Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bloodprinting for Food Allergies/Intolerances

So, I'm reading an article on a study that links obesity to food allergies when I come across something called a Bloodprint test.  Evidently, the Bloodprint test, a simple blood test, can help identify food and environmental allergies/intolerances that cause inflammation which is possibly at the root of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, ADHD, autism, fibromyalgia, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, migraines and more.  The article goes on to say that millions of people have insurance that covers Bloodprint which can identify up to to 154 'trigger' foods. Very, very intriguing.

I'm convinced that over the last couple of years, I developed one or several food intolerances, and I also believe that my youngest child has a few, maybe even Abigail.  Now I'm on a fact finding mission. I Googled Bloodprint and found an article titled "A Sensitivity Assay that Proves Food is the First and Best Medicine."  Using the adage that "you are what you eat", the article explains that the foods that many patients ingest are the sources of their illnesses.

Two examples outlining why bloodprinting, specifically the Immuno 1 Bloodprint, is such a significant diagnostic tool really struck a cord with me. One example was about a 3 year old that experienced frequent ear infections. A bloodprinting assay found that he was allergic to eggs.  After removing eggs from his diet, he became completely free of symptoms.  While my son has tested negative to an IgE response to the most common foods, it does not mean that he isn't having an IgG response (I'll explain this in my next post) to certain foods causing inflammation and chronic sinus infections.  The second example was a female patient experiencing a variety of abdominal symptoms.  The Bloodprint assay gave her a list of foods that she has an IgG allergic reaction to and after 2 weeks of avoiding those foods, she was free of symptoms.

The article goes on to say that bloodprinting is broken into 2 parts. One is nutritionally-oriented, requiring patients to eliminate the tested reactive foods for 90 days and using a rotation diet of non-reactive foods.  The other part is pure immunology.  Here's what an expert on the Immuno 1 Bloodprint says, "Probably the first thing most bloodprinted patients report is an improvement in energy from improved sleeping and elevated energy during the day. Other subtle symptoms disappear, runny noses clear, ringing in the ears stops, irritable bowel symptoms go away, discomforts for arthritis improve and relief of the person's chief complaint is found.  It all happens within the 3 month elimination period because that's about how much time it takes for IgG to catabolize."

Apparently Immuno Laboratories in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida is the leading laboratory in bloodprinting and the designer of the Immuno 1 Bloodprint.  I just happen to have an appointment with my doctor tomorrow to discuss my suspected food intolerances.  I'm taking this information with me.  Can't wait to find out if she's ever heard of bloodprinting, if she's willing to even consider helping me with this test and if my insurance covers it.  I'll follow up and let you know what I find out.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Monthly Meal Planning Success!

It's that time again.  I've been consumed the last couple of days working on my meal planning.  Not only have I planned meals for the next 4 weeks, made shopping lists and my monthly trip to Trader Joe's, but I've also created an electronic copy of my last 2 monthly menus to share.

Planning 4 weeks worth of meals is an investment of time up front, but I'm finding that it's paying huge dividends. There are a ton of benefits. One of the biggest for me is not getting to 5:00 at night and having no idea what to make for dinner.  Not only is there less stress involved with getting a healthy dinner on the table, but I'm not making the same thing over and over because I don't know what to fix.  My husband commented just the other evening that it was nice to have a variety of meals.

It's been fun to look through my stacks of recipes that I've accumulated over the years and choosing dishes that I've always wanted to try.  If all of the ingredients are in house and the meal is scheduled for a day that we aren't slammed with afternoon/ evening activities, it's not hard to try something new.  I choose at least 2 meals a week that leave leftovers and schedule those for the busy nights. With good planning, I only cook 4 to 5 meals a week.  I also pick recipes that I can double and freeze so that several meals a month are going straight from the freezer to the oven.  Lastly, I try to schedule a crock pot meal a week. I found this great cookbook with 5 ingredient crock pot recipes. That's been extremely helpful.

We're eating healthier, trying new dishes, I'm less stressed and I'm also saving money on our grocery bills.  I'm keeping track of my purchases, trying to eliminate trips to the grocery store and throwing away less food that's gone bad because I never got around to fixing it.  Even better, I'm cooking more from scratch.  I've now made my own taco seasoning, Italian breadcrumbs, cheddar cheese soup, buttermilk, Italian dressing mix, pancake & baking mixes, etc.  If I have a recipe that calls for something that I know is going to be heavily processed with lots of ingredients that I don't want my family to consume, then I Google for a substitute or "make your own" recipe.  I've yet to find something that didn't have a recipe for a healthier version.

So, I'm sold, and so glad I decided to give this a try.  I've had several friends ask to see my meal planners.  I've saved them in Google docs.  Here's my Weekly Meal Planners if you want to check them out also. The first tab is my blank planner.  The rest of the tabs are the bi-weekly meal plans.

I'd love to hear of your meal planning successes!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Bread Making

There's a first for everything. I mentioned to my mom that I was considering purchasing a bread machine. Since hers was just sitting at the house not being used, she loaned it to me. Thanks mom!  It sat at my house also not being used for a while until the other week when I decided to give it a try. Frankly, I was getting tired of paying $3.99 for a small loaf of organic bread, and the bread machine recipes looked simple enough.

I did it. The bread turned out wonderful.  I Googled and found a recipe on allrecipes.com called "Best Bread Machine Bread" that was given a 4 1/2 star rating by over 1,100 people. That was 3 weeks ago, and I haven't bought bread since.  My first two loafs were basic white.  I've got to get a little more adventurous though and try some other types using the machine.  I purchased a bag of 100% whole wheat flour with a recipe on the bag that I had to try.  It called for molasses and orange juice as ingredients. I treated myself to a beautiful, red glazed, Le Creuset stoneware, bread pan (just $11.99 from Ross) and made my first loaf from scratch. And, it didn't stop there. I made pizza dough the other night.  I've got Abigail interest piqued also. She found a recipe for bagels in a cookbook for kids that she wants us to try.

It's not just a first for making bread.  There have been many firsts for me over the last year...a first for trying to understand what's in the food we eat, for planting a garden, for cooking from scratch, for appreciating good cookware, for planning menus, and now, for baking bread. What's next?  I'm considering canning this summer. Yikes! All this from someone that has never enjoyed being in the kitchen! Who knew?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Yesterday's Visit to Duke

It’s spring break for the kids and we’re spending a couple of days at the beach.  On our way here we stopped by the Duke Clinical Research Unit for our final appointment before our food challenge scheduled for early June.  It was a short appointment consisting of a quick vital check for Abigail, getting a new bottle of drops, discussing the details of the challenge, and most importantly, talking about Abigail’s stomach issues.

I feel good about the food challenge.  I really think that Abigail is getting the real stuff and not the placebo.  I’m going to feel incredible foolish if she’s not.  Her symptoms/complaints after receiving each dose increase are classic side effects of sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT).  I just recently learned this when I started researching the side effects in hopes of finding an answer to her belly issues.

A study by the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery Foundation explored data from selected clinical studies and concluded that “sublingual immunotherapy may be well suited to fill the gap posed by the undertreatment of allergic syndromes in the U.S.”  I’ll touch on some of the details of this study in another post but the biggest take-away for me was that they found that the majority of adverse effects are minor and include mostly itching and oral discomfort.  In one study with 36 children only 2 children experienced adverse effects, Surprisingly for me, it was mild abdominal pain.  In a study with 354 children minor adverse affects occurred in less than 10% of patients.  Oral/throat itching, abdominal pain, urticaria and rhinoconjunctivitis all occurred in less than 1%.  No anaphylactic or other serious reactions occurred.  Similar findings were noted in 9 other trials. So, there is a possibility that Abigail’s stomach could be a result of our participation in the study.  After all, she also experiences the tingling in her mouth, throat and ears.

A side note to parents with kids in the study.  Please don’t assume your child is on the placebo if they’re not experiencing anything.  There’s a 50/50 chance that they aren’t.  My daughter is the exception here not the norm.

Here’s what we’re going to do about Abigail’s stomach.  Her dad and I decided to start her back on Prilosec.  We have to rule out acid reflux.  Also, more disturbingly is Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EE).  There have been 2 instances where children have left the study because they were diagnosed with EE.   In talking with our doctor at Duke they don’t know if taking part in the study was a direct cause or if it just unlocked a dormant condition.  However, until they know more, it’s now something that they discuss with patients at the start of the study.  Like food allergies, EE is a condition with more unknowns than knowns.  In both cases, the child was removed from the study, given oral steroids and symptoms subsided.  It’s a huge concern for me.

If Prilosec works, we can rule out EE and avoid an endoscopy.  It might take up to 8 weeks to see if it will work which puts us right about the time we have our food challenge.  If it doesn’t work, and we unveil to find she’s on the placebo, we have to start looking at other culprits.  If it doesn’t work, and we find that Abigail is on the peanut drops, we’ll have some hard decisions to make.  After the food challenge, there’s still 18 months left in the trial.  I asked our doctor if it was possible that when she builds up complete tolerance to her food allergy her stomach pains will go away.  It’s possible.  I also asked if her stomach could take weeks, even months, to heal after continuous exposure, and found that might also be the case.  There’s just no way of knowing.

So, for now, it’s Prilosec which is not without risks.  Prilosec reduces the levels of acid in the stomach making it easier for bacteria, viruses and fungi to flourish.  Low acid also prevents nutrients from properly assimilating through the body causing nutrient deficiencies.  The article, “Why You Should Never Take Prilosec OTC to Remain Heartburn Free,” identifies the main cause of excess acid is eating foods that your body is intolerant to or allergic to.  We know Abigail’s being exposed to peanuts (or at least very sure she is), and it’s not as easy as just eliminating that food.

One last thing we’re doing is giving Abigail her drops in the morning rather than before dinner.  Her stomach hurts most around bedtime which is about 2 to 3 hours after getting the drops.  Maybe we’ll see a difference if we don’t add something that has the potential to hurt her stomach around the same time she eats the heaviest meal of the day.

All this, and I never got to discuss the food challenge details.  I’ll have to save that for another day.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Easter Eggs

I just finished boiling eggs so that the kids can dye them tomorrow.  I purchased the PAAS kit just like last year and the year before.  This year though, I didn't really want to.  Now that I read all food ingredients and am avoiding artificial colors, I at least, hesitated before throwing the box in my cart.  I rationalized my purchase with the thought that we peel the eggs before we eat them.

Let's see, Yellow #5, maltodextrin, Red #3, cellulose gum, Yellow #6, Blue #1, Blue #2, Red #40, magnesium stearate, silicon dioxide, etc.  Good stuff right?  Try buying Easter candy without all those colors too!

In my search for a recipe for the perfect hard-boiled egg (yes, I need a recipe..I only make them once a year), I came across an article on how to make natural egg dyes.  Too late for this year, and I may not even try it next year (after all, we do peel the eggs), but I thought it was pretty cool.  If we used the dyeing as well as shopping for the foods that produce the colors as a learning experience, it might be fun.

According to the site, you simply bring the food stuff with water to a boil and then let simmer for anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour depending on the food and desired color. This process does take some time. For deep colors, the eggs should remain in the color overnight.  Not something that my 2 and 7 year old would wait around for.  And the foods to use?  The article gives a reference to foods and the colors they produce.  Some of them include coffee, blueberries, red grape juice, red wine, spinach leaves, carrots.  See where this could be fun with older kids?  I think they'd enjoy picking out the food and then seeing what colors they can produce.  Even sounds like a good science experiment.

To all of you that are going to be dyeing eggs this weekend...have fun!  My kids usually come away with really stained fingers.  Perfect match for those new Easter outfits for church! At least, I've learned to move the whole process outside on the deck.

Easter Blessings from my family to yours!

Follow-up to Post:
Here's a few pictures of our Easter egg dyeing adventures.  Abigail's fingers aren't too bad this year, and we tried something new using rubber bands to make stripes on our eggs.  The effect was pretty neat.

SafetyTat Giveaway Winners

Hope everyone has enjoyed their week.  We're busy getting ready for Easter, family visits and a quick trip to the beach.

Abigail had a good time writing and cutting drawing slips (we're high tech around here).  I had over 50 entries for this giveaway!  Thanks to everyone that entered the drawing and a special thanks to SafetyTat for creating the wonderful safety alert temporary tattoos, for offering 2 sample packs to my readers and for the discount.  Hope some of you guys took advantage of it.

I'll be contacting Paula and Renee today to get their mailing address.  Congratulations, you guys won!

Happy Easter!