Food Sensitivities

Another Piece of the Puzzle

I’ve been away for the last several weeks. visiting my daughter in England.  It was a real pleasure to enjoy wheat products without becoming ill during the trip. And, as a result of something that popped up for her after I came home, together we have solved another part of the family sulphur problem.

For several generations, the women in my family have not been able to take iron supplements.  When I became anemic during my pregnancy, my midwife suggested I try chelated iron which luckily worked.

It never dawned on me that the symptoms were very close to those of sulphur overload.

My daughter has discovered that regular iron supplements have a sulphur base. Voila, problem solved.

And due to my DNA tests and my daughter’s ancestry research, I’m pretty sure that I now know how the sensitivity entered my maternal line.

Sulphur sensitivity has been linked to having ancestors who lived along the Silk Road, a trade route between China and the West.  When my late brother finally had his DNA done, it turned up something that also had appeared in my maternal DNA.  Random Eastern European ancestry.  As reports have gotten more detailed, it looks like possibly Ukrainian ancestry, one of the endpoints for the Silk Road.

Also, after recently watching the first season of Marco Polo, I did more online research on the Mongolian DNA that turns up in Hungary as a result of Genghis Khan’s move west.  I have a very large and odd shaped head for a Westerner and the only hats that really fit are those made in the Mongolian style.  Despite that, I have no Asian DNA of any type that shows up on the current tests.

However, when I started digging through the Hungarian research, low and behold, Mongolian and Romany ancestry is turning up to be widespread and my Dad’s haplo group turns up in the middle of the Mongolian DNA they have traced.

Boom! Silk Road ancestry confirmed.

How then, you ask, did it end up coming from my mother’s side of the family?

Several hundred years ago, an Elizabeth Sumner married into my mother’s family.

This also explains why my parents are listed as distant cousins when you check relationships on the ancestry website.  Elizabeth Sumner introduced the sulphur sensitivity into my maternal line.  The original Sumner in my paternal line did not pass it on.

Food sensitivities can be really weird and very interesting.

Oddly enough, today is my brother’s birthday.  He would have been 61.

 

 

 

 

Food Sensitivities, Food Tips, Recipes

Avocado Pasta Sauce

This recipe is one that my cousin makes 2-3 times a month.

The measurements for this sauce are pretty inexact, but are roughly as follows:

1 ripe avocado
35-40g cashews
2-3 large handfuls of baby spinach
Enough non-dairy milk (oat or almond recommended) to get the blender moving
Salt and Smoked Paprika to taste

Recipe is very simple – chuck everything in your blender or food processor of choice and blitz until smooth. Sauce can be heated on the stove or the microwave and freezes really well. This recipe produces 3-4 helpings of sauce, depending on how much you like on your pasta, or will serve as many for a single meal.

Bread and Baking, Chemical Sensitivities, Food Sensitivities, Food Tips, Meals, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities

Wheat

I am extremely fortunate not to be gluten intolerant among all the other food sensitivities I have.  I am, however, wheat sensitive.

Over seventy years ago, my mother’s doctor told her that if she ever wanted to lose weight and keep it off, she had to give up wheat, specifically baked goods.  Back then, doctors were trained to read the body’s signs. They knew things without resorting to a myriad of tests and they trusted their knowledge.

My grandmother’s doctor could look at her hair and know whether or not she needed more thyroid medication.  It was a good thing too, because the problem that runs in my family does not show up in today’s standardized tests.

So,  other  than gluten, what are the problems with wheat?  There are two other major problems with wheat, especially in the United States.  The first is that it has almost become a mono-culture.

According to prevalent statistics, 70-80% of wheat grown in the US is winter wheat. The majority of the remaining wheat grown in the US is hard red spring wheat. We grow wheat that is higher in protein and gluten which is better for mass bread production.

In Europe, for the time being at least, a softer wheat, which is lower in protein and gluten, predominates.

But we now export 55% of our spring wheat crop around the world.

And wheat can be found in almost all processed foods.  If your body is bombarded constantly with the same ingredient over and over, it can lead to a myriad of health problems.

Unless you search specifically for unbleached, unenriched flour, all flour in the US is enriched with vitamins and minerals.  This policy began during World War II as an easy way to get extra nutrients to the troops, who were eating poorly at best. Processing wheat into flour, especially white flour, removes the nutrients, so adding vitamins such as Thiamine and minerals such as iron, seemed like a sensible thing to do.

However, Thiamine is a sulfur based B vitamin and iron is hard to digest for many people.  So for families like mine, you’re getting a double negative effect from the wheat in commercial products.  It lead, in our case, to inflammation, water retention, weight gain and digestive problems.

The rise of the processed food industry, heavily dependent on wheat as a main ingredient, has led to over-exposure to an almost mono-culture product that is chemically modified in the name of better nutrition.

Next week:  The Other Difficulty with Wheat

Food Sensitivities, Meals, Recipes

Chili Con Carne

Due to their high sulfur and acid content, I’m extremely sensitive to tomatoes.  But I still love my late mother’s recipe for Chili Con Carne, so I developed a work around.

While red peppers, garlic and onions all contain sulfur, I find that this works for me on occasion, since the load is less than if I used tomatoes as the recipe calls for.

Some chili aficionados will blanch, because yes, I do thicken this dish.  Traditionally, it is thickened with flour, but I often use potato starch to avoid the wheat.  I also use as many organic ingredients as I can, but I still haven’t found organic spiced chili beans.

I cook this dish and other soups and stews in my Le Creuset cookware, but any type of heavy pan will do.

Serve it up with your favorite grated cheese, chopped onions, sour cream or condiments of your choice.

In our house this dish  is usually accompanied by saltines.  When I was a child, I would slather them with butter and marmelade.  Today, I just skip them.

Chili Con Carne

1 lb. ground beef

1 Spanish onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed

1 16 oz. jar Mediterranean Organic Fire Roasted Red Peppers, drained

2 15 oz. cans Chili Beans

20 oz. water

Salt and Pepper

1/4 c. organic  white flour or Bob’s Red Mill potato starch

5 tsps. ground chili powder

Saute the ground beef in a large heavy saucepan, dutch oven or enameled cast iron pan. When it is brown, add the chopped onions and saute until soft.  Add the garlic clove and saute for 1 minute.

While the meat is browning, drain and rinse the peppers and process in a food processor until liquid.

Add the peppers, water, beans, salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for 1 hour.

Combine the flour or potato starch with 5 tsps. powered chili and add to the dish, stirring well until combined.  Simmer for a further 15 minutes and serve.

 

 

 

 

 

Food Sensitivities, Meals, Ramblings

The Nightshades We Eat or… Not

While the actual Deadly Nightshade plant has purple flowers, it’s less toxic relatives have a mix of colors including white, blue, yellow and purple.

The following plants which produce food we eat are:

Eggplant, Tomatoes, Tomatillos, Pimentos, all Peppers, including Bell, Chili, Cayenne and Paprika, and all varieties of Potato. (Sweet potatoes and yams are not true potatoes).

The last surprising plant in this family is Tobacco.

All nightshades contain toxic compounds called glycoalkaloids.  These compounds act as natural pesticides, protecting the plants from a wide range of insects and other disease bearing micro-organisms.

Sensitive individuals may experience various forms of gastric distress after ingesting these foods.

My experience has been that potatoes do not bother me at all.  Tomatoes, which are also high in sulphur, are a problem, as are raw peppers.  I tend to suffer heartburn and indigestion.  I dislike eggplant and pimentos, so no problems there for me.  I use a lot of paprika in my cooking and it has never been a problem.

When I started working on eliminating tomatoes from my diet, I substituted Mediterranean Organic Organic Fire Roasted Red Peppers in my chili con carne recipe and it turned out delicious.

 

 

 

Food Sensitivities, Meals, Ramblings

Welcome

Welcome to Deadly Nightshade:  Living with Serious Food Sensitivities.

After years of battling health problems caused by the food I was eating and being told repeatedly that I wasn’t allergic to anything, I finally decided to approach things from another perspective.  Nutritionists and other medical personnel were just starting to talk about food sensitivities as opposed to allergies.  If you are truly allergic to something you have a respiratory reaction.  That was never my problem.  Constant gastric distress?  Yes.

I get extremely ill when given sulfa drugs (it runs in the family) and one day it dawned on me. I wasn’t truly allergic to them, but I definitely was sensitive to them.  They made me extremely nauseous, followed by extreme hyperactivity.

And, if sulfa drugs are made from sulfur, then what about the sulfur found in so many foods?  It was the early days of the internet and I ran across an article by a woman who was suffering from an extreme auto-immune disease.  In her research, she discovered that the common denominator was sulfur rich foods. When she eliminated them from her diet, her illness went into remission.

Luckily, I’ve found that sulfur sensitivity is usually a saturation issue.  You can be fine for years, then it hits you.  The good news is, you can detox. I was so ill by this time that I chose to follow her recommendations.  I spent two months eating only carrots, celery, pork, potatoes, white meat poultry and organic melons.  I lost weight, because I was no longer bloating and all my gastric problems went away.

This detox made it possible for me to eat again normally for awhile, but the problems kept coming back as my saturation levels rose again.  And I’m no saint.  It’s hard to avoid everything you enjoy.

Eventually, I started to develop work arounds.  Substituting different vegetables for those that caused me the most problems.  Fortunately, a lot of things are ok if they are organic, because they are not picking up sulfur and sulfites from non-organic fertilizers.

So, while I don’t expect anyone to actually poison themselves with Deadly Nightshade, I did decide to use it as a title for my blog, because there are so many foods in the nightshade family that we eat on a regular basis and tomatoes are the bane of my existence.

As I continue writing this blog, I will be including my work around ideas and recipes that my family and I enjoy.  We will also have guest bloggers from time to time, contributing their recipes and stories of their food sensitivities.