This blog is a way of sharing the information and resources that have helped me to recover my son Roo from an Autism Spectrum Disorder. What I have learned is to view our symptoms as the results of underlying biological cause, which can be identified and healed. I say "our symptoms" because I also have a neuro-immune disorder called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.

And, of course, I am not a doctor (although I have been known to impersonate one while doing imaginative play with my son)- this is just our story and information that has been helpful or interesting to us. I hope it is helpful and interesting to you!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Are We Allergic to Food or What's Been Done to it?

This TED talk by Robin O'Brien, who worked as a financial analyst who covered the food industry before having kids and becoming an advocate for people with food allergies after her youngest child developed a food allergy.  She has been called "food's Erin Brokovich".

Food allergies on dramatic rise-
From 1997 to 2002 peanut allergies doubled.  From 1997 to 2007 there has been a 265% increase in the rate of hospitalizations due to food allergies.  19% of school children have a food allergy.

Are we allergic to food or what's been done to it?
It didn't used to be that way- what changed?

She began paying attention to labels and food additives- "you swap out the real stuff, put the fake stuff in, it drives preserves shelf life."  The question she never asked as an analyst is "is this stuff safe and what is it doing to our kids?".

The health of the current generation of kids-
1 in 3 has allergies, asthma, ADHD, or autism.
1 in 13 has food allergies
1 in 10 has asthma
1 in 68 has autism
"cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in American children under the age of 15." (according to CDC)

Genetically modified foods-

41% of Americans are expected to get cancer in our lifetime.
1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women are expected to get cancer in the US.
Only 1 in 10 breast cancers are genetic.

In 1996 GMO ingredients were introduced into our food supply in the US without us being told and without labeling.  They were completely new to our food.  There were two kinds of GMO crops at the time, those that are designed to withstand increasing amounts of chemicals, and those that make their own pesticides.  The second kind is regulated by the EPA as a pesticide and was added to our food supply without us being told.  From a business model this was very successful and profitable, it drove a huge increase in sales of related chemicals.  This change resulted in hundreds of millions of pounds of additional chemicals being used on our food supply.  60% of the world's population was told about this, not us.  Why?  There were no long term human safety studies.  She wonders "is this a food system or a chemical system?".

"A food system dependent on chemicals is not a food system, it's a chemical system".  

Correlation does not mean causation, but the correlation is so strong that it merits further investigation.  Other countries around the world have exercised caution because they ARE concerned about potential health consequences and allergenicity of GMO foods.

What is different in countries where these ingredients are either labeled or banned?

American companies that have added such ingredients to the food supply in this country, including artificial dyes, flavors, and GMO ingredients, make these same products for sale in other countries without these ingredients.

"Why have they placed a different value on the lives of Americans?  If they're using all of these artificial ingredients here, and they're using real ones in other countries.  We're not asking them to reinvent the wheel.  We're simply asking for those same products for our families too."

"The United States spends two-and-a-half times more on health care and disease management, on average, than any other country".  Despite this spending, the US ranks number 42 in life expectancy at birth.

She says we need a new model-

What about organic food?  Really that just means food without all the artificial additives, or what used to be simply considered "food".  Organic costs more because as a nation we subsidize the artificial and chemically treated food.  Organic food is often brought in from other countries rather than being grown here.  She says we need to bring it home here, to support american farmers.  Clean and safe food should be available to all Americans.

What can we do?  Take small steps, don't be paralyzed by the enormity of the problem.  She advises to start by taking out one thing- artificial dyes, GMOs, etc, but just take a step.  "None of us can do everything, but all of us can do something."  As we make these changes, out economy is responding.