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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Mystery Stomaches

My six year old has mysterious stomachaches. I hear the same concern echoed by her peers’ parents. After eating certain foods my daughter will have flushed cheeks,

sweaty brow, rapid heartbeat, and sometimes vomiting. I have friends who have carted their grade schoolers to the gastrointestinologist to cure what troubles these little buddies, but to no avail. The specialist often chalks it up to “stressful living” or some other vague diagnosis.

My quest begins…so of course I’m aware of the main food allergies being nuts, corn, wheat, dairy, and soy, and since my daughter was allergic to cow’s milk protein when she was younger, this is where I started. After cutting out dairy for a few days it didn’t seem to make much of a difference. We have, however, switched to organic milk after some research I happened upon {from Journal of the National Cancer Institute}. I’ll tell you why:

Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH) is a replica hormone used by dairy farmers to enhance milk output. It is relatively new on the scene, introduced in 1994. Because of the increased milk supply, the cows are more prone to developing mastitis and in need of antibiotics. Both of these synthetics have been linked to a host of health issues including, but not limited to allergic reactions, early menses, and certain types of cancers. I’ve changed my outlook at the grocery store, what once appeared to be astronomical milk prices now looks to me like a very inexpensive health care plan.

More informed, but mystery stomachache still not resolved. I began to notice her reactions were only after we ate out or she ate school lunch. Immediately I pulled back the reigns on fast food and that unfortunately INCLUDES school lunch. I also omitted frozen convenience foods in this category. This required minor adjustments in our family. It was a retraining of my brain on what to prepare and a broadening of perspective on what is “convenient”. {ie: It may take four extra minutes to make a pb&j, but I don’t spend 45 minutes cleaning up puke and hearing a very uncomfortable daughter complain. Time gained, not lost.} As far as restaurants go she can order the grilled chicken and vegetables at most restaurants serving high quality food, but unfortunately she can NOT find anything that will stay settled at Mexican food restaurants (super disappointing).

While I haven’t pin pointed exactly what causes her reaction, I have narrowed it down to something synthetic in highly processed or enhanced foods. I’m narrowing my focus to preservatives and mono sodium glutamate. So I end this post with “to be continued”… I will pinpoint “it” and will gladly report back to you as soon as I do. If any of you have suffered similar symptoms and/or have found success I would love to hear from you as well. Please, however, do not take my word for “it”. If you have problems of your own I encourage you to do your own research, and by all means feel the way you feel about synthetics and bio-engineered food. I’m not here to persuade you, but I personally subscribe to a philosophy of food consumed in it’s most natural state is appreciated and utilized best by the body.


grey said...

It's a wonder more of us are not experiencing stomach issues with everything that's in our food. I personally cut out dairy entirely, have removed all processed foods from the family diet (more work in the kitchen, yay!) and am grinding my own wheat and baking our bread. My husband and I feel remarkably better than we have since we were kids.

Your daughter's problem can be any number of things. Many many foods are Genetically Modified anymore. That could be one cause. Some people are gluten intolerant, I'm hearing more and more issues with that (probably GM related, IMHO. MSG hides under many labels, including "flavor" on things like fruit juice. High Fructose Corn Syrup is linked to another myriad of problems... Most all vegetables and fruits have been irradiated (including Almonds, now) - meaning all the good AND bad bacteria has been killed - we need the good bacteria, and our bodies need practice at building immunities to bad bacterias - our hyper-antibateria neurosis (produce is irradiated just to keep it looking good on the shelf longer) is what has caused more allergic reactions and possibly autoimmune disorders. Yet all these foods and practices are considered OK by the FDA.

I know you'll find the cause of your daughter's problems - best wishes on your quest.

Anonymous said...

I have had mystery stomach aches (including the flushing and nausea) all my life, and I'm 31 now. I grew up eating only organic produce from our own garden, only pastured beef and free range chickens, and milk straight from the cow down the road. I have not changed my diet very much, buying organic milk and meats and veggies.
I saw a sign in the pediatrician's office not too long ago that said Texas Children's is conducting a study on children with these mystery stomach aches. It might be worth checking out. I wish I could enroll myself as I have found no relief. I'm interested to see what you discover.

Sarah said...

thank you guys. corn syrup is suspect, and other than that i feel confident it's a genetically modified situation or preservative reaction.

thank you for the children's hospital research idea, i'll have to look into that.

take care,

Vanessa Peters said...

hi love, good luck with this. i totally feel for you guys. i have had a skin allergy on my mouth for almost three years and no one can find the cause! they just keep tell me to use more cortisone... right, great solution. :) love you!!

BlazeCreekHaney said...

My youngest has a severe red dye allergy, we avoid all reds and colors that contain red. She cannot even hold a crayon with red in it. We discovered this while on vacation and she took a bite of pink cotton candy and cried spitting it out, it gave her blisters on her mouth, lips, hives, watery eyes and overall discomfort. I have read it can cause stomach aches as well as the allergy symptoms, Savanna is 3 now and copes well and knows to ask and avoid any color with red. Sahara is 5 and she is allergic to MSG as is my husband. Oddly even chicken soup can contain MSG! Twinkies that have no red contain red #40! I ahve read reports of children being taken off red dyes (some parents write about yellow as well being harmful to their kids) and that their childs ADD type symptoms were relieved to better once dyes were removed. We are going to try and avoid all the dyes we can as we are beginning to seem them all as unnecessary and unhealthy! I am new to your blog, love it and we have our city house on the market now to move to land to make our family more sustainable, healthy and get back to some old ways! We are internet savy, flat screen types but very frugal as well so it will be a fun ride!