Preventing Food Allergies in Kids: New US Guidelines

There are now new guidelines in the US about the introduction of peanuts into babies’ diets, with the idea that early exposure decreases the chances of developing a peanut allergy later.

This is essentially the opposite of the approach for many years, where parents were encouraged to hold off on peanut introduction until kids are older. But the new guidelines make sense if you understand how the human immune system works.

Knowing What’s “You”, and What Isn’t

The immune system is meant to be reactive to proteins that are not “us”.

Bacteria and viruses, for example, are made up of proteins that do not look like our own proteins. When our immune system sees them, it recognizes them as an invader that needs to be ousted. To do that, your immune system creates all kinds of inflammation – coughing, sneezing, fever congestion, loose stool, etc. We think of these things as the bad parts of being sick, but they’re all an effort to kick those little critters out. That’s why sometimes suppressing fevers and other symptoms can inhibit your body’s ability to do its job.

But there are many proteins in our world that aren’t part of our own bodies but are also not infectious or dangerous to us–things like food proteins, for example. Your body has a complicated, amazing system for knowing that those things are good for us, even though they’re foreign.

Occasionally, though, your body makes a mistake. It confuses a food protein–like peanuts, say–for a dangerous invader, and fires up the defences. That’s when we see the signs that we call an “allergic reaction”.

Learning Good From Bad

How does your body know what’s dangerous and what isn’t? There are many complicated mechanisms that determine how tolerant we are, but they include a healthy gut flora (microbiome) and gut immune system and the exposure of the flora and immune system to potential allergens. In other words, your immune system needs to learn.

It’s typically been suggested that peanuts, gluten, eggs and other foods that have an increased chance of creating allergy be avoided until a child is three years old. The idea is that the immune system is more mature and therefore may not react. However, if the gut never gets a chance to experience those proteins and realize they are not allergenic when it is developing its ability to be tolerant, then it may be making a bigger deal out of a food protein then it should be.

The new guidelines are, essentially, a way to “teach” the immune system sooner, rather than later.

Remember: allergies can be serious business. It is a good idea to talk to your primary health provider before you get started with early introductions, especially if you have a history of food allergies in your family.

This Year, Eat Together

I am blessed with many friends both old and new, who love food. We have sat around countless tables together cooking, eating, drinking and laughing.

Every Monday night the lot of us get together for dinner. It can be as few as two families and as many as six. We take turns cooking for each other or we do potluck. Occasionally we even order in.

The point is not the food – although it is always outstanding in this great group of health-conscious foodies. Equally, the point isn’t about making it a big deal, in fact, we are often all finished and back to our respective homes by 8:30PM.

The point is to connect with each other. To share a few laughs. To start off our week knowing we have more in our lives then our work or our stressors. It helps us to remember we are not alone–we’re part of a group and a community.

Eating together is one Europe’s great secrets of health and wellness. Eating together usually results in eating better food, eating it more slowly, which usually means eating less of it.

Eating together creates laughter, which we know improves health and wellness on so many levels.

President’s Choice mission for 2017–Canada’s 150th birthday–is to get Canadians to eat together. This is a goal we can get behind.

Check out their awesome video:

Share it with your friends and make a plan to get together regularly this year.

Eat well, laughs lots and connect often!

Well-Woman Visit Dates for 2017

We’re happy to announce the Well Woman Visit dates for this year. This unique service offers a warm, caring environment for annual visits that includes:

  • A complete breast exam
  • Self breast exam education
  • Full gynecological exam with PAP test

Dates filled up quickly in 2016, especially with the addition of online booking. Here are the dates for 2017:

  • Jan 16
  • Feb 27
  • Mar 27
  • May 1
  • June 5
  • July 10
  • Sept 18
  • Oct 23
  • Dec 4

In the last part of the year, booking online resulted in slots filling up quite quickly. You can grab one for 2017 by booking online, or calling the clinic at 705-444-5331.

All dates are online and available. If you want to book for the December date, for example, go for it. No worries about forgetting – we will email you to remind you as the date approaches. (Online booking also allows you to cancel in the event of an unexpected cycle course correction.)

You can learn more about how this unique service was created here:

And learn more about cervical cancer screening and guidelines here and here.

Why 2016 Was Great

As 2016 came to a close, the overwhelming common message of inboxes, social feeds, newscasts, and late-night talk shows seemed to be, “Thank goodness this crazy, awful, negative year is over.” So many montages of the disasters, hardships and losses we sustained were played over and over again.

But Canadians are not as easily ruffled as that! According to a recent survey, the majority of us think 2017 will be a better year. Maybe it’s our experience with winter?

But what might be more important than our optimism for 2017 is to realize that 2016 was amazing in many, many ways. That’s a message Canada’s own Chris Hadfield shared this New Year’s Eve when he sent 40 tweets of the good news stories of the year. They included:

  • An effective vaccine for Ebola
  • The eradication of measles from the Americas
  • World hunger reaching its lowest point in 25 years

If you do one thing this year to kick off 2017, read this list. It might change your entire perspective. Amidst the drama and divisiveness that gets shared, tweeted, posted, and otherwise spread, it’s nice to have this remarkable gift to share.

Chris Hadfield reminds us of all the good things that happened in 2016

New Year’s Bonus! Hadfield’s TED talk: What I learned from going blind in space