Food allergies are common these days. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that food allergies among children increased approximately 50% between 1997 and 2011.
No one knows why food allergies are increasing, although several theories exist. This leaves doctors and scientists unsure about what to recommend in order to prevent them.
In contrast, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has a strong grasp of allergies. From a TCM perspective, many allergies are caused by a Wei Qi imbalance. Wei Qi is similar to the Western medicine view of the immune system; Wei Qi defends the body against foreign substances.
And unlike Western medicine, TCM recommendations for food allergies are always individualized. Your specific diagnosis impacts your treatment plan and how you will balance your immune system.
Until you get a personal diagnosis, use these tips to control your food allergies.
- See an allergist and get tested to learn exactly what you are allergic to.
- Avoid your food allergens, especially if you are exposed to multiple allergens at once. For example, you may be more sensitive to your food allergens when you have hay fever.
- The most common food allergens are peanuts, the proteins in cow’s milk, shellfish, tree nuts, fish, eggs, gluten, wheat and soy. These are good foods to avoid if you don’t know exactly what you’re allergic to.
- Ask about ingredients when you eat at restaurants or when your meal is prepared by someone else. Don’t be shy to get specific.
- Read labels to make sure there aren’t any “hidden” ingredients you’re allergic to.
- Sometimes people outgrow food allergies. Talk to your allergist to get tested if you believe you’re no longer allergic.
- Eat foods that nourish your immune system. Cauliflower, Asian pears, water chestnuts and white cabbage are good antioxidants and support your Wei Qi. Be sure to eat both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These fatty acids are found in salmon, tuna, mackerel and other cold-water fish.
Makes 2 cups
- 12 ounces washed and cleaned dandelion leaves
- 1 cup olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 6 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
- 2 1/2 ounces Parmesan or Romano cheese, grated
- Put one-third of the dandelion greens in a food processor or blender with the olive oil and chop for a minute. Add the remaining dandelion greens in two batches until they’re finely chopped.
- Add the garlic, pine nuts, salt and Parmesan, and process until everything is a smooth puree.
- Taste; add more salt if necessary. Thin with olive oil or water if needed.
Storage: The pesto can be refrigerated in a jar for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 2 months. To prevent the top from darkening pour a thin layer of olive on top.