Monday, October 8, 2012

Mind Body Spirit Odyssey Book Review: Understanding Your Food Allergies & Intolerances

Understanding Your Food Allergies & Intolerances
by Wayne Shreffler, MD, and Qian Yuan, MD,
with Karen Asp
Harvard University Health Publication
St. Martin's Paperbacks

I recently purchased this book on a whim, in an independent bookstore while browsing through the health and wellness shelves.  What got my attention was that it was small and compact (it wouldn't take me hours and hours to read), it had only been out for a few months, and it was published by Harvard Medical School. The fact that the book also addressed the growing, widespread problem of food intolerances - not just food allergies - also interested me.  I was not disappointed reading it. 

In a very clear, concise, relevant way, Understanding Your Food Allergies & Intolerances presents the most up to date current information that is related to food allergies and also food intolerances.  First, the authors explain what the difference is between a food allergy and a food intolerance, something that most people are not familiar with.  They discuss possible symptoms, from mild to severe, and how people can feel and react when they eat a food that their body is not reacting well to.  There are many of the symptom they mention that most people do not even connect to food, which as a result can lead to many misdiagnoses and the taking of medications that are either not appropriate or are not needed at all.

The authors also discuss the medical testing that is used to diagnosis a food allergy - what you can expect. Also what type of a physician you should see.   Should you go to your regular doctor or an allergist?  They also discuss the use of an EpiPen, when it is prescribed, and the importance of wearing an Allergy Alert bracelet or charm if your condition warrants it.

Other topics include; how to find and eat in an allergy friendly restaurant, how to travel with a food allergy or intolerance, decoding food labels, carrying a chef's card, sending your food allergic child to school, vitamin D and the connection with food allergies, ethnicity and gender as related to food allergies, therapies for food allergies (which includes Traditional Chinese Medicine), and the cross contamination of foods - which is very important for those, in particular, with gluten allergies.  Gluten intollerance, celiacs and IBS are also covered too, along with many other areas of concern.

Understanding Your Food Allergies & Intolerances is a little gem, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who has food issues or suspects that they do. I hope the book finds it's way on to many shelves not only in homes, but in the marketplace as well.

~ diane fergurson

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