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.
colds to hayfever, the health risks revealed by your FINGERS
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:
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 heartuk.org.uk).
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 www.bpassoc.org.uk.
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 diabetes.org.uk.)
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 coeliac.org.uk).
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.
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 allergyuk.org).
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.
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
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
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
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.
thought wholemeal bread was healthy - then I found out it was poisoning
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.
you allergic to the sun? For one in six of us, blazing skies are VERY
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.
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
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
"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
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
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
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."
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.
end to allergies?
What Is An Allergy?
Simply put, an allergy is when your body over reacts to what should be a
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
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.
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.
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
An interesting article called "Milk:
Does it Really Do a Body Good?" written by Dr Jay Gordon can be read at
http://www.avoidingmilkprotein.com/milkdrJ.htm. 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!
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