Thursday, May 28, 2009

Cheese Wheeze

A word on food as it relates to health. Specifically, my health.

These days there's plenty of skepticism about picky eaters disguising their preferences as allergies or the even less convincing "food sensitivities." But I've learned from personal experience that these distinctions are to be taken seriously.

Early this year, I dragged myself to an allergist for help with chronic congestion and wheezing that had become nothing short of scary. Elise's birth mother died from asthma, and so I take having trouble breathing very, very seriously. The allergist told me that there was nothing about my lifestyle or environment that was worth the money or effort to change, and that I needed only to use an inhaler or nasal spray when things got bad. Since they were bad every day, I started doing so regularly.

The drugs were shockingly effective, but I didn't want to be on them for the rest of my life and knew that there was more to the story. I made an appointment with a local acupuncturist/nutritionist to see if I could get to the root of the matter. That root turned out to be dairy.

The acupuncturist, who I now see regularly, suggested that I might have a food sensitivity to dairy. I was doubtful, especially because I didn't think that I ate that much dairy, but decided to see what would happen if I experimentally cut it out.

This is no exaggeration. Within days, I felt as though a weight had been lifted. I completely stopped wheezing, and the nasal congestion that I had come to accept simply as part of being Jewish completely disappeared for the first time in my adult life. Now, in my new, quasi-vegan life, I never use the inhaler and always breathe clearly. No cheese, no wheeze.

Was it because I have a unique sensitivity, or would every adult do better if they cut out the white stuff? Is it genetics, and if I were born a strapping, Swiss goatherd I could eat milk for three meals a day? Is the problem that I was raised on pasteurized milk and so I have an f'ed up immune system? I don't know and I don't care. All I know is that I'm breathing as clearly as a wind tunnel, and I'm not interesting in doing anything to mess it up.

And now, a shameless plug for my acupuncturist. The guy is really, really good (as is his wife, who practices in the same office). Go to him:

George Mandler
Assabet Valley Natural Health
32 Powder Mill Rd, Maynard, MA 01754
978-461-2001 (office)
617-913-5970 (cell)

Image courtesy of Just Clean Fun.

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squires said...

This post comes at such a relevant time for me. I recently visited a naturopathic dr. to discuss remedies for skin issues, and she recommended all kinds of cuts out of my diet (an "anti-inflammatory" diet that omits dairy, meat, wheat, corn, tomatoes, citrus, white flour, potatoes.....). I've not been completely successful yet at doing this--and I'm not dedicated enough to give up COFFEE--but I am paying more attention to how much of these things I eat, and in particular I *have* cut out dairy. And I do feel like I have more energy in general. So, solidarity for tough food choices having hopefully helpful health effects! (Like you, I looooove food--and cooking--so these are not easy choices!)

Emily said...

I'm so glad you found this out. I read somewhere that genetically a large percentage of the population should be lactose intolerant. I've been polling my friends of different ethnic origins to see if cutting dairy out of their diets experimentally affects their general healthy. Thanks for sharing.

Jo said...

Being a vegetarian with a couple annoying food allergies (yes, they are real!) I've been hesitant to cut anything strictly out of my diet. I've always been impressed, though, when I stop eating refined sugar for a few weeks and my energy level skyrockets - sugar has more of an effect on my temperament than anything else I've noticed.

A nice plug for your acupuncturist, as well! I'm constantly gaining more appreciation for holistic medicine and I've become a big fan of acupuncture recently, since it has had an amazing effect on some of my long-standing health problems. It's empowering to know there are other solutions out there besides drugs and more drugs.

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