Yes, you can be allergic to spices

spices-73770We have written quite a bit about turmeric on the Foodfacts.com blog this week. The trending superfood is so good for you that it is hard not to be obsessed with it. Have you tried making the turmeric tonic recipe we shared, too? It is reportedly an excellent fix for those stubborn spring allergies!

Speaking of allergies…

As we approach the end of Food Allergy Awareness Week, it is only fitting that we discuss certain spices that can cause allergic reactions. Because spices offer a great deal of health benefits, particularly medicinal, many people believe that these wonder foods can do no wrong to the body. With the exception of the side effects of overconsuming them, it is generally thought that these plant-based products are everything nice.

The bad thing is, allergic reactions to spices are real; the good thing is, these reactions are rare. Studies have shown that less than five percent of all adults with food allergies suffer from reactions to spices – whether these plants are fresh or dried, and ground, toasted or processed.

Here are some of the most common spices that cause food allergy.

  • Garlic – Whether fresh or cooked, garlic can cause an allergic reaction. People allergic to garlic are recommended to forgo similar food additives, like onions and chives, altogether.
  • Paprika – It’s great for barbecue marinades and general seasoning, but it can cause severe reaction to anyone allergic to it. Thankfully, there are other ingredients that can serve as substitutes to paprika.
  • Mustard – Those who are allergic to mustard should exercise proper care when using it. It is said that mustard is prone to anaphylaxis in those who suffer an allergic reaction to it.
  • Anise – Although anise is not as commonly used in the home kitchen as the other previously mentioned spices, it is widely used as a flavoring for specialty candies, pastries and drinks. It is also a common ingredient in health and beauty products such as shampoos.
  • Fennel – Fennel is a flavoring commonly found in food dyes. Like anise, it can also be found in household products like soaps, toothpastes and air fresheners.
  • Turmeric – Our wonder food is of no exception. Allergic reactions to turmeric may include dermatitis and hives.

As with any food allergies, reactions to spice can be manifested in a number of symptoms: from hives and rashes, swelling of the throat and asthma, vomiting and diarrhea, to unconsciousness and even death. These are just some of the most commonly known symptoms, and certain spices may cause other mild or severe reactions. It is best to evade any spice that causes a negative effect on you.

The all my foodfacts app can help you manage your allergies by letting you log the types of foods that you are allergic to. You can even key in specific ingredients to see whether or not certain food products are safe for you to consume.

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Get the app:

iTunes – http://apple.co/1QE8Gb6

Amazon – http://amzn.to/1Imr3ie

Google Play - http://bit.ly/1QYN0kM

Recipe: Turmeric tonic

FullSizeRenderSpring allergies? Foodfacts.com has a wellness shot to help you combat the sneezes: turmeric tonic!  This trendy superfood contains a decongestant compound, and acts as anti-histamine. It also has analgesic and anti-bacterial properties, which means, it is great in treating allergies!

Time: Less than 15 minutes

Serving: 2

Ingredients

  •  2 cups coconut water
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 inch fresh ginger root
  • 1 lemon
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons honey

Directions

  1. Place coconut water, turmeric and ginger root in a blender, until ginger is finely shredded.
  2. Strain the liquid through a fine mesh sieve into a jar.
  3. Add lemon juice, sea salt and honey.

 

Disclaimer: Consult your doctor before using turmeric for allergy treatment. Ask about dosage and time intervals for ingestion appropriate for your health condition. 

 

Turmeric, the golden spice

indian-spices-829198In the beginning of the year, McCormick released its Flavor Forecast report for the top foods in 2016, and there is nothing that pleases us at Foodfacts.com more than to see healthy foods getting much-deserved attention. Thanks to the growing organic food movement, not only did healthy, functional superfoods made the list, they dominated it! Among the superfoods predicted to be popular this year is turmeric. Nearly halfway through the year, physical grocery stores and online food merchants, like GrubHub, have seen an increase in sales of turmeric and turmeric-based products.

What exactly is turmeric?

Turmeric, aptly called the golden spice, is that thing on the spices shelf with the yellow-orange hue. It is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that comes from the curcuma longa or curcuma domestica plant, which is native to South Asia. Turmeric is generally used in the region for cooking and formerly as a fabric dye, but most importantly, has been widely used for centuries to treat a myriad of illnesses.

The basic nutritional aspects of turmeric include a 26% daily value in manganese and 16% in iron. It is also a great source of fiber, vitamin B6, potassium, and healthy amounts of vitamin C and magnesium. The ideal serving to get all those nutritional aspects is an ounce, but it would be impossible for a person to ingest that kind of amount in one seating. The good thing is that incorporating even just a tablespoon in your meal already allows you to reap the benefits of this wonder spice!

Health benefits

Purported to cure everything from depression to cancer, turmeric offers plenty of benefits. Aside from the nutritional value mentioned above, a study on turmeric and curcumin (turmeric powder is 3.14% curcumin) reveals that curcumin have antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal and immune modulating activities.

Among the health benefits of turmeric include pain relief, reducing gas and bloating, an improved ability to digest fats, and improved skin conditions from psoriasis to acne. In addition, turmeric reportedly also has artery-clearing effects that decreases congestion, and can reduce levels of bad cholesterol within weeks of use. Other reports, though further studies are required, say that turmeric is also good for improved eye health.

Search our website for the highest graded turmeric-based products!

The organic food movement

MarketSuperstore Whole Foods may have had to answer to some controversies in the recent years, but their multi-billion increase in sales in the second quarter indicates that the company continues to thrive. As a matter of fact, Whole Foods is slated to open more stores in 2016, and to introduce 365 by Whole Foods. The 365 by Whole Foods brand will cater to the same market, but will sell most organic products at cheaper prices.

Foodfacts.com is pleased to say that the success of Whole Foods is attributed to the growing mindfulness of the public on the importance and benefits of healthy eating. Rainbow-colored bagels and vibrant vodka+grenadine aquarium bowls may be popular in the United States (and on social media), but there is no denying that the country has also seen an undeniably significant surge in the demand for healthy food.

American consumers seem to have developed both a general awareness on nutrition as well as an appetite for organic food that cannot be sated. Proprietors have no choice but to give in to the demand. Last year, TechSci Research reported that over 20,000 food stores across the U.S., and 3 out of 4 grocery stores have sections specifically dedicated to organic products. That number is only expected to grow even more in the coming years.

Organic products are no longer limited to traditional sources. The market has ballooned up so drastically that there has spawned a number of start-ups in the sector. Despite the hurdles that small, new companies face when competing with large corporations like Whole Foods, high consumer demand has propelled them to success. One such success story is Los Angeles-based, online retailer, Thrive Market. The start-up sells specialty organic foods and beauty products. Within 17 months of its launch, it has already seen $10 million in sales. There are new organic products businesses that come up by the day, and venture capitalists and angel investors sure have their eyes set to seal deals to back them.

The food industry has always been an industry that is continuously evolving. Right now, there is an undisputable organic food movement in existence.

Healthy meals to prepare for Mother’s Day

Mom’s cooking is the best, alright, but this Mother’s Day, give your favorite resident chef a break! Spoil mom with these delicious and healthy meals to show her how much you love and appreciate her.

Whether you’re making breakfast, lunch, dinner or even a little snack for mom, Foodfacts.com has got you covered!

Breakfast: Organic buttermilk blueberry pancakes

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Wake mom up with the smell of freshly-cooked pancakes delivered to her bed. These organic buttermilk blueberry pancakes are sure to get her ready to start the day!

Get the recipe: Buttermilk blueberry pancakes

Foodfacts.com recommended ingredient: Maple Grove Farms of Vermont Organic Buttermilk Pancake & Waffle Mixes

Lunch: Grilled pork chops and peaches

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This seared-on-the-grill, caramelized, charred pork chops-and-peaches combo is guaranteed to be a hit! Add in some kale, and you’ve got the perfect lunch!

Get the recipe: Grilled pork chops and peaches

Foodfacts.com recommended ingredient: Kikkoman Less Sodium Soy Sauce

Dinner: Sun-dried tomato and feta stuffed artichokes

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End the day with this light, scrumptious and nutritious dinner. The burst of flavors these tasty sun-dried tomatoes and tangy feta cheese stuffed in hearty artichokes is sure to be a party in her mouth!

Get the recipe: Sun-Dried Tomato & Feta Stuffed Artichokes

Foodfacts.com recommended ingredient: Wegmans Traditional, Feta Cheese in Brine, Fat Free

Dessert: Chickpea Cookie Dough

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Of course, mom gets to have some dessert. Treat mom with these sweets, minus the guilt!

Bonus: It makes for a great opportunity for quality time to make them together with mom, too!

Get the recipe: Chickpea Cookie Dough

Foodfacts.com recommended ingredient: Nature’s Agave Premium Raw Agave Nectar

 

Note: Though some of these meals require some level of kitchen experience, don’t worry about messing them up. It’s practically impossible for mom to get disappointed at any gesture on Mother’s Day. You could get all the recipes all wrong, but she’ll still love them anyway — and you even more!

The ugly truth about the correlation of race, income and diabetes in U.S. communities

Farmer's marketThe steadily rapid increase of the number of people with diabetes in the United States is, needless to say, alarming. About 30 million Americans are now confirmed with the disease, and about 95 percent of them suffer from type 2 diabetes. Many of these cases have resulted to devastating consequences. Severe ones, which are poorly managed and/or left untreated have led to kidney damage, limb amputations and even death. In the last six years, diabetes is cited as among the top 10 causes of fatality in the United States.

Type 2 is the food-related form of diabetes, generally caused by diets that are high in sugar, sodium and fat. Foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains lower the risk of this form of the disease. Unfortunately, proper, nutritious foods are not always accessible for all, thus making individuals and families in certain communities more susceptible to type 2 diabetes. More often than not, issues on access to healthy foods involve proximity and affordability.

Diabetes is, undoubtedly, a concern for the entire U.S. population. However, staggering reports show that low income, African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans are twice as likely to be diabetic than the affluent, whites. It is important to note that there are other factors that contribute to this disparity, including barriers to proper health care, which essentially gets the members of these communities diagnosed and treated – scarcity of local clinics, transportation to medical facilities, lack of insurance and the ability to afford medication.

The Union of Concerned Scientists recently conducted a study that shows the correlation between diabetes, and race and income that centers on the physical accessibility to healthy foods. The researchers used public data on food access, demographics and ultimately, health outcomes.

The study conclusively reports that diabetes and food access are directly correlated. Counties with populations consisting of lower income people of color lower are significantly more at risk of the disease than higher income communities, due to fewer food retailers that offer healthy options and more fast foods and convenience stores in their proximity.

foodfacts.com founder, Stanley Rak, started The Rak Foundation for Nutritional Awareness to bring attention to issues just like this that are impacting low-income communities. See how you can help here.

Find some helpful information on ways you can reduce your risk of diabetes here

Easy, healthy guacamole for your Cinco De Mayo shindig

guac-386796No Mexican shenanigan is complete without a bowl of good old guac! For your Cinco De Mayo celebration, whip up this Foodfacts.com-approved, easy-peasy guacamole recipe from New York’s Dos Caminos’ executive chef, Ivy Stark.

Time: 15 minutes

Serving: 8

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro leaves, divided
  • 4 teaspoons finely chopped onions, divided
  • 4 teaspoons minced jalapeno peppers, divided (tip: remove seeds and membrane)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher sea salt
  • 4 large avocados
  • 4 tablespoons cored, seeded, and finely chopped plum tomatoes
  • 4 teaspoons lime juice

Directions

  1. Mash 2 tablespoons cilantro, 2 teaspoons of onion, 2 teaspoons jalapeno, and kosher salt together against the bottom of a large bowl with the back of a spoon.
  2. Add avocados.
  3. Fold in remaining cilantro, onion and jalapeno.
  4. Stir in tomatoes and lime juice. Add seasonings to your taste and/or if necessary.

Ivy’s pro tip: for a twist, gently mash avocados with a fork, instead of using a food processor, until chunky-smooth.

Top this Mexican party staple with an additional dash of kosher sea salt before serving, and you are good to go!

A new school of thought: treating food allergies with food

Peanut Allergies 2Food allergies are frightening – not only for the children and adults who those allergies affect, but for the caregivers of those people, as well. FoodFacts.com continually hears stories from our community describing the life-threatening effects of food allergies on their loved ones. No matter how vigilant a person with food allergies ever is and no matter how vigilant the parent of a child with food allergies ever is … they will, to a certain extent, always be in the position of having to monitor the world around them. And that world isn’t always as allergy friendly as friends and family.   There’s a new school of thought for prevention and treatment.  Treating food allergies with food.

One bite can be enough to cause symptoms such as itching, vomiting, diarrhea, or a tightening of the throat — the tell-tale signs of an allergy.

Food allergies have been on the rise in recent years and are currently estimated to affect up to eight percent of children worldwide, according to the World Allergy Organization.

Numbers are greatest in industrialized countries. In the U.S. alone, 4 million children reportedly suffered from food allergies in 2014.

Now, researchers at Kings College London are investigating a way to prevent food allergies — using food.

Until now, the common advice given to those suffering from allergies has been simply to steer clear of their dreaded food item.

“For decades we have been focusing on avoidance and that didn’t seem to work,” says Gideon Lack, Professor of Pediatric allergy at Kings College London.

Lack believes avoidance may in fact have fueled the problem.

“Active avoidance of food allergens in baby’s diets did not protect them from developing food allergies, and may even have contributed to the large increase we’ve seen,” says Lack.

With his patients, Lack has seen the frustrations of both parents and children living with food allergies over the years and has now set his sights on curing, rather than managing the condition.

In previous studies, Lack worked with other experts in the field to investigate the impact of feeding peanuts to children at higher risk of allergies. The studies were part of the Learning Early About Peanut Allergy (LEAP) trial and found that feeding six grams of peanut protein to children from 4 months of age led to significant reductions in the rates of peanut allergy.

The theory behind this is that exposure enables a child’s immune system to learn to recognize, and tolerate, the allergens rather than react to them, as it does with other organs and cells in the body.

Lack’s most recent study set the bar even higher and investigated the potential to use food to prevent multiple allergies at once, as part of the Enquiring About Tolerance (EAT) study. Infants from the general population were exposed early to six common food allergens– peanuts, eggs, milk, fish, wheat and sesame. The first three are estimated to account for 80% of all food allergies seen in the USA.

The study recruited more than 1300 infants aged 3 months old, half of whom were given up to 4 grams of each of the six food proteins, weekly.

Overall, the team found a 20 percent reduction in the rates of food allergy among infants exposed to the food allergens, which was not significant enough to suggest that the introduction alone was responsible, but did show that providing the food at an early age could be done safely.

Lack later discovered that many infants in the trial had not been consuming the required amounts of proteins — only 34 percent adhered to the regimen properly, according to Lack.

Among the group that did follow their instructions, significant reductions were seen including a 100 percent protection against peanuts allergy and a 75 percent reduction against egg allergy, according to Lack.

“The effects were greatest for peanut and egg, [but for the others] there wasn’t a high enough rate to make a proper comparison,” says Lack.

For now, the team do not recommend using the approach outside of a supervised trial, and advise parents to continue World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations in terms of food provision to infants, such as breast feeding, until further evidence is available.

The smaller, insignificant, impact seen in the study population as a whole highlights a key issue when recommending this strategy as an approach to allergy prevention — the likelihood of people following instructions adequately.
“Only one third of families actually complied with the protocol,” says allergy expert Hugh Sampson, Director of the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at Mount Sinai.
“[This] reflects what will happen if this becomes a general policy,” he says.

The underlying science has been proven and will now need further research to understand the realistic quantities than can be used, and followed, to prevent future allergies.

Sampson’s team at Mount Sinai are investigating the feeding approach as well, but focusing on peanut, milk and egg as their targets and only among high-risk groups.

“You can design all kinds of treatment, but if people don’t follow them it won’t work,” says Sampson.

Experts in the field are now working to refine the treatment and discover its true potential.

“It could be beneficial for everybody, but we don’t have the evidence for that,” says Sampson.

While this would be a wonderful and natural approach to food allergies, FoodFacts.com can see this being potentially frightening to parents and patients alike. As the article pointed out even the best treatments won’t work unless people embrace them. We’ll be following this research to see what can be further understood about this treatment and its potential benefits for food allergy sufferers.

http://www.cnn.com/2016/04/07/health/feeding-to-prevent-food-allergy/index.html

Let’s say thank you to Vermont … the small state causing big changes in food labeling for GMOs

GMO LABEL EXAMPLEVermont is the small state that roared – at least when it comes to transparency in the use of GMO ingredients in our food supply. FoodFacts.com is sure that most in our community recall that Vermont passed a law requiring food manufacturers to begin labeling GMO ingredients on food packaging by July 1st of 2016. One small state passed one big law.  And now, Vermont is the small state causing big changes in food labeling for GMOs.

Vermont started a trend. You’ll soon know whether many of the packaged foods you buy contain ingredients derived from genetically modified plants, such as soybeans and corn.
Over the past week or so, big companies including General Mills, Mars and Kellogg have announced plans to label such products – even though they still don’t think it’s a good idea.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association has fought back against Vermont’s law, both in court and in Congress, but so far it’s been unsuccessful.
Last week, Congress failed to pass an industry-supported measure that would have created a voluntary national standard for labeling — and also would have preempted Vermont’s law. Which means for now, food industry giants still face a July 1 deadline to comply with the state’s labeling mandate. And since food companies can’t create different packaging just for Vermont, it appears that the tiniest of states has created a labeling standard that will go into effect nationwide.

This statement, from General Mills’ Jeff Harmening, sums it up: “Vermont state law requires us to start labeling certain grocery store food packages that contain GMO ingredients or face significant fines,” Harmening wrote on the General Mills blogs. “We can’t label our products for only one state without significantly driving up costs for our consumers and we simply will not do that,” explains Harmening.

So, as a result: “Consumers all over the U.S. will soon begin seeing words legislated by the state of Vermont on the labels of many of their favorite General Mills products,” he concludes.
Chocolate giant Mars struck a similar tone in its announcement: “To comply with [the Vermont] law, Mars is introducing clear, on-pack labeling on our products that contain GM ingredients nationwide,” the company statement says.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not require such labels the agency has determined that the nutritional quality and safety of GMO ingredients, such as corn starch or soybean oil, are no different from the same ingredients derived from conventional crops.

According to Mars, “we firmly believe GM ingredients are safe.” But consumer expectations are changing. “We aim to deliver products that match the different tastes, preferences and perceptions of consumers,” the Mars statement says.

According to a 2015 poll, two-thirds of Americans support labeling of foods that contain genetically modified ingredients.

“Consumers are pushing for more transparency,” stated food industry analyst Jack Russo. Earlier this year, the Campbell Soup Co. acknowledged this when it became the first major food company to switch its position and come out in support of mandatory GMO labels.

The food industry overall is still hoping that the federal government will step in.

“We continue to strongly urge Congress to pass a uniform, federal solution for the labeling of GMOs to avoid a confusing patchwork of state-by-state rules,” wrote Paul Norman, president of Kellogg North America in an emailed statement.

But it’s clear that companies can no longer wait for this federal action. “The horse [is] out the barn,” says attorney David Wallace, of the firm Herbert Smith Freehills, who specializes in food issues. Companies are already preparing new labels to begin hitting store shelves in a few weeks.

“Companies had no choice. … They’ve been making plans for this. They had to,” explains Wallace.

As a result, both sides in the debate over GMO labeling now will learn the answer to a question that many have posed over the past 20 years: How will consumers react to a label that says “produced with genetic engineering?”

Food companies have argued that such a label will scare consumers away, because they’ll see it – incorrectly – as a warning. If it has that effect, companies will react by removing genetically modified ingredients from their products. In fact, food companies see the labeling campaign as a veiled attempt to drive genetically engineered crops out of agriculture.

Privately, however, many companies are hoping that consumers will disregard those labels and continue to buy the same products as always. Consumers who are motivated to avoid GMOs may be doing that already, by buying organic or non-GMO products.

Thanks, Vermont for the impressive movement we’re seeing from food manufacturers to save money by changing all of their labeling because you stuck to your guns and insisted on transparency for GMO ingredients in your own state.

http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/03/27/471759643/how-little-vermont-got-big-food-companies-to-label-gmos

Earlier exposure to peanuts may help decrease peanut allergies

Peanut Allergies 2If you have children, you know that there are certain foods you’re advised to hold off on introducing until after infancy. Foods like eggs and peanuts that so many are allergic to are great examples of this. Now a new study is illustrating that earlier exposure to peanuts may help decrease peanut allergies in children.

Peanut allergies are frightening for parents and can be deadly to the children they affect. Reactions can be as mild as a minor outbreak of hives to anaphylaxis and even death. Peanut allergies are not easy to manage for parents, schools or the children those allergies affect.

The concern is real. Between 1997 and 2008, the incidence of peanut and tree nut allergies nearly tripled, according to one published study.

Now, there’s a growing consensus about how to prevent peanut allergies in kids who are at high risk. This includes children with a strong family history of food allergies and those with eczema.

Last year, a landmark study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that high-risk babies who were fed a soupy, peanut-butter mush (starting between 4 and 11 months of age) were about 80 percent less likely to develop a peanut allergy by age 5, compared with kids who were not exposed.

“Giving peanuts very early on actually protected them from developing a peanut allergy,” says Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Previously, parents of high-risk kids had been advised to delay the introduction of peanuts.

Now, a new follow-up study involving the same group of children adds to the evidence that, contrary to previous advice, early exposure can be beneficial.

Researchers followed the kids for one additional year. The kids were between 5 and 6 years old during this follow-up period. It turned out, these high-risk kids’ tolerance to peanuts held up even if they stopped eating peanuts.

“A 12-month period of peanut avoidance was not associated with an increase in the prevalence of peanut allergy,” the authors write in the paper.

This is an important finding, because it wasn’t known whether the kids would need to maintain regular weekly consumption of peanuts in order to stave off developing an allergy.

“This new study is great because … it looks like the benefit [of early exposure] is essentially permanent,” says Scott Sicherer, a pediatric immunologist and allergy specialist at Mount Sinai Hospital. Immunologists will continue to study this.

Sicherer has helped develop new interim guidance based on the emerging evidence of the benefits of early, rather than delayed, introduction of peanut.

“There is now scientific evidence that health care providers should recommend introducing peanut-containing products into the diets of “high-risk” infants early on in life (between 4 and 11 months of age),” the consensus guidance states.

But that doesn’t mean all parents should just rush in with the peanut mush. The guidance recommends that “infants with eczema or egg allergy in the first 4 to 6 months of life might benefit from evaluation by an allergist” — before they’re introduced to peanut-based foods.

The evidence from the two studies together represents an important step forward in immunology, says Anthony Fauci. “It’s a very important proof of concept,” Fauci says.

And he says it’s possible that early exposure will turn out to be a successful strategy to prevent other allergies as well.

FoodFacts.com is happy to see research helpful in the development of strategies to reduce the instances of peanut allergies in our children. Peanut and tree nut allergies affect the lives of children in ways people unaffected may not realize because there may always be an incident hiding somewhere … a movie theater, a children’s party, the school lunchroom. While early exposure may sound frightening to some, increasing evidence points to this as a great possibility for reducing the incidents of childhood peanut allergies.

http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/03/04/469237111/peanut-mush-in-infancy-cuts-allergy-risk-new-study-adds-to-evidence