Food can be our fuel or our poison. More people than ever are affected by abdominal pain, bloating, rashes and headaches; all stemming from food allergies. Food allergies, if severe enough, may even be considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act in the future.
The Wall Street Journal cites, “An estimated 15 million Americans–including 1 in every 13 children– have at least one food allergy, according to the Food Allergy Initiative. Another three million have celiac disease, an autoimmune reaction to gluten, and millions more avoid gluten for other health reasons.”
Why are food allergies and sensitivities rising? The Food and Drug Allergy Care Center at UCLA suggests our allergies are increasing due to our “westernized” culture of sterile environments which interrupt the normal development of our immune systems. Other experts point the finger at GMO’s, or genetically modified foods like wheat. Many studies attribute the growth to the endless amount of additives, chemicals and hormones being injected into our food and water supply on a daily basis.
Gluten sensitivity is not new; it’s been diagnosed as a food allergy problem since 1888. Gluten sensitivity is only now in the spotlight because wheat consumption has risen; therefore gluten allergies have too. Likewise, wheat is drastically different than it was years ago. Modern day wheat is covered with fungicides and herbicides from the start to finish of the growing process.
Allergy related lawsuits have subsequently affected businesses that were once flourishing. To avoid these consequences, schools and restaurants have conscientiously made an effort to make their menus allergy friendly.
Part of the food allergy problem may have to do with misleading food packaging. Wheat products can masquerade on food labels under names such as food starch, stabilizers or emulsifiers. Words like “natural” and “made with organic” don’t always mean what they imply. Even the Nutrition Facts Panel, regulated by the FDA, can be deceptive when it comes to ingredients.
It’s important to get allergy tested if you don’t know what you are allergic to. Research the foods you purchase to avoid problems. Look for foods labeled “100% Organic,” since they are GMO free. Many grocery stores use their own labeling systems. Visit their websites to find out what criteria they use.
To your health!
Autumn (check me out @ pacificnorthwesthealth.com)