Thursday, August 26, 2010

Food Allergies and Intolerances


The incidence of food allergies may seem high but in fact all indications are that the range is somewhere between 2% and 4% of the population. A food allergy occurs when the immune system views a food as an unwanted substance and it begins to attack the protein in the food. Diagnosis occurs when a skin prick test or blood test shows the presence of IgE antibodies.

Food intolerances Do Not involve the immune system so the implications of eating the food do not involve devastating complications but can certainly be uncomfortable. Skin prick or blood tests will not show the presence of IgE antibodies in those who have a food intolerance.

People with food allergies must avoid the food they are allergic to whereas those with food intolerances can often consume small portions of the food.

Eight foods account for 90% of all food allergies -

  • Milk
  • Egg
  • Peanut
  • Tree nuts
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Wheat
  • Soy

The most common food intolerance is lactose intolerance but other food intolerances include fructose, food additives, and sulfite. Gluten intolerance is the term that is often used to refer to two types of gluten disorders, the first is Celiac Disease and the second is gluten sensitivity.

Celiac Disease is an inherited digestive disease that involves an immune system response that damages the small intestine potentially leading to malnutrition.  Treatment of Celiac disease requires complete avoidance of gluten. Gluten sensitivity is an intolerance that results in an adverse reaction when consuming gluten. Most people with gluten sensitivity must also avoid gluten but the difference is that people with gluten sensitivity rarely suffer the serious intestinal complications of celiac disease.

Avoidance of gluten means elimination of wheat in all forms, rye and barley. Oats can be used in moderation If they have been processed in a plant that does not process any of the grains listed above.

If you have a food allergy or food intolerance the following references can be of help.

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI)

The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network

Gluten Intolerance Group 

For more help, contact a Registered Dietitian. Locate a Registered Dietitian in your area by visiting –




Monday, August 16, 2010

Healthy Eating on Campus


   For soon-to-be college freshmen the adventure of dining on campus is one that often generates concern and excitement. The fears of the “Freshman 15” can cause incoming students to worry about how they will be able to eat and avoid that weight. At the same time students fear the dreaded “mystery meat” or the all-you-can-eat options. Well good news, Campus Dining is quite different than it used to be.

Dining on campus now means choosing from ethnic cuisine, vegetarian options, healthier choices, foods for specific allergies, grab and go options and sometimes all day dining. If you’d like to get a jump on what your meals might look like on campus take some time to visit the dining services page of your university.

Dining at Washington University in St Louis provides many options including online menus that display what is served each day and the nutrition information. View the menus at -

Menus for the fall semester will appear within the next two weeks.

Monday, August 2, 2010

2010 Dietary Guidelines


   In June, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory committee released their recommendations. These recommendations reflect a review of the science of nutrition and health covering the last five years. Changes in this version of the guidelines include the following points.

* Reduce Sodium intake to 1500 mg/day

* Reduce the intake of sugar sweetened beverages and other foods with added sugars

* Consume more plant foods with a focus on whole grains, cooked beans and peas, nuts and seeds, and fruits and vegetables.

* Choose moderate amounts of lean meat, poultry and eggs

* Increase intake of seafood and fat free or low-fat dairy products

* Meet the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans

In addition, the recommendations include a shift from focusing in nutrients and focusing more on foods. Focusing more on the foods to include makes healthy eating easier.

The recommendations, and all the comments from the public, are now being reviewed by the US departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services. The final guidelines are expected by the end of the year.

For more information visit -