Monday, September 16, 2013

It's not just a fad- The food intolerance epidemic

These sweet faces are the reason I get up in the morning, the reason I fight so hard to provide them some semblance of safety in our food, environment, etc.

The little guy on your left is Sam, my 3-almost-4 year old son. Sam loves superheroes, bugs, Charlie Hope, running fast, and snuggling. Sam has 126 known food intolerances and sensitivities. And I am really tired.

It's difficult to pinpoint exactly where our journey began. It wasn't until some time later that I realized something was wrong, and began to consider what brought this all about. My gut tells me it kicked off with the IV antibiotics we had in our birth. I remember asking the hospital midwives if there was any risk for my baby due to my husband's allergy to penicillin. They assured me there was not. At 6 months old, we discovered he is indeed, allergic to penicillin like his dad.

Sam was always a poor sleeper, seemed uncomfortable and in pain at night. It didn't really ratchet up though until he weaned at 17 months due to my pregnancy with his younger sister and then stepped on a rose thorn at 18 months. After the rose thorn, that's when the bumps started. At first on the bottom of his foot at the puncture site, then spreading slowly over the rest of his body. I guess they call it chicken skin. But my pediatrician at the time never called it that. He actually wanted to give my son a tetanus vaccination when I took him in to be seen for the rash. For all the mistakes I have made over the short years of his life, I am thankful I knew enough to decline.

We tried all kinds of special lotions, oils, creams, and even supplements to try and get on top of the unexplained rash and suddenly worsening eczema. Nothing worked, though I admit I was unwilling to slap steroid creams on my toddler. We began limiting dairy at home but not eliminating it all together.

A few months prior to his second birthday I began hearing more about gluten issues. It just seemed like a fad and I refused to pay attention to it. Eventually it was so prevalent a topic on many of the blogs I followed, I couldn't help but catch some of what these moms were talking about. And it sounded too familiar for me to continue to ignore. After reading 'Cure Your Child With Food,' by Kelly Dorfman, all thoughts of gluten being a fad flew out the window.

We spoke with our new pediatrician about his issues, (bloated stomach, crying at night, mood swings, unformed bowel movements, rashes, eczema, etc) and were given a referral to a pediatric allergist. There we were tested for diary, wheat, corn, dust, and feathers via the RAST test. All came back negative, with no reactions whatsoever. The solution offered was steroid creams, lotions with chemicals, and just hoping he'd outgrow whatever was going on. None of which were acceptable options for us. Thankfully, due to much research on my part, I'd been prepared for the negative results. Despite disbelief by many in my family, we chose to pull dairy and gluten on our own to see what happened.

The improvements over the next 4 weeks were unmistakable. First his eczema disappeared. His other symptoms lessened, and over time his chicken skin went away, as well. That took the longest. I wanted to believe we were the clear at that point, but in my gut I knew there was more going on. Eventually he started regressing and some of those symptoms started increasing. At this time I began hearing more about different testing than the RAST- namely, the ALCAT and ELISA. While the RAST tests IgE reactions, the ALCAT  tests IgG and if I understand properly, the ELISA tests the IgA. We didn't have either done due to financial issues, and my continued hope that his symptoms would just go away. I made most of what we ate, we ate organic, what else could there be?

As it turns out, a lot more.

Right before he turned 3 1/2, we chose to have the full panel ALCAT run for him as I didn't think I could handle trying to figure it out by myself. The results were heartbreaking. Bell peppers, peppermint, thyme, apples, bananas, chicken, beef, pork, sweet potatoes, eggs, spinach, black beans, corn, soy, strawberries. The list goes on. And on and on. Fluoride is on his list, that is of course in our water. Oddly, red dye is not a problem for him(well, at least not as an IgG issue) but green is a moderate and blues a mild reaction. There are a couple common food molds and- wait for it- common indoor/outdoor molds. Our first pediatrician thought I was positively nuts for insisting the bumps on his foot, which spread to his legs, were related to the rose thorn he stepped on.

Basically Sam developed these food issues due to the damage in his gut. The foods we ate often passed through the gut wall into his bloodstream, causing an immune response. Ah, the immune. That, folks, is why I wage this war. Because they know chronic inflammation leads to disease and cancer. And I am absolutely willing to do anything to keep my kid(s) from joining that horrible statistic.

There's so much more I want to share, but for now we'll stop here. Peace and Light.


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