Digestion Difficulties in Today’s World
Hard to Digest
By Sudha Hamilton
Published in WellBeing Magazine
Food allergies and intolerances in children have become the topic du jour in parenting circles and among health professionals. Whether the increase in interest is merely a raising of awareness or the true cause of the intolerances and allergies is the preservatives, chemicals and additives found in foods separates the experts. There has also been speculation that a generally more chemical rich environment can add to susceptibility to allergies in food, with so much pressure on our immune system, it is hardly surprising that allergies are affecting children’s immature immune and digestive systems much more than in the past.
Eating organically can reduce the stress on children’s immune system, by removing the stress of unnecessary chemicals, pesticides, phosphates in the fertilisers, not to mention the practice of picking the produce unripe, not allowing the important nutrients to fully develop, providing vital nutrition for growing immune and digestive systems.
Allergies and intolerances have a different physiological base and vary in severity and implication for the child’s health. An intolerance is an unpleasant reaction to food, such as runny nose after a hot curry or a particularly antisocial aftermath to a bean casserole, some intolerances are more severe and symptoms may include bloating,
An allergy on the other hand is a function of the mast cells which are found underneath the lining of the skin, gut, lungs, nose and eyes. These cells are our protective force against worms and parasites. In allergic people, these cells react to the allergen when it presents itself. “Mast cells are like “land-mines”, and contain “bags” filled with irritant chemicals including histamine. Mast cells are armed with proteins called IgE antibodies, which act as remote sensors in the local environment”
A person allergic to peanut, for example, will have IgE antibodies capable of recognizing the shape of peanut protein (the allergen), in much the same way that a lock “recognizes” the shape of a key. When this happens, mast cells are triggered to dump their contents (such as histamine) into the tissues, causing an allergic reaction.