Thursday, May 1, 2014

corn-free, glutamate-free

Over the last couple of years in my journey to wellbeing, I've come to accept that healing my body doesn't mean I get to eat whatever I want.  When I eat crappy food, I feel like crap.  Hence my avoidance of my main triggers--processed foods, wheat/gluten, dairy, refined sugar, caffeine, and soy.

Last month, I attended a talk for the Holistic Moms Network on "Additives & Mental Health" by biochemist Dr. Katherine Reid.  After reviewing 1 million research articles correlating glutamate with a variety of chronic and auto-immune diseases, Dr. Reid concluded that Americans have an overabundance of glutamates in their diet primarily from processed foods; this isn't just MSG, but glutamates in all their secret iterations.  I learned that processed proteins (includes meat, grains and legumes) release free glutamates.  So the dairy/wheat intolerance connection is that through processing (homogenization or milling), they both release free glutamates.  This is the smoking gun for dietary intolerance.

I was also surprised to learn that the popular "natural" preservative citric acid does not come from citrus but is chemically derived from corn.  

That was the push I decided we needed to go corn-free again (I was briefly corn-free the year I got pregnant with my daughter).  Since we don't eat much in the way of processed foods, I assume it won't be too hard. Our main corn intake comes in the form of non-GMO corn tortillas, organic tortilla chips, organic popcorn, and infrequently, nixtamal made from homegrown native corn.  I've observed that eating homemade organic popcorn makes me irritable and bloated, most likely from the indigestibility of non-alkalinized corn but now I'm thinking glutamate connection.

I've been trying to figure out why my daughter has been getting sick every 2-3 weeks this winter.  In previous years, there was a clear correlation with wheat.  Once we cut it out, her nighttime congestion cleared up.  

My MIL bless her heart came over the other day with homemade bánh giò|tapioca dumplings wrapped in banana leaves and cơm gà|chicken & rice and sầu riêng|durian just as I cooking up a toothsome sweet potato, kale, and bacon frittata for lunch.  My daughter will choose Vietnamese food over Western food and went for the  bánh giò.  She only ate the chicken filling and left behind the outer dumpling so I ate it for her; I later found out was made from tapioca and cornstarch rather than the traditional rice & tapioca starch.   A short time later, I noticed a rash on my left inner elbow--miliary dermatitis but didn't pay much attention.  By the evening I had a generalized rashiness in my bloodstream (an itch below the skin that cannot be scratched or localized), digestive upset and accelerated hunger despite eating meals.  So I made the connection to the cornstarch (perhaps an anti-caking agent/dough conditioner or perhaps just the processing releasing glutamates).  I drank some nettle infusion and took a probiotic.  I experienced a relapse of symptoms in the night;  I woke up at 3am hot & sweaty, hungry and digestively uncomfortable.  This used to happen every night but had abated over the last few months when I upped my hydration and come to think, when I stopped relying on tortilla chips for snacking.

So there you have it.  There is no magic test one can take, no owner's manual one can read to figure out what ails one.  One has to overcome decades of socialization around ignoring one's body cues to relearn how to pay attention to the signals one's body sends in direct response to input (food, air/breath, water, sleep, environment).

And yet another thing to add to my dietary parameters/intolerance list (see masthead above).

Ăn Ngon Lành | Eat Delectably!

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