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Alternative, Healthful Foods Available for Allergy Sufferers

By Deardorff, Julie | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 13, 2009 | Go to article overview

Alternative, Healthful Foods Available for Allergy Sufferers


Deardorff, Julie, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Christine Doherty's body won't tolerate wheat gluten. She's allergic to corn and eggs. And her daughter has soy allergies.

They still eat. The Doherty family simply avoids processed foods - - which can be stripped of essential nutrients and contain excess sugar, salt, fat and chemical preservatives -- and seeks out gluten- free and low-allergen fare.

"It's not like you have to choke freaky food down," says Doherty, a naturopathic doctor in New Hampshire who specializes in food allergies and celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder.

More than 11 million Americans are estimated to have food allergies, which occur when the immune system reacts poorly to certain foods. If you have an allergy, you know: Within minutes of eating the offending food, you might experience hives or swelling or have trouble breathing.

Less obvious and more common are food intolerances, which can be digestive issues that don't involve the immune system. Symptoms might include cramps, gas and bloating. Unlike with food allergies, you might be able to eat small amounts of problem foods.

But don't torture yourself. Instead, try some of these lower- risk alternatives to the most common food allergies, including milk, eggs, peanuts and soy.

Apples and applesauce

In addition to vitamin C, pectin (a soluble fiber), potassium and important phytochemicals, apples contain high amounts of quercetin, which can help reduce allergy symptoms, according to a study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. German researchers recently showed organically produced apples have a 15 percent higher antioxidant capacity than conventionally produced apples.

Try this: Lightly saute slices from one apple with one diced potato and onion.

Cruciferous vegetables

Some people with allergies have trouble removing toxins through the liver and kidneys, nutrition expert Bonnie Minsky says. If the toxins back up into the body, it increases the chances of inflammation, which leaves an allergic person even more sensitive. Vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and cabbage greatly assist the process, she says.

Try this: Eat broccoli steamed and mixed with fresh garlic and olive oil.

Quinoa

Probably the least allergenic of the grains, quinoa's high protein content (12 percent to 18 percent) and balanced set of essential amino acids make it a complete source of protein, according to chef Lisa Williams (lisacooksallergenfree.com), who has allergies to wheat and dairy and sensitivities to sugar and gluten. Quinoa is a good source of dietary fiber, phosphorus, magnesium and iron.

Try this: Because breakfast often is problematic for people with allergies, try quinoa in the morning; add nuts and fruit if you can.

Lentils

Food can be expensive when you're on a specialized diet, which makes relatively cheap lentils a superfood on all fronts. Lentils are loaded with iron, protein and folic acid. One cup has 16 grams of fiber -- six times as much as a serving of Metamucil, Doherty says. They're also versatile and easy to store.

If you're allergic to peanuts, you have a 5 percent chance of having an allergic reaction to other legumes such as lentils, says allergy expert Dr.

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Alternative, Healthful Foods Available for Allergy Sufferers
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