Founder, Allergykids, an organization to protect the 1 in 3 children who have autism, allergies, ADHD or asthma, since 2006
Has appeared on CNN, Good Morning America, CBS Early Show, and more
New York Times dubbed her “food’s Erin Brockovich”
BA, Washington and Lee Univ.
MBA, Rice University
Robyn O'Brien: Dangerous Foods
One day, Robyn was feeding her four children breakfast. It was the first day she introduced Tory, then two years old, to eggs. After Robyn put Tory down for her nap, she poked her head into Tory’s room. She was sitting in her crib, her face red and puffy and her eyes nearly swollen shut! Robyn called the doctor who told her that the symptoms sounded like an allergic reaction.
Although any food can trigger an allergic reaction, some 90 percent of all food allergies are triggered by the proteins in eight foods: eggs, cow’s milk, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish, peanuts and tree nuts, such as walnuts, almonds, etc.
“Wheat, eggs and dairy were everyday staples in our house,” says Robyn. “How had such ordinary foods – the foods of my childhood – become so dangerous?” Robyn had so many questions and began searching the internet for answers that the doctors couldn’t give her.
Robyn says an allergy is an overreaction by the body’s immune system to a protein that it perceives as a threat, for example, the dust mite protein or pollen. To drive the perceived “invader” out, the body’s immune system mobilizes all of its resources (mucus, to flush it out; vomiting, to force it out; diarrhea, to expel it quickly, etc.) Ironically, the body’s immune response is known as inflammation (redness, heat, swelling and pain). These reactions, meant to heal and protect, often cause more problems than the initial “invader.”
Robyn believes food allergies are really just the tip of the iceberg. “They’re a warning sign from our kids’ immune systems that something is wrong with our food supply,” says Robyn.
She says studies show that children who consume foods containing additives and chemicals, like aspertame and yellow dye No. 5, show extreme irritability, restlessness and sleep disturbances. “This toxic food supply has not only created an allergy epidemic, but also is linked to other types of health problems, such as asthma, autism, ADHA and behavioral difficulties,” says Robyn.
Robyn says there are three things she wished she had known years ago:
- Even if your kids can’t talk, their skin speaks volumes. Does your child have eczema, rashes around the mouth, knees, elbows or armpits? If so, these are signs that the body is trying to rid itself of toxins.
- The toilet bowl has a lot to tell you. Runny bowel movements are a sign that a person isn’t properly digesting his food. As you get the allergens out of your child’s diet, the bowel movements should firm up.
- Chronic ear infections are a sign of dairy allergies. If your child complains of frequent earaches, try substituting juice or water instead of milk. If your child becomes livelier, more cheerful, and more attentive, Robyn says you may be on to something!
The day after Tory’s allergic reaction, Robyn began putting her on a diet of organic baby food (organic meaning grown without chemical pesticides or fertilizers or without genetic engineering). Eventually Robyn let her eat some foods she deemed safe to eat, like bananas and Cheerios.
She suggests changing one thing each week. Switch from regular milk to organic. Replace one colored (dyed) food with a natural one. For example, switch from blue yogurt to plain white yogurt and add raisins or bananas.
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