Archive for the ‘Allergies’ Category


Friday, October 29th, 2010

Sorry, this entry is only available in Russian.


Monday, April 20th, 2009

Buckwheat, or kasha as it is known in Russia, can be bought in most healthfood shops. It consists of brown triangular grains, whose strong, earthy flavour is something of an acquired taste. Wash the grains thoroughly under the tap, then cook in twice the quantity of salted water. You can make the taste less powerful by pouring off the first lot of water, after it comes to the boil, and replacing it with the same amount of clean salted water. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed and the grains are soft. It needs to be served with a sauce or casserole that has an equally powerful taste – beef and tomatoes with plenty of herbs, for example. Buckwheat spaghetti is also available, but check that it does not contain any wheat. It is not advisable to eat too much buckwheat, as it is often implicated in sensitivity reactions.

Chestnuts are useful as a snack or a breakfast dish. They can also be used to stuff a chicken or turkey, in the traditional manner, and eaten with the poultry as a substitute for potato. Dried chestnuts are the cheapest – they can be found in some healthfood shops, and in Chinese groceries. Soak them overnight, throw away the water and wash them thoroughly. Cook in a pressure cooker, at 15 lbs pressure, for 15 minutes, or boil in the ordinary way for about an hour, until tender all the way through but not disintegrating. You can cook a large quantity and freeze them in individual portions. They can be fried gently in oil to make a light breakfast – serve with grated apple or a salad. Alternatively, you can make chestnuts into a soup, preferably with oranges or some other fruit.

Pumpkin is available from some greengrocers in the autumn. It is sweet and slightly sticky – not unlike sweet potato. Prepare and use it in the same way.



Monday, April 20th, 2009

You should have completed at least a month of Stage 1, before starting Stage 2, and you should still be eating the Stage 1 diet. Continue with all the Stage 1 restrictions during Stage 2. Do not begin if you have any sort of infection, especially diarrhoea.

Before starting Stage 2, look at the Stage 3 diet and think about how you would do it if you had to. One possible outcome of Stage 2 is that you go straight into Stage 3 – you need to be prepared to do this.

Exclusion phase

Cut out the following foods:

Wheat, rye, barley, oats, maize (corn)

Rice, if this is normally part of your diet and you eat it more than once or twice a week

Milk and all milk products, including butter Eggs

Oranges, lemons, grapefruit, tangerines, Clementines, limes and all other citrus fruits

Yeast and yeast extract, including Oxo cubes, other stock cubes, Bovril etc Mushrooms

Peanuts and any other nuts you eat reasonably often Beef and chicken

Any food that you eat every day, or eat in large quantities, or have a craving for Any food that a member of your family reacts to, or which you suspect for any reason.

You should still be avoiding all items that were disallowed on Stage 1.

As soon as you start the exclusion phase, keep a record of everything you eat, including a rough idea of how much and when. Record your symptoms too and continue this throughout the diet. Be very careful not to eat too much of any one food. Don’t have blow-outs – little and often is the best way to eat.

Stay on the exclusion phase of the diet for two weeks or until you feel better – whichever is the sooner. Someone with a serious problem, such as rheumatoid arthritis, may take a little longer to respond, and they should continue for three weeks. Patients with Crohn’s disease (who must have full medical supervision for such a diet) take about nine days, on average, to respond. They may need to continue the elimination phase for longer than 14 days.

If you do feel better you should not delay in reintroducing foods.



Monday, April 20th, 2009

‘There were two epidemics of measles during the decade, and two men had accidents in the harvest field and were taken to hospital; but, for years together, the doctor was only seen there when one of the ancients was dying of old age, or some difficult first confinement baffled the skill of the old woman who, as she said, saw the beginning and end of everybody, There was no cripple or mental defective in the hamlet, and, except for a few months when a poor woman was dying of cancer, no invalid. Though food was rough and teeth were neglected, indigestion was unknown, while nervous troubles, there as elsewhere, had yet to be invented.’ Contrast this with the general state of health of people today. As Dr Ronald Finn of the Royal Liverpool Hospital observes: ‘It is depressingly rare to come across someone who is entirely well.’

Doctors who are involved in treating food intolerance, as Dr Finn is, may not be impartial observers, of course. But others have noticed the same general trend. American psychiatrist, Dr Arthur Barsky, calls it the ‘paradox of health’. He points out that in 1900 a man’s life expectancy was 47.3 years, now it is almost 75 years, yet we feel we are less healthy. In the 1920s only 10 per cent of recognized illnesses could be treated successfully, now the figure is over 50 per cent, but we are all preoccupied with illness. Why should this be? Dr Barsky believes that it is all a question of attitude. One factor, in his view, is our heightened awareness of health’ due to ‘medico-media hype’ – in other words, if people knew less about their bodies they would feel better.

An alternative explanation, which psychiatrists such as Dr Barsky do not seem to have considered, is that people really are ill, with vague, long-term symptoms that doctors generally dismiss as ‘psychosomatic’. If this sort of illness had only become widespread within the last 50-100 years, it would explain the ‘paradox of health’ very neatly. Whether that illness really is food intolerance is another matter – but this, along with chemical sensitivity, seems a likely suspect.



Monday, April 20th, 2009

Giardia was, until recently, thought to be a harmless member of the gut flora, because it was sometimes found in the intestines of apparently healthy people. Only within the last few years have doctors begun to realize that this microbe can cause disease. It is found throughout the world, and about 5-15 per cent of people are infected. In Britain, these are usually people who have travelled abroad, especially to the tropics, which is where Giardia probably originated.

Giardia lives in the gut and produces microscopic hard-walled cysts that pass out of the body with the faeces. These can get into food or water, especially in countries with poor sanitary facilities, and thus infect other people. Giardia cysts are resistant to chlorine, at least in the amounts usually used for disinfecting water supplies.

For most people who become infested with Giardia there are no symptoms. Such people are infectious however, and if they are involved in food preparation and are careless about washing their hands, they may be the modern equivalent of ‘Typhoid Mary’, passing Giardia on to others.

Those who do suffer symptoms, when infected by Giardia, experience an acute attack of watery diarrhoea, with bloating, abdominal pain, belching and fatigue. This usually clears up of its own accord after a few days – thereafter the person has no symptoms but may remain infectious. However, some patients continue to suffer milder symptoms. Their main problem is that food is not absorbed from the gut properly. This produces loose, frequent stools, often foul-smelling and frothy. There may also be flatulence, pain, nausea, loss of appetite, weakness and weight loss. Children with this disease – and they are the most susceptible group – are often pale and stunted.

There may also be a milder form of the disease, in which there is no diarrhoea as such – discomfort, wind, belching and nausea are the main symptoms in these cases. Urticaria (nettle-rash), joint pains and feverishness may also be present. Not surprisingly, some of these patients are thought to have food intolerance. Indeed, many do, because Giardia, like Candida, seems to be linked in some way to food sensitivity.

Giardia infection can be diagnosed by looking for the parasite in the stools. It is treated by a short course of drugs, the main one used being metronidazole. This can have some side-effects, such as nausea and vomiting, but only has to be taken for about a week. Unfortunately, it seems to make candidiasis more likely, so anyone taking it would be well advised to adopt a sugar-free diet during the treatment, and for a month or so afterwards.



Monday, April 20th, 2009

‘When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean…’ as Humpty Dumpty declared in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass. This sort of verbal anarchy should not be encouraged, but there is so little agreement over terms such as ‘food allergy’, ‘food intolerance’, and ‘food sensitivity’, (not to mention ‘food idiosyncrasy’, ‘false food allergy’, ‘pseudo-food allergy’ and ‘food hypersensitivity’) that anyone writing about this subject is forced to take Humpty Dumpty’s line. There is no option but to select a set of suitable words and state clearly at the outset what is meant by them.

Food allergy is used to mean any adverse reaction to food in which the immune system is demonstrably involved. A positive skin-prick test, as described above, is usually taken as adequate proof of immune-system involvement, although this should be backed up by RAST or other laboratory tests, where possible. Where skin-prick tests or RAST results are negative, this does not necessarily mean that the immune system is not involved. Although reactions involving IgE are the principal cause of such allergies, there are other possible mechanisms, some of which will be considered in Chapter Five. Different kinds of tests are needed for this type of allergy.

False food allergy here denotes a special type of non-immunological reaction, seen with particular foods, in which a substance in the food triggers the mast cells directly. The reaction is not really an allergy at all: the immune system is not at fault and the body does not over-produce IgE. But because the end result (the mast cells releasing their chemical messengers) is the same, the symptoms are exactly like those of food allergy.

Food intolerance, as used in this book, means any adverse reaction to food, other than false food allergy, in which the involvement of the immune system is unproven because skin-prick tests and other tests for allergy are negative. This does not exclude the possibility of immune reactions being involved in some way, but they are unlikely to be the major factor producing the symptoms.

Food sensitivity is employed as an umbrella term for food allergy, food intolerance and other adverse reactions to food, except where these are purely psychological in origin. As will become obvious, the dividing line be¬tween food allergy and food intolerance is sometimes blurred, so there is a need for a term that covers both.