Dr. Laura: Why do processed foods get such a bad wrap?

Advanced Glycated End products

AGES– Advanced Glycated End products area product of food processing. AGEs appear to stimulate chronic low-grade inflammation and promote oxidative stress and affect the pancreatic beta cell function leading to the development of insulin resistance. Stop AGE diets in animal models and diabetes stops.

Bad Fats

Fats– Not all are created equal! Processed foods use trans fats to prolong shelf life, saturated fats because they are cheap and tasty. Transfats and arachadonic acids create inflammation in the body. This increases risk for plaques in the vascular system, increases cholesterol and ultimately blood pressure. In contrast, when healthy fats like omega 3 fatty acids (aka high quality fish oil) the inflammation markers go down, the cell is better able to perform its function. Since every cell has a phospholipid bilayer. This means that every cell’s skin is made of fat. When fat is of a fluid nature, nutrients are able pass in and out more effectively and the cell’s function is optimized.

Food Dyes

Dyes–The processed food industry uses food dyes to add colour to colourless foods, to enhance colour and to avoid colour loss due to environmental elements and to preserve consistency when there are variations in the colour of food. Food dyes are know to cause inattention, hyperactivity, irritability, temper tantrums or trouble sleeping.

Sugars

Sugar & high fructose corn syrup. Most processed foods have some sugar added including soda pop, breads, cereals, yogurts, processed meats, soups and condiments. High-sugar diets may make a significant contribution to cardio-metabolic risk.  High fructose corn syrup, when digested by the body produces reactive carbonyls, which creates tissue damage. Countries using high-fructose corn syrup had rates of diabetes that were about 20% higher than countries that didn’t mix the sweetener into foods, even when total sugar and total calories remain the same.

Salt

Salt– Processed foods use salt to help preserve it and for added flavour. The amount of salt in restaurant and packaged foods are the main culprits in the Western diet, not the salt added to home-prepared whole foods.  Research shows that the average North American consumes 4000mg sodium per 2000kcal diet. This is almost twice as much as the 2300mg/day recommend by some health experts. If the amount reduces even to 2700mg/day, a 5mmHg smaller rise in systolic blood pressure would be noted in those 25-55 years of age. This results in an estimated 150,000 lives saved from death due to cardiovascular events. The kicker is, if not getting annual checkups, often the first sign of high blood pressure, is a deadly heart attack.

White Flour

White flour  – Without the fibre, white flour easily breaks down quickly into simple carbohydrates, which is essentially sugar to the body. Processed foods are full of white flour. The fast breakdown quickly elevates blood sugar, induces insulin release and quickly and causes cravings for more sugar to restore blood sugar levels. The cycle easily repeats itself as quick carbs are continually fed into the body. Over time and continued food abuse, the insulin that works diligently to get the sugar into the cells, becomes less effective, the sugar stays in the blood stream and the person is now experiencing high blood sugar levels and insulin resistance… a path well travelled to the diabetes destination.

Comprehensive Food Sensitivity Testing in Guelph

Food Sensitivities

Electro Dermal Screening (EDS) Food Sensitivity Testing is done in-house at Forward Health, at anytime Dr. Laura is available.  Please call reception to book your appointment for testing and follow-up today. If you are a new patient, Dr. Laura will need to see you first to evaluate the specifics of your individualized testing profile.

Often sensitivities go undiagnosed because the reaction is gradual and will happen within 3minutes to 3 days. This makes it more difficult to pinpoint which food is the trigger. Being sensitive to a food may mean the person needs to avoid it completely, or be able to have a small amount occasionally. Sometimes after months of abstinence, a food may be reintroduced without an issue. Symptoms of food sensitivity can be variable and may involve:

SKIN: eczema, skin rashes, dark circles under the eyes, puffiness

JOINTS: pain, inflammation

BRAIN: difficulty concentrating, fatigue, depression, hyperactivity

GI: damage to the mucosal lining, perforation & “leaky gut”. This can make it difficult for nutrients and vitamins to absorb into the body and the person over time can become deficient in things like iron, zinc, and B12. It can also rear itself as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), constipation, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting.

WEIGHT GAIN: always good to rule out food sensitivities when there is unexplained weight gain.

photo from health nest nutrition

Who is at risk?

  • Often affiliated with autoimmune disease (SLE/lupus, thyroiditis, Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), toxic exposure to heavy metals, molds & family history.
  • Aggravated by alcohol, strenuous exercise and NSAIDs (Advil, Ibuprofen)
  • History exogenous hormone exposure (birth control pills, pesticides, plastics), antibiotics

What foods typically cause IgG reactions?

  • Dairy, wheat, egg, sugar, corn & soy
  • Some with RA find the nightshade family harmful: (potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplant)

How do I learn if I have an sensitivity?

IgG testing can be accessed through your health care practitioner via electrodermal screening or blood draw test. Call for availability.

What’s the difference between food sensitivity and food allergies?

Food sensitivities are a delayed response 3 minutes – 3 days later, as discussed above. Food sensitivities are not an immediate threat to life.  Food allergies are an immediate (within 5-10minutes of ingesting the food) IgE immune response that can be life threatening.  Once a food allergy (often shellfish or peanut) are identified, the body amps up its response at every subsequent exposure. Mast cells and basophils release proinflammatory mediators in response to allergen exposure. This is why it is important for people with food allergies to carry an EPI pen, use it when needed and get themselves to a hospital if they are exposed to the particular food. Symptoms of food allergy can be variable and may involve:

MOOD: feeling of doom or very unwell.

SKIN: hives, urticaria (pale red raised itchy bumps), swelling or flaring of atopic dermatitis (skin irritation)

RESPIRATORY: wheezing, asthma symptoms, allergic rhinitis symptoms, throat tightness, and trouble breathing.

GI: nausea, vomit, pain, difficulty swallowing

Combined together in a very fast response, the person may experience ANAPHYLAXIS, a serious and potentially life threatening allergic reaction. Note that aside from food, insect bites, stings, medications can also be a trigger.

What foods typically cause IgE reactions?

  • Peanut, Pollen (could be on fresh fruit), shellfish, fish, sesame seeds, tree nuts, soy, dairy, eggs, and wheat.
  • Made worse with alcohol, exercise, NSAIDs (Advil, ibuprofen)

What if someone is experiencing these symptoms and has a known food allergy?epipen

  1. Ask if they have an EPI pen and where they keep it. It will administer epinephrine which will increase their heart rate and open their airways.
  2. Ask if you can get it for them
  3. Allow the person to administer the EPI pen themselves. It should be placed at the thigh and pressed into the muscle.
  4. If no EPI, consider a dose of Benadryl
  5.  Get the person to the hospital immediately.

How do I learn if I have an allergy?

IgE testing can be done by your health care practitioner via skin prick or blood test. A naturopathic doctor may order some IgE blood tests for food allergy and it is usually an immunologist whom will do the skin prick test to diagnose and provide an EPI pen prescription if need be. Feel free to call Forward Health and book an appointment to discuss your concerns and needs and to obtain the appropriate requisition via Dr. Laura.

Yours in Health,

Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND