Saturday, April 19, 2014

Freedom Foods - Allergy-Friendly Cereals for Multiple Food Allergies

The path to trying Freedom Foods cereals started with a friend's craft idea that involved "Cheerio"-type cereal.  I remember having read about Freedom Foods' "TropicOs" a long time ago and went on the hunt.  They were not available at either Whole Foods location, but I was able to find them at another local store - H-E-B Central Market!  I did my due diligence, contacting the company to inquire about the various cereals to see which ones my daughter could try.  They sent me some coupons and off I went in search of safe cereals!

After getting to the cereal aisle and seeing so many options, I actually got a little teary.  It isn't often that we, parents of multiple food allergic children, are presented with a bevy of options!

I couldn't get all the options in frame!
I loaded up my cart like I was at Costco!  Here is a closeup of one of the boxes and an informational image from one of their emails:

I don't think I've ever seen a cereal free from so many different allergens (it's free from more, but they don't fit on the front of the box!)  I also love that they use non-GMO ingredients.  This company is based in Australia, where the incidence of food allergies is even higher than here in U.S.  I wish I could see these products on every grocery shelf in the U.S.  They are on the higher-priced end, for cereal, but I feel that it's worth it for the higher-quality ingredients and the fact that they test every batch for certain allergens, every time!  They are serious about this stuff, and I appreciate it.

These cereals would also be great for anyone - not just those with allergies.  Why save $2 buying junk cereal, when it's going to "cost" your child's health and wellness, down the road?  There are no artificial colors or flavors, which is another added bonus.  (Though I consider it a requirement...)  

They have more varieties, but these are the ones carried locally.
Of the course of several days, my daughter tried out the various cereals.  One of the ingredients in some of the cereal varieties is sorghum flour, which is new to her diet.  I think that ingredient made her a little itchy, but it was not a major issue.  As fun and flavorful as the TropicO's and Maple Crunch cereals are, my daughter actually prefers the Rice Flakes the most!  She will eat the Corn Flakes, too, but she has a definitely preference for the Rice Flakes.  So, it's up to me to finish off the others. ;)

So, if you're looking for an allergy-friendly cereal option, consider checking out the Freedom Foods' line.  As always, please be sure to contact them, directly, to check if their products are safe for your child's particular needs.  I am just so happy to have another item to add to the "CAN HAVE" list!

Note:  I received coupons after I asked about cross-contact possibilities, but I did not receive any compensation for this post.
All opinions are purely my own, as always!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Food Allergies: Traditional Chinese Medicine, Western Science, and the Search for a Cure

by Henry Ehrlich

Before covering this enlightening book, I'd like to take a moment to thank the author, Henry Ehrlich, whom I am lucky and honored to call a friend, for writing it. I think the author is worthy of discussion, along with the subject. I hope I am not overstating, but I believe Henry Ehrlich was born to write this book. Son of an "English teacher turned lexicographer," and cousin to the perennially top-rated New York allergist, Dr. Paul Ehrlich, whose father was a pediatrician, Henry is genetically predisposed to be the ideal storyteller and information liaison for our allergic community. He is able to distill information in a way that is engaging and accessible, while not failing to deliver the technical specifics of the complicated landscape, which is the human immune system.  
Henry displays the markers of his "gene expression" as the editor of and co-author of the book by the same name. He works tirelessly, providing top-notch content through his website, and acting as a guide, assisting us in our quest for reasoned wisdom from seasoned professionals. He is active in our community and shows a genuine, passionate interest in this most intriguing and perplexing of fields. I could not imagine anyone that would be better-suited to cover this subject, that is so personally and vitally important to our allergic children's futures.  (Even if we find that this particular treatment does not work for everyone, the lessons-learned will contribute to future scientific endeavors.)

Now for my discussion of the book, itself...

The cover imagery for the book is based on the concept of yin and yang, which Wikipedia describes, as follows: (emphasis mine)
In Chinese philosophy, the concept of yin-yang, which is often called "yin and yang", is used to describe how opposite or contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world; and, how they give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.
Yin and yang can be thought of as complementary (instead of opposing) forces interacting to form a dynamic system in which the whole is greater than the parts. Everything has both yin and yang aspects, (for instance shadow cannot exist without light). Either of the two major aspects may manifest more strongly in a particular object, depending on the criterion of the observation.
I cannot think of a more fitting characterization of the path that Dr. Xiu-Min Li has taken with her work at Mount Sinai. The book takes the reader through Dr. Li's history as a physician and researcher, the basics of food allergy, and a description of how Dr. Li came to focus her efforts on retraining the sometimes savage beast that is a misbehaving immune system. It chronicles the early trials on mice (murine models), and the initial human safety trials. The process for human efficacy trials is discussed, but the results of said studies have yet to be published. There are even case studies from patients that have seen Dr. Li in private practice and an account of participation in a clinical trial for FAHF-2. (Those who see Dr. Li in private practice are not taking FAHF-2, but an individualized dietary supplement treatment protocol, based on their particular needs.  FAHF-2 an investigational drug undergoing clinical trials and is not yet available for dispensation to the population, at large.)

I find this book to be an excellent reference for the skeptics, who might tilt a suspicious eye at anything "Eastern" or involving "herbs." Set any preconceived notions aside. This book may be about soft plants, but it involves hard science, and should satisfy even the most exacting scientific researcher.  It will help quiet the qualms of the nervous naysayer.

As I read through this book, I felt a renewed sense of hope. I know my graphic below may seem over-the-top, but it genuinely reflects the emotions I felt while reading. We do not often get to feel lucky, in this situation (though I try and take stock of the silver linings), but reading this book made me realize that we are extremely lucky to have such an amazingly brilliant, dedicated, caring, conscientious scientist working on our children's plight.

Original book image: "HOPE" added by Selena Bluntzer.

Henry Ehrlich's book, 
is now available for purchase from the following sources: - Kindle Edition (coming soon) - eBook Edition
Barnes & Noble - Paperback and Nook editions

Please also check out my review of one of Henry Ehrlich's other publications:

Disclaimer: I have not received any financial compensation for this book review. I received an advance book draft, but have since purchased multiple copies, with my own funds. links are affiliate links, but as always, all opinions are my own.  

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Justina Pelletier - Kidnapped by Boston Children's Hospital

A friend shared this on-going battle that two parents are engaged in, with Boston Children's Hospital and the Department of Children and Families, over the care and custody of their teenage daughter, Justina.
Prison bars graphic via
BCH graphic: (altered, of course)
To summarize the situation, Lou and Linda Pelletier, of Hartford, CT, took their daughter, Justina, to Boston Children's Hospital for treatment, over a year ago.  Their daughter has Mitochondrial Disease, which can be difficult to diagnose, if you don't know how.  While being treated, previously, at Tufts Medical Center, they were working under that diagnosis, but once she reached Boston Children's, they decided that the young girl had "somatoform disorder" which is used to describe patients with real symptoms, but no true underlying cause. (Read: "It's all in their heads.")

There is nothing that infuriates me more, as a person with a rare disease, myself, than to read about conditions such as "somatoform disorder" and "conversion disorder".  To me, these are the "diagnoses" used by physicians who just can't figure out what is truly wrong with the patient.  In my book, you are a bad doctor if you find yourself diagnosing difficult cases with these types of psychological illnesses.  Plus, if you are a hospital that then engages child kidnapping protective services, based on your inability to diagnose, then you cross over into negligent and, for lack of a better word, cruel territory.

This family's plight upsets me greatly, because, thinking back, this very thing could have happened to our family.  When I was younger, I was passed around several doctors who just couldn't diagnose me and said I was having paralytic attacks "for attention".  I have since been "vindicated" by a genetic test that identified my condition, but not everyone has the luxury of an illness that shows up on a genetic test.  Luckily, I spent 10 years under the care of a good doctor who was able to diagnose me clinically, well before my genetic diagnosis was made possible.

Accusing parents of "medical child abuse" is disgusting and an insult to parents just trying to get their children some much-needed medical help.  I spent 18 years undiagnosed and untreated, experiencing full-body paralysis, due to the failures of the doctors I encountered.  My parents dutifully took their word when they said I would "outgrow" it and hoped for the best, but what if they had pushed back and demanded answers?  Would they have been accused of "medical child abuse"?  I shudder to think...

What I do consider abuse is taking a child away from their loving, dedicated parents.  That is psychologically harmful.  It is not in the best interests of the child.  It seems completely self-serving for the hospital do lay the blame on the parents for their disagreement about Justina's diagnosis.  If opinions differ between hospitals, then they should know that the medical situation has no easy answers.  Instead, they take the "easy" way out and label the parents abusers and kidnap the child so they can do as they see fit.

For those of us in the "atopic" community, with children dealing with various conditions that are not always easy to diagnose (think Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE), combinations of allergies and intolerances, etc.,) this is something we need to keep on our radar.  I will be looking into any ways that I can help this family, and all other families dealing with these agencies that seek to overstep their boundaries.

We cannot sit by and allow this to happen.

P.S.  I know that she wasn't, technically "kidnapped" since that is illegal, but the fact that they are able to get away with this, within the confines of the law is startling and disturbing.  What is legal is not always right.  I know Boston Children's Hospital is not the only hospital to have ever done this, but it is the one currently in the spotlight.