Food sensitivities

I haven’t been in the mood to update my blog much recently because I have been feeling rather unwell. A visit to the kinesiologist diagnosed yet another food substance I’ve become sensitive to: salicylates. I’ve been on anti-candidasis and additive-avoidance diets for the last five years but salicylates are new to me! It is a naturally-occurring substance in many fruits & vegetables (especially dried herbs and dried fruit) so even eating ‘healthy’ fresh fruit and veg can be a minefield :(. The peppermint cough mixture I was taking was lethal, and I’ve put aside my organic botanical toiletries for now too, just to be on the safe side.

In fact, I’ve found that ‘safe’ fruits and vegetables have also been causing minor reactions in me, which I believe is due to cross-contamination with foods that the rest of my family is eating. It only takes the same knife or chopping board to be used to cause cross-contamination.

Read more about salicylate sensitivity here.

Also, highly recommended is the Food Intolerance Network, run by Sue Dengate. She has published several books on the subject.

A book worth well-worth reading is
John Emsley & Peter Fell, Was It Something You Ate?: Food Intolerance: What Causes It and How to Avoid It (Oxford University Press, 2002)

Initially I felt rather depressed and defeated by yet another food intolerance to deal with, but on the bright side, according to the kinesologist’s tests, my body will recover if I avoid salicylates completely for three weeks. Food sensitivities surface when the body is under stress, and the degree of the reaction depends on the total stressload at any one time; this can be physiological stress from food additives, environmental pollution, chemical exposure (e.g. in household cleaning products), as well as mental and emotional stress.

I’ve been through the experience of a super-restricted anti-candida diet before, but recently have gotten used to sneaking in small amounts of disallowed foods when my body was able to tolerate it. Now, I’ll have to muster up those herculean levels of self-discipline again. Here’s my trick: if I think I want to eat a ‘bad’ food, I just mentally shut off the possibility of being able to eat it at all, think of it as rat poison (which it almost is, for me) and then there’s no longer an option and I can walk away from it.

Very sadly, tea is extremely high in salicylates. On the last two occasions when I had a cup of black tea, stomach pains and diahorrea quickly followed. Tea (including herbal) is definitely the thing I miss most on the no-salicylates regime! Ah… and I won’t have much time to finish my wonderful shincha before the expiry date of 19 July!

I wish there was more general awareness of multiple chemical sensitivities and food intolerances. Intolerances are different from allergies; as Sue Dengate says on the Food Intolerance Network,

Food allergy is an immunological reaction to food proteins.
Food intolerance is a pharmacological reaction (like the side effects of a drug) to the chemicals in foods.

Moreover, allergic reactions take place to the slightest amount of the allergen, but intolerances are dose-related and as mentioned above, also dependent on the total amount of stress the body is under at any one time.

I’ve had people in the past tell me I’m a hypochondriac or making a mountain out of a molehill. If only they saw the palm-sized hives and lips swollen to Donald-Duck proportions that refuse to recede for 24hrs, they wouldn’t be so incredulous. But of course, I don’t display my most-grotesque self in public and remain in hiding at home during such times.

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2 Responses

  1. […] and makes a great gift for friends too. When my salicylate intolerance shot through the roof some months back, the high levels of salicylates in dried fruit (and herbs) were lethal for me. Fortunately, my […]

  2. […] was my first foray into ginger consumption since my salicylate intolerance shot through the roof some months back. The good news that I survived – hooray!  […]

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