The adage is true: We are what we eat. Food can affect many aspects of our lives.
More and more, we hear about food and the role it plays in allergies. In fact, food allergies have increased to the point that they now affect an average of two school-age children per classroom.
It used to be that if you had food allergies, there was only one solution: Avoid problematic foods. This could be very tricky, however, if you were allergic to staples like wheat or dairy that play prominent roles in common foods. It also became a sizeable problem for people with multiple food allergies. By the time they accounted for all of their food sensitivities, there were very few things that were safe to eat.
Fortunately, treatment for food allergies (including milk, wheat, and nut allergy treatment) is now available with sublingual immunotherapy If you suspect that you have food allergies, your doctor can order a food allergy testing kit to determine where your sensitivities lie. If appropriate, your physician can then prescribe immunotherapy in the form of daily, under-the-tongue drops that help desensitize your body to the food proteins that trigger your allergies. (Allergy drops for kids and adults are available.)
Food and Heart Health
Food affects more than just allergies, however. It also affects heart health. Studies have shown that eating a heart-friendly diet in combination with a healthy lifestyle can decrease your chance of developing cardiovascular disease by more than 75 percent. That’s a pretty strong case in favor of eating well.
In honor of American Heart Month in February, here’s a list of dietary elements that can help keep your heart healthy and strong.
- Good fats. Saturated fats are found in lard, fatty meats, and dairy products (like butter and cream) and can be hard on the heart. Don’t write off fats altogether, though. Your heart needs “good fats,” including Omega-3 fatty acids that you can get from eating fatty fish (including salmon), chia seeds, walnuts, fish roe (eggs), soybeans, and spinach.
- Fiber. Bad cholesterol (known as LDL cholesterol) is hard on the heart, but fiber can help lower LDL levels. Fiber can be found in nuts, flax and chia seeds, quinoa, chickpeas, black beans, lentils, avocados, berries, and many vegetables (including turnips, artichokes, and peas).
- Potassium. Potassium can help reduce blood pressure. It can be found in most fruits and vegetables (especially in oranges, bananas, and potatoes). It also abounds in dairy products. Just be sure to choose products like low-fat milk and yogurt that are low in saturated fats.
- Fresh produce. Fruits and vegetables are essential to a healthy heart. Use color as a guide. Choose boldly colored produce like leafy green lettuce, peppers, and berries. They are loaded with antioxidants that reduce damaging free radicals in your body and benefit your heart.
As you strive to add more heart-healthy foods to your diet, you should also reduce your alcohol intake if you drink. Alcohol can drive up blood pressure and ultimately lead to heart disease and stroke.
Food sustains life and adds pleasure to our days, but it can have a significant bearing on the way our body feels and function. Resolve to make a few positive changes to your diet this year. Your body will thank you.