Wednesday, August 14, 2013

FOOD ALLERGIES




This has been quite a summer for me. You may have noticed that I haven't posted much.

The low-carb cruise in May this year attracted followers of Paleo, Primal, low-carb, and LCHF [low-carb high-fat] diets as well as various hybrids, so while almost everyone agreed that grains are bad, there were different opinions about dairy. Jimmy Moore was eating half a package of butter with his dinner every night and Dave Asprey demonstrated how to make coffee with 3/4 of a stick of butter. Some of us brought our own supplies of Kerry Gold butter, but some brought coconut oil instead.


If I had to give myself a label, I guess it would now be, "LCHF/Primal." The main difference between Paleo and Primal is that Primal allows dairy and I've been a big fan of high-quality butter, cream, and cheese, and still recommend them for anyone who is not allergic to them, but some of the symptoms attributed to dairy intolerance (skin problems, ear infections, and sinus congestion) matched ones that have bothered me for most, if not all, my life. I was given my first prescriptions for steroids to treat itchy, scaly skin and ear infections when I was 16 and have used drops or creams periodically to treat flare ups ever since.

After I got home from the cruise, I decided to try cutting out all dairy foods except clarified butter to see if it helped. I also went to an allergist to find out if I was sensitive to dairy products and, if so, whether it was just pasteurized, bovine dairy or if I also needed to avoid fermented and raw dairy and the cream and cheese from goats, sheep, and older breeds of cows. The first allergist I saw told me that she could only test for one kind of milk allergy, the one that caused immediate digestive distress, which I obviously didn't have. She suggested that I go to a naturopath instead because they have more specific tests. It took a while to get an appointment and another 3 weeks to get the results of an antibody assessment from US BioTek. I was flabbergasted when the report came back. I had almost no reaction to milk, yogurt, or cheese, but I am allergic to almonds and very allergic to EGGS, two things that I was eating more frequently after cutting out dairy. Apparently, some symptoms of egg and dairy allergies, such as hives, congestion, and histamine related reactions, are similar.

It may be a coincidence, but about 3 weeks after I started my no-dairy experiment, I got an itchy, swollen rash with painful blisters on my right foot, accompanied by shakiness and a rapid heartbeat. I first thought it might be shingles and went to a walk-in clinic on a Friday night so it could be treated quickly. When a round of anti-viral medication didn't help, I went to my regular MD who diagnosed it as an infection and gave me an anti-biotic. He warned me not to call him if it suddenly got worse, but to go directly to the emergency room. I slept in my clothes for a few nights, just in case. When the rash broke out on my left foot, even worse this time, he gave me a prescription for more anti-biotics and sent me to a dermatologist, who added a second anti-biotic plus a steroid cream for the hives that were coming and going on my face, arms, and legs.

I've now seen seven different doctors (for a total of 13 office visits), taken mega doses of three different anti-biotics, and had several cultures and biopsies all of which came back negative. The doctors concluded it was not an infection after all, just a hyper-sensitivity to something, so I discontinued the anti-biotics. The original sites are now almost healed and I'm controlling new eruptions by using the steroid cream three times a day. I'm hoping this was an allergic reaction and that omitting eggs and almonds will be enough to eventually take care of it.

 
I plan to add dairy back carefully while monitoring my reactions, since both the naturopath and the printout from the US BioTek report said that the tests don't cover all sensitivities and that you can still have a severe reaction to something that didn't register in the tests. I also downloaded Dave Asprey's app for self-testing for food sensitivities to see if it agrees with the first set of tests. (It was free when I got it, but I don't know if it still is.) If you are interested, check it out: Dave's iphone app.


Dave is also offering a 3-day seminar that you can watch for free. Click here to sign up for seminar. 

If there is a moral to this story, it would be this: We are all different and what is good for one person may not work for everyone. Get tested for allergies and do your own experiments to back up the results. Meanwhile, I'll be working on dairy-free, egg-free, sugar-free, gluten-free, almond-free, low-carb (whew!) recipes just in case. I suppose it could be worse ~ I still have chocolate and bacon.

(C) 2013, Judy Barnes Baker, www.carbwars.blogspot.com


13 comments:

Jennifer said...

Oh geesh, my poor friend. You'll get there and I'm sure you will be able to have dairy again too. Keeping you in my prayers.

Ginny said...

Wow, Judy! I'm glad you found out. I've just been reading of another method in "Gut And Psychology Syndrome" of testing for food sensitivity/allergy, by putting a small bit of the food on your wrist before you go to bed at night and checking it in the morning.

Judy Barnes Baker said...

Thank you, Jennifer.

Judy Barnes Baker said...

Ginny:
Interesting! Tell us more.

Ginny said...

I really don't know more than that. According to the book (which I don't have anymore, it was from the library), if it shows up red or swollen the next morning you need to eliminate that food. If not you're probably ok. I haven't tried it yet. But I keep meaning to with dairy, and see. The food has to be liquid, so if it's a solid you would need to add some water and puree it. I don't think it takes much, just rub it onto your wrist.

Louise said...

Aww - so sorry to hear that you're dealing with this! Hope it gets better soon. I've actually been battling chronic allergies for most of my life (angiodema) so I can understand some of what you're going through. I hope you recover soon!

George said...

God Bless You Judy!

Judy Barnes Baker said...

Ginny, I read what it says about the GAP testing system online (http://gapsdiet.com/INTRODUCTION_DIET.html) and plan to try it. I wondered if you needed to cover the test spot, but it says not to, but to let it dry, go to sleep, and check it in the morning.

Thanks for the tip. This sounds like an easy way to back up the other tests.

Judy Barnes Baker said...

Thanks for the good thoughts, Louise and George. I'm feeling better and even starting to think about recipes. Replacing almonds will be easy, but the eggs are a bigger challenge. I'll have to do some research and experimenting, especially since I want to keep writing recipes with eggs because egg allergies in adults are very rare, but I'd like to include egg-free variations. Suggestions would be welcome! (Jennifer already sent me some good ideas.)

St. Johns Audubon said...

Judy, I'm so sorry you have been going through this. I don't know how I would manage without eggs! I buy them from a local farmer and they are one of the mainstays of my diet. I love almonds too but they are easier to find substitutes for. I wish I had more words of wisdom, but just wanted you to know I'm thinking of you and wishing you better health quickly!

Me said...

I'm so sorry you've had to deal with all this. It sounds awful.

I want to point out for the benefit of your readers that food intolerances and contact allergies can cause problems similar to food allergies. It took me 40-some years to discover that consuming eggs was the cause of my episodes of fatigue and serious lack of energy. My guess, although I have no way of knowing, is that I had a bit of leaky gut syndrome and the immune response to the egg protein caused the fatigue. In any case, avoiding eggs is a small price to pay to no longer feel that way. (I can now eat a bit of egg in baked goods.)

Some 60 years ago my grandmother got terrible eczema on her hands that actually got worse when she went to the doctor. That was back when ladies wore gloves whenever they went out and the cause turned out to be her new dark blue gloves.

I recently discovered the cause of some painful "feminine" burning to be my use of a standard brand of laundry detergent which contains enzymes. (Google revealed that this is also a common cause of diaper rash.)

Judy Barnes Baker said...

St. Johns Autubon: Thanks for the comment and for the sympathy. I've been buying fresh, free-range, local eggs and thought they were really good for me! I even learned how to make a perfect poached egg, because I wanted the yolks to retain all their nutrients. I'll have to find a new source for all that good stuff, like choline, that I'll be missing now.

Judy Barnes Baker said...

Me: Thanks for telling me about the fatigue issue!! I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue about 15 years ago. I'd gladly give up eggs if that would go away with them!

Great story about your grandmother! She probably had a easier time of finding the source of her problem than we do now. We are exposed to thousands of different things every day--it is really a minefield out there.

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