Researchers Discover Cause of Eosinophilic Esophagitis

FROM FARE: Researchers discover cause of Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE). This means that new treatments may be just around the corner. Findings also help researchers understand other eosinophilic disorders and allergies in general. Very exciting news.

Researchers report that they have discovered the cause of eosinophilic eophagitis (EoE), a hard-to-treat food allergy. In EoE, large numbers of white blood cells, known as eosinophils, accumulate in the lining of the esophagus (the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach), causing chronic inflammation. Led by a team at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, investigators have found a new genetic and molecular pathway in the esophagus. This discovery, reported online today in Nature Genetics, opens the door to new therapies for EoE, which has been diagnosed in a growing number of children and adults over the past decade.

The study found that EoE is triggered by the interplay between epithelial cells, which help form the lining of the esophagus, and a gene called CAPN14. When the epithelial cells are exposed to an immune hormone called interleukin 13 (IL-13), which is known to play a role in EoE, they cause…

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Happy Hug a Blogger Day!

An Allergic Foodie Gets a Facelift

I blog for one reason–and one reason only–to help people.

When I discovered I had celiac disease and multiple food allergies and eosinophilic esophagitis–all in the same year!–I felt incredibly alone with myriad questions. How would I prepare meals for a family who ate EVERYTHING when I couldn’t eat ANYTHING? Would I ever be able to eat in a restaurant safely? What about travel? What would I say to friends who invited me over to dinner?

And the biggest question of all: WHAT WILL I EAT?

An Allergic Foodie Admits Mistakes

 

Two years ago, I turned to blogging because I needed to voice my fears, frustrations and foibles. I also hoped that maybe, just maybe, some kind soul out there with similar issues  would write back and tell me everything would be okay.

Both happened.

I found a safe place to vent–and do so often!–and I met other food-allergic folk like me. I even attended a conference for Food Allergy Bloggers. I’ve received and given hundreds of virtual hugs.

I am no longer alone . . . and I’ve found a purpose.

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”–Ralph Waldo Emerson

Still, blogging is time-consuming. Learning how to make a “Pin-It” button is exasperating! Will someone teach me please? If you want to make money blogging, you’ve got to put even more hours in. Then there’s all the social media required to promote your blog and gain readers. Social media sucks the minutes out of your day like my vacuum would if someone powered it on.  How did I know I’d become addicted to Instagram? When I returned a lovely necklace my husband gave me so I could get a new camera with Wi-Fi capability.

 

Instagram

 

After your readership grows,  your mailbox fills with requests to review products. This is not a bad thing. I’ve learned about allergy-friendly foods and cookbooks I might never have discovered on my own. By readers’ responses, they like learning about these products, too. They especially like the giveaways!

A side note to marketing gurus: If you are going to send me a gluten-free product, check my allergies. I am an allergic foodie–not a gluten-free foodie.

Here’s the ugly side of product reviews.  Sometimes when you give a “bad” review, you get slammed. Read what happened to Gluten Dude. If bloggers can’t be truthful, what’s the point of blogging at all?

At some point, a blogger looks around at the piles of paperwork, laundry and dishes and says, “Maybe I should do something this morning besides writing a post.”

Or the blogger’s partner says, “Maybe you should do something this morning besides writing a post.”

So you sit down your iPad or iPhone or walk away from your computer.. . but wait! Was that the ding of a new message? It’s an unfamiliar name–a message from a follower thanking you for your latest post!

Your heart leaps.

We bloggers want to know we are making a difference. It’s what sustains us. Especially those of us who are doing this for free.

The other day a friend with a soy allergy told me on the phone how my post on soy-free eggs allowed her to enjoy eggs again. Then she mentioned her husband who is gluten intolerant liked my post Breaking up with Dr. Oz. I’m glad she couldn’t see the happy jiggle I did . . .  or the dishes in my sink and the laundry on my floor.

Because of her kind words and the kind words of so many readers, I once again set aside the book I’ve been writing for the last five years and wrote this post.  I even gave Adventures of An Allergic Foodie a facelift; after two years, she looked a little tired.

It’s not really “Hug a Blogger Day.” I made that up.

But go ahead–hug a blogger anyway.

Happy Hug a Blogger Day! originally appeared at Adventures of an Allergic Foodie.

By istolethetv from Hong Kong, China (alien abduction Uploaded by Princess Mérida) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Battling My Leaky Gut

Lately I’ve been feeling like my leaky gut is an alien that’s taken over my body, like in one of those sci-fi movies my boys watched as kids. My leaky gut and all its accompanying symptoms control me physically and emotionally. My gut dictates my family life, my work life, my social life. It tells me where I can eat and what I can eat. It makes me tired and angry. It keeps me from traveling and doing the things I used to do. It makes my brain feel like mush and the wrong words come out of my mouth.

I wish I had an antidote to cure my leaky gut, so that I could return to the person I once was, the one who felt Super Human. Of course, back then,  I didn’t know I felt Super Human. I did not appreciate my health, my energy, my memory, and my non-eczema skin  because I didn’t know any different.

If I could go back in time,  oh how I’d live my life differently. I wouldn’t starve myself in high school because I wanted to fit in 28-waist Levis. I wouldn’t have lived on lettuce and beer in college. As a young mom, I’d skip the processed convenient foods and focus more on the outer aisles of the grocery stores. I’d follow the advice of my sister-in-law, an osteopathic doctor, who touted organic and non-GMO foods way before it was cool.

I would have eaten more organic foods

In my thirties, I’d take probiotics when I took antibiotics along with prescribed painkillers for the first medical procedure  . . .  and the second . . . and the third. I wouldn’t have believed the first two doctors who diagnosed IBS; instead, I would have listened to that voice in my head that said something else was wrong. Nor would I have believed the next two doctors who diagnosed gall bladder disease and not celiac disease and food allergies. Yes, the cheese sticks made me sick but not because they were fatty!  Because they were full of wheat and dairy!

When my father died, I would have taken long walks in the Vermont woods instead of drowning my sorrow in wine and Ben and Jerry’s. I would have believed that stress does impact your health.

But I can’t go back.

None of us can.

We can only go forward.

We can do all the things we should have been doing all along. We can continue educating ourselves about our leak guts and accompanying illnesses. We can stand up for ourselves at our doctors’ offices. We can listen to the voices in our heads when they tell us something isn’t quite right, or maybe I need another doctor’s opinion or test, or maybe the diet I’m following isn’t working.

Most importantly, we can support one another.

When you’re having a bad day, reach out to someone who understands; there are dozens of online support sources. Check out the websites, bloggers and nonprofit organizations who dedicate themselves to educating and supporting various autoimmune illnesses.

And when you’re feeling good–maybe not quite Super Human, but good nonetheless–help someone who is having a bad day.

It’ll make you feel even better.

***

After writing this post, I realized you could replace “Leaky Gut” with  “Celiac Disease” or “Food Allergies” or “Multiple Chemical Sensitivities” or “Lupus” or “Lyme Disease” or an other autoimmune illness and the meaning of my words would be the same. Coincidentally, it happens to be “awareness week or month” for just about every autoimmune disease. So if you want to substitute “leaky gut” for the illness you have and share this post (with a link back to me), please feel free to do so.

Battling My Leaky Gut first appeared at Adventures of an Allergic Foodie.

Why He'll Never Suggest Lettuce for Lunch Again

Why He’ll Never Suggest Lettuce for Lunch Again

We’d been driving for a day and a half and were only halfway home. The high winds across the Kansas plains and the oversized trucks creeping into our lane forced my husband to keep a hands-of-steel grip on the wheel while I kept eyeing the sky for a tornado.

An Allergic Foodie and her husband don't always agree on where to eat

We were a little on edge.

And we were hungry.

When we finally decided to stop for lunch, we began quarreling. For us, quarreling involves a lot of silence.

Husband-Who-Can-Eat-Everything wanted to stop at Taco John’s. With my soy, dairy, gluten, and corn allergies, I didn’t even want to breathe the air in Taco John’s.

Besides, Husband-Who-Can-Eat-Everything knew I wasn’t looking forward to the three-day-old tuna and garbanzo beans I’d packed for myself. He knew this because I kept opening all the apps on my iPhone–Allergy Eats, Find Me Gluten Free, YoDish–and reading the reviews.

Still, he said, “Taco John’s has salad. Did you bring salad dressing?”

“Yay, more salad,” I said.

“The lettuce looked fresh last time.”

“How would you like a bowl of lettuce for lunch?”

Silence.

I pulled up Taco John’s list of allergens on my iPhone. Just about everything has milk, wheat and/or soy.

Except maybe the lettuce.

“I just thought you ‘d want to order something while I ate,” he said.

“Lettuce?”

More silence.

Food Allergies and relationships are a difficult journey

A few exits later, my husband of 20+ years tried to explain how he thought he was being thoughtful. Almost six weeks ago, on the drive out, he’d gotten Taco John’s to-go and taken it to Subway; a food-allergy app had given the Subway salad bar a good review.

While standing in the salad line, I watched the worker make pizza with gloves, then dip the same gloved hands into the salad ingredients. Even if he changed gloves, the tomatoes and lettuce and cucumbers were already contaminated with wheat.

I passed on the salad. My husband ate his tacos and I ate my fruit and almond-milk yogurt in one of the Subway booths.

It was a little weird. But if  an employee had said anything, they’d get an earful about how anyone with celiac or a gluten intolerance would get sick from Subway’s unsafe practices.

So this time around, my husband didn’t want me to feel uncomfortable by eating outside food in a Taco John’s booth. That’s how he was being considerate. To me, suggesting we go to a grocery store and picking up food we both could eat would be considerate. But that’s just me.

Here’s the thing: I GET IT!  My food allergies are not only a pain in the butt for me– but for him, too!

After a long difficult drive, he wanted tacos. He didn’t want to have to drive around looking for a grocery store or a safe place for me to eat–and allergy-friendly options are limited in Colby, Kansas.

Still, if he’d just said, “I’m sorry you can’t eat tacos or burritos or nachos, but do you mind if we stop at Taco John’s?” I would have been okay with it. Sometimes I just want confirmation from my husband and others that they get how food restrictions make life’s road bumpy.

Just don’t tell me to eat lettuce for lunch.

Why He’ll Never Suggest Lettuce for Lunch Again first appeared at Adventures of an Allergic Foodie.

Doesn't always pay to be polite when you have food allergies

The Evolution of An Allergic Foodie

Lady in food counter overhears An Allergic Foodie regurgitate her litany of allergies and says: I would just die if I couldn’t eat cheese!

An Allergic Foodie smiles politely because her mother taught her if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything.

Waitress at upscale restaurant: How do you not eat bread and butter?  (She may have really been thinking, You look like you eat a lot of bread and butter.)

An Allergic Foodie smiles politely because her mother taught her if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything.

Cafeteria server during son’s college tour: Lady, you sure are picky.

An Allergic Foodie smiles politely so as not to embarrass teenage son and because she taught him if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything.

Waitress at Japanese Restaurant: You can eat the tofu (I’d just told her I was allergic to soy).

An Allergic Foodie smiles, stands up, loudly tells the waitress that tofu is soy, tells the manager he needs to train his staff, then stomps out of the restaurant because her mother never had to cope with food allergies or celiac disease.

If you don’t have anything nice to say, LEAVE THE RESTAURANT.

The Evolution of An Allergic Foodie first appeared at Adventures of An Allergic Foodie.

Denial after food allergy diagnosis

Denial, or Why I Ate That Damn Pizza

I never eat something I know I shouldn’t.

This, folks, is called being in denial. Denial is when you pretend something that happened didn’t really happen.

Since my gut sprang a leak–make that lots of leaks–and I developed food allergies to many, many foods, I have sometimes been in denial. Okay, the truth is I was in denial a lot after I was diagnosed.

I do not have celiac disease and allergies; it’s just a little indigestion.

The lab must have gotten my blood mixed up with someone else’s– I CANNOT be allergic to that many foods!

I am not allergic to corn. I am not allergic to corn. I am not allergic to corn.

I can eat a tiny bit of soy.

When the little voice in my  head made these statements, I believed them to be real–as real as the pain in my gut.

Denial runs in my family. My mother doesn’t go to the doctor because she doesn’t want to find out she has cancer. My college son didn’t want to admit he’d inherited celiac disease. After all, he’d taken a blood test and it had come back negative. The constant gut ache after eating, the lethargy, the weight loss must be from something else. What college sophomore wants to admit he has to give up beer and pizza?

Who wants to spend their college years in the dorm bathroom either?

Eventually acceptance comes. If you’re new to this, you may not be there quite yet, but you will be.  You’ll decide you really can’t eat those cookies without developing an ugly rash all over your body. You’ll discover almond milk and Bard’s beer aren’t so bad. You’ll start focusing more on what foods you can eat, rather than all the foods you cannot eat. You’ll learn how to grocery shop, cook and eat out.

You’ll accept life is different now, and that’s okay because you feel so much better.

Still, every once in a while, you may slip back to that old frame of mind and that tiny voice in your  head will say, “You haven’t eaten _________ (fill in the blank) in a long time, so how do you know you’re still allergic? Maybe, just maybe, your non-anaphalatic allergies have magically disappeared.”

See this pizza?

Denial and Food Allergies

 

The other night I decided I could eat it (and unfortunately blasted this photo on Instagram). I’d read all about how Mellow Mushroom had taken great strides to ensure their kitchens were clean enough to produce gluten-free pizza crust. (Kudos to Mellow Mushroom!) I’d done my pre-dining out homework.

Check.

I told the server I had celiac and wasn’t just on some fad diet.

Check.

I ordered veggies as toppings to avoid any possible soy, corn, or gluten.

Check.

I asked for Daiya nondairy cheese.

Check.

I ordered a gluten-free New Planet beer.

Double check.

BUT I “FORGOT” TO ASK WHAT OTHER INGREDIENTS WERE IN THE CRUST!!!!!

How stupid was that? I think I just wanted to eat pizza and have a beer and watch basketball like all the “normal” people sitting around me at the bar were doing. I told myself I’d be safe with the gluten-free crust. If there was a little bit of egg or corn in the crust, I minimized what it would do to me.

Good old denial.

Later that night, as I doubled over in pain, I looked up the crust ingredients on the company website. Oddly I found listings of ingredients in several places, but they were all different. However, it’s pretty likely I ate soybean oil, cornstarch, and egg–a hattrick of allergens.

Guess I needed a little reminder that denying my food allergies only makes for a really bad night.

P.S. If you have celiac disease or are gluten sensitive, the Mellow Mushroom crust was delicious. Please note though that they cannot guarantee any menu item can be completely allergen-free due to possible cross-contamination.

Denial, or Why I Ate That Damn Pizza originally appeared at Adventures of an Allergic Foodie.

Maltodextrin: What Is It?

What Is This in My Food? Maltodextrin

“Do you know the source of maltodextrin in this chicken?” I asked the guy behind the deli counter.

“Maltodextrin is just sugar, it’s perfectly safe,” he said impatiently.

“But it comes from corn and sometimes wheat. I’m allergic to both.”

He shook his head as if I was speaking a different language, then he assisted the lady next to me.

I didn’t buy the chicken.

Maltodextrin is one of those ingredients that confuses me. Sometime it makes me sick, sometimes it doesn’t.  So today I decided to put on my sleuth hat and do a little investigating.

In terms fit for an allergic foodie who didn’t do well in science class, maltodextrin is simply a food additive produced from a starch. While the name has “malt” in it, maltodextrin does not contain any malt (phew!). It comes in a white powder or a concentrated solution.

What Is This in My Food? Maltodextrin?

What’s important for those of us with allergies, sensitivities and celiac disease to know is this: Maltodextrin is derived from corn, rice, potato starch, wheat, and sometimes barley.  So if you have allergies or sensitivities to any of these, you may react to maltodextrin. I know I sure do! This is why I don’t use Splenda–it contains maltodextrin from corn.

If you have celiac disease, you need to stay away from maltodextrin derived from wheat and barley. This is easier said than done. For instance, the other night my husband was eating barbecue ribs and maltodextrin was listed on the label. According the FDA Regulations, if the maltodextrin contained wheat, wheat should have been included on the ingredient (maltodextrin (wheat)).  It wasn’t. But I still didn’t feel safe because “gluten free” didn’t appear on the packaging either. And since I’m also allergic to corn anyway, I decided not to take a chance on those ribs.

Honestly, unless I’m eating food from a allergy-friendly company, I’ve never seen the source of maltodextrin listed. The reason maltodextrin derived from wheat can be listed as plain old maltodextrin, even though the FDA has labeling rules for the top-8 allergens, is a bit complicated. The Gluten Free Dietitian has a good explanation here.  I’m sure she did better in science class than I did.

Something else to consider: The amount of gluten in maltodextrin is usually less than 20 ppm; this means the FDA allows the food to be labeled gluten-free. For those of us who are super sensitive, 20 ppm is way too much.

So I’m glad I didn’t buy that chicken or bite into those ribs.  Unless the ingredient list identifies the source of maltodextrin, I’m staying away from it.

What Is This in My Food? Maltodextrin first appeared in Adventures of an Allergic Foodie.