Tuesday, April 8, 2014

How Vitamin D Affects Your Immune System

Two months ago, I was told after a visit to my primary care doctor that I was low on vitamin D and needed to take at least 2,000 i.u. of vitamin D.

So I did. Every day.

Yet, I was experiencing bad body aches, extreme fatigue (to the point that I was taking 2-3 hour naps 1-2 times per day), struggling with depression (even on an antidepressant) and drinking coffee like it was my saving grace. The excess caffeine was not only making my skin paper dry; it was giving me extra anxiety and even strange chest pains from time to time which made me go for an EKG and other heart tests which turned up negative.

How much caffeine does it take for you to function each day?

So again to the doctor I went, this time, to run a plethora of tests to try to figure out why I was so sleepy all the time and why these flu-like body aches continued even when I was so careful about not eating gluten.

This time, my doctor ran a slew of tests and cautioned that we might not get an answer for awhile, especially if it was something like Fibromyalgia. But two weeks later I get a call with my results. All bloodwork was normal and I was still vitamin D deficient. How?

The nurse at my doctor's office now advised me to take 5,000 i.u. of Vitamin D per day.

Then something occurred to me. Can vitamin D deficiency cause the body aches that had been plaguing me for months? Could vitamin D deficiency cause depression? And why was I not absorbing the vitamin D I had been taking?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Gluten-Free Diets, Milk Allergy and Arsenic: Should You Be Concerned?

Today, I face the unknown with excitement, because it can only go up from here. Within the past two years I've discovered I have to be completely gluten-free or else suffer with severe fibromyalgia symptoms and stomach problems. I also discovered by accident that I have seizures on a regular basis without even knowing it. And in the past two weeks, I cut out dairy and tested myself for a suspected allergy and lo and behold, ding ding ding! Guess who's allergic to milk, now, too?!

Of course, this is just after perfecting my cheesecake recipe. After teaching myself what lemon zest was, utilizing it and using Enjoy Life Vanilla Graham cookies for the ultimate crust. Go figure.

I already had my eulogy on Twitter for all dairy food last week. Its probably the food group I will miss the most. I practically lived on yogurt, pudding and recipes I discovered on Pinterest. I used it in almost all of my best recipes and the past week has been filled with trying to find edible alternatives for certain dairy products that can replace the actual items almost without noticing.

Goodbye, you beautiful producers of perfection.

My first try was a soy-free dairy-free mozzarella cheese which I used on my homemade pizza which was an epic fail. I don't like to give bad reviews, so if you ever decide to see if an alternative mozzarella is out there that tastes good...just step away from the dairy aisle. You've been warned.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Can Food Allergies Be Cured?

We all know there is no cure for food allergies...if there were, the whole food allergy community would be on a long line to get it and this blog wouldn't exist.

However, we all did a silent double-take when not too long ago, we heard on the news about a boy with leukemia had a bone marrow transplant which not only got rid of his cancer, but also his anaphylactic peanut allergy as well. I was in the gym at the time and felt like I had won the lottery, calling everyone close to me already weighing the risks of a bone marrow transplant....only to discover later that day that this was not something that doctors were going to carry out as a treatment plan--it was only for cancer patients.

I'm not going to lie, a part of me wished I could get leukemia just so I could get the bone marrow transplant and have an entirely new immune system. To me, that seemed like a sure cure...a tangible treatment. Then I felt really guilty because I know cancer patients need transplants, not me.

Then about two weeks ago, I got my food allergy blood tests back and compared it to my old food allergy test from 2009.

I was shocked, to say the least.

My Endoscopy Nightmare

So December 2nd was a crazy ride to say the least...

I went into the hospital for an upper endoscopy...and no, not for a gluten challenge but to get checked for H. Pylori, ulcers or anything else that might causing the years of stomach problems I've experienced that are controlled by daily stomach medicines.

I didn't do the gluten challenge because I cannot handle the symptoms....

Yet, I had a feeling something was going to happen. The procedure was Monday and I even called endoscopy on Sunday evening to cancel the procedure but nobody picked up.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

My Book, 'Invisible Disability'

I know I have been M.I.A. for a number of reasons. I've been writing my baby. It's 3/4 of the way finished but I'm on a platform which allows me to publish before its done, so that I can make changes based on your feedback.

I thought I bared my soul on my blog quite a few times...apparently not. There is nothing quite like writing words that you know someone somewhere is going to hold in their hands and quietly hear in the pit of their soul.

I know when I'm holding a book, I immerse myself into it like it is my life....and for those blissful, tormenting and sometimes terrifying hours, it is. And when its over, a part of me feels like it dies right along with that last page.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Bread Pudding That Tastes Even Better Than The 'Bad' Version!

I've had this tremendous craving for bread pudding recently and since I consider myself a bit of a foodie (hence the gym membership) I had to find a bread pudding recipe I could alter and build upon.

So here it is. Its a classic Betty Crocker recipe that I altered to be gluten-free soy-free and nut-free. If you don't tell people its gluten-free and somewhat healthier, they will never notice. Shhhh ;)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Best Soy-Free Gluten-Free Chopped Salad Ever!!!

So as some of you know, I was a huge fan of Cheesecake Factory food...that is, until I couldn't eat it.

Even if I tell them all my allergies and severe sensitivity to gluten, I get a severe gluten reaction for the entire week, which is probably due to the dairy or meat in the food that is not grass-fed. Sometimes I still get a small allergic reaction depending on what I order. As you can imagine, this is more trouble than its worth, so I decided to take it upon myself and go Pinterest recipe-hunting for copycats that I could do at home.

Yesterday, I made a copycat of the Cheesecake Factory Chopped Salad, with a few alterations
for my gluten sensitivity and severe soy allergy.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Serious News: AAFA Study Sheds Light on 'Anaphylaxis In America'

I will get to the base of this study in a moment, but first I would like to ask--how many people realistically know what anaphylaxis is? Does the average American know the symptoms or just shrug off food allergies like a myth or old wives' tale? Peanut allergy and nut allergies are about as common as the name 'John' in schools nowadays....but what about anaphylaxis to corn or steak? Yes, the same deadly reaction can and does occur with rarer foods and even environmental triggers such as cat dander or dust mites. Some anaphylaxis reactions can and do occur without any known exposure or warning, such as during exercise or strenuous activity.

Now as seemingly rare as nut allergies are, we rarely hear about other deadly food allergies in the real world, do we? Unless we are active among the food allergy community or working at an educational institution, hearing about deadly soy allergy or milk allergy is akin to seeing a ghost.

That being said, the facts show that anaphylaxis is much more common than you think.

Peanuts Follow Me...

Unfortunately, not all vending machines are only filled with drinks.
...I swear they do. Everywhere I go, it is like I'm destined to come face to face with that traumatic waft of peanut wreaking anxiety I can't seem to get away from.

I started taking a pastel portrait class with an amazing professor three weeks ago. At the second class, I SWEAR I smelled peanuts, but thought it was my OCD-level anxiety getting the better of me. I looked around after coming back from the break but could not find the culprit. I had mild hives that day but attributed it to my environmental ragweed allergy.

The third week, everything went smoothly until I was at the vending machine outside the classroom and saw a bag of peanut-filled trail mix in the machine. I think I had a mild heart attack and had to take a few deep breaths because I now knew what I smelled was not my imagination.

Amp Organics is Officially Open!

So with all this experimenting and the laboratory now formed in my kitchen, I decided to start my own Etsy store, Amp Organics. 

I decided to embark on this since its so hard to find soy-free, dimethicone-free, lanolin-free and gluten-free lip balms and products I actually like, so why not make my own? At least then, I have more control over my skin since I know exactly what is going into every single product!!!

Until October 31st, you can get 30% off your entire order if you enter code HEALINGBALM30 at checkout! 

I named it Amp Organics, which is short for 'amphibian.' Humans breathe through only 2% of their skin while bullfrogs, which are part of the amphibian family breathe through a whopping 80% of their skin!!!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

QUICKIE Pesto Brown Rice Spaghetti

Sometimes, you need something quick and comforting to get your taste buds excited--which in turn ups your immune system because you're happy and helps you heal, right?

Tonight I decided to make an easy peasy Pesto Brown Rice Spaghetti using ONLY gluten-free soy-free and grass-fed items. Here is what I used:

Friday, October 4, 2013

Soy and Gluten in USDA Organic Milk?

I haven't talked much about my gluten issues, mainly because I've only gone gluten-free with all of my food in the past year, but I haven't gone strict with my toothpaste, makeup, shampoo and conditioner.

The past few days I've had horrendous body aches and sharp, piercing pains in lower back by my hip (could that be my liver or kidneys?) which I attributed about 5 days ago to the Organic Oat milk I stupidly consumed, completely forgetting that oat anything for Celiacs is bad.

Whenever I have the severe pain I also get tired and depressed and my allergies definitely add to that. I've been on Allegra during the day and (Target brand since its soy-free and gluten-free) Zyrtec at night. I've been taking Tylenol for the pain (still have to check if it has soy) and it has occurred to me that if there is gluten in Tylenol, it could also be causing my severe body aches. *sigh* UPDATE: I cannot take Tylenol because I do get a soy reaction after a few doses.

Its all so exhausting. And expensive.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Enlightening Personal Story For Soy and Peanut Allergy Sufferers

My dear mama cared for me so carefully and was one of the first food allergy moms who had no labeling or support back in the 80s when I was covered head to toe in eczema from anything and everything. Since I was allergic to pretty much everything when I was baby, she was always so careful with anything she fed me and anything she put on my skin.

This past Tuesday she was so excited to tell me about a new shampoo and conditioner my dad bought from Trader Joe's.

If you have severe allergies, ALWAYS read the ingredients!

"Maya, its woooonderful! Look at my hair! No frizzies! I don't even have to put anything else, I just dry it and its sooo soft! You have to try it!"

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Are Adults With Food Allergies or People With Gluten Intolerance Disabled?

People ask me if I work and I say yes, all the time. I'm working on my blog, my writing, my artwork or my social networks for at least eight hours per day, usually ten.

I'll admit it. I still live at home. If you have multiple food allergies or health issues and are older than the social standard, you owe no one an apology for this. I'm going to tell you why.

People with extreme food sensitivities develop keen observation skills kind of like a telescope.
Every moment of every day, you are on high alert. Your senses are attuned and over the years your observation skills become so acute, others will see you as either a prime candidate for the CIA or an OCD support group.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

What Do I Eat? Where To Find Gluten-Free Nut-Free Soy-Free Recipes

Going out to eat is just too much of a risk for people with severe soy allergies or anaphylaxis to peanuts, so I have a tendency of throwing together some really strange (albeit tasty) meals.

I get most of my stuff from Costco or Whole Foods, but buy some stuff online as well. The following three meals are definitely a bit strange, because they are definitely influenced by my Asian background and growing up in a Filipino family. We've had a rice cooker in my house for as long as I can remember, so jasmine rice is always ready to go and throw together with anything you can imagine...hence why I eat it with practically everything.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Soy-Free MSG-Free DIY Homemade Sazon Recipe

I scoured the internet for the perfect Sazon recipe and learned quite a bit in the process. For example, did you know that culantro is NOT a misspelling at all but actually a cousin of the cilantro we all know so well? It is primarily used in Asian and Carribean cuisine. It is actually stronger than cilantro, so don't even try substituting! Go AUTHENTIC!

Also--once you start using this sazon mix regularly in different dishes, you might notice a passion for a specific spice in the mix! Mine was the cumin and oregano, which I seem to always add a pinch or dash more than the recipe calls for!


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Is Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Safe For People With Severe Food Allergies?

Is your olive oil really soybean oil and chlorophyll?
It all started with a comment by a concerned mama on the Soy Allergy Board on Facebook. She posted a picture of her daughter's reaction to Bertolli Light Olive Oil. This literally broke my heart and took me back to my childhood where I was covered in so many open, weepy hives that my family would cover my cleansed and medicated skin in saran wrap to keep the environmental allergens like dust and pollen from making it worse. This poor angel's eyes were practically swollen shut and her face was red, inflamed and puffy. Now the cause of my "mysterious" reactions are
coming to light.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Eczema and Hives - Resisting The Urge Of Self-Mutilation

I have a confession to make. I'm sure many bloggers do it.

I tend to write about what is on my mind at the moment as most writers tend to do.

For the past two weeks, I was an itchy mess of hives and  peeling, itching skin. My educated guess is that its probably due to my environmental allergies to ragweed, dust mites and pollen. My allergist is going to kill me, since I'm seeing him next week after having skipped several months of immunizations because of the reactions I was having hours later after my shots. I just couldn't handle it at the time with my gluten issues...but now my seasonal allergies are here--with a vengeance!

It doesn't matter that I am so careful with my diet, to the point that I seem to have hoarded all of my "safe" food to myself and am throwing together my own strange (but unbelievably healthy and delicious to me) concoctions from scratch, which boil down to three specific meals

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Damage Control - Dealing With An Allergic Reaction

For most of us, dealing with an allergic reaction to pollen or environmental allergies involves taking a Zyrtec or Allegra and avoiding the outdoors--but what about those of us with severe food allergies or multiple allergies? What are we supposed to do?

Well for one, know your derivatives. If you have soy allergy, remember that 'stearic'-anything or "magnesium stearate" is usually derived from soybean oil, unless otherwise stated. Many of these relatively unknown ingredients are binders added to hold the ingredients together. I learned this the hard way and was reacting for weeks on and off, recently finding out from some friends on the Soy Allergy Board on Facebook that regular brand Zyrtec contains soy.

One of my lovely friends from Twitter (which is another AMAZING source of support for those of us with food allergies or gluten issues) notified me that original brand Allegra is soy-free and does not contain wheat, although it has not been tested for gluten so it cannot call itself gluten-free.