Nut what? Making sense of some food allergies
- February 9, 2009 7:54 AM |
- By CBC Staff
by Leigh Felesky, CBCNews.ca
My son was around three when he helped himself to a tray of nuts at a Christmas party. The food table was toddler-high and full of festive goodies. No one was paying too much attention until he said, "Mommy, I don't feel well."
Less than one minute later he had a bout of projectile vomiting that was enough to make the party pause.
Not sure what to make of it as he's never thrown up easily, I investigated the next week, starting with the pediatrician and ending at the allergist. The diagnosis? My son had a potentially fatal allergy to all tree nuts. Peanuts, which are a legume, are ok.
Ah, this left me chewing on my nutcracker. I was someone who always wondered if banning nuts from schools was really necessary, and who was sure that kids with nut allergies were rare and over-diagnosed.
But perhaps I was always wrong. According to Anaphylaxis Canada, "More than half Canadians (56 per cent) know of someone with a peanut or nut allergy. In the Prairies and in the Atlantic provinces even more people (60 per cent and 62 per cent respectively) have come in contact with a sufferer of peanut or nut allergies. Only 5 per cent of Canadians claimed personally suffering from the ailment."
But, why? What causes this? No one had nut allergies that I knew of when I was growing up.
In the past two years my interest has peaked and here are the theories I've heard:
Theory 1: Nut allergies are on the rise because moms aren't eating nuts when they're pregnant, so the baby isn't exposed early.
My experience: FALSE, I eat nuts, then and now.
Theory 2: Nut allergies are on the rise because of a hyper-clean environment, antibacterials everywhere.
My experience: FALSE, my house has its share of dust bunnies and I don't use antibacterial anything.
Theory 3: Nut allergies are on the rise because of an increase in the use of soy, which is a highly allergenic legume.
My experience: Maybe this makes a difference for peanut allergies (soy and peanuts are both legumes), not sure. But what about tree nuts, they're different ....
Theory 4: This one is the most difficult to disprove and possibly the scariest: nut allergies are on the rise because of all the crap we eat and pollutants in the air. Our immune systems are turned on and become hyperactive as early as ineutero, which causes more allergies.
My experience: Possibly, I don't know. Could it be that in one generation we've managed to create such a toxic environment that immune systems are going, well, nutty?
I'm not convinced, but I haven't ruled it out either. What's your theory?
Whether you're a naturopath, doctor, nutritionist, person with nut allergies or parent, tell us below why you think nut allergies are on the rise. And what do you think we can do about it?
All News blogs
- Food in times of sorrow
- In spring, a doctor discovered that my grandfather had glioblastoma multiforme, the deadliest and most aggressive primary brain tumour. As he battled the tumour over the following months, it was food that connected the family and allowed him to still 'live' instead of merely survive. Later on,... Continue reading this post
- Going deep in Chicago
- No, I’m not talking the Chicago Cubs, I’m talking Pizzaria Uno, creator of the original deep dish pizza.... Continue reading this post
- Q&A with Khalil Akhtar, host of The Main Ingredient
- The Main Ingredient is one of CBC Radio's new summer programs. It's an inside look on the food we grow, buy and eat. In a Q&A, host Khalil Akhtar took the time to discuss his relationship with food and why... Continue reading this post