within minutes.
The classic IgE response occurs within minutes or even seconds, because IgE proteins are some of the most aggressive antibodies we know. That immediate IgE response is the defining characteristic of an allergic reaction.
Food sensitivities start out in a similar way. If a “sensitive” child is exposed to a protein that his system perceives as a threat, he’ll manufacture another type of fighter protein, known as Immunglobulin G, or IgG. Although IgE and IgG antibodies play similar roles, they produce somewhat different—though often overlapping—symptoms.
A crucial difference between the two, though, is their reaction time. The less aggressive IgG antibodies typically produce a delayed response that might not appear for hours or even days after the child has consumed the offending food.
So even though food sensitivities and food allergies both produce painful, inflammatory, and potentially dangerous responses, this delayed reaction time has led many doctors to give food sensitivities second-class status. Partly that’s because they don’t present an immediate and obvious threat to children’s lives: only the IgE proteins trigger anaphylactic shock, for example, and in that sense, only the IgE proteins can kill (though the IgG reaction can have serious long-term consequences). I also think that traditional doctors tend to downplay the importance of nutrition, frequently dismissing the idea that such symptoms as earache, eczema, crankiness, brain fog, and sleep problems might be related to a child’s diet.
However, an article in The Lancet, Britain’s most respected medical journal, casts another light on the subject. The article referred to doctors who use elimination diets—diets that begin with a very limited, “safe” array of food choices and then add potentially problematic foods back into the diet, one by one.
The reason to do an elimination diet is to identify which foods in your diet might be triggering symptoms like skin rashes, fatigue, or stomach ache. Often, some foods affect us without our realizing it and we live with the symptoms, taking medicine to alleviate the suffering. But if you eliminate these foods from your diet, you may find that your symptoms disappear. What becomes even more interesting is that when you reintroduce the offending food, you may suddenly suffer drastic symptoms which make it clear that the food was indeed triggering one or more problems. An elimination diet can sometimes reveal with dramatic speed that a particular food you’ve always believed was harmless is actually causing such chronic symptoms as headache, digestive problems, and even more serious complaints. Masked by your daily diet and by the slowness of the food-sensitivity reaction, the offending food does its dirty work without ever realizing that it is the culprit behind your—or your child’s—disorders.
When you take a break from eating that problem food, however, and then add it back into your diet, you see how powerful its effects are and how responsible it may be for a seemingly unrelated problem. Foods that you thought were safe for you turn out to be highly problematic, indicating the presence of a previous undiagnosed food sensitivity. As a result, the authors of the Lancet article conclude that the prevalence of food sensitivity (referred to in the article as “food intolerance”) has been seriously underestimated.
Certainly, food allergies are far more dramatic. Whenever you read about a kid who died within minutes of eating at a fast-food joint or after breathing in the peanut dust from a friend’s candy wrapper, that’s an “IgE-mediated” food allergy. They’re fast, they can be deadly, and I’m glad doctors want to give them the attention they deserve.
But I also think doctors should be looking at delayed reactions, too, the “IgG-mediated” responses to food sensitivities. And some doctors do look seriously at both. Most conventional doctors, though, tend to focus on IgE immediate reactions. I think there are lots of reasons why they should view the two types of reactions as part of a larger, single problem.
First, both reactions have the same ultimate cause: the immune system’s overreaction to apparently harmless food. According to internationally acclaimed author and physician Kenneth Bock, M.D., there’s also quite a bit of overlap between IgE and IgG symptoms. Both can contribute to inflammatory responses in multiple body systems.
True, the delayed IgG reactions are less likely to cause hives and are more likely to produce a host of apparently vague symptoms, such as headache, brain fog, sleep problems, joint pain, fatigue, and muscle aches. But both the immediate and the delayed responses are immune system problems triggered by a supposedly “harmless” food.
Conventional doctors’ tendency to separate “IgE-mediated” food allergies and “IgG-mediated” food sensitivities into two separate problems has the effect of minimizing the allergy epidemic. Remember, IgE allergies, IgG sensitivities, and asthma—three similar ways that our immune systems can overreact—are all on the rise. It makes sense to find a doctor who is willing to address all three as symptoms of a greater underlying issue.
Common Symptoms of Food Sensitivity: Delayed Reactions
* gastrointestinal problems, including bloating and gas
* itchy skin and skin rashes like eczema
* brain fog
* muscle or joint aches
* sleeplessness and sleep disorders
* chronic rhinitis (runny nose), congestion, and post-nasal drip
1. Even if your kids can’t talk, their skin speaks volumes! Did you know that the skin is a person’s largest organ? Even when your kid is too young to tell you how he feels or too used to her symptoms to identify them (when kids hurt all the time, they don’t know they hurt!), you can often read your child’s condition in his or her skin.
Does your kid have eczema? Does he get rashes around the mouth, especially after he eats a certain food or swallows a certain beverage? Rashes around the knees, elbows, or armpits? Does he have “allergic shiners”—that is, dark circles under the eyes?
These are all inflammatory reactions, signs that the body is trying to rid itself of what it perceives as “toxic invader.” In your child’s case, that “toxic invader” might be an apparently harmless food, to which your kid is either allergic or “sensitive.” Keeping that invader away from your kid may bring relief from symptoms—and it may clear up other problems, such as brain fog, crankiness, sleep problems, inattention, acne, and mood swings.
2. The toilet bowl has a lot to tell you. Your kids’ bowel movements, not to be too delicate here, also speak volumes. Runny poops are a sign that a person isn’t properly digesting his food. And indeed, as we got the allergens out of some children’s diets, poops tend to firm up.
3. Chronic ear infections are often a sign of dairy allergies. In some cases, milk may have ill effects like eczema, upset stomachs or chronic ear infections for children who are allergic or sensitive to it.
4. Find a doctor who is willing to work with you, test for both IgE and IgG allergies and sensitivities and to address the important role that elimination diets can play in managing allergic symptoms like eczema, ear infections and chronic mucous.
Disclaimer: Always discuss individual health inquiries and medical issues with a qualified personal physician and/or specialist. Robyn O’Brien/AllergyKids is not responsible for medical decisions made by any one person. The professionals who share their knowledge, discussions, minutes, handouts, agendas, and other products do not constitute medical and/or legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Always discuss individual health inquiries and medical issues with a qualified personal physician and/or specialist.
At AllergyKids, inspiration matters to us…a lot. Because when you are handed a diagnosis – whether it’s a life-threatening food allergy or a child’s cancer – you need every shot of hope, inspiration and strength that you can get.
So when a friend emailed an article titled, “Happy Anniversary,” the same week that marked the 6 year anniversary of that life-changing breakfast that resulted in a food allergic reaction at our breakfast table, I reflected on how there really are no coincidences. Just lessons.
And we are grateful for them.
And when we hear stories like the one you are about to read below, we feel compelled to share them. Not because we believe that there is a one-size-fits-all approach to health and wellness, but because they offer so much hope. And hope is the knowledge that change is possible even when it seems hard to imagine.
I have never been into anniversaries. That sounds so un-romantic. I am always aware how many years Lance and I have been married, for example, and secretly psyched when we made it a decade, and kept on going, but I didn’t care about making a big deal about the actual day. I like to celebrate random days, not necessarily THE day.
However, this anniversary is different. It’s significant. It brings mixed emotions. Usually when you say “Happy Anniversary” it’s because that particular day was a celebratory one. A year ago was not celebratory for us. In fact, it sucked. It was hands down the worst day of our lives. I was sitting in ICU thinking all the worst things one could think, crying my eyes out, ridden with shock and sadness.
So when I look at where we are now, I think now that’s something to celebrate! Lately, I’ve been looking at Lance, thinking, “Damn, you look good.” In fact, this past weekend, we were at some hot springs near Winter Park with our friends. We were all coming out of the changing rooms with our swim suits on and both my friend and I took a double take when Lance came out in his bathing suit. He looked fit and strong and healthy and just plain good. My friend said something to me about how Lance looked, I nodded.
And when I think about all that we learned and grew and did and tackled and accomplished in the past year, it makes me beam with pride. We worked hard at getting where Lance is today. We didn’t let anything get in our way…not doctors, not naysayers, not statistics. We just put those aside and tried to be the best students possible. We continued to learn as we went along and added, or subtracted whatever was serving us or not serving us and kept on forging ahead. This included not only nutrition, but meditating, visualizing, resting, learning, learning, and more learning, being conscious in everything we did and being really clear on what we had time for and what we didn’t. It was like the ultimate fine tuning of our lives.
Also, a year is significant because getting to a year in Lance’s case was a big deal and increases his chances all the more. A couple months ago, I started feeling that sense that we were coming up to a year and Lance was doing so good and it made me think of the little engine that could and I kept thinking, “Come on, you can do it.”
While my Dad was in the hospital here in Boulder with his broken leg, I asked him if he would like to see Lance’s last MRI. Since my Dad is a retired radiologist (that specialized in neurology) this whole business with Lance has been a little touchy. I knew without discussing his views that we had very different perspectives on Lance’s condition but he kept his thoughts to himself (thanks Dad, I am eternally grateful to you for that). However, in this bonding father/daughter moment, I showed him Lance’s last MRI and watched him as he stared in quiet disbelief. He really could not believe what he was seeing. Because what he was seeing was practically NOTHING!
We didn’t immediately share Lance’s results on purpose for 2 reasons. 1) We both needed it to sink in and savor it. 2) We don’t want to jinx ourselves and seem cocky (we are still in this game). Basically what was once the size of a racket ball is now the size of a pea (and that could be just dead tissue).
So what we have to celebrate is a successful year of extreme discipline. I don’t think about that day, one year ago, and what it was like. I think about today and how far we have come. I think about how life and every single day should be celebrated, not just that one day. I think about that no matter what you are going through, there is always hope, there is always beating the odds, there is that silver lining. I feel grateful that Lance and I were blessed with that strength and foresight to have the outlook we have had. I hope that no matter what you are going through, whatever adversity you are facing, that you can have the strength to pull yourself out of it. Know that life is constantly changing and if you face your issues head on, with love and openness, before you know it a year has past and you think to yourself (as I do know),”What a difference a year can make!”
About Nancy Gentry: Nancy is living proof that norms, rules (and diagnoses) are made to be broken. In January 2011, Nancy’s husband found out he had brain cancer and had major brain surgery a few days later. Rather than accept the doctor’s dismal diagnosis, Nancy decided to tackle her biggest life challenge with food, juicing, love, laughter, meditation and more and put her and her husband on an uber-healthy trajectory. It took a little while for the burger eating, fried food loving, multi-tasking, too busy running Justin’s Nut Butter president to adapt to this way of life. However today, Lance and Nancy feel they could not be healthier and look back on 2011 as one of the biggest gifts of their lives. Their new balanced lifestyle and attention to every aspect of their lives has given her husband a new perspective allowing him to thrive. Nancy has begun coaching others on incorporating love, laughter and veggies into everyday life (www.lovelaughveggies), creating preventative, inspiring lifestyles for those who want to live life to the fullest and healthiest both inside and out. She hopes to inspire people (and you!) to take care of themselves and learn from their experience and learn how to prevent DIS-EASE by implementing some simple changes in their life NOW. From the non-stop frenzy of producing her own tv show, to the runways of the Parisian modeling world to being one of the world’s first moms to choreograph their husband’s healing from a malignant brain tumor, Nancy is living proof that norms, rules and diagnoses are meant to be broken.
You can follow Nancy and Lance at www.lovelaughveggies.com