Thursday, February 28, 2008

I HATE the flu

Nicky and I are both down with the flu today. Oh Lord Almighty do I feel terrible~ I was worshipping the porceline god all night and Nicky threw up 3 times as well. You know its bad when you are using the toilet and sink at the same time. Yuck! I am so miserable. I have kept down water and Gatorade and ginger ale since this morning, thank goodness, but don't even want to think about food. It seems like we have had a very bad winter in our household for illnesses. While I have heard that its been a bad winter in general for that kind of stuff, I still have to wonder what has our immune systems compromised to the point that we seem to keep picking up all these bugs.

I just realized that before this flu, Nicky and I were partaking in way too much dairy again. This sucks - I really had hoped that if I cut out the liquid milk, I could keep the yogart and cheese and occasional ice cream in our diets. But our allergy issues are making themselves known loud and clear. Dairy will really need to be a "sometimes food" (or an almost never food) for us.

All this thought about nutrition has me realizing that maybe a bunch of soda and sugary sports drinks, although hydrating and helpful due to the electrolytes and calming effect of the fizzies on one's tummy, might not be the healthies thing to feed my body when it really needs good nutrition to get back up and running. A friend in my parenting group mentioned how coconut milk or juice is really high in electrolytes and is a whole food, of course, so that would be a better choice. I will bank that knowledge for next time (hopefully a long, long time from now) we get sick. Beyond dairy, I think that our diet, in general, in our family just needs to get back in balance. The emphasis needs to be on good old fruits and vegetables close to their natural state and much less on meat and grains and dairy.

I don't know what happened after I gave birth to Nicky to throw my system into such upheaval, especially after I thought I had such a great and healthy pregnancy, but I want my health back. I am planning a trip to the doctor to evaluate for hyperthyroidism (due to all my weight loss), iron deficiency, and whatever else my doc thinks is prudent. I so hope that I get answers but that the news won't be bad. I might have to dig into the allergy thing, or at least treating it, more with a naturopathic doctor since most allergists only or mainly deal with more severe allergies, especially when you're talking about food allergies, and don't really address the nutrition side that much like I would like. Anyway, health is too precious a thing to let stubborness or ignorance sabatoge it. People may think that cutting dairy is just too weird or out there, but if it helps me feel better, than that is what I need to do.

I just found a webpage that does a great job explaining the whole milk allergy thing way better than I ever could. Since education is a great thing, I will pass it on. Maybe a few more people will be able to connect their stomach pain or acid reflux or constant ear infections back to dairy allergies and can make positive health changes. I hope so. Enjoy:

Food Allergy Solutions Review
News, Ideas & Strategies to Improve Your Health
July 2003

Milk Allergies and Lactose Intolerance

Milk allergy or dairy allergy are the most common food allergies seen in my practice and cause a multitude of health problems.
Dairy may be the most misunderstood food of our culture. It is often assumed to be of high nutritional value and even mandatory for good health, although it can create serious health problems.

Lactose intolerance is frequently confused with milk allergy, but the two conditions are not the same. We'll discuss these two dairy food disorders below.What's a Dairy Allergy?
An allergy is an immune response that results in inflammation and tissue damage. Such a response to food can be exhibited in any part of the body, therefore it can cause a wide range of problems. Food allergies also interfere with nutrient absorption, resulting in conditions such as iron deficiency anemia, osteoporosis, and fatigue.

What Are the Possible Milk Allergy Symptoms?

A dairy allergy, like any food allergy, is capable of triggering a wide array of milk allergy symptoms. Some of the most common complaints include ear infections in children, sinusitis, heartburn/reflux, constipation, diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome. A more complete list includes:

Abdominal Pain
Canker sores
Ear Infections
Iron deficient anemia
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Joint Pain
Lactose Intolerance
Poor Growth
Poor immune function (frequent illness)
What Is Lactose Intolerance?

Lactose intolerance is an enzyme deficiency, not an allergy. However, lactose intolerance can be the result of a dairy allergy and the two are frequently confused.

What Causes a Milk Allergy?

Most likely it is a genetic condition. In the big picture, humans have only recently introduced cow’s milk into the diet, so it’s not surprising that the immune system doesn’t always recognize it as a friendly substance.

This is a significant problem because of the difficulty in connecting your symptoms with your eating habits. Your symptoms probably vary in intensity or come and go. The trick is that allergy symptoms may show up hours or even a day later, after a food is well absorbed into your system. And if you stop to think about it, you probably eat dairy every day.

Even if you only eat something 2 or 3 times per week you can still have a significant allergic reaction to it.

Dairy includes all types of milk from a cow, all cheese, butter, half and half, yogurt, cottage cheese, ice cream and other obvious milk products. It also includes the proteins casein, whey, and lactalbumin, which are found in many processed foods. Low-fat and nonfat milk are just as allergenic as whole milk. And eggs don’t come from cows, so they’re not considered a dairy product.
How Do I Determine if I Have a Dairy Allergy?

The only sure way to determine if you have a milk allergy is to have your blood tested for antibodies to dairy. This is done with an
ELISA Food Allergy Panel.
If you suspect that you may have a dairy allergy, or you experience any of the symptoms listed earlier, be sure to call the office at 206-264-1111 to schedule an appointment.

Milk Allergies - Case Studies

Case #1: 48 year old female with severe abdominal pain. Occasional gas and bloating. Five months prior to her office visit she started experiencing pain so severe that she was prescribed Vicodin. Pain interfered with her sleep. When younger she was diagnosed with colitis. Blood food allergy testing demonstrated allergies to dairy, beef, and brewer’s yeast. Elimination of allergenic foods, especially dairy, resulted in the complete resolution of her symptoms and she was able to discontinue her pain medication.

Along with the resolution of my pain was the enlightenment of how food allergies affect so many things in my general health. [Dr. Wangen’s] enthusiasm for maintaining overall health made me much more aware of caring for myself. Kim N.

Case #2: 41 year old female with a lifetime history of acid reflux, vomiting, and constipation alternating with loose stools. As a baby she was colicky and spit up constantly. History of ear infections as a child, including tubes in ears. Then sinus infections in high school. Always thought anxiety was a primary cause of her problems. Blood food allergy testing demonstrated strong allergy to dairy and eggs. Removal of dairy and eggs resulted in a dramatic improvement in reflux and vomiting.

… the gastroenterologist finally said, “I can’t do anything more for you. This is just what you have to live with.” …[When I saw] Dr. Wangen he immediately suggested food allergy testing… Within 2 weeks I stopped being nauseated! ...I was poisoning my body every day without realizing it! Terri C.

Ear Infections and Dairy Allergies

Do you ever wonder why some kids get lots of ear infections, often resulting in multiple doses of antibiotics and eventually tubes in their ears? Why don't the antibiotics ever completely solve the problem?

Ears require drainage by the eustachian tube, which opens into the back of the throat. In young children this tube is not fully developed and is very susceptible to being blocked by inflammation. Anything that causes inflammation can block the eustachian tube, resulting in a warm moist breeding ground for bacteria in the inner ear.

Antibiotics kill the bacteria, temporarily, but they don't change the inflammation of the eustachian tube or the breeding ground. This is when placing a tube through the tympanic membrane is recommended. These don't solve the inflammatory problem either, but they do get the drainage going.

The real cause of the problem is the inflammation of the eustachian tube. Usually this inflammation is caused by a food allergy, most often dairy. Children generally drink and eat a lot of dairy. Invariably it's the very first food introduced into the diet.

A milk allergy is by far the most common cause of ear infections. Removing dairy from the diet will usually result in complete resolution of this problem. However, occasionally further food allergy testing is required to determine the source of the inflammation.

Is Lactose Intolerance More than a Digestive Problem?

Lactose intolerance is a deficiency in the enzyme lactase. Lactase is the enzyme that digests the milk sugar lactose. People with a lactose intolerance typically experience an upset stomach, bloating, gas, and loose stools. These are also common symptoms of a dairy allergy.

Many patients complain of a lactose intolerance. They usually say that taking Lactaid or a digestive product designed for lactose intolerance will resolve their digestive problems. However, they obviously didn’t schedule an appointment just to tell me this and they are usually experiencing one of the other symptoms associated with a dairy allergy. (See page 1.)

Not surprisingly, the lactose intolerance usually turns out to be a dairy allergy, which is an actual immune response to dairy. The dairy allergy has apparently damaged the digestive tract to the extent that it has caused a deficiency in the enzyme lactase, which is produced by the cells lining the digestive tract.

Many people mistakenly believe that they can continue to eat dairy products as long as they take a digestive aid, or they avoid milk but still eat cheese, etc. Unfortunately, most continue to suffer from their milk allergy even though their digestive symptoms have diminished. If you have a lactose intolerance and experience any of the symptoms listed on page one then you should be tested for a dairy allergy via an ELISA blood test.
A True Dairy Substitute that Tastes Like Milk!

Finally, a milk substitute that actually tastes like milk. DariFree is a potato-based milk product by Vances Foods. I recently tasted DariFree and was amazed by the similarity to cow's milk. I'm not sure that it's even possible to taste the difference.

However, a word of nutritional caution. DariFree only contains carbohydrates/sugars and has no protein. Ideally this product might be used as an early substitute for those recently diagnosed with a dairy allergy. In children it should not be relied upon as a milk substitute, but primarily as a transition food while introducing soy or rice milks, which have much more nutritional value.
DariFree is not yet widely available, but you can track it down at

1 comment:

sarahjecks said...

Hi Lesley, I hope you and Nicky are feeling better. The flu hit our house this week too, first with Aiden being sick. The Dr said he wasnt contagious but then I got sick on Tuesday as did Nathen. So we know your pain...and hope all is well now. Also, I hope your Dr's appt goes well.
Take care,