Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Secret to Hack Seasonal Allergies

Avoiding these foods can make allergies virtually disappear
Way to die young #6: Consume these 3 things

It seems to be around this time of year that the sniffing, coughing and itchy eyes take hold of the masses. But, perhaps more annoying is the insufferable complaining. But what you may not know is that airborne allergies do not act alone. These seasonal agitators work in destructive harmony with the things you ingest.

I have suffered from severe seasonal allergies since early childhood. So intense, in fact, that I underwent two surgeries, had weekly shots administered, often stayed home from school, consumed a specialized diet and still have scarification from hive outbreaks. I would suffer 6-month long sinus infections every “allergy season”, which would usually exacerbate into a more serious illness. I then decided to try an elimination diet. I now consider myself immune from allergies. Not even a sniffle.

The top three common agitators of seasonal allergies are grains, dairy and alcohol. By eliminating these three agitators from your diet you can expect great resiliency against seasonal allergies.

Grains: Grains are grass seeds, so if you suffer from grass allergies, it only makes sense that eating a high amount of grains will only worsen your symptoms. But, grains also have a unique ability to induce leaky gut syndrome (or increased intestinal permeability) which makes allergies even worse. Leaky gut syndrome, in short, is where your microvilli (which contain enzymes that help complete digestion) become ineffective and your intestinal walls allow dangerous substances into your bloodsteam and body. These invaders cause inflammation, allergies and other illnesses  The anti-nutrients common in grains such as gluten and lectin do a good job binding to important vitamins and minerals while also damaging or destroying microvilli. Residual yeast in bread products can also contribute to leaky gut syndrome by means of fermentation and the creation of harmful bacteria. It is quite common for people that suffer from hay fever to reduce nearly all symptoms by completely eliminating grains.

Dairy: Lactose in dairy can also harm your microvilli, having the same effect as grains. The added hormones and chemicals in commercially produced dairy can also wreak havoc on your immune system. If you are lactose intolerant your body will have a strong reaction to the dairy and you will flush your body of beneficial bacteria that help fight infection. Milk is also high in casein which is not an easily digested protein. When the digestive system is over indundated with casein it reacts by weakening the immune system because it thinks it is under threat from foreign substances. This combined with the excess casein in your system leads to hyper sensitivity to external allergens. When your immune system is under stress and external allergens are present you are more likely to suffer for a prolonged period.

Alcohol: Alcohol contains histamines which directly trigger allergic outbreaks and agitate existing allergic responses. Some alcohols like wine are much higher in histamines and should be totally avoided if you suffer from seasonal allergies. Alcohol also contains sulfites, which are used as preservatives and have also been known to set off allergic reactions. A 2008 study proved that women who drink wine daily double their chances of having allergy related symptoms. Many grain liquors and beers contain wheat, gluten and other grain ingredients. We already covered how these ingredients can affect allergies. Many alcohols are fermented using bakers yeast. If you are already sensitive to yeast this will only make things worse. Another interesting study found that low to moderate drinking increased levels of Immunoglobulin E (IgE), a molecule involved in allergic diseases.

Other foods that are known to affect seasonal allergies are peanuts, soy, corn, rice, beans, fermented foods, and shellfish varying in personal tolerance levels. Sometimes people suffer allergy outbreaks because their bodies confuse proteins in fruits such as apples, bananas, kiwis, melons, pears and peaches. You can be tested for other individual food allergies to help determine what additional foods you should eliminate. But, for the typical human, eliminating these substances from your diet will take care of the majority of seasonal allergies.

People survived without grains, animal dairy, and alcohol for over a million years and they didn't have antihistamines. They only ate what was readily available to them. That is the same a reason you don't ever see wild animals coughing or sneezing. Only now do we see our carnivorous pets developing allergies with the introduction of grain based feed to their diet. 

It takes discipline to avoid these substances, especially if they are an essential part of your current diet. But, adherence to this elimination diet will improve your energy levels, help you lose weight and most importantly- finally conquer those seasonal allergies.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Newest "Forgotten" Superfood

Superfoods aren't all Grown on Trees
Way to Die Young #5: Eat Only Ground Beef

When most people think of superfoods they think about an exotic fruit tucked away in some far distant jungle.  A more brilliant color or foreign appearance means greater perceived health benefits. Food manufacturers have recently capitalized on this trend by adding “super foods” such as goji or acai berry to their products while marketing them as health foods.

But this new superfood I speak of isn’t plucked from a tree or unearthed by any native hands. This superfood is animal based. Offal, more commonly known as organ meat is the granddaddy of all super foods. People don’t realize the tremendous health benefits of these types of meat. Someone practicing a carnivorous diet could obtain a good amount of all their essential vitamins and minerals by supplementing organ meat on a daily basis.

Notice the table on the left comparing two parts of the cow. The liver provides much more nutrition per serving than the steak. Many people struggle to fulfill their daily mineral intake. A small serving of liver once a day could help you add additional minerals and lean protein to your diet. While liver is high in cholesterol, it has recently been proven that dietary cholesterol does not contribute to overall cholesterol levels.

Another exciting piece of offal is brain. Brain is quite taboo but offers one great advantage over other traditional cuts of meat- its rich abundance of omega 3 fatty acids. These are the same types of fats found in wild salmon and walnuts that the majority of Americans are lacking in their diet. These fatty acids improve brain and skin function.

Some people might be hesitant to eat these cuts of meat due to social stigmas and conditioning but, the truth is they are the most nutritious part of the animal. This might explain why the first thing a predator in the wild will eat is the prey’s vital organs. Why waste a perfectly good piece of meat?

Many offals are best stewed, slow cooked or braised due to the amount of connective tissue they contain. But this tissue also offers another benefit- collagen and elastin for great skin into old age.

Other benefits include generous amounts of CoQ10, an enzyme that helps cognitive ability, reduces oxidation, repairs gum tissue, increases energy, possibly  prevents Parkinson’s disease and even increases lifespan.

While eating offal remains a stigma in the western world, other parts of the world consume it for the unique taste and benefits. Be sure to buy your offal from a butcher you know and trust or a reputable grocer chain.