Allergy Awareness

The information in this blog is the result of my own research into allergies.Some information is anecdotal but may be of use to other people trying to understand why it is that their body over-reacts to everyday substances.There will also be recipes added on a regular basis as I come up with alternatives to our favourite foods that we can't do without - Chocolate cake, pizza, nothing healthy! ;-)

From colds to hayfever, the health risks revealed by your FINGERS


Depending on which finger is longer, it could point to your risk of more serious health complaints such as cancer and heart problems.

From colds to hayfever, the health risks revealed by your FINGERS
Posted by at Tuesday, March 01, 2011 1:03 PM

Picky planning


The ingredients to avoid – and the recipes to enjoy

Millions of Britons are on special diets because of food intolerances or medical conditions – but whether it's your gluten-intolerant sister who's dropped in for breakfast, or that diabetic friend you've promised a slap-up dinner, it's not hard to rustle up something that everyone can enjoy. Here's a cut-out-and-keep guide to common conditions:

High cholesterol

What you're supposed to know: A waxy, fatty material, cholesterol is produced by the liver and carried in the bloodstream. It plays a vital part in many bodily functions. Too much of the wrong sort, however, and you're at risk of heart attacks and strokes (more information at

Ingredients to avoid: Saturated fat and trans fats, which encourage the body to produce that wrong sort of cholesterol. You will find excessive amounts in dairy products such as milk, cheese and cream, in fatty/processed meat, in cakes, pastries and biscuits, and in the vast majority of ready meals. Don't worry too much about foods that themselves contain cholesterol, such as eggs and seafood: they have little effect on cholesterol levels in the body.

Ingredients to embrace: Veg, fruit, extra-virgin olive oil, rapeseed oil, fish (especially oily), lean meat such as rabbit and chicken (no skin), skimmed milk, oats, wholemeal bread, brown rice.

What still looks great on the menu: Butternut squash soup; sweetcorn cakes with dipping sauce; Thai chicken salad; salmon fishcakes; Moroccan lamb on couscous; poached pears with vanilla.

Where to get the recipes: Healthy Eating for Lower Cholesterol, by Daniel Green with Catherine Collins, and The Low Cholesterol Diet and Recipe Book, by Christine France.

High blood pressure

What you're supposed to know: Basically, your blood's pushing too hard on the sides of your blood vessels and your heart. This can cause strokes and heart attacks, as well as kidney disease, eye problems and dementia. More information at

Ingredients to avoid: Salt and high-salt foods such as crisps, Marmite and bacon; foods with hidden salts such as bread, biscuits, cheese and breakfast cereals; ready meals; excessive amounts of booze; saturated fat (see cholesterol); delicious bottled sauces whose list of ingredients time has rendered unreadable. For some of these, low-salt versions may be available.

Ingredients to embrace: Fistfuls of fresh herbs, spices, ginger, chilli etc; loads of fruit and veg; fish (especially oily); lean meat.

What will still look great on the menu: Baked potato and porcini omelette; spiced mussel soup; pasta with duck ragu, braised chicken in vinegar sauce; fromage frais with gooseberries and elderflower.

Where to get the recipes: Healthy Eating for Lower Blood Pressure, by Paul Gayler with Gemma Heiser.


What you're supposed to know: People with diabetes have too much glucose (a type of sugar) in their blood. If undiagnosed or poorly managed, this increases the risk of heart disease and can also damage the eyes, nerves, kidneys and blood vessels. (More information at

Ingredients to avoid "None," according to Diabetes UK, "apart from special diabetic foods. They do not provide any nutritional benefits and are expensive. They are often high in fat and can still affect blood glucose levels." That said, you should try to minimise the use of fat (especially saturated), sugar and salt.

Ingredients to embrace: Vegetables and pulses; starchy foods such as pasta, basmati or easy-cook rice, grainy breads and porridge, new and sweet potatoes.

What will still look great on the menu: Pumpkin seed and almond muesli; Thai fish cakes with sweet and sour cucumber sauce; navarin of lamb; dark chocolate petit fours

Where to find the recipes: Diabetes Recipes from Around the World, by Jane Frank. Also recommended: Everyday Cooking for Diabetes, by Bridget Jones.

Coeliac disease/ gluten intolerance

What you're supposed to know: Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Many people report discomfort after eating it, while those with coeliac disease (at least one in 100 of us) find that even minute amounts irritate the gut, making it impossible to digest food properly. The disease's symptoms include diarrhoea, tiredness, anaemia, wind and in some cases weight loss. Some people have a similar reaction to oats (more details at

Ingredients to avoid: Wheat, barley, rye and possibly oats; conventionally made pasta, bread and other baked goods; couscous; semolina; gluten itself; ingredients vaguely described as bran, cereal, rusk, modified starch, vegetable protein/gum/starch; malt and malt extract; beers and stouts. Take a close look at ingredient labels.

Ingredients to embrace: Potatoes and rice; gluten-free pasta, bread and other baked goods; fruit and veg; unprocessed meat and fish; beans and lentils; eggs; milk and cheese; anything that doesn't contain gluten.

What will still look great on the menu: Spiced apple porridge;corn and bacon muffins; sticky chicken drumsticks; walnut, pear and green leaf salad; fish cakes with fennel mayonnaise; chocolate and hazelnut gateau; strawberry meringue roulade.

Where to find the recipes: Gluten-Free Cooking by Lyndel Costain and Joanna Farrow and Healthy Gluten-Free Eating by Darina Allen with Rosemary Kearney.

Lactose intolerance

What you're supposed to know: Milk (cow, goat, sheep, human . . .) contains a sugar called lactose, which is normally broken down by the enzyme lactase. If your body produces too little lactose, the unprocessed lactose feeds bacteria in the lower gut, causing pain, bloating, flatulence and diarrhoea (more information at

Ingredients to avoid: Milk (obviously), plus dairy products such as cheese, yoghurt, butter, buttermilk, cream, ice-cream, whey, curd; Quark; some instant mashed potato; many types of bread, biscuits, cakes and pastries; milk chocolate; many types of breakfast cereal; many mousses, custards and readymade desserts; some prepared meats; some stock cubes; some battered fish; lactose and anything that begins with "lact-"; the fat replacer Opta; casein . . . Again, take a close look at those ingredient labels.

Ingredients to embrace: Fruit and veg; unprocessed meat; unbattered fish; anything that definitely doesn't contain dairy products; soya milk; coconut milk.

What will still look great on the menu: Coconut pancake with banana and maple syrup; Thai grilled beef salad; rice with smoked halibut and thyme; baked leeks with fennel and potatoes; lemon cheesecake with strawberries.

Where to find the recipes: Healthy Dairy-Free Eating by Mini C and Tanya Haffner. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

Picky planning

Posted by at Sunday, September 19, 2010 9:14 AM

Thousands of children wrongly labelled allergic to foods by online tests


Hundreds of thousands of children are wrongly being diagnosed with food allergies due to unreliable tests, experts have warned.

Thousands of children wrongly labelled allergic to foods by online tests

Posted by at Tuesday, August 10, 2010 5:58 AM

Breakthrough in the battle to conquer coeliac disease


Coeliac disease, the intolerance to gluten, has blighted the lives of millions of people. Now scientists have cracked the mystery as to how it happens.

Breakthrough in the battle to conquer coeliac disease

Schoolgirl's skin erupts in blisters as she suffers allergic reaction to the sun on plane home from a family holiday


Phoebe Richards suffered an allergic reaction to the sun, which was aggravated by the air conditioning and pressure from being inside the plane.

Schoolgirl's skin erupts in blisters as she suffers allergic reaction to the sun on plane home from a family holiday

I thought wholemeal bread was healthy - then I found out it was poisoning me


Rose Alison is a coeliac. This means if she eats gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and oats) her body will attack itself.

I thought wholemeal bread was healthy - then I found out it was poisoning me

Are you allergic to the sun? For one in six of us, blazing skies are VERY bad news...


Those with a family history of photo sensitive conditions, allergic conditions such as hayfever or skin complaints such as eczema have an increased risk of sun-related allergies.

Are you allergic to the sun? For one in six of us, blazing skies are VERY bad news...

Allergic teenager reveals how a quick kiss landed her in hospital


An innocent kiss landed a schoolgirl in hospital after her boyfriend forgot to tell her he'd eaten a cereal with hazelnuts that morning.

Allergic teenager reveals how a quick kiss landed her in hospital

An end to allergies?


When Jasper Lawrence heard of a radical cure for his allergies, he decided to give it a go: he went to Africa and infected himself with a blood-sucking parasite. Now he's cured, and he believes hookworm can help people with asthma, diabetes and MS. Only one problem – he's on the run from the law

There are hard sells and there are hard sells. "If I were a charlatan," Jasper Lawrence tells me, "I would be flogging flower essences or herbal supplements." He would not, I guess it is fair to say, be trying to market over the internet "blood-sucking parasitic worms that live in your gut for five years". And neither, he argues, would he have lately left behind his home in California, his children and his friends, and gone on the run from the American authorities in order to stay out of prison and in business (for the 180 clients who rely on him). If Jasper Lawrence is not a charlatan, then, he is at least a man on a high-risk mission.

As one of the proofs of that mission, Lawrence – an intensely articulate and bright-eyed 46-year-old – has only to point to the location of our interview. We are sitting in a cottage garden on the southern edge of Dartmoor, and in the afternoon sun the air is thick with spring pollen. In previous years, Lawrence says, he would not have been able to talk out here for five minutes without succumbing to the chronic hay fever and seasonal asthma that have afflicted him nearly all his life. The only reason he can now, he suggests, is that out here on the patio we are not alone. Also in attendance, in Lawrence's small intestine, are 50 hookworm (Necator americanus), which are, he believes, not only his livelihood but also his saviours.

Jasper Lawrence's journey to this curious belief began in this house – which belongs to his aunt – nearly six years ago. He was living at the time in Santa Cruz, California, his marriage was on the rocks, and he had come here on holiday with two of his five children. It had been a while since he had seen his Aunt Mary – who had informally adopted him as a teenager – and when she opened the door to him, she could not hide her shock.

Lawrence, a wiry man, had gained nearly four stone. The weight gain was a symptom of his reliance on the oral steroid Prednisone, which, at the time, he says, was his only defence against the asthma that left him constantly breathless. His inhalers did not work, he had to rest halfway up a flight of stairs, he could no longer play with his kids. By chance, his aunt had recently heard a BBC radio documentary about the possibilities of parasitic hookworm as a treatment for allergies, and she mentioned the programme to Lawrence. He subsequently spent all night trawling the internet, reading research, following links, and by the morning was convinced that there was only one way he could cure himself: he needed parasites.

The research that so excited Lawrence was a development of the so-called "hygiene hypothesis". This theory, first developed by David P Strachan in the British Medical Journal in 1989, suggests that many of the "modern" illnesses that have grown exponentially in industrialised western countries – allergies, asthma, type 1 diabetes, Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome, multiple sclerosis and possibly rheumatoid arthritis and autism, and others – are the result of inappropriate autoimmune responses. The development of chlorinated drinking water, vaccines, antibiotics, and the sterile environment of early childhood have, the argument goes, as well as preventing infection also upset the balance of the body's internal ecology. Inflammatory responses that evolved through millions of years in the certain presence of "old friends" – parasites and bacteria – have been thrown wildly out of kilter in their absence, causing autoimmune illnesses, in which the body's immune system turns on itself, and oversensitivity to harmless antigens such as pollen, or dust, or cats, or particular food groups.

The story that most interested Lawrence was the ongoing research of Professor David Pritchard, an immunologist at Nottingham University. While in the field in Papua New Guinea in the late 1980s, Pritchard noted that patients infected with the Necator americanus hookworm were rarely subject to the whole range of autoimmune-related illnesses, including hay fever and asthma. In the years since, Pritchard had developed a thesis to support this observation through painstaking clinical trials (which began after he infected himself with 50 hookworm). The thesis proved that hookworm, in small numbers, seemed able to regulate inflammatory immune responses in their hosts. (Dr Rick Maizels, at Edinburgh University, has subsequently identified the process – involving the white T-cells in the blood that regulate immunity – that allowed this to happen.)

"When I read that stuff," Lawrence recalls, "everything immediately made sense to me. In our obsession with cleansing and sterility, with the eradication of parasites, we had thrown the baby out with the bath water. The central idea is that our bodies have an internal ecosystem. One of the ironies of this, to me, is that everyone is concerned about biodiversity in the outside world, and saving the rainforest, but we've also screwed up the biodiversity inside us."

And so Jasper Lawrence set out on what became a compulsive and somewhat desperate quest. Despite the fact that perhaps one billion people in the world still live with hookworm, getting infected in the developed western world is not an easy thing. The drift of our culture has long been to eradicate parasites – or "symbions", as Lawrence prefers. To begin with, he tried to get accepted as a participant on one of the various studies investigating the phenomenon. But when that proved fruitless he determined to go to Africa and become infected.

Prior to this trip, he recalls, he contacted "all the clever people I knew who worked in medicine. I sent them all the research and asked them their opinion. They all said the same thing: 'Yes, it appears safe, but I would not advise you to do this; you need to wait 20 or 30 years for all the studies to come in. For a molecule to be identified and a drug to be tested…'"

You don't have to talk to Lawrence for long to realise he is not a man who might be prepared to wait 20 or 30 years for anything. Instead, he took a plane to Cameroon.

The life cycle of Necator americanus is not an attractive one. Hookworm infiltrate a new human host when larvae, hatched in human excrement, penetrate the soles of the feet, enter the bloodstream, travel through the heart and lungs and are swallowed when they are coughed up from the pharynx. Only in the small intestine do they mature into adults (just under 1cm long), where they can live an average of five years latching on to the intestinal wall, siphoning off tiny amounts of blood, and – this is the crucial part – "regulating the volume" of immune responses. They mate inside the host, with females laying up to 30,000 eggs per day, up to 50m eggs during a lifetime, which pass out in faeces. In the tropics, in places where there is an absence of both toilets and shoes, extreme cases of hookworm kill 70,000 people a year, and afflict many others with anaemia; they exacerbate malnutrition and stunted growth in children. There are crucial caveats to these scare stories, however. Hookworm cannot and do not replicate in the gut. They are not infectious. In small numbers they are considered harmless, and very easily eradicated. And their life cycle is fatally interrupted by the introduction of either shoes or plumbing.

Lawrence is a practical man, and he weighed up the risks. In Cameroon he spent a couple of weeks travelling to remote villages, discovering where the local latrines were and wandering around the area without shoes.

What did the people make of this behaviour? "Typical reactions would range from being laughed at – what's that idiot doing walking round where I take a shit? – to anger: a lot of them were convinced I was there to steal some aspect of their essence. I got shaken down a lot."

He did have doubts. When he had told friends what he was going to do, they freaked out. Because his journey coincided with him having left his wife, people thought he was having a crisis or a breakdown. "You can't help but be a bit scared," he says. "The big fear was that I'd come back with the wrong disease, river blindness or elephantiasis, or Dengue fever, or whatever. On the other hand I had seen exactly how my life had declined in the last five years with asthma. Modern medicine seemed to have nothing to offer me except palliative drugs. So really, I felt there wasn't a choice for me." Disgust was hard to overcome. "I was only able to take my shoes off the first time because I couldn't face going back and telling people I hadn't been able to do it."

When he returned to Santa Cruz from Africa, Lawrence did not know if he had come back alone. "I hadn't seen any benefits after a few weeks, though I had some symptoms," he says. "After six or eight weeks you will have embryos in your faeces, so I packaged up my samples and sent them off to the lab, and I got a negative. What I didn't realise was that because American labs never see parasites, they don't know what they are looking for."

Then, he recalls, one day in the spring he was out driving and he made what for him would ordinarily have been a huge error. "I had the window of my car rolled down," he says. "Normally if I did that at the start of spring I would spend the rest of the day blowing snot, swollen red eyes, the works. But it didn't happen."

The acid test was cats. Lawrence was so allergic to cats that if he touched one and touched his face he would get a red mark. His eyes would swell shut. "So I deliberately exposed myself to a cat, which wasn't difficult because my ex-wife had decided to favour cats over my health. So I went to her house and petted the cat. And nothing happened." In that moment, Lawrence's fate was sealed. "I had known," he says, "that if it worked the way the science suggested it would, I would have to try to get that knowledge out to the world."

Lawrence does not have a conventional background as a medical pioneer. His childhood was characterised by insecurity. His father was a "brilliant and disturbed" systems analyst in the early days of computing and his parents moved to New York from England in 1968, in search of the summer of love. They split up and Lawrence roved around the States with his hippy mother and her sometimes violent boyfriend until, at 14, he persuaded her to let him escape to the stability of England and be taken in by his aunt. He was identified as a gifted child but he never fulfilled that potential, dropping out of his Oxbridge group in hard sciences, dabbling in drugs. At 19 he took himself back to America, got a job digging irrigation ditches, sold second-hand cars for a while, and eventually, having married, set up his own advertising agency serving Silicon Valley clients: "I was in the right place at the right time for the dotcom thing – so I made a ton of money, hired 30 people, and then lost all the money and fired them again." The experience served him well. Before he set up his business selling worms (Autoimmune Therapies) the salesman in Lawrence recognised there might be challenges. "You have to bear in mind that buying a blood-sucking intestinal parasite off a stranger without a college deg-ree over the internet is not most people's first choice of remedy. People come to us when they are desperate."

Several of the people who came originally had been involved in clinical trials with hookworm or whipworm (Lawrence prefers to call them "helminths") and were among those who had seen their symptoms – of Crohn's or hay fever or multiple sclerosis – go into lasting remission. Lawrence makes startling claims about his cohort of clients: that all 15 of the people he "treats" for multiple sclerosis are in remission, for example. The claims are impossible to verify, though there is an open and extensive online forum for users of the therapy, and the people I later speak to – a former headmaster from Nottingham, John Scott, for example, whose allergies were so bad that he was living on powdered food supplements and now reports a near normal diet – certainly support a degree of both Lawrence's evangelism and his frustration that the findings are not more widely known and studied.

"You have all this and no one is making a move on it?" he asks from time to time. "I mean, am I the only fucker on the planet reading this science? I'm not. All the drug companies know about it. But there is a huge disincentive for them to do anything about it. You can't patent a hookworm."

Lawrence is, of course, his own factory farm. "All I have to do," he says, "is recreate the tropics in a container, give the helminth something clean to migrate through, so you don't have to come anywhere near human excrement, then pick them off the surface of that, wash them repeatedly in various antimicrobials and antibiotics, and then package them up in sterile liquid and they are ready to go. They will live about a month like that. They are delivered to clients as a patch, and they go from there." He sells five years of treatment – with extensive support services – for $3,900, a figure he justifies with the comparative cost of MS drugs for example, which might be closer to $150,000.

For three years Lawrence's business was growing slowly and, to judge from the thousands of postings on the internet forums, with an almost universally positive response. Then, last November, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) knocked on his door in California. Lawrence's helminths could variously have been classified as a vaccine or a medical device (into which category fall increasingly widely used maggots and leeches) or a pharmaceutical. "To our misfortune," he says, "an unknown bureaucrat decided to classify it as a pharmaceutical."

To begin with, because there had been no complaint about Lawrence's service from any of his clients, the FDA agent suggested he only needed to bring his website into compliance. The mood, however, changed on a second visit. "The agent was clearly uncomfortable being there because he knew what was going to happen to us," Lawrence says, running through a list of possible outcomes that included, he believes, in comparable cases, "Swat teams in the morning, detention before trial, million-dollar fines, prison sentences, blacklisting. This is the first week of November. I decided on the spot we had no option but to leave."

He and his new partner Michelle, who he had known since teenage days in Devon, made this decision in part because they feared for their liberty, but also because he felt he had a duty to his mission. "For three years I had been listening to a tiny trickle form this great torrent of human misery that is brought about by autoimmune disorders. And I believe we had a solution."

The FDA left at 5.30pm on a Friday, promising to return on the Monday. By 1am on Saturday Lawrence and Michelle were walking across the border into Mexico at Tijuana – where he knew there was no passport control – holding hands. "I had scraped $6,000 together largely by running out on our rent, got a couple of backpacks, some sleeping bags, sensible shoes and a mosquito net. We went two days without food. Took a 36-hour bus to Guadalajara, stayed in a hotel which turned out to be a whorehouse. We eventually calmed down enough to get a plane to Cancun, and a bus to Belize, and made our way back to Britain."

He still does not know if his paranoia was justified. The FDA is continuing its investigation but will only inform him of the charge if he appears in person. He continues to move around Britain and won't disclose his address; he talks eventually of hiding out in Central America, directing his anger against the "system" which mitigates against his kind of therapy. "You know," he says, "if you watched late-night television in America and you were at all credulous you would believe that baldness, obesity and small penises could be cured with a pill. But as soon as you come up with something that does work, you are in an environment that is set up to deal with vast billion-dollar corporations with phalanxes of lawyers and researchers. Helminthic therapy could have been accommodated into the category of probiotic or supplement, like a live yogurt – it's the same principle. The organism is larger, but the numbers are way smaller."

The pioneer of this potential therapy, Professor David Pritchard, at Nottingham University, is of course more circumspect about the possibilities. After a terse exchange of emails with Lawrence a couple of years ago he cut off correspondence. Having conducted positive trials with Crohn's disease and hay fever, however, and with an NHS-funded study under way to look at MS, Pritchard has suggested he understood the motivations of Lawrence's unregulated efforts and the demand out there for the therapy. But he does not appear to approve of Lawrence's business, and did not respond to interview requests for this article. He places his faith in the conventional means of identifying – and patenting – the molecular mechanisms that produce the response and has admitted he cannot envisage patients lining up at clinics to receive patches of parasites alongside vaccinations. "The worst-case scenario would be to cause damage," he has said. "I'm nervous about deliberate infection, but I feel the hypothesis should certainly be tested."

Dr Rick Maizels at Edinburgh University is also at work on research into finding the "drugs from bugs" that will replicate the helminth effect, and other studies are ongoing across the world, in Brisbane, Denmark, Buenos Aires and elsewhere. Maizels sees no harm in Lawrence's efforts to short-circuit that lengthy and slightly unfocused process – "There seems little risk," he says, "in that we know low levels of hookworm are relatively harmless, but neither is it an open-and-shut case that the parasites will work in every or any patient." Maizels believes the hygiene hypothesis behind this effect is gaining wider credence, and is certain that helminths have the ability to "calibrate the autoimmune response" but says that "how much they turn it up and down, and how precisely they do it, is still to be discovered. There may yet be adverse response. The fact is we do not know." That knowledge will only begin to be revealed "in a decade or more of trials".

Creating another drug, however, will not, to Jasper Lawrence's fertile mind, represent a solution. It is the live aspect of the therapy that he believes gives it its efficacy. If scientists really believe the hygiene hypothesis he argues, then what they need to be investigating is not the lucrative possibility of a patented formula, but the ways in which the public might be educated in the idea of co-evolution, our symbiotic relationship with our internal fellow travellers. Lawrence is nothing if not an idealist. "When I was 17 I read The Selfish Gene," he says. "I needed a framework, a philosophy to describe the universe to me. I considered religion for a while, but The Selfish Gene delivered. Once you realise we are vessels for our genes, then all sort of things follow." The logic of his therapy, he argues, is one of them. "If it is allowed to develop, the use of benign organisms could be as big as antibiotics. Well-baby checkups, if I succeed, will include deliberate infection with a variety of protozoa and bacteria and helminths starting at age two, because the effect of these things in a child seems profound…"

He veers quickly from that hope to the reality of his situation, however. The imagined education process will, he knows, always be dogged by the fact that our cultural norms are very anti-parasite and worm, and that is partly because in their most extreme forms they make for great television. "I understand how the world works, but I am still angry. An enlightened country could easily do a crash programme to test this, and the benefits and savings would be immense… The truth is, though, I think I am going to be discredited by the media or marginalised by the law, and the idea will be snuffed out."

It won't be for the want of trying. The previous weekend Lawrence and Michelle had been to a wedding at which the bride had recently been diagnosed as having multiple sclerosis. Inevitably, Lawrence took on the role of the Ancient Mariner, telling his story to anyone who would listen. Their wedding present was 50 hookworm. Surprisingly or not, the bride returned it unopened. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

An end to allergies?

What Is An Allergy?


Simply put, an allergy is when your body over reacts to what should be a harmless substance.

Your body will trigger an immune response to something that shouldn't cause any problems, a bit like when your body creates antibodies to fight off a cold or an infection.

Your body can react in different ways depending on your allergy. You can get itchy eyes, sneezing and a runny nose, as in hayfever. Or you can get welts on your skin similar to nettle rash. Allergic reactions can include asthma, eczema, headaches, lethargy, depression, sore throat, swelling, blistering, abdominal cramping, abdominal bloating, vomiting, diarrhea and potentially fatal anaphylatic shock.

Different people can react to different things. When somebody reacts to many things they are said to have multiple allergies.

I have multiple allergies

Posted by at Friday, March 05, 2010 7:13 PM

Why Do I Love Food That Doesn't Like Me?


There is a theory bouncing around that when you eat something that your body doesn't like, it produces certain chemicals to help it cope with the invasion. One of these chemicals is adrenalin. This will give you a short term feel-good factor which makes you feel, well, feel good! Sub-conciously you realise this and whenever you are feeling a bit low you will automatically reach for that something to make you feel good.

Unfortunately when you stop eating these feel-good foods you feel really, really down and low. The good news is that once your body has got used to not having them around you feel much much better.

The hard part is the one to two weeks that it takes for your body to work those cravings out.

Posted by at Friday, March 05, 2010 7:12 PM

Why Are Special Dietary Needs Foods So Expensive?


Well, obviously because it's a limited market and the companies that produce the food need to make sure that their running costs are met and they don't have as high a turnover as regular brands. Just supposing though that the companies that produced these foods, manufacter and market them just the same as the larger food companies. Just suppose that Mrs Crimble was as well known and popular as Mr Kipling, surely the costs of these products would fall.

Until that happens though ( as if but it's a nice thought ) carefully check the food that is readily available in your regular supermarket. If you are wheat-free (as opposed to gluten free) you will still be ok with Ryvitas, Nairns Oatcakes and Kallo Rice Cakes. Vitalite is dairy and soya free, plus it's now suitable for Vegans, it's a fraction of the cost of the specialist margarines.

In fact everything that I use in my recipes, with the exception of Xantham Gum, I buy at my local Tesco Store.

I tend to avoid the 'health food' section at Tesco as the prices are up there with the Specialist Diet ranges, but check out the prices in the World Cuisine sections. You can pick up a 1.5kg bag of Natco Rice Flour for less money than the 1kg of Doves Farm Rice Flour. Tesco stock many other Natco items in their Indian cuisine section, including chana dal and dried chick peas. The Natco red split lentils are cheaper than the Tesco own brand and if you use a lot of them you can buy them in a bulk 2kg bag which works out even cheaper.

I was concerned about the effect my special diet was going to have on my families grocery budget, but thankfully a bit of careful research has paid off and we know a variety of regular brands which we can just buy straight off the shelf.

Posted by at Friday, March 05, 2010 10:17 AM

Can A Breastfed Baby Have Allergies?


Quite basically, yes, and they can have intolerances too.

Last time I was pregnant, my allergies/intolerances seemed to reduce in severity. Initially they got worse, then as the pregnancy progressed they improved and I didn't react anywhere near as violently as I had done previously - hence the drop in the blog submissions!

When my baby was 3-months old she had not stopped coughing, wheezing or having snuffly nose since she was born - so I started looking into the possibilty that she may have a dairy allergy. Not to my milk but to the few milk proteins that are passed on to her through my milk. I found out that other allergens which can be passed on through breastmilk are wheat, eggs, citrus and peanuts.

I rarely ate peanuts so it had to be something that I had in my diet every day. My egg allergy was disgnosed at 6 weeks old, so I went wheat, dairy and egg free again, in the hope that it would help clear up my snuffly baby.

An interesting article called "Milk: Does it Really Do a Body Good?" written by Dr Jay Gordon can be read at It is quite informative and discusses the contents of milk, symptoms of intolerances/dairy and reactions of breastfed babies to changes in the diet of their mother.

I still watch what I am eating as once my hormones levelled out after giving birth my allergies/intolerances returned, but at a level which I am more able to tolerate. I like this because it means once a week I cheat and eat something 'naughty', the next day I don't feel great but for the most part it's bearable and I can continue with life quite normally, for me!

Posted by at Friday, March 05, 2010 10:16 AM

Welcome To Allergy Awareness


Nearly 39 years ago I was diagnosed with my first allergy. I was 6 weeks old. Despite the medical profession assuring me that I would grow out of my allergies I never had. It is true that a lot of children will not carry their allergies through to adulthood, and it is true that at certain times of my life my allergies have been less sensitive than at other times, but on the whole I still have my allergies and I still take medication for them.

Simply speaking I feel that the medical profession has not done all it could for me and has let me down considerably and consistently.

I have multiple allergies and it is practically impossible to avoid everything that I am allergic to. I try to do the best that I can and have done an extensive amount of research into exactly what causes my symptoms. It transpires that I react differently to different allergens and require different medication depending on the symptoms.

This blog is intended to document my studies in the hope that it will save a lot of leg work for anybody else researching allergies and intolerances.

Posted by at Friday, March 05, 2010 10:08 AM