Food Allergies In My Generation

So, last week I met up with Amanda and Andy for dinner since I was close enough to meet them somewhere.  We decided to go to a place they frequent, The Natural Cafe, which I had wanted to go to since I saw one in San Luis Obispo the other weekend.  We got to talking about our eating and our digestive problems when I realized: many people in my generation are coming down with belly/digestive problems right now.  It seems like everywhere I turn another friend has celiac disease, IBS, lactose intolerance, nuts or soy allergies, and a variety of other food related problems.  When the heck did this start, and why does it seem like everyone around my age, their mid 20’s, is getting some sort of digestive problem?

All of these things got me thinking, was there something we did or had when we were kids that is coming around and affecting us now?  I don’t know what everyone’s childhood was like, but mine was pretty minimal on things in the restaurant, fast food or processed foods department.  I grew up eating breakfast, lunch and dinner at home which regularly consisted of things like cereal, deli meat sandwiches, fruit, vegetables, chicken, pork, ham, rice, potatoes, cheese and the like.  I exercised regularly by participating in running and playing with the neighborhood kids outside.  So is there something among all of us that has sat dormant in my body until now?

I know that many things can be genetic, like Crohn’s disease in my family, but other than that, is everything else environmental?  How are all these things coming to light now? Could we have prevented these things from happening to us via or food or activities?

Any thoughts?  I thought I might bring this up since so many of my readers also are starting to have digestive problems…I think it’s interesting!  And kinda scary all at the same time…

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9 Responses to Food Allergies In My Generation

  1. Eva says:

    A lot of those allergies are due to our massive consumption of processed foods.
    Also, with regard to celiac disease, the gluten content of wheat has risen from 9% to 30% in New Zealand over the last few decades. We have the highest rate of celiac disease in the western world. Probably because people eat white rubbish bread like there is no tomorrow…

    Many people would be helped if they changed to a plant-based, vegan lifestyle. Most of their digestive issues would disappear and other issues, e.g. obesity would solve themselves.

    • Melissa says:

      That’s interesting about NZ’s gluten content increasing so much! I wish I could find out about America’s content…or maybe not; I’d probably scare myself!

    • kim says:

      That is so not true — not scientifically at all. A vegan diet is actually far far far from perfect as people assume. Ridiculous.

      I think stress is what causes all this crap.

      • Melissa says:

        I never said that a vegan diet was perfect, and believe it is far from it also. Some people are built to follow it, some people aren’t. I choose to follow it mainly for the ethics and environment because that is what I believe. I also do believe that stress can cause these kinds of things too. There are several different factors that can contribute to these symptoms.

  2. Amy says:

    I grew up with a very minimally processed diet as well so when I started having problems about two years ago I had no precedence for what to do or what might be causing it. There might be some genetics coming into play as my grandmother is celiac, but other than that no one else has any troubles!
    At least nowadays there are so many yummy alternatives for those things that cause our bellies unhappiness, and so many people have taken to the blogosphere to share their stories (such as your lovely self!) and recipes :)

  3. Krista says:

    I would agree that food allergies/intolerances seem more predominant these days! As a kid we very rarely ate out and Mom cooked all our meals from scratch, yet my brother, sister and me all have some sort of tummy issue. And I can see Sarah following the same trend I did with IBS. Not sure what the answer is, though….. :/

  4. I know, it is interesting, and as a teacher I frequently have this conversation with colleagues about autism. Sometimes I think it’s just better diagnostic skills, but I think you have to attribute it to environmental factors as well.

    I have season allergies, asthma, and a few food allergies and my mom swears it’s because she started me on rice cereal at 6 weeks, as did a lot of parents of our generation (now they recommend no solids before 6 months). I guess there have been a few studies, but that seems a little dramatic.

  5. Carey says:

    I’m in my early 40’s and discovered my food allergies in my late 20’s. It’s been an ongoing exploration to what does and doesn’t work for me. I think if you look at human evolution as well you’ll see that we are not necessarily designed to eat certain kinds of food in the amounts that many people do, such as grains, dairy, soy, etc. Also, I think our gut which has many thousands of nerve endings is a second brain so to speak. Women tend to have a lot of these allergies and sensitivities, Women are in general more sensitive to their emotions by nature and if you’re an anxious type, nervous type which women tend to be, I feel this can show up in your gut/digestion. IBS is like this. So learning to heal yourself with the correct nutrition for YOU and learning to stress less can only help your gut. It’s a journey but one worth pursuing.

  6. I think there must be something, either in the environment or in our food, that is causing this “epidemic.” I know that growing up we ate pretty typically (cereal or pancakes for breakfast, lunch meat sandwich with slices of fruit and a bag of chips and fruit drink for lunch, and dinner of meat, veggies, and starch)

    My mom always cooked “low fat” with margarine and other chemicals like that we now know to be toxic. Often times “homemade” included cans of pre-made soup and other things like that – which I now consider assembling instead of cooking.

    I am not sure what it is, but I hope to prevent my kids from having the same issues. I plan on cooking as much as I can from unprocessed/raw foods, without gluten or dairy. I know that has definitely helped my IBS, and I hope it prevents them from ever getting IBS in the first place.

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