Food allergy diagnosis by oral food challenge is safe, says study

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A new study concludes that medical procedures known as oral food challenges, which are used in clinics to test people for food allergies, are very safe and rarely cause severe reactions. A report on the study, led by researchers from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX, and Texas Children’s Hospital, also in Houston, is published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Lead author Dr. Kwei Akuete, a practicing allergist and member of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), says, “Oral food challenges are a very important tool for anyone who wants to know if they have a food allergy.” Food allergy is a serious medical condition that arises when the body’s immune system reacts to a harmless food protein, or allergen, as if it were a disease-causing germ.

The reaction is often unpredictable and ranges in severity from person to person, as well as over time in the same person. It can range from minor abdominal pain or hives on the skin to a severe and potentially fatal condition called anaphylaxis, accompanied by low blood pressure and loss of consciousness. Up to 15 million people in the United States are affected by food allergy. Research also suggests that food allergies affect around 4 percent of children and adolescents in the U.S., where prevalence among children went up by 18 percent between 1997 and 2007.

Oral food challenge

As yet, there is no cure for food allergy, so the only way to prevent reactions is to avoid the foods that cause them. In the U.S., 90 percent of severe allergic reactions are caused by eight food groups: crustacean shellfish, eggs, fish, milk, peanuts, soy, tree nuts, and wheat. Food allergy is not the same as food intolerance, and its symptoms can be mistaken for other medical conditions. It is therefore important that any diagnosis is confirmed by a qualified allergist who can then advise a food plan that is tailored to the patient’s specific allergies.

The new study concerns a type of noninvasive medical procedure called the oral food challenge (OFC), or feeding test. During an OFC, a board-certified allergist invites the patient to eat increasing amounts of a food very slowly and monitors them very closely for any reaction. OFCs are usually performed because other allergy tests, such as blood and skin tests, together with a careful medical history, have been inconclusive. OFCs are performed in two modes: open and blinded. In open OFCs, (more common in clinical practice) both the patient and the administrator know which food is being tested. Blinded OFCs are more common in research.

OFCs found to be safe

For their study, Dr. Akuete et al. investigated the results of 6,327 open OFCs that were carried out between 2008 and 2013 in five food allergy centers across the U.S. The majority of the OFCs were carried out in patients under the age of 18. They used a statistical method called meta-analysis to pool and analyze the data, and to determine rates of food allergy reactions and anaphylaxis. The results showed that only 14 percent of the patients that had OFCs experienced any reaction, and only about 2 percent experienced anaphylaxis.

The reactions that were not anaphylaxis only occurred on one part of the body, for example, hives on the skin. These were classed as mild to moderate reactions, and most of them were treated with antihistamines. Of the more severe reactions, the authors note, “19 OFCs resulted in patients being placed in hospital observation, and 63 were treated with epinephrine.

OFCs ‘improve quality of life’

“Food challenges improve the quality of life for people with food allergies, even if they are positive,” says senior study author Dr. Carla Davis, who is also a practicing allergist and ACAAI member. Dr. Davis explains the importance of having the test sooner rather than later, saying, “When an OFC is delayed, sometimes people unnecessarily cut certain foods out of their diet, and this has been shown to lead to increases in health costs to the patient. A delay risks problems with nutrition, especially for children.” It is important to seek an accurate diagnosis so that a clear recommendation can be made about which foods to avoid, she adds.

Adapted from:

Nutrition Tip of the Day

Pick plants! Protein derived from plant sources such as seeds, nuts, tofu and tempeh, as well as grains, can help lower cholesterol, improve your heart health and add a satiating blend of flavors to extend Meatless Monday to the rest of the week.

Daily Inspiration 

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And for one more gobble day!

 

 

How Much Protein Should You Eat Per Day?

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Protein is incredibly important. If we do not get enough from our diet, our health and body composition suffers. However, there are vastly different opinions on how much protein we actually need. Most official nutrition organizations recommend a fairly modest protein intake. The DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound.

This amounts to:

  • 56 grams per day for the average sedentary man.
  • 46 grams per day for the average sedentary woman.

Although this meager amount may be enough to prevent downright deficiency, studies show that it is far from sufficient to ensure optimal health and body composition. It turns out that the “right” amount of protein for any one individual depends on many factors… including activity levels, age, muscle mass, physique goals and current state of health. So, what amount of protein is optimal and how do lifestyle factors, such as weight loss, muscle building and activity levels factor in? Let’s find out…

Protein – What Is It and Why Do We Care?

Proteins are the main building blocks of the body. They are used to make muscles, tendons, organs and skin, as well as enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters and various tiny molecules that serve important functions. Without protein, life as we know it would not be possible.

Proteins are made out of smaller molecules called amino acids, which are linked together similar to beads on a string. The linked amino acids form long protein chains, which are then folded into complex shapes. Some of these amino acids can be produced by the body; however, others must come from the diet. The ones we can not produce and must get from our foods are called the “essential” amino acids.

Protein is not just about quantity but also about quality. Generally speaking, animal protein provides all the essential amino acids in the right ratio for us to make full use of them (only makes sense, since animal tissues are similar to our own tissues). If you’re eating animal products ( meat, fish, eggs, or dairy) every day, then you’re probably already doing pretty well, protein-wise. If you do not eat animal foods, then it is a bit more challenging to get all the protein and essential amino acids that your body needs. Most people do not really need protein supplements, but they can be useful for athletes and bodybuilders.

BOTTOM LINE: Protein is a structural molecule assembled out of amino acids, many of which the body cannot produce on its own. Animal foods are usually high in protein, with all the essential amino acids that we need.

Protein Can Help You Lose Weight (and Prevent You From Gaining it in The First Place)

Protein is incredibly important when it comes to losing weight. As we know, to lose weight, we need to take in fewer calories than we burn. Eating protein can help with that, by boosting your metabolic rate (calories out) and reducing your appetite (calories in). This is well supported by science.

Protein at around 25-30% of calories has been shown to boost metabolism by up to 80 to 100 calories per day, compared to lower protein diets. However probably the most important contribution of protein to weight loss, is its ability to reduce appetite and cause a spontaneous reduction in calorie intake. Protein is much more satiating than both fat and carbs. In a study in obese men, protein at 25% of calories increased feelings of fullness, reduced the desire for late-night snacking by half and reduced obsessive thoughts about food by 60%.

In another study, women who increased protein intake to 30% of calories ended up eating 441 fewer calories per day. They also lost 11 pounds in 12 weeks, just by adding more protein to their diet. However,  protein doesn’t just help you lose, it can also help prevent you from gaining weight in the first place.

In one study, just a modest increase in protein from 15% of calories to 18% of calories reduced the amount of fat people regained after weight loss by 50%. A high protein intake also helps to build and preserve muscle mass, which burns a small amount of calories around the clock. By eating more protein, you will make it much easier to stick to whichever weight loss diet (be it high-carb, low-carb or something in between) you choose to follow.

According to these studies, a protein intake around 30% of calories may be optimal for weight loss. This amounts to 150 grams per day for someone on a 2000 calorie diet. You can calculate it by multiplying your calorie intake by 0.075.

More Protein Can Help You Gain Muscle and Strength

Muscles are made largely of protein. As with most tissues in the body, muscles are dynamic and are constantly being broken down and rebuilt. To gain muscle, the body must be synthesizing more muscle protein than it is breaking down. In other words, there needs to be a net positive protein balance (often called nitrogen balance, because protein is high in nitrogen) in the body. For this reason, people who want a lot of muscle will need to eat a greater amount of protein (and lift heavy things, of course!!!).

It is well documented that a higher protein intake helps build muscle and strength. Also, people who want to hold on to muscle that they’ve already built may need to increase their protein intake when losing body fat, because a high protein intake can help prevent the muscle loss that usually occurs with dieting. When it comes to muscle mass, the studies are usually not looking at percentage of calories, but daily grams of protein per unit of body weight (kilograms or pounds). A common recommendation for gaining muscle is 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, or 2.2 grams of protein per kg. Numerous studies have tried to determine the optimal amount of protein for muscle gain and many of them have reached different conclusions.

Some studies show that over 0.8 grams per pound has no benefit, while others show that intakes slightly higher than 1 gram of protein per pound is best. Although it is hard to give exact figures because of conflicting results in studies, 0.7-1 grams (give or take) per pound of body weight seems to be a reasonable estimate. If you’re carrying a lot of body fat, then it is a good idea to use either your lean mass or your goal weight, instead of total body weight, because it’s mostly your lean mass that determines the amount of protein you need.

BOTTOM LINEIt is important to eat enough protein if you want to gain and/or maintain muscle. Most studies suggest that 0.7 – 1 grams per pound of lean mass (1.5 – 2.2 grams per kg) is sufficient.

Other Circumstances That Can Increase Protein Needs

Disregarding muscle mass and physique goals, people who are physically active do need more protein than people who are sedentary. If you have a physically demanding job, you walk a lot, run, swim or do any sort of exercise, then you need more protein. Endurance athletes also need quite a bit of protein, about 0.5 – 0.65 grams per pound, or 1.2 – 1.4 grams per kg.

Elderly people also need significantly more protein, up to 50% higher than the DRI, or about 0.45 to 0.6 grams per pound of bodyweight. This can help prevent osteoporosis and sarcopenia (reduction in muscle mass), both significant problems in the elderly. People who are recovering from injuries may also need more protein.

BOTTOM LINEProtein requirements are significantly increased in people who are physically active, as well as in elderly individuals and those who are recovering from injuries.

Does Protein Have any Negative Health Effects?

Protein has been unfairly blamed for a number of health problems. It has been said that a high protein diet can cause kidney damage and osteoporosis. However, none of this is supported by science.

Although protein restriction is helpful for people with pre-existing kidney problems, protein has never been shown to cause kidney damage in healthy people. In fact, a higher protein intake has been shown to lower blood pressure and help fight diabetes, which are two of the main risk factors for kidney disease. If protein really does have some detrimental effect on kidney function (which has never been proven), it is outweighed by the positive effects on these risk factors.

Protein has also been blamed for osteoporosis, which is strange because the studies actually show that protein can help prevent osteoporosis. Overall, there is no evidence that a reasonably high protein intake has any adverse effects in healthy people trying to stay healthy.

BOTTOM LINE: Protein does not have any negative effects on kidney function in healthy people and studies show that it leads to improved bone health.

How to Get Enough Protein in Your Diet

The best sources of protein are meats, fish, eggs and dairy products. They have all the essential amino acids that your body needs. Plant protein options include quinoa, legumes and nuts.

All of this being said, there really is not a need for most people to actually track their protein intake. If you’re just a healthy person trying to stay healthy, then simply eating quality protein with most of your meals (along with nutritious plant foods) should bring your intake into an optimal range.

What “Grams of Protein” Really Means

This is a very common misunderstanding. Grams of protein indicate the grams of the macronutrient protein, not grams of a protein containing food, such as meat or eggs. For example, an 8 ounce serving of beef weighs 226 grams, but it only contains 61 grams of actual protein. A large egg weighs 46 grams, but it only contains 6 grams of protein.

What About The Average Person?

If you’re at a healthy weight, you do not lift weights and you do not exercise much, then aiming for 0.36 to 0.6 grams per pound (or 0.8 to 1.3 gram per kg) is a reasonable estimate.

This amounts to:

  • 56-91 grams per day for the average male.
  • 46-75 grams per day for the average female.

Educate yourself on the current research regarding protein intake and your lifestyle! Are you eating enough? Or do you need less? Or do you need more? Be good to your body!

Adapted from:  Kris Gunnars, BSc Authority Nutrition 

Nutrition Tip of the Day

Make a move! Take the stairs, park a few blocks away or anything else you can do to take extra steps to get where you need to go.

Daily Inspiration 

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New research on probiotics in the prevention and treatment of colon cancer

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In an innovative approach to colorectal cancer (CRC) prevention and treatment, scientists are studying ways to replace missing metabolites in patients prone to gut inflammation and CRC. A new study in The American Journal of Pathology describes how administration of histamine-producing gut microbes to mice lacking the enzyme histidine decarboxylase (HDC) reduced inflammation and tumor formation. These results suggest that alteration of the gut microbiome with probiotics may become a new preventative or therapeutic strategy for patients at risk for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)-associated CRC.

“We are on the cusp of harnessing advances in microbiome science to facilitate diagnosis and treatment of human disease,” explained James Versalovic, MD, PhD, pathologist-in-chief at Texas Children’s Hospital, and Milton J. Finegold Professor of pathology & immunology at Baylor College of Medicine (Houston). “By simply introducing microbes that provide missing life substances, we can reduce the risk of cancer and supplement diet-based cancer prevention strategies.” Researchers conducted a series of experiments using mice that were deficient in HDC, the enzyme required to convert histidine to histamine. Experimental mice were orally administered the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri 6475, which is known to possess the histidine decarboxylase gene (hdc+) and is able to convert histidine to histamine; control animals received a placebo. The probiotic was administered both before and after the mice received a single dose of a colonic carcinogen (azoxymethane) plus an inflammation-inducing chemical (DSS) to induce tumor formation. Fifteen weeks later, the mice were sacrificed and the tissues removed for study.

The probiotic increased expression of bacterial HDC and amounts of histamine in the colons of the mice. Using positron emission tomography (PET) to visualize the tumors, control-treated mice showed evidence of tumors and increased glucose uptake in colon walls. In contrast, mice administered the probiotic had fewer and smaller tumors and significantly diminished areas of glucose uptake.

Inactive L. reuteri strains (those deficient in HDC activity) did not provide protective effects. These mice showed increased numbers of “hot spots” indicative of tumor formation and increased abdominal glucose uptake. However, the active probiotic reduced inflammation induced by the carcinogen plus DSS, as indicated by suppressed pro-inflammatory cytokine gene expression (i.e., those encoding KC, interleukin (IL)-22, IL-6, tumor necrosis factor (TNF), and IL-1?) and reduced cytokine concentrations in plasma (i.e., KC, IL-22, and IL-6). The active probiotic also counteracted an increase in immature myeloid cells induced by the carcinogen. According to Dr. Versalovic, “These observations are consistent with the conclusion that histamine-generating probiotic L. reuteri may attenuate AOM+DSS-induced colon carcinogenesis, at least in part, via enhanced maturation of circulating myeloid cells and concomitant reduction of pro-inflammatory cytokines.”

The role of histamine in human cancer is still unclear. However, when investigators analyzed data obtained from 2,113 CRC patient samples taken from 15 datasets, results showed better survival in patients with elevated patterns of HDC and histamine receptor gene expression. These findings indicate that histamine-generating probiotics, in the presence of sufficient protein (L-histidine) intake, may improve outcomes for patients with sporadic and IBD-associated CRC.

“Our results suggest a significant role for histamine in the suppression of chronic intestinal inflammation and colorectal tumorigenesis. We have also shown that cells, both microbial and mammalian, can share metabolites or chemical compounds that together promote human health and prevent disease,” said Dr. Versalovic.

 

Adapted from: Elsevier:  (2017, September 13). New research on probiotics in the prevention and treatment of colon cancer: Histamine-producing probiotic reduces inflammation and suppresses colon tumors in mice by supplying missing enzyme, according to report. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 12, 2017 from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/09/170913084437.htm

Nutrition Tip of the Day

Cut portions! If you think leaving just a little something on your plate won’t matter, think again. It will. Small amounts of uneaten food add up to calories that stay on the plate, not on you.

Daily Inspiration 

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Your stools reveal whether you can lose weight

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Something as simple as a feces sample reveals whether you can lose weight by following dietary recommendations characterized by a high content of fruit, vegetables, fibers and whole grains. This is a finding of a new study conducted at the Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. The bacteria we all have in our gut may play a decisive role in personalized nutrition and the development of obesity. This is shown by several studies that have delved into the significance of these bacteria.

“Human intestinal bacteria have been linked to the increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity, and scientists have started to investigate whether the intestinal bacteria can play a role in the treatment of overweight. But it is only now that we have a breakthrough demonstrating that certain bacterial species play a decisive role in weight regulation and weight loss” says Professor Arne Astrup, Head of the Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

The ratio between the two groups of intestinal bacteria is crucial

A relationship between two groups of intestinal bacteria is decisive for whether overweight people lose weight on a diet that follows the Danish national dietary recommendations and contains a lot of fruit, vegetables, fiber and whole grains. In the study 31 subjects ate the New Nordic Diet for 26 weeks and lost an average of 3.5 kg, whereas the 23 subjects eating an Average Danish Diet lost an average of 1.7 kg. Therefore, weight loss was on average 1.8 kilos greater in the subjects on the New Nordic Diet.

High proportion of Prevotella bacteria lead to weight loss

When the subjects were divided by their level of intestinal bacteria, it was found that people with a high proportion of Prevotellabacteria in relation to Bacteroides bacteria lost 3.5 kg more in 26 weeks when they ate a diet composed by the New Nordic Diet principles compared to those consuming an Average Danish Diet. Subjects with a low proportion of Prevotella bacteria in relation to Bacteroides did not lose any additional weight on the New Nordic Diet. Overall, approximately 50 percent of the population has a high proportion of Prevotella-bacteria in relation to Bacteroides-bacteria.

“The study shows that only about half of the population will lose weight if they eat in accordance with the Danish national dietary recommendations and eat more fruit, vegetables, fibers and whole grains. The other half of the population doesn’t seem to gain any benefit in weight from this change of diet,” says Assistant Professor Mads Fiil Hjorth at the Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports at the University of Copenhagen. He continues: “These people should focus on other diet and physical activity recommendations until a strategy that works especially well for them is identified.”

The researchers emphasize that they have already confirmed the results in two independent studies, so they are certain that these results are credible.

Personalized weight loss guidance

The results show that biomarkers, such as faecal samples, blood samples, or other samples from our body, which says something about our state of health, should play a far greater role in nutritional guidance. Simply because biomarkers allow us to adapt the guidance to the individual. “This is a major step forward in personalized nutritional guidance. Guidance based on this knowledge of intestinal bacteria will most likely be more effective than the “one size fits all” approach that often characterises dietary recommendations and dietary guidance,” says Assistant Professor Mads Fiil Hjorth.

Adapted from: Faculty of Science – University of Copenhagen. (2017, September 12). Your stools reveal whether you can lose weight. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 11, 2017 from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/09/170912093122.htm

Nutrition Tip of the Day

Quality Over Quantity! Try not to worry so much about calories or fat, rather focus on eating whole foods that are prepared simply.

Daily Inspiration 

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Animal Fats Increase Risk for Type 2 Diabetes

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Fats specific to animal products increase the risk for type 2 diabetes, according to research presented last week at the 52nd Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD). Researchers followed the consumption of various types of omega-3 and omega-6 fats in the diets of 71,334 women and tracked diabetes incidence rates. Those who consumed the most fats increased their risk for diabetes by 26 percent when compared to those who consumed the least. Specifically, omega-3 docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) and omega-6 arachidonic acid (AA), both of which are mostly found in meat, fish, and eggs, almost doubled the risk for type 2 diabetes, and, when controlling for weight, by as much as 41 and 49 percent, respectively.

Dow C, Mangin M, Balkau B, et al. Fatty acid consumption and incident type 2 diabetes: evidence from the E3N cohort study. Poster presented at: the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) 52nd Annual meeting; September 14, 2016: Munich, Germany.

  • I found this research super interesting! The finding that Omega 3 could be associated with type 2 diabetes risk?? I had to do more research on this before I posted! What I came across is that clinicians do not recommend cutting this source of fat out of the diet but instead reducing and/or diminishing the intake of processed meats, which many of us already consume in excess amounts. The risk is associated with increase intake of fats.

Diabetologia. “Consumption of certain fatty acids linked to type 2 diabetes in women.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 September 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160913184945.htm>.

Nutrition Tip of the Day

Sugary drinks contain more calories than most people realize. In fact, some sugary drinks have as many calories as a whole meal. Sugary drinks include energy drinks, fruit drinks, pop, sports drinks, slushies, specialty coffee and tea drinks, and vitamin enhanced water. Most sugary drinks provide little or no nutrition, so stick to healthier beverages such as water, herbal tea, or milk or even chocolate milk (although it has added sugar, it is a nutrient-rich choice!)

Daily Inspiration 

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5 Whole Grains to Keep Your Family Healthy

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Next time you go shopping, help keep your family healthy by choosing whole grains over refined grains. Whole grains (such as buckwheat, brown rice, hominy and oatmeal) are more nutritious than refined grains because they contain the fiber-rich outer bran layer, the nutrient-packed germ and the starchy endosperm. Refined grains (such as white bread, white pasta and white rice) contain mostly the endosperm. In the past, whole grains were thought to provide mostly fiber to promote digestive and heart health, but newer research has revealed that they provide additional vitamins and minerals, plus high levels of antioxidants and other healthy plant-based nutrients. No matter which whole grain you prefer, make sure the ingredient list includes whole grains or that the label reads “100-percent whole grain.”

Amaranth

Gluten-free amaranth is considered a complete protein because it contains all of the essential amino acids in proportions that humans need, including lysine which other grains tend to lack. Additionally, it’s a good source of minerals such as iron, magnesium and zinc, plus it offers some calcium and potassium. In South America, amaranth is popped like miniature popcorn. “Most kids love pasta, and amaranth can be used as a substitute for couscous or orzo,” said Nancy Z. Farrell, MS, RDN, who is a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Use amaranth flour to make tasty baked products like zucchini bread, carrot cake or blueberry muffins and pancakes.”

Barley

Barley is a fiber powerhouse. Hulled barley has more fiber-rich bran than pearled barley, “but both contain beta-glucan soluble fiber that slows the absorption of glucose, and helps to keep blood sugar levels stable, thus providing sustained energy throughout the day,” says Farrell. Barley also contains selenium, a powerful antioxidant. Barley is great added to soups or used to make a pilaf. It can even be made into a hot breakfast cereal. Hulled barley will take more time to cook than pearled barley, about 50 to 60 minutes.

Oats

Oats also contain beta-glucan fiber which can lower cholesterol and help strengthen the immune system. Oats boast polyphenol compounds that have antioxidant and anti-itch properties. Besides the age-old favorite oatmeal for breakfast, oats can be added as a binder to meatloaf and burgers. Oats also work well in baked goods including oatmeal cookies, as a crunchy topping to crisps and crumbles, and even in casserole dishes.

Quinoa

Like amaranth, quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids and is gluten-free. Moreover, quinoa is an excellent source of magnesium and a good source of zinc, iron and folate. “Quinoa is easy to make,” said Farrell. “While not required, toasting quinoa before boiling it in liquid enhances flavor, as does cooking it in vegetable or chicken broth.” Quinoa can be made in a rice cooker, as well. Before cooking, use a fine mesh strainer to rinse the quinoa and remove the outer coating, called saponin, which can give the quinoa a bitter taste. Quinoa is fun for kids because it pops in the mouth when chewed and comes in several colors: beige, red, black and even purple. Mix quinoa with beans or nuts for a tasty side dish, or add to salads and stir-fries.

Teff

Of these five grains, gluten-free teff is highest in calcium and protein. Teff also is a rich source of fiber, iron and thiamin. Teff grains are tiny and have a mild nutty flavor. It’s an indispensable grain in Ethiopia where it’s used to make the traditional flat bread, injera, and it’s grown in the United States in Idaho. Cook the grain into a creamy hot cereal or a tasty polenta. You can also mix teff with veggies for a side dish.

Adapted from: Andrea Giancoli, MPH, RD

Nutrition Tip of the Day

Keep tomatoes on the counter, out of direct sunlight, so they stay fresh and flavourful.

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Preschoolers benefit from peanut allergy therapy

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Peanuts are one of the most common causes of food allergies. Allergic reactions to peanuts can be mild, but they may also be severe and lead to a life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. Peanut allergy usually starts in early childhood and lasts a lifetime. Avoiding exposure is the best way to prevent an allergic reaction. However, steering clear of peanuts is difficult, since it can be in foods you may not suspect.

Recent studies have shown that an experimental treatment called oral immunotherapy can reduce allergies to some foods, including peanuts. A team of researchers led by Dr. Wesley Burks at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill tested the approach as an early intervention in preschool-age children newly diagnosed with peanut allergy. The work was partly supported by the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS). Results were published online in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology on August 10, 2016.

The team enrolled 40 young children (9 to 36 months old) newly diagnosed with peanut allergy. The treatment involved eating small, gradually increasing amounts of peanut protein each day. Participants were randomly assigned to either a high-dose (target daily dose of 3,000 milligrams peanut protein) or a low-dose regimen (target dose of 300 milligrams). Data from a group of 154 peanut-allergic children who had received standard care and avoided peanuts were used as a control.

Nearly all treated participants experienced some side effects, such as abdominal pain. These were generally mild and required little or no treatment. Three people withdrew from the study because of adverse effects. Two others withdrew for other reasons.

After receiving treatment for 29 months on average, participants ate a peanut-free diet for 4 weeks and then were evaluated for their ability to eat 5 grams of peanut protein. Almost 80% of treated participants had no allergic response. There was no significant difference between the low-dose and high-dose arms. In comparison, only 4% of the control group successfully introduced peanuts into their diet. These results are substantially better than those in older children who had a longer duration of peanut allergy.

“This study provides critical evidence supporting the safety and effectiveness of peanut oral immunotherapy in treating young children newly diagnosed with peanut allergy,” says NIAID food allergy expert Dr. Marshall Plaut. Researchers continue to monitor the participants to assess how long the treatment effects may last. Scientists note that this experimental therapy is still being tested in clinical trials and should be given only under medical supervision. Consult with a doctor before giving peanut products to an allergy-prone child.

Vickery BP, Berglund JP, Burk CM, Fine JP, Kim EH, Kim JI, Keet CA, Kulis M, Orgel KG, Guo R, Steele PH, Virkud YV, Ye P, Wright BL, Wood RA, Burks AW. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2016 Aug 4. pii: S0091-6749(16)30531-0. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2016.05.027. [Epub ahead of print]. PMID: 27522159.

Nutrition Tip of the Day

Having trouble getting kids to eat vegetables? Try changing the shape. Grate carrots, make cucumber ribbons with a peeler, and cut peppers into stars using scissors. Give them creative names too — kids eat more power peas and X-ray vision carrots than plain ol’ peas and carrots.

Daily Inspiration 

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