Food allergies are scary. And on the rise. We have 10-month old twins, and I joked that we would introduce them to peanut butter in the parking lot in front of the pediatrician’s office, just in case. We don’t have nut or shellfish allergies in our families, but that doesn’t always act as a precursor to a food sensitivity, intolerance, or allergy. They say that breast milk reduces the risk of allergies, but I still know plenty of kids that were nursed and have sensitivities. There is research to support that blood type is an indicator for what foods your body responds well or poorly to – *Eat Right 4 Your Type* is a good resource for more information on that subject. But still, we don’t know why food allergies have become so prevalent and extreme. Is it family history? GMOs? Things mothers are exposed to during pregnancy? The air? The water? The chemicals? We just don’t know.
For your personal diet, it’s important to listen to your body more so than the hype certain food trends get in the news. Gluten-Free is one of the new buzz words in food and food packaging. I’ve even seen a sign with “Gluten-Free” at the deli counter of my local grocery store. I know a lot of people who chose to go gluten-free – not because they are sensitive to gluten or have Celiac Disease, which is a very serious condition, but because they think it’s better for them to forgo wheat products.
Processed, refined grains can break down in to sugars in the body, which lead to inflammation and other problems. But there are a lot of health benefits to whole grains. In fact, they may reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer. In some instances, giving up those foods may cause long-term problems, and develop an intolerance that wasn’t there to begin with. We’ve all heard of the voluntary vegetarians who go back to meat and have bacon or a steak right away only to regret diving into the deep end right away, because their bodies have forgotten how to digest the foods.
Celiacs and people with severe food allergies and intolerances have to work very hard to get the nutrients they need. People who voluntarily give up certain foods need to be just as thoughtful. If you give up meat, be sure your getting complex proteins – beans alone aren’t adequate. If you give up whole grains, make sure you get fiber, B-vitamins, and iron elsewhere. If you give up 2% or whole milk, be very careful that you’re getting enough calcium in your diet – the body readily digests milk’s fat soluble nutrients through non-skim milk. Just be sure the choices you make for your body are thoughtful, and be considerate of what you put into and leave out of it. You only get one body, and you can’t trust the food industry to take care of it as well as you will.