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Allergies? find info April 30, 2009 5:54 PM

The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network

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Food Allergy Recipes and Special Diets May 17, 2009 8:02 PM

No-Salt / Low-Sodium Recipes and Information
Many are reducing their salt intake these days due to various reasons. Here you'll find no-salt recipes, resources, and cookbooks.
Allergy Cookbook
Food allergies Online Resources has recipes for many allergies, including wheat-, egg-, milk- and dairy-free recipes in a definitive chart.
Allergies & Asthma Recipes
Recipes from the usenet group geared toward children with asthma and allergies with wheat-, egg-, gluten-, egg-, and soy-free recipes.
Cancer Treatment Recipes
CancerNet has a nice variety of recipes recommended for those undergoing cancer treatments, all taste-tested.
Favorite Gluten-Free Recipes
Australia's Allan Gardyne shares his favorites including Rice Bread, Salmon Frittatas, Chocolate Nut Brownies and more.
Fettucini Alfonso
From the Uncheese Cookbook, here's a recipe for faux Fettuccine Alfredo for those lactose-intolerant who just can't do without this pasta dish.
Food Allergy Network
For those who have food allergies or cook for those with food allergies, this is a must-read site.
Food Allergy Recipes
Food Allergy Survivors Together has a collection of member-submitted, categorized recipes for those with various food allergies.
Gluten-Free Pantry
Two dozen gluten-free recipes, plus gluten-free products.
Gluten-Free Vegan Guidelines
VegSocUK has a factsheet for those vegans who need a gluten-free diet with a chart of gluten-free and gluten foods to help you plan.
Homemade Wheat-Free Flour Mix
D.R.Butler from Ireland has a wheat-free flour mix you can make at home, plus several recipes.
Lactose-Intolerance Information
Wegman's has good info on lactose intolerance with tips on nutrition, cooking, eating out, and more.
lifeclinic Diabetic Cookbook
Diabetic recipes plus nutrition information. You'll find a nice collection of recipes, each recipe on its own page with nutritional analysis and printer option.
Milk-Free Vegan Recipes
Veggies Unite! has many vegan recipes which do not use milk with many categories to choose from.
Paleolithic Eating Archives
The PaleoFood mailing list archives contain recipes with no milk conforming to a Neolithic (caveman) back-to-basics diet.
PKU Diet Information
Dietary information for Phenylketonuria (PKU) patients, including a listing of low-protein, cautionary and forbidden foods from National Society for Phenylketonuria (United Kingdom).
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No-Salt / Low-Sodium Recipes and Information May 22, 2009 9:13 AM

I received a request from a reader looking for no-salt recipes for a relative with a heart problem. Many are reducing their salt intake these days due to various reasons. Usually when the doctor prescribes a no-salt diet, it generally means no salt added, since many foods naturally contain sodium and some should be avoided altogether on low-sodium diets such as beets, carrots, spinach, and particularly celery. Also avoid water filtered by a water softener, since it can multiply the sodium content in water up to 10 times.

Your doctor should specify the level of sodium intake per day and give you dietary guidelines. This can make the difference between a no-salt diet and a low sodium diet. Once you have your daily intake restriction level, you can check nutrition fact labels on products to calculate sodium content of your recipes.

Garlic and onion powder are excellent substitutes for salt in savory recipes, particularly onion powder. Both give somewhat the illusion of salty flavor without the addition of sodium. Just be sure to check the label to be certain no salt has been added. You will find several salt-free spice blends below that will also do the trick, but with more of an herbal slant. Note that salt-free does not necessarily mean sodium-free. Here are some no-salt and low-sodium recipes to try:

No-Salt Recipes
  • Herb Salt Substitute
  • No-Salt Seasoned Salt Mix
  • No-Salt BBQ Sauce
  • No-Salt Seasoning Mix
  • Craig Claiborne's No-Salt Chili Con Carne
  • No-Salt Spaghetti Sauce
  • Salt-free Bread
  • No-Salt Prime Rib
  • No-Salt Seasoning Mix
  • Mrs. Dash Salt-Free Seasoning Substitute
  • Salt-Free White Bread
  • Salt-Free Salad Dressing
  • Salt-Free Chili Powder
  • Vegetarian Bolognese
    Low-Salt Resources
  • Jon's Low Sodium Tips
  • Seasonings: For Use in Controlled Sodium Diets
  • Nu-Salt Free Frequently Asked Questions
    Low-Salt and No-Salt Cookbooks
  • No Salt, No Sugar, No Fat Cookbook

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     May 22, 2009 9:13 AM

  • The No-Salt, Lowest-Sodium Cookbook
  • American Heart Association Low-Salt Cookbook
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     July 04, 2009 2:07 PM

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    Introduction to food allergies July 20, 2009 4:00 PM

    Either food allergy or food intolerance affects nearly everyone at some point. When people have an unpleasant reaction to something they ate, they often think that they have an allergy to the food. Actually, however, only about 1% of adults and 3% of children have clinically proven true allergic reactions to food.

    This difference between the prevalence of clinically proven food allergy and the public's perception of the problem is due primarily to misinterpreting food intolerance or other adverse reactions to food as food allergy. Food allergy is an abnormal response to food that is triggered by a specific reaction in the immune system and expressed by certain, often characteristic, symptoms. Other kinds of reactions to foods that are not food allergies include food intolerances (such as lactose or milk intolerance), food poisoning, and toxic reactions. Food intolerance also is an abnormal response to food, and its symptoms can resemble those of food allergy. Food intolerance, however, is far more prevalent, occurs in a variety of diseases, and is triggered by several different mechanisms that are distinct from the immunological reaction responsible for food allergy.

    People who have food allergies must identify and prevent them because, although usually mild and not severe, these reactions can cause devastating illness and, in rare instances, can be fatal.

    How do allergic reactions to food occur?

    The allergens in food are those components that are responsible for inciting an allergic reaction. They are proteins that usually resist the heat of cooking, the acid in the stomach, and the intestinal digestive enzymes. As a result, the allergens survive to cross the gastrointestinal lining, enter the bloodstream, and go to target organs, causing allergic reactions throughout the body. The mechanism of food allergy involves the immune system and heredity.

    Immune system: An allergic reaction to food involves two components of the immune system. One component is a type of protein, an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE), which circulates through the blood. The other is the mast cell, a specialized cell that is found in all tissues of the body. The mast cell is especially common, however, in areas of the body that are typical sites of allergic reactions, including the nose and throat, lungs, skin, and gastrointestinal tract.

    Heredity: The tendency of an individual to produce IgE against something seemingly as innocuous as food appears to be inherited. Generally, people with allergies come from families in which allergies are common -- not necessarily to food but perhaps allergies to pollen, fur, feathers, or drugs. Thus, a person with two allergic parents is more likely to develop food allergies than someone with one allergic parent.

    Mechanism: Food allergy is a hypersensitivity reaction, meaning that before an allergic reaction to an allergen in food can occur, a person needs to have been exposed previously, that is, sensitized, to the food. At the initial exposure, the allergen stimulates lymphocytes (specialized white blood cells) to produce the IgE antibody that is specific for the allergen. This IgE then is released and attaches to the surface of the mast cells in different tissues of the body. The next time the person eats that food, its allergen hones in on the specific IgE antibody on the surface of the mast cells and prompts the cells to release chemicals such as histamine. Depending upon the tissue in which they are released, these chemicals cause the various symptoms of food allergy.

    What are the symptoms and signs of food allergy?

    The complex process of digestion affects the timing, location, and particular symptoms of an allergic reaction to food. All of the symptoms of food allergy occur within a few minutes to an hour of eating. A food allergy can initially be experienced as an itching in the mouth and difficulty swallowing and breathing. Then, during digestion of the food in the stomach and intestines, symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain can start. Incidentally, the gastrointestinal symptoms of food allergy are those that are most often confused with the symptoms of different types of food intolerance.

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     July 20, 2009 4:01 PM

    As mentioned previously, the allergens are absorbed and enter the bloodstream. When they reach the skin, allergens can induce hives or eczema, and when they reach the airways, they can cause asthma. As the allergens travel through the blood vessels, they can cause lightheadedness, weakness, and anaphylaxis, which is a sudden drop in blood pressure. Anaphylactic reactions are severe even when they start off with mild symptoms, such as a tingling in the mouth and throat or discomfort in the abdomen. They can be fatal if not treated quickly.

    Do infants and children have problems with food allergy?

    Most allergies to foods begin in the first or second year of life. While some of these reactions may resolve over time (such as allergies to cow's milk or eggs), other food allergies acquired in infancy (such as allergies to nuts or shellfish) typically persist throughout life. Allergies to milk or soy formula (a milk substitute made from soybeans) sometimes occur in infants and young children. These early allergies sometimes do not involve the usual hives or asthma but rather can cause symptoms resembling infantile colic, and perhaps blood in the stool, or poor growth.

    The clinical picture of infantile colic, which usually starts within one month of birth, is that of a crying child who sleeps poorly at night. The cause of colic is uncertain. A variety of psychosocial and dietary factors have been implicated, however, and allergy to milk or soy has been proposed as a cause of colic in a minority of infants with colic.

    In infants, food allergy is usually diagnosed by observing the effect of changing the infant's diet; rarely, by using a food challenge. If the baby is on cow's milk, the doctor will suggest a change to soy formula or breast milk only, if possible. If the soy causes an allergic reaction, the baby can be placed on an elemental formula. These formulas are processed proteins and carbohydrates, basically amino acids and sugars, and contain few, if any, allergens.

    Breastfeeding: Exclusive breastfeeding, that is, excluding all other foods, for at least the first four months of life appears to help protect high-risk children against milk allergy and eczema in the first two years of life. Breast milk contains less protein that is foreign to the infant and, therefore, is less allergenic than cow's milk or soy formula. Exclusive breastfeeding should be a consideration, therefore, especially in infants who are predisposed to food allergy. Some children are so sensitive to a certain food, however, that if the mother eats that food, sufficient quantities enter the breast milk to cause a reaction to the food in the child. In this situation, the mothers themselves must avoid eating those foods to which the baby is allergic. No conclusive evidence has been obtained that suggests that breastfeeding prevents the development of allergies later in life.

    Special considerations in children: An allergic child who itches, sneezes, and wheezes a lot can feel miserable and, therefore, sometimes misbehave or appear hyperactive. At the other extreme, children who are on antiallergy medicines that can cause drowsiness may become sleepy in school or at home. Parents and caregivers must understand these different behaviors, protect the children from the foods that induce their allergies and know how to manage an allergic reaction, including how to administer epinephrine. Also, schools need to have plans in place to address emergencies, including anaphylactic shock.

    What are the most common food allergies?

    In adults, the most common foods that cause allergic reactions are: shellfish, such as shrimp, crayfish, lobster, and crab; nuts from trees, such as walnuts; fish; eggs; and peanuts, a legume that is one of the chief foods that cause anaphylactic reactions. In highly allergic people, even minuscule amounts of a food allergen (for example, 1/44,000 of a peanut kernel) can evoke an allergic reaction. Less sensitive people, however, may be able to tolerate small amounts of a food to which they are allergic.

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     July 20, 2009 4:03 PM

    In children, the pattern is somewhat different from adults, and the most common foods that cause allergic reactions are eggs, milk, peanuts, and fruits, particularly tomatoes and strawberries. Children sometimes outgrow their allergies, but adults usually do not lose theirs. Also, children are more likely to outgrow allergies to cow's milk or soy formula than allergies to peanuts, fish, or shrimp. Adults and children tend to react to those foods they eat more often. For example, in Japan, allergy to rice, and in Scandinavia, allergy to codfish, is more common than elsewhere.

    What is cross-reactivity?

    Cross-reactivity is the occurrence of allergic reactions to foods that are chemically or otherwise related to foods known to cause allergy in an individual. If someone has a life-threatening reaction to a certain food, the doctor will counsel that patient to avoid related foods, which also might induce the same reaction. For example, if a person has a history of a severe allergy to shrimp, he or she can also possibly be allergic to crab, lobster, and crayfish.

    The oral allergy syndrome is another type of cross-reactivity. This syndrome occurs in people who are highly sensitive, for example, to ragweed or birch pollen. During the seasons that these allergens pollinate, the affected individual may find that when he or she tries to eat fruits, chiefly melons and apples, a rapid onset of itching is experienced in the mouth and throat, and the fruit cannot be eaten. The symptoms of this allergy, which is caused simply by the direct contact of the food with the lining of the mouth and throat, resolve rapidly.

    What is exercise-induced food allergy?

    Exercise can induce an allergic reaction to food. The usual scenario is that of a person eating a specific food and then exercising. As he exercises and his body temperature increases, he begins to itch, gets lightheaded, and soon develops the characteristic allergic reactions of hives, asthma, abdominal symptoms, and even anaphylaxis. The cure, actually a preventive measure, for exercise-induced food allergy is simple -- not eating for at least two hours before exercising.

    What conditions have mistakenly been attributed to food allergy?

    Studies have shown that individuals who are prone to migraines can have their headaches brought on by histamine, which is one of the compounds that mast cells produce in an allergic reaction. The theory that food allergies can cause migraine headaches, however, is unproven. There is also inadequate scientific evidence to support the claims that food allergies can cause or aggravate rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, tension-fatigue syndrome, cerebral allergy (headaches and difficulty concentrating), environmental-toxic reactions, or hyperactivity in children.

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