Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Developing a Tolerance

Bright red cheeks, annoying out of control behaviour, and constant ear infections are often signs of allergies and intolerances. These kids stand out as troubled and not as healthy. These sick kids might eventually outgrow their allergies and intolerances. Many doctors disregard these obvious signs of food intolerances because we have a "death and disease" medical model. Your child will not die from red cheeks, constant ear infections that are treated with antibiotics and out of control behavior. And they might eventually develop a tolerance for these foods that are bad for their body. They might not have outward symptoms even though they might be suffering invisible damage--either physically or neurologically from the food that their body can't handle. But sometimes by removing food that is causing these symptoms you can allow the body to heal and to thrive--not just become tolerant.

Monday, December 24, 2007

GFCF Holidays and Travelling

This is our first gluten free casein free Christmas. We are going away to visit my Aunt and Uncle near Boston and bringing a lot of food with us. My Aunt and Uncle have always lived very unprocessed homemade lives in the country and in a lot of ways have always been role models of family life gone right so it is ironic that we are bringing our organic homemade food to their house, but it seems to make it less complicated to bring food we know will keep everyone healthy.

What a vacation it will be to be out of my kitchen. I love cooking for my family and seeing my kids healthy and happy, but it is a lot of work. I can't help feeling like it is almost a religious undertaking because it makes everything so conscious and requires such conviction.

I am taking a beef stew, chicken noodle soup, a Bush Noel (a recipe from the Joy of Cooking which was actually gluten free and contained only eggs, powdered sugar, vanilla and cocoa) and tons of snacks -- Kettle potato chips, rice cakes, nuts, fruit strips from Trader Joe's. We use processed food that has very few ingredients. The potato chips have organic potatoes, oil and salt. The rice cakes contain rice and salt. The mango Trader Joe's fruit strips have one ingredient: mangoes. The pineapple Trader Joe's fruit strip has one ingredient: pineapple. It was difficult at first to find convenient snack foods that will work for us. But once you know the products that are less processed and once it becomes a habit it is a lot easier.

Friday, December 21, 2007

What to eat for BREAKFAST

When we first went gluten free, we used gluten free versions of the mainstream products we had always eaten. For breakfast we would have eggs or:

Van's Wheat Free Waffles
Maple Buckwheat Flakes (which taste like cornflakes--despite the name Buckwheat it is actually more of a fruit than a grain)
Nature's Path Organic Crispy Rice Cereal (like Rice Crispies...Rice Crispies are NOT gluten free because they contain barley malt.)

Also, Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Pebbles are gluten free. They aren't healthy since they are full of dyes, preservatives and additives, but for someone who is gluten intolerant they will be better than the sugar cereal that is full of dyes, preservatives, additives AND GLUTEN. My 6 year old has had them in a pinch.

If you are avoiding gluten, you need to avoid ALL the similar grains in order to see the benefits of a gluten free diet. Spelt, Kamut and Barley all contain gluten. Spelt and Kamut are made for people who have a wheat allergy, but should be avoided by people who are gluten intolerant.

http://www.coeliac.com.au/gluten-free-diet-information.html has information on the gluten free diet.

A few months into our new gluten free existence, when I was trying to cook for my almost 2 year old who is also dairy free, soy free and corn free, I came across some recipes for the Paleo diet, which seemed perfect for everyone. I loved the "muffin" recipe which was made from eggs and nuts and started making waffles using the same formula. They have replaced the Van's waffles now that we have moved beyond the processed gluten free food. Making the transition to a gluten free diet is much easier if you take advantage of the ready made gluten free products and mixes in the beginning. But, I highly recommend eventually getting rid of the processed gluten free food and replacing it with homemade gluten free food whenever possible.

Nut Waffles

1/2 cup finely ground raw cashews (I grind them in an old coffee grinder, which seems to quickly turn whole nuts into a flour. You can use a cuisinart, but it will have a more grainy texture or you can use almond flour)
1/4 cup eggs

Stir together in a bowl. When mixed, pour into waffle iron set at the lowest setting. Enjoy with fruit jam or maple syrup or powdered sugar.

You can add a banana or make it with egg whites. It should have the consistency of a cake batter.

Nut Flour Muffins

1 1/4 cups of nut flour: walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, etc.
2 eggs
1 banana
1/8 cup of coconut oil

handful of berries or fruit: blueberries, apple grated, peach...

Combine nut flour, eggs, banana and oil in a food processor.
Stir in fruit afterwards. Bake at 350 degrees about 12-15 min.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Links for Parents

People who know me know I am on a mission to get parents to realize that they can make better choices about the nutrition and well being of their children. I wanted to make a list of all the articles I come across that are related to children's health, since I come across so many every day.

Chemicals in Baby Shampoo
Environmental Toxins Linked to Autism?

Another reason to breastfeed...

Toxic chemical found in the packaging of infant formula

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Vitamins

This is for the many people who have asked about which vitamins we use. From the research I have done, it appears that being low on one vitamin during a critical period of development can lead to developmental problems. Being low in iron or B12 or zinc can all lead to developmental problems.

Other parents recommendations, testing, doctors and a lot of research have let us to the vitamins that have helped us to get better. Every child is different and while I feel everyone with children who have developmental problems or poor immunity should pursue nutritional intervention, doing your own research is critical to helping your children. A fascinating place to start is reading books on nutrition. One book I strongly recommend is Smart Fats: How Dietary Fats and Oils Affect Mental, Physical and Emotional Intelligence by Michael E. Schmidt.

Studies suggest fish oil is good for mood, hyperactivity and general brain function. I take Nordic Naturals EPAextra which has the highest ratio of EPA/DHA and Nordic Naturals seems to be the most tested for mercury. A liquid that we use for the kids is Omega 3 liquid by Nordic Naturals. We get it flavored at our pharmacy or use the flavorings sold at allergygrocer.com and give them a childs dosage that was recommended by a neurologist.

I highly recommend ordering the fish oil from the internet and not purchasing it through the store. If the fish oil has been on the shelf too long it can get rancid. If it smells fishy after you purchase it take it back. The omega 3 liquid has no fish odor when it is fresh. Also, it must be refrigerated so it doesn't go bad.

Other supplements we have found successful are:

sublingual B12/folic acid Testing revealed one member of our family needed this vitamin and everyone seems to benefit. There is an indication that some people's blood levels are high of this vitamin, but their tissue levels are low--kind of like a diabetic who has high blood sugar levels. The new research suggests sublingual (under the tongue) is as effective as injectible B12 to people who can not absorb (or produce) B12 because of damage to their gut because of celiac or other GI disorders. Our son starting talking when we began sublingual B12/folic acid.

B6/magnesium from Kirkland Labs (designed specifically for children)

GI Flora (probiotic) through Allergy Research Group. A NYC environmental allergist, Dr. Teich, prescribed this particular brand when tests revealed a complete absence of good gut flora for my youngest. This probiotic contains several beneficial probiotics, the most important for us is 1.2 billion Bifidobacterium longum. You can order this product through Invite Health at 1-800-844-9060. If they don't have it in stock they will order it for you. We have tried others when we have run out and they don't work as well.

You can go to a health food store and find a similar one by bringing them the information above. But, we have found GI flora to work the best.

Zyme Prime Enzymes
from Houston Neutraceuticals

What kind of vitamins you use depend on the severity of the symptoms and testing. I am only giving this information to let you know what works for members of my family. Also, we began many of these vitamins after other parents suggested them.

Celiac, Gluten Intolerance and CD

My daughter was diagnosed with "Benign Congenital Hypotonia" at 19 months when she wasn't walking. She had stomach aches and diarrhea from 3-4.5 years old--at 4 the GI doctor wouldn't test her for anything when I consulted him about her diarrhea and constant stomach aches. She was diagnosed with "Sensory Integration Disorder" at 4 years old. I spent years taking her to physical therapy and occupational therapy to help her improve her gross motor delay and deal with her sensory problems. It helped a little, but she was still falling and had low muscle tone at 5.5 years old.

When they discovered her brother had two genes for celiac, I started to research celiac. An article in the Official Journal of American Pediatrics made me realize her falling and hypotonia and gross motor delay were classic neurological symptoms of celiac. We put her on the gluten free diet and she got better. Her falling completely disappeared several months into the gluten free diet. Six months on the gluten free diet, she FINALLY has muscle tone in her legs--she has completely lost her diagnosis of hypotonia. She is no longer bone and baby fat. And her hair is finally growing.

Because my daughter never ate bread and was on a low gluten diet, typical celiac tests were negative. But, finally a GI doctor who tried to rule it out did the gene testing through Prometheus. Both she and her brother both have two genes for celiac (DQ2/DQ8.) And all their symptoms resolve on a gluten free diet. Many kids under 3 who have celiac test negative on the typical tests for celiac because it takes years for the antibodies to develop.

It is crucial to do testing before you go on a gluten free diet if a diagnosis is important to you. The gene test can be done in addition if you have symptoms of celiac but test negative on typical tests or if you are on a low gluten or gluten free diet. If you have the genes and the symptoms you could have non-celiac gluten intolerance or celiac which both respond miraculously to a gluten free diet.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Allergies and Food Intolerances

My son was tested for allergies several times because of his severe reactions to many foods. He was a poor sleeper constipated and had a blistery diaper rash while drinking milk and eating wheat. He was sick with ear infections and colds and seemed to have no immunity and finally lost eye contact and all words. He also had severe diarrhea several times a day which smelled particularly foul.

After many many tests the allergists told me he wasn't allergic to anything. One even said "In this country, medicine uses a death anddisease model." So, if you you have a fast reaction to a food and could potentially die from it, they can easily test for this type of IgE allergy. But
more subtle intolerances are often overlooked because they are slower reactions and are IgG mediated or delayed reaction to foods. They won't kill you, but you will have chronic problems and many symptoms.

It turns out my son had multiple food intolerances which were diagnosed through an internist who practices integrative medicine and uses the ALCAT intolerance test which looked at the cells reaction to 150 different foods. Although mainstream doctors won't do these tests, they were critical to my son and daughter getting better. The GIspecialist, knowing that kids under three often test negative for celiac, an autoimmune disease caused by gluten, did a Prometheus gene test for celiac and discovered two genes for celiac in both my kids. A neurologist also told me the molecule for gluten(wheat), casein (dairy) and soy were very similar, so it would be best to remove all three in order to get better. In our case, the pediatrician never got to the bottom of any of my children's symptoms, although they were very good at prescribing antibiotics which destroyed my sons good gut flora. It was specialists who were able to finally give me a explanation for why my son was getting sicker and sicker. And it was specialists who were thinking about his symptoms and thinking beyond the tests.

FOOD IS MEDICINE and FOOD IS POISON

The treatment for celiac is a gluten (wheat) free diet. When we began the gluten free/casein free diet the first thing I noticed was that my 18 month old son, who had never slept through the night and had never taken a nap for longer than 45 minutes, suddenly started to sleep
through the night and take a 2 sometimes 3 hour nap. Then he got better--his diaper rash magically went away and his diapers became less foul. His constant runny nose and perpetual sickness went away. Most interesting, was that my picky eater started eating a variety of foods.

When my son did the ALCAT testing for other food intolerances I found out he was intolerant to oranges, broccoli, avocado, oats and black pepper. This is when his red cheeks started to get normal and I noticed all his "allergic" symptoms disappeared.

WHEN TO CONSIDER ALLERGIES AND INTOLERANCES

If your child is constantly sick with one illness and has symptoms of allergies, I would look into nutritional intervention. But if your child has a verbal or physical delay, this is of critical importance and a trial of a GFCF diet of 3-4 months should be done. I would also suggest doing celiac testing in advance or getting a gene test before you put them on a GFCF diet, as Celiac Disease is 1 in 133 now and is very underdiagnosed and requires a lifelong gluten free diet.

When they did my son's hearing test, I noticed there was an allergist at the Ear Nose and Throat practice. They said that in many cases there is a connection between ear infections and food sensitivities. My son had a runny nose when he was eating food he was intolerant to, but some of the mucous pooled in his ears and caused ear infections. He has not had an ear infection since we changed his diet, although he had three in the six months he was on a regular diet.

Classic symptoms of food allergies are bags under the eyes, dark circles under the eyes, runny nose, diaper rash that won't go away, constant ear infections and cough. Also, my son had a "verbal processing delay" and my daughter had low muscle tone ("benign congenital hypotonia") which both cleared up with a change in diet.