Friday, January 23, 2015

Dangerous Food Allergen Associated with Gluten Sensitivity: Sulphite Sensitivity Reactions

Recently a stubborn case of chronic diarrhea despite a grain, sugar, gluten, dairy free diet was solved when it was found out the person with gluten sensitivity and a history of asthmas, found supplements with sulphur dioxide in her regime, and she removed them. She knew she was allergic to prescription sulfa drugs and got hives when she drank some wine. She needed to be informed where else she was ingesting sulphites and do a little sleuthing.

Sulphite sensitivity reactions are very common, and can be very severe! Please inform yourself and take precautions. 

Sulphites - One of the ten priority food allergens (my bold)

Allergic reactions are severe adverse reactions that occur when the body's immune system overreacts to a particular allergen. These reactions may be caused by food, insect stings, latex, medications and other substances. In Canada, the ten priority food allergens are peanuts, tree nuts (almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachio nuts and walnuts), sesame seeds, milk, eggs, seafood (fish, crustaceans and shellfish), soy, wheat, sulphites (a food additive) and mustard.

Although sulphites do not cause a true allergic reaction, sulphite-sensitive people may experience similar reactions as those with food allergies. Those who have asthma are most at risk to sulphite sensitivity and other forms of sulphite reactions.

What are the symptoms of an allergic reaction?

When someone comes in contact with an allergen, the symptoms of a reaction may develop quickly and rapidly progress from mild to severe. The most severe form of an allergic reaction is called anaphylaxis. Symptoms can include breathing difficulties, a drop in blood pressure or shock, which may result in loss of consciousness and even death. A person experiencing an allergic reaction may have any of the following symptoms:

Flushed face, hives or a rash, red and itchy skin
Swelling of the eyes, face, lips, throat and tongue
Trouble breathing, speaking or swallowing
Anxiety, distress, faintness, paleness, sense of doom, weakness
Cramps, diarrhea, vomiting
A drop in blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, loss of consciousness

How are food allergies and severe allergic reactions treated?

Currently there is no cure for food allergies. The only option for managing the risk is to completely avoid the specific allergen. Appropriate emergency treatment for anaphylaxis (a severe food allergy reaction) includes an injection of epinephrine, which is available in an auto-injector device. Epinephrine must be administered as soon as symptoms of a severe allergic reaction appear. The injection must be followed by further treatment and observation in a hospital emergency room. If your allergist has diagnosed you with a food allergy and prescribed Epinephrine, carry it with you all the time and know how to use it. Follow your allergist's advice on how to use an auto-injector device.
Frequently asked questions about sulphite sensitivity

What are Sulphites?

Sulphites are substances that naturally occur in some foods and the human body. They are also regulated food additives that are used as preservatives to maintain food colour and prolong shelf-life, prevent the growth of microorganisms, and to maintain the potency of certain medications. Sulphites are used to bleach food starches (e.g. potato) and are also used in the production of some food packaging materials (e.g. cellophane).

The sulphites that can be added to foods in Canada are potassium bisulphite, potassium metabisulphite, sodium bisulphite, sodium dithionite, sodium metabisulphite, sodium sulphite, sulphur dioxide and sulphurous acid. These can also be declared using the common names sulfites, sulphites, sulfiting agents or sulphiting agents.

Are sulphites safe to eat?

Yes, for the majority of consumers. However, some sulphite-sensitive people, many of whom also have asthma, may react to sulphites with allergy-like symptoms. Sulphites can trigger asthma and symptoms of anaphylactic reaction.

I have a sulphite sensitivity. How can I avoid a sulphite-related reaction?

Avoid all food and products that contain sulphites and sulphite derivatives. These include any product whose ingredient list warns it "may contain" or "may contain traces of" sulphites and sulphite derivatives.

Can I have a sulphite-related reaction even if I do not eat a food or use a product that contains sulphites or sulphite derivatives?

Yes. There have been reported reactions to inhaled sulphites; however, not from food itself. If sulphites and sulphite derivatives are not present in food, a reaction cannot occur. However, sulphites and sulphite derivatives can often be present under different names, e.g., potassium bisulphite. For other common ingredient label names, refer to the list below. Always read the ingredient list carefully.

What do I do if I am not sure whether a product contains sulphites or sulphite derivatives?

If you have a sulphite sensitivity, do not eat or use the product. Get ingredient information from the manufacturer.

Does product size affect the likelihood of an allergic reaction?

Product size does not affect the likelihood of a reaction; however, the same brand of product may be safe to consume for one product size but not another. This is because product formulation may vary between different product sizes of the same product.

Avoiding sulphites and sulphite derivatives

Make sure you read product labels carefully to avoid products that contain sulphites and sulphite derivatives. Certain medications contain sulphites, yet are safe for and may be used by sulphite-sensitive people as directed by an allergist. Avoid food and products that do not have an ingredient list and read labels every time you shop. Manufacturers may occasionally change their recipes or use different ingredients for varieties of the same brand.

Refer to the following list before shopping:

Other names for sulphites
In the past, some products have used other names for sulphites on their labels. These names are not permitted based on the enhanced labelling requirements for food allergens, gluten sources and added sulphites, however, if you have a sulphite sensitivity and see one of the following in the list of ingredients on a product you should not eat it.

E 220, E 221, E 222, E 223, E 224, E 225, E 226, E 227, E 228 (European names)

Food and products that often contain sulphites
Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beer and cider
Bottled lemon and lime juices and concentrates
Canned and frozen fruits and vegetables
Cereal, cornmeal, cornstarch, crackers and muesli
Condiments, for example, coleslaw, horseradish, ketchup, mustard, pickles, relish and sauerkraut
Dehydrated, mashed, peeled and pre-cut potatoes, and frozen french fries
Dried fruits and vegetables, such as apricots, coconut and raisins, sweet potato
Dried herbs, spices and teas
Fresh grapes
Fruit fillings and syrups, gelatin, jams, jellies, preserves, marmalade, molasses and pectin
Fruit and vegetable juices
Glazed and glacéed fruits, for example, maraschino cherries
Starches, (for example, corn starch, potato starch)
Sugar syrups, for example, glucose, glucose solids, syrup dextrose, corn syrup, table syrup
Tomato pastes, pulps and purees
Vinegar and wine vinegar-(olives or other vegetable in vinegar)
Coconut milk, coconut milk powder, dried coconut

Other possible sources of sulphites
Baked goods, especially with dried fruits
Deli meats, hot dogs and sausages
Dressings, gravies, guacamole, sauces, soups and soup mixes
Fish, crustaceans and shellfish
Granola bars, especially with dried fruit
Noodle and rice mixes
Snack foods, for example, raisins, fruit salad
Soy products
Non-food sources of sulphites
Bottle-sanitizing solutions for home brewing
(supplements- in the form of sulphur dioxide or other name)

Note: These lists are not complete and may change. Food and food products purchased from other countries, through mail-order or the Internet, are not always produced using the same manufacturing and labelling standards as in Canada.

What can I do?
Be informed

See an allergist and educate yourself about food allergies. Contact your local allergy association for further information.

If you or anyone you know has food allergies or would like to receive information about food being recalled, sign up for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's (CFIA) free e-mail "Food Recalls and Allergy Alerts" notification service. When you sign up you will automatically receive food recall public warnings.

Before eating

Allergists recommend that if you do not have your auto-injector device with you that you do not eat. If the label indicates that a product "contains:" or "may contain:" sulphite or sulphite derivatives, do not eat it. If you do not recognize an ingredient or there is no ingredient list available, avoid the product.

Watch out for allergen cross contamination!

Cross contamination is the transfer of an ingredient (food allergen) to a product that does not normally have that ingredient in it. Through cross contamination, a food that should not contain the allergen could become dangerous to eat for those who are allergic.

Cross contamination can happen: 
  1. during food manufacturing through shared production and packaging equipment;
  2. at retail through shared equipment, e.g., cheese and deli meats sliced on the same slicer; 
  3. and through bulk display of food products, e.g., bins of baked goods, bulk nuts; and
  4. during food preparation at home or in restaurants through equipment, utensils and hands.
To Your Health
Dr. Barbara

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Top Ten Physical Complaints from Celiac Patients- from

The Top Ten Physical Complaints from Celiac Patients
By Jefferson Adams
Published 01/16/2015
Celiac Disease Diagnosis, Testing & Treatment (Gluten-Free Diet) unrated 01/16/2015 - Most people with celiac disease suffer from classic symptoms like weight-loss and diarrhea before diagnosis, right? Wrong. In fact, the most common medical issues for people with celiac disease might really surprise you.

A team of researchers who recently looked at data on 770 celiac patients admitted to S. Orsola-Malpighi Hospital from January 1998 to December 2012, found that even though 80% of people with celiac disease have symptoms other than diarrhea,only 1 in 3 people with celiac disease shows classical malabsorption symptoms.

Notably, two out of three people with celiac disease show non-classical symptoms. The majority of people have non-gastrointestinalsymptoms. In fact, the top ten medical complains of people with celiac disease are:
  1. Osteopenia/Osteoporosis—a full 52% of patients with celiac disease suffer from osteopenia/osteoporosis.
  2. Anemia—about one in three celiacs (34%) suffer from anemia.
  3. Cryptogenic hypertransaminasemia—nearly one-third (29%) of people with celiac disease, have what is called cryptogenic hypertransaminasemia.
  4. Diarrhea is, in fact, a common gastrointestinal symptom of celiac disease, but believe it or not, only 27% of people with symptomatic celiac disease experienced diarrhea.
  5. Bloating—20% of celiacs complained of bloating prior to diagnosis.
  6. Aphthous stomatitis—18% of people with symptomatic celiac disease had canker sores as one of their symptoms.
  7. Alternating bowel habit—15% of celiacs with symptoms have alternating bowel habit
  8. Constipation—13% of celiacs have constipation as a symptom.
  9. Gastroesophageal reflux disease—About 12% of people with celiac disease suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease.
  10. Recurrent miscarriages—just over one in ten (12%) people with celiac disease experience recurrent miscarriages
I recommend everyone get a simple test from called "genetics". This genetic test, and no other that I know of, tests for celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. (I have tried all available testing methods and combination of testing methods and find them prone to interpretive errors. Except the genetic test available at

Why do I recommend that everyone get this test?
  1. There are at least 200 diseases associated with gluten sensitivity, according to the NEJM, so I can't tell without testing. 
  2. Because those that are undiagnosed have high morbidity and mortality, leading to a 400% increased risk of dying by age 65! This morbidity and mortality is unnecessary. 
  3. Most people need to see a black and white test result to be motivated to do the grain free diet which is the only treatment to treat the bowel and the the extra gastrointestinal illnesses.
Why would I recommend a gene test if one could have the gene for a condition and not have the disease?

The study of Epigenetics has helped us to understand where genetics is useful. If you were conceived and born in North America, after 1942, and you find you do carry one or more genes for celiac or gluten sensitivity, your genetics is "on". And you can modify how the gene is expressed. 

Do you see yourself or someone else in these paragraphs? All should be tested. 
Know your risk of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity!

To Your Health
Dr. Barbara

Monday, January 5, 2015

A Common Genetic Variant Increases the Risk of Obesity Only in People Born After 1942, The Scientist

Gene x Environment x Time                                                                                                 
The curve starts to climb around 1942

When I try to explain why our older generation with gluten sensitivity seems to tolerate and have less problems with gluten and grains I often quote the year 1945, as the turning point, although I have been known to say that I may revise this turning point year to some year earlier.

Let me explain why I have focused on 1945. Vitamin D is a very powerful gene protector, and influences some 2000 genes of our 20,000 genes in total. In 1945, the governments of Canada and the USA stopped giving out free cod liver oil to families with children, giving the idea that vitamin D supplementation is not important, and the tradition to supplement with cod liver oil or vitamin D went into decline. Leading to widespread vitamin D deficiency especially above the 30th parallel. The vitamin D levels in the population is still continuing to decline mainly because of declining exposure to sun, more work and recreation done indoors, and impaired vitamin D metabolism ) I say turning point to explain an observation that I have that those born in North America after 1945 have more complications of gluten sensitivity and increased morbidity and mortality before the age of 65, than the older generation (or those born with more sun exposure or more traditional foods with vitamin D, like cod liver oil, traditionally raised pork lard and wild fatty fish in their diet). 

Dr. Murray showed  in his study published in 2009, that those who were gluten sensitive and born around 1930 had a 400% increased risk of dying by the age of 65. Very disturbing information and worth getting the word out the undiagnosed gluten sensitivity is a public health issue. Note his subjects were born around 1930.

Now we have a study where researchers analyzed changes in body mass index (BMI) over time from 5,000 people enrolled in the Framingham Heart Study in 1948, as well as their offspring, whose health has been tracked since 1971. They all live in and around Framingham, which is at the 42nd degree parallel.

I am going to focus on the the observed turning point year from this study: 1942.  Those, born before 1942, with the obesity associated gene seemed to have the gene dormant, meaning low risk of obesity.Those born after 1942, on the other hand, tended to have higher BMI levels, and the effect was stronger in the people born later.

What else happened around 1942?
The average person in North America was getting increasingly exposed to chemicals, now known to influence genes through the methylation processes, on/off switches on genes ( now called Epigenetics). Chemicals were introduced into every aspect of life in increasing numbers and numbers of ways. 

Some examples are:

  • Where soap was used, they were replaced with chemical detergents with chemical scents, at home and in industry.
  • Where dental care was non existent except to the upper middle class or more wealthy individuals, now the average American was becoming more affluent than the years before, and so could buy dental care which for the most part was mercury amalgams. Now we have titanium (nickel) implants and BPA containing composites.
  • More makeup was being used by women, and makeup is a source of toxic chemicals. See makeup and lead in lipstick.
  • Air pollution has increased, which leads to toxins being inhaled. 
  • Organic small farming was changed over to large scale commercial farming and the use of pesticides and herbicides, all patented chemicals. And now GMO crops.
  • Fire retardant chemicals on our clothes, and mattresses. 
  • BPA in our plastics, even those that contain food and drink which we then ingest. (And in our medical supplies like IV lines).
  • The diet has increasing amounts of processed food containing larger and larger amounts of chemicals. 
  • Public health officials wrongly promoting low fat (margarine), high omega 6, vegetable oil based diets that are inflammatory. Watch the movie Oiling of America.

The estimate is that we are now exposed to 84,000 chemicals, all influencing our genetics, through our microbiota and direct contact through the food we eat and the air we breath.

From The Scientist (my bold):

The study focused on a particular variant in the fat mass and obesity associated (FTO) gene, which has been found in several recent studies to confer an increased risk of obesity. Strikingly, the FTO variant was not associated with a higher BMI in people born before 1942. Those born after 1942, on the other hand, tended to have higher BMIs, and the effect was stronger in people who were born later.

Although specific environmental risk factors were not addressed in the study, the researchers propose that the rise of high-calorie diets and more sedentary lifestyles in the U.S. after World War II contributed to the observed effects of the FTO variant. (from my comments above, you know that I don't agree with this proposal as to the cause of these effect, but that severe pervasive vitamin D deficiency along with environmental exposure to chemical, even those in food are more likely to blame).

“We know that environment plays a huge role in the expression of genes, and the fact that our effect can be seen even among siblings born during different years implies that global environmental factors such as trends in food products and workplace activity, not just those found within families, may impact genetic traits,” study coauthor James Rosenquist of Massachusetts General Hospital said in a statement.

“Our results underscore the importance of interpreting any genetic studies with a grain of salt and leave open the possibility that new genetic risk factors may be seen in the future due to different genetically driven responses to our ever-changing environment,” added Rosenquist.
This isn't to say that you can't bypass those genetic tendencies; that your health is predetermined. 

Along with gluten sensitivity, you may have the FTO gene. You can bypass the genetic sensitivities with methylation practices (B vitamins and treat any homocysteine levels above 8), exercising in moderation, sauna detoxification, removing toxins from your environment, doing intermittent fasting, and having a vitamin D level between 50 and 80 ( 120 -200 nmol/l).

An important step I would advise is to replace the obesogenic microbiota, as the microbiota contains 90% of your DNA, and communicates with all your tissues and metabolism. This is done by doing a GAPS programmen: eat fermented vegetables and supplement with probiotics, and starve the bad bugs by withholding, as in not eating carbs from grains, sugar or fructose ( minimal amounts of fructose is advised: keep below 20 -25 Glycemic load points). You can call this way of eating anything you want, but I call it GAPS, the natural treatment.

For my part, I have updated the year I think is the turning point for the increased incidence of gluten sensitivity and other "thrift" genes to 1942. But I think the incidence is on an exponential curve with younger generations more affected.

The hope for the future lies in the fact that we can do something about this. 
To Your Health
Dr. Barbara

Friday, January 2, 2015

To Celebrate 150 Posts, I Will Answer Three Questions from Readers!

To celebrate 150 posts, I thought I will answer three questions from readers!

Here are the guidelines: 
One question per person. 
The first three questions regarding celiac disease, this "Celiacbrain" blog or gluten sensitivity will be answered. 
Leave your question in the comment section, please, and I will get to it as soon as I can.

Undiagnosed gluten sensitivity is rampant, only one in 20 are diagnosed and 1 in 2 is affected. Undiagnosed gluten sensitivity is a leader in the development of chronic illness and early death. It is a public health issue!

Gaining control over your health leads to control over your future

Empowering you with information to maximize your health and healthy longevity.
Dr. Barbara