Is food making us sick? [General]

2010 Oct 5
A curious thing is happening with our customer requests...more and more people are asking if any of the ingredients in our toppings or dips have gluten in them?
I understand some people can't digest gluten and it is linked to several illnesses, but the number of people requesting gluten free is escalating.

Why so many now?
What happened before the awareness of gluten did people do...were they eating gluten and getting sick, but didn't know why?
Are gluten free products part of a weight loss program?
Is this a fad, like the no carbohydrates thing a few years back?

Anybody have any insights or experience with gluten?

2010 Oct 5
-- Warning: Sweeping generalization supported by no medical knowledge below --
Over the past five years, the number of people I know with a gluten intolerance has gone from zero to, maybe, six or seven. I think it has only recently become something that doctors test for.

I'm going to come out and say it: Some of the people I know seem to use the allergy as an scapegoat for -- well, being unhealthy. The fact that many people with this allergy continue to ingest gluten (every once in a while or every day) is a little strange to me, as well as the fact that they loudly advertise their allergy it to anyone who will listen. Many of them are notoriously bad eaters, but blame their weight gain on gluten, even though weight loss is a symptom of the allergy.

Having said that, one out of these six or-so people was quite sick and lost tons of weight. She was wasting away. When she learned she had a gluten allergy, she started avoiding gluten products and improved somewhat -- but has not returned to her normal, healthy self.

I have to say, I'm probably wrong about this stuff. However, it's just my personal view based on the douchebaggery that I have witnessed. I think the rise in gluten allergies can also be partially attributed to the Google generation's penchant for self diagnosis.

I'm ready for my thumbs down now.

2010 Oct 5
yessi - you're not totally off, after pop media started touting the g-free diet as a good way to lose weight it has become a bit of a fad and has been embraced by those without a true gluten intolerance. Celiac disease is real, people suffer from it, but I know people who follow a gluten free diet as a way of life because of reported "benefits".

2010 Oct 5
There is an element of food phobia's, how big I do not know, bit it does exist. I know a few people that over a period of 10 years or so developed all sorts of allergies to various foods and even attributed them to their children. Over the years the types of food changed until one day it all magically disappeared.

That said the link below is an interesting story on food allergies. I have no idea how all this works.

2010 Oct 5
I can't speak for the general population, but I have in-laws with Celiac disease. They found out about it because one of them got extremely sick for 6 months until it was diagnosed. Celiac is passed on through a gene by the mother, and most often to the females in the family. Once the most serious case was diagnosed, all daughters of this individual were tested, one of them had the disease. My mother-in-law was also tested and found to have a mild form as well. I would venture to say in the past people just lived with it, undiagnosed for the most part. Because the symptoms run from mild to very bad, and everything from headaches to nausea, it was probably a very easy disease to chalk up to other factors. BTW the tests for Celiac disease are pretty comprehensive, and usually involve a biopsy once the preliminary tests show there is a sensitivity to gluten. I'm mentioning this to point out that a diagnosis of Celiac is pretty definitive.

2010 Oct 5
sourdough, come to think bout it, most if not all of the enquiries are girls or women. At least your relatives know what they have and can treat it. Can you imagine being sick all of the time and not know what is making you sick!!!

my immediate family aren't allergic to anything...we are very lucky in that regard.

2010 Oct 5
In some cases people have a sensitivity or intolerance to wheat but not the other gluten products like barley or rye. It's not celiacs but it is recommended to cut down on wheat consumption. Easiest way to be sure on that front is to go with anything labeled gluten free.
I went through a long, crappy period of not knowing what the heck was wrong with my gut and celiacs was one of the possibilities till allergy tests eliminated that, though I did show a minor wheat intolerance. I choose to avoid it entirely now, but I wouldn't go telling a restaurant I have an allergy when I don't (people who do that are lame). I've known people who think they're gluten intolerant but haven't had biopsies done to prove it. They feel better not eating gluten so I guess that's cool if it works for them. I'd rather know for sure; scopy's suck but they're the best diagnostic tool we've got for that area at this point.
One thing I can say on the healthier eating side: if you're strict about avoiding any form of wheat it's going to help eliminate a lot of junk food options.

2010 Oct 5
most interesting here are the 8 (as of my response) thumbs-up votes to Yessi's post. Maybe she's struck a nerve -- a subliminal one perhaps, sort of a tip of an iceberg?

Wondering if any of you 8 voters can chime in - what are the specific facets in Yessi's post that resonate with your own experience?

2010 Oct 6
The thing I find most interesting is that food allergies seem to be mainly a north american problem.

Is it environmental? Probably...

Are we all a little hypochrondriac? Most definitely... Google, self-diagnosis and the idea that we should get some sort of pill each time we go the doctor...

Are we too clean? I've heard arguments that our obsession with sanitizing the crap out of everything is directly correlated to things like allergies because our immune systems aren't able to handle even the smallest allergen because from a young age we've been Lysoled to death.

2010 Oct 6
What do you mean by environmental? Most developing countries, such as India and China are environmental nightmares in most ways compared to North America.

2010 Oct 6
itchy feet - I would say what resonates with me is that I have experienced the same thing with a couple of friends. One went and had one of these extensive allergy tests that are being offered now by certain pharmacies and environmental doctors. She was always overweight and subsisted mainly on a diet of take-out and fast food. Hmmmmm. After visiting said doctor and having a panel of blood tests done, determined that she had an intolerance to many foods. She cut out many of the taboo foods and did lose some weight, only to gain it all back - as she never learned about proper eating in the first place!

I also take umbrage to people who love throwing around the word 'allergy'. Yes, before there is a roar of opposition, there are indeed people out there with allergies. Sometimes when a client says to me 'I am allergic to cilantro' I have to shake my head - knowing deep down that they just want to make sure they don't get it in their food as they have an immense dislike of the said food. True allergies are serious business.

Through my own journey with food (and having been tested for food intolerances), I have discovered that there is a huge difference between food allergies and food intolerances. According to this article on the Mayo Clinic website, an allergy is much more serious than an intolerance . Sweeping conclusion? Allergies can kill you, food intolerances don't usually (e.g., Celiac disease is a result of a food intolerance, not a food allergy).

I do encourage people to find out, by whichever means they can, which foods don't agree with them - just don't call it an allergy, because it likely isn't.

SnoopyLoopy - the occurence of 'food allergies' here could be our good access to health care - which might lead one to the discovery of these 'allergies'. You could say it's environmental in that instance.

2010 Oct 6
In the last 5-10 years I've definitely observed a lot of what I term "bugaboos" which is code for "I'm going to advertise my "allergies" really loudly so everyone can hear, and I expect you to cater to my needs when you are feeding me, but in reality I don't follow my own preaching every day at home."

This drives me crazy as it is an obvious cry for attention and it is insensitive or at least unhelpful to people who actually suffer from real diet-related health issues.

Again, I recognize that many people suffer from ACTUAL issues. I'm not referring to them.

2010 Oct 6
Jojo some facts on celiac. The gluten "intolerance" from celiacs can lead to death as it is linked to a much higher risk of intestinal/bowel cancer. Can it kill you - maybe not as fast as anaphylactic shock, but kill you none the less.

2010 Oct 6
My two cents: my system is definitely less tolerant of white flour than it used to be. I'm not using the word "gluten" because I haven't done any research into this subject, but I do know that I have become very picky about eating foods made with white flour (primarily bread and pastry) and won't use it in cooking except to make gravy from turkey drippings at Christmas and Thanksgiving (and then even at that, I don't have much gravy preferring a homemade cranberry sauce).

My morning toast is Rideau Bakery light rye with caraway seeds, I am fine with the occasional True Loaf white baguette but I would wretch if you tried to give me a slice of Wonder Bread. I seem to be fine with high quality pasta (ie. Delverde) but I don't eat it too often, perhaps 1-2 times a month. That said, when you put out the buns in front of me in a restaurant, I like to indulge if I see something fairly dense and dark such as pumpernickel, rye or multigrain.

I recently read an article online that made mention of the fact that white flour is processed quite differently now than it was 30 years ago and put forth the hypothesis that this is the problem, not gluten allergies per se. This seems like a very plausible explanation to me.

2010 Oct 6
sourdough - point taken. I have two friends with celiacs and have seen them get ill over eating food that they didn't know the contents of. I was not trying in any way to belittle the seriousness of the illness.

I was merely pointing out that there is a difference between an allergy and an intolerance and I have too often heard people crying wolf, in my own personal experience.

2010 Oct 8
This is a huge minefield...Intolerances and sensitivities vs. allergies and "disease"...celiac in particular. A true dianosis of celiac can only be given after a biopsy (the blood test can be a strong indicator but is not conclusive). Many people with symptoms of celiac disease choose to follow a gluten free diet even without the biopsy. The biopsy test involves eating a high gluten diet before and consequently feeling very, very unwell. I counsel people on nutrition and have found that several conditions can be helped by getting rid of certain foods--mostly intolerances as opposed to allergies--very often the processed "white" stuff but also wheat (maybe the gluten...), sugar, white flour, white rice. These are all foods devoid of nutrients. Many folks do best without dairy products. Anyone with celiac disease suffers inflammation and damage each time they eat gluten. Damage can begin inutero or as a child and until the person stops ingesting gluten damage continues to occur. We still do not know all the long term consequences of celiac disease but it is not to be taken lightly. And I see that even if not gluten intolerant, most of us have more energy and feel better on a lower gluten diet--especially if it is "white" ingredient free. Having said all this, each case is individual. But if you are experiencing low metabolism (fatigue, weight gain, inability to lose weight) or bloating, diarrhea, headaches try cutting out these white foods. You will probably feel better...especially if you increase dark, leafy green foods, colourful foods (sweet potatoes, beets, rapini...etc..)

2010 Oct 9
All around great advice.

2010 Oct 12
A related article from fooducate

2010 Oct 12
Informative and interesting article--I re-iterate the last few points of my last post on this subject. Try a " white free diet", some may feel better without bread period, and eat plenty of vegetables in all forms--raw, cooked, greens, root vegetables. On the white line, some folks will do better without white potatoes. And I'm not trying to be a diet fanatic but certain symptoms require refining -- see a naturopath, dietician or nutritionist if you have ongoing food issues. And what I see most frequently with dietary changes is an increase in energy. Bonus!!