No, Benadryl doesn’t help with gluten

As I’ve mentioned before, my mother has a whole slew of allergies: citrus, eggs, nuts, peanuts, and soy are the big ones. When I was growing up, it wasn’t unusual for mom to have a lot of things left off an order or ask questions about what ingredients were. She has an emergency allergy kit in her purse, that is well stocked with Benadryl and hand creams and EpiPens. If she even got the tell tale itching in her mouth, out came the pills. Considering we never had to take her to the ED for any of these allergies, I think she did a pretty amazing job managing them.

So early on, in our discussions of my celiac, she asked me if I could take a Benadryl to combat the gluten in my system. Considering so many people don’t understand celiac but if you say “gluten allergy” they can comprehend what you’re saying, it makes a certain amount of sense. Except celiac isn’t an allergy. It is simply a reaction your body has to food. Except, when you have an allergy, that is also a reaction your body has to food. What exactly is the difference.

Lets start by looking at the definition of both words. According to Dictionary.com an allergy is:

1.an abnormal reaction of the body to a previously encountered allergen introduced by inhalation, ingestion, injection, or skin contact, often manifested by itchy eyes, runny nose, wheezing, skin rash, or diarrhea.

2.hypersensitivity to the reintroduction of an allergen.Compare anaphylaxis.

Still using Dictionary.com celiac disease is:

1. a hereditary digestive disorder involving intolerance to gluten, usually occurring in young children, characterized by marked abdominal distention, malnutrition, wasting, and the passage of large, fatty,malodorous stools.
There’s a lot of differences in the definitions, but also quite a few similarities. Similarities are: ingestion of a food substance and something to do with poop. (Wow we talk a lot about poop.) But that’s pretty much where the similarities end. Of course, the definition of both are amazing vague, and kind of untrue. So lets look at the next most basic source of information, Web MD.

What Is an Allergy?

It’s what happens when your immune system reacts to something that’s usually harmless. Those triggers, which doctors call “allergens,” can include pollen, mold, and animal dander, certain foods, or things that irritate your skin.

Allergies are very common. At least 1 in 5 Americans has one.

What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease is a problem some people have with foods that contain gluten. Gluten is a type of protein. It’s found in the grains wheat, barley, rye, and triticale (a wheat-rye cross).

When you have this disease and you eat food with gluten in it, the gluten triggers an immune response that is not normal. This damages the inside of your small intestine so that it can’t do a good job of absorbing nutrients from your food.

It’s important to get treatment, because celiac disease can:

So again, we see one similarity here, each of these trigger an immune response, but that’s about where the similarities end again. So if we only look at the most surface similarities both allergies and celiac are immune reactions that have something to do with food and poop. Sounds about right.

So here’s the differnce that neither of these have touched upon. Allergies are immediate and Celiac is a delayed hypersensitivity reaction. If you look at this resource at the Food and Allergy Resource Program the difference between an allergy and celiac is that an allergic reaction activated antibodies in response to the allergen while celiac activates  phagocytes, antigen-specific cytotoxic T-lymphocytes, and the release of various cytokines in response to an antigen. That’s science speak for allergies and celiac trigger different immune reactions

So, why wouldn’t Benadryl work for Celiacs, well when the immune reaction happens for allergies it releases histamine into the suffer’s system. Benadryl is an antihistamine, which blocks the histamine reaction. When Celiac’s have a reaction, is causes entropy in the intestines  and no histamine. So while my mom eating some eggs or nuts can chew a Benadryl and start to feel better, because of my delayed hyper sensitive reaction and the cell-mediated immunological reaction that same Benadryl won’t help. It might even hurt if there’s a wheat in those pills.

Science, we has it in spades on this blog, and a lot of really large words. If you want to read more of the science, go here and keep google open to help you through some of the pretty amazing scientific terms in the article. I was googling the wikipedia entries I found to explain terms.

So, my move begins in earnest this week. I might be able to post next week, but we need to be out of our house on 11/1 and still don’t know where we’re moving on that date. Here’s hoping that everything comes up roses, and I have a great new house next week. Of course, next Monday is Halloween! My favorite holiday of the year! And my wedding anniversary!

 

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When you find a server who “knows”, tip them well. They will be your best friend.

We are neck deep in the process of buying a new house. When I say neck deep, we’ve been looking at Real Estate for about 4 months now, and our house closes on November 1st. Really, we’re looking at moving. Of course, we’re moving pretty quickly with this whole moving thing, because we still haven’t 100% bought a place yet. We’re just under contract. Yup, that’s how we do this moving thing.

This whole process has made us do a lot of eating out. We’ve been going to open houses every weekend for months. We’ve been going to look at house after work. And since there’s very food quick fix gluten free meals, we’re had to find food out and about.That can be a tall order for a Celiac, because of all of the things that we mentioned in the blog before. I’ve been eating a lot of Chipotle and Red Robin, because they’re good at the gluten free thing.

We have taken to carrying around cash to tip anyone who does gluten fr
ee really well. When I ask for them to change their gloves and instead they offer to make my food in the back, away from all of the gluten foods, you bet I’m going to toss a couple of dollars into the tip jar. Places like Chipotle, this is just their 1cj08vnormal standard procedures. But if you walk into a Panera and get that offer, I’ll give them a couple of bucks. I still tip at the Chipotle, because they do well and should be rewarded to doing well.

Of course, I have been known to tip up to 50% if aserver says the magic words “Oh I totally understand, I have [insert family member or friend] who eats gluten free.” It instill this sense of security and a camaraderie with the server. They understand what I’m going through! They can take care of me! I trust them! Yup, I will pay good money for this. It’s the same sense you get when you walk into a gluten free bakery, you have a guide who can point you through a menu or advocate for you with the kitchen. As a celiac, you going to put a lot of effort out there. You’ll make calls to restaurants to make sure they can accommodate you. You’ll give your pre-prepared speech every time you order. Just that moment when you realize that you have someone who is really on your side, really willing to help you out and go to bat for you (even if it’s just for one meal) you gotta reward that person.

I’ve had a couple of these great interactions. The first time I tried our local taco place (plus tequila bar) I had a server who had a family member that had celiac. He pointed me to tacomenu items that I could eat, and even gave me a suggestion of what to have on that menu (grilled halibut tacos with mango salsa and chimichurri and grilled asparagus on the side). This was my first real experience with the “I know” servers, and I thought I would never have it happen again. But I’ve had people say that they eat gluten free, and made sure the kitchen was extra careful. I had people go to the bar to check what alcohol they had, and said “I see my mom drink this and she is gluten free.” I even had one person who came by saying that she had chills because kitchen had accidentally pit an onion ring on my place and she was worried that I was going to “die” from it.

That’s not all of my experiences, but some of the most note worthy. I have had a lot of great interactions by just being blunt and asking for help. There are some restaurants where they just met my expectations of taking care of me. But then there were these amazing superhero servers who went above and beyond. I think they they should be called out as the amazing human being that they are. We’ve all had someone in customer service who go out of their way to help. The best of them will just tell you that they’re “just doing their job.” It doesn’t mean that you are any less appreciative of their help. Unlike a lot of other customer service jobs, you can reward the servers for their work by leaving a bigger tip, and you probably should.

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Gluten free does not mean science free

I know that I make political jokes on this blog but there’s something in this election that scares me, and that is Donald Trump. I’m not discussing his deplorable behavior or past statement of actions towards women. I am not even discussing the religious fervor that his supporters that have towards his hate speak. No, the thing that worries me the most is his stance on governmental regulation. He’s a business man first and foremost. He has made a lot of money understanding regulatory rules and looking for interesting ways to make a profit within them. This means that he doesn’t have a great love for any regulation that is going to hinder business people from making money. If you look at his economic plan that came out about a month ago, you can see this. He uses inflammatory language towards almost every regulatory agency that the US has.

What most of you might not know is that there was an edit within that document. It was up for just about an hour, but people caught screen shots of it. The line item called the FDA the “Food Police” and too aim at the inspections of food facilities and “farm and food production hygiene.” So as a human being that eats food, I take offense to leniency in our food hygiene regulation (especially with the rise of e-coli and listeria breakouts in the past few years.) As a Celiac, this thought makes she shiver with horror.

If you would like to read more about it here’s a set of articles that I found that all corroborate this:

Trump’s FDA plan should raise concerns for Americans who eat food

But Donald Trump Was Right – Heinz Ketchup Is Why We Can Kill FDA Food Regulations

Trump Wants Everyone to Eat Unregulated Food. Or Maybe Not.

Trump targets “the FDA Food Police,” calls for elimination of food-safety regulations in new tax plan

We’ve discussed before some of the Gluten Free Renaissance that we’re having right now is because of the FDA and their regulation. Rules like the Gluten Free regulation would be under the chopping block. It requires extra testing and inspections of facilities, and considering that (in some instances) gluten free food starts at the farm, the regulation of hygiene benefits the gluten free community too. Anything that rescinds these regulations (which are only a few years old) is something that should scare you.

Yes, Trump took it out of his economic policy, but anyone who has been paying attention to this election knows that what is in Turmp’s head usually doesn’t leave. It just lays dormant until he things someone isn’t really paying attention, then he tries to slip it past those not really paying attention. Honestly, just the thought of Trump being in charge of our regulatory measures was enough scare me away from voting for him, this small glimpse in his plans for the FDA, I’m really seriously glad that people have been scared away from him for a plethora of other reasons. The fact that he isn’t really paying attention to the science behind those regulations, well that scares me the most.

But, as we showed in this post not a lot of people pay attention to the science behind their food. The fact that someone could write a book with pseudoscience like Wheat Belly, make millions of dollars, and influence so many people that eating gluten free is better for them just shows how gullible people are. I might be going really far out on a limb here, and I might offend a few people, but I feel like it needs to be said. THIS IS EVIDENT IN THE ORGANIC FOOD AND NON-GMO MOVEMENTS THE MOST!

I am going to admit, I eat organic food. I find it easier to read the labels of organic food companies. If regular food labels were as easy to read, I would probably never pick up organic food. There is no evidence that growing food organically is any better or worse for you. You can point towards articles and circumstantial evidence, but the stories just don’t match the studies. They don’t. In fact, organic food is less efficient (meaning that it’s actually hurting farmers to grow food organically.) So, why do people feel like organic food is better for them? Well according to Web MD, it is believed that organic food have more nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants. There is also the belief that carry less harmful pesticides. There have also been studies that state organic food might have more natural toxins in them, which are the plants own pesticides. So the fewer harmful pesticides might be a wash with more natural toxins in the plants. But there doesn’t appear to be any definitive studies stating that organic food is better. In fact the Organic Trade Association has stated that the FDA’s original studies when they started regulating organic foods were not accurate because there wasn’t a good control in them. The OTA has also spent more than $100,000 in 2016 to lobby for Organic Food Regulations, and according to Wikipedia that have spent upwards to $300,000 to lobby. I can’t find exact numbers on how much the OTA makes in a year, but I suspect any organization that can spend that much to lobby makes a lot more than that.

The OTA is also getting into the non-GMO lobbying business. Non-GMO is literally he most anti-science because it is against the manipulation of the genetics of seeds. Usually GMO is just increasing the yield of the crops, it make then grow in hostile environments, you know like areas where there’s not a lot of water. When we were kids, this was called ending world hunger. Now it’s called GMO, which is a new buzzy bad word associated with big pharma trying to turn our tomatoes into mutants. I’m still not sure how creating food that will feed the hungry in Africa is bad. Or create food that is resistant to certain infections or rots (which means it works better under organic conditions.) Of course, the Non-GMO Project (literally the top one that comes up when you google Non-GMO) has made about $400,000 between 2014 and 2015.

Both the Organic and the Non-GMO lobbies make and spend thousands of dollars on non-scientific labeling regulations being added to labels. There is a much simpler and easier solution to all of these groups, and for it we shall look at France and Italy. France and Italy, places know for the quality of their food, has strict rules and regulation on what can be put in their food, and even stricter food labeling guidelines. Heck, even Canada has better food labeling guidelines than America. Canada! That’s like your kid sister getting into Harvard when you only got into East State. If, instead, we tried to get plain speak put back in our food labeling, we could probably get a lot further that trying to push agendas of pseudo-scientific theories about that is healthier. It would also give people like food babe a lot less to discuss on her blog. Of course, there would be a lot less for me to write about on my blog too. I think I would be super happy with that.  Because with truth in labeling, we can all make better decisions about what we eat.

No one will be as careful as you, and you will probably be more careful then you need to be.

This weekend we went to Salmon Days, which is a street fair/festival here in Issaquah, WA with my celia-sissy, brother-in-law, and the nephews. Salmon Days basically a celebration of the salmon spawning (such a Washington festival). There is a lot of street/fair food around (so nothing that a celiac could eat) and a lot of booths of overpriced clothing, stone wear dishes, scrap metal for your yard, and (of course) local businesses giving away small branded items. Oh and salmon watching. You can watch salmon swim up a creek to die. I make that sound kind of depressing, but it’s a joyous event…really.

Anyway, after watching the fish struggle towards the inevitable death, it was nephew snack time, and they decided on that they wanted that iconic fair food, elephant ears. As we were walking away from the Issaquah fish hatchery, my 7 year old nephew lets go of his mommy’s hand saying “I’m going to eat gluten, so I’m going to have to change to daddy’s hand” and went to go stand by his father.  My Cilia-sissy looked at me like her heart was going to melt from the cuteness of her son.

Preemptive hand changing might be a bit over cautious, no matter how cute it is, because even though he was aware of not holding mommy’s hand, right after eating his elephant ear, he wanted to see auntie’s phone. All of this brought up a discussion about hand sanitizer (the only way to clean our hands at the festival), using water from a water bottle, or just wiping your hands off. Of course, I only had my phone to research with me and that was being taken up with Pokemon Go.

But of course this got me thinking. How often are we more careful that we need to be? I know that I’m gluten paranoid, but only because every time I am not I get sick. So, how careful do we really need to be? Well, really careful. So, if take trip in the way back machine (all the way back to the beginning) my post of what to do right after your diagnosis. Remember that a crumb, just a crumb, can be enough to get a celiac ill. But, do you remember our cocoa powder experiment with the counters. Did you know that you can do that with your hands too!?

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The results, well wiping your hands is not enough. Just look in between those fingers. Heck, even just a regular washing left some particles in between my knuckles. Scarey. You have to go the full “happy birthday” level wash to make sure that everything is clean. The scariest part is what I found in this 2007 study. John Hopkins studied peanut particles in schools and hand washing/cleaning. The hand washing study found that particles of peanuts were still found on half of the hands of their subjects after their using hand sanitizer.

There is differences between peanuts and wheat or gluten. Peanuts have oil, and oil can stay around on hands a lot longer than a dry particle like wheat. This can make it was easy to spread, but, almost, harder to wash off. That doesn’t mean that the same principles don’t apply. If you think about it, logically, the way that hand sanitizers (supposedly) work is the act of rubbing helps to kill the germs. Of course the FDA says that even that isn’t true, so lets just move past that. You put a liquid on your hands, rub them around, and then the alcohol evaporates off and leaves your hands feeling clean. But there is nothing that will be getting the peanut oil or wheat off of your hands. There’s just no transfer of the substance to another object. So it just wouldn’t work, there’s no way it could.

Lets get back to my little hand washing experiment. My hands of coated with cocoa power. Truth, unless you’re dipping your hands in batter or flour, you’re never going to need to worry about more than a crumb or two. So you might not have to worry about washing your hands as well as a doctor. Does it mean that you shouldn’t be vigilant, no. Do you have to be that vigilant, probably not. Just like you’re not getting sick from doorknobs or escalators. You just get used to not touching your mouth and washing your hands before all meals.

So, how careful do you have to be? To be safe, more than anyone else. You’ll find your level that probably just a hair on this side of crazy, but until the FDA approved one of those gluten pills, I’m just going to stay there to be safe.

Also, this is officially half way through all of our topics. Just getting over the hump!

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