‘Are you still taking those?’ – ‘Yes!’ – ‘But you changed your diet, lost weight and sorted it  out?’ – ‘Yes, but the doctor says I still have to take them – I don’t want to feel that pain again!’

I was flabbergasted.

My colleague had ulcerative colitis – his GP had diagnosed him and said he would need medication  all his life. Being young and acknowledging his bad diet, he sensibly investigated and changed from takeaways, fizzy drinks, crisps, fast food, fried food etc to something much healthier. And it worked! The weight fell off and he felt great. Unfortunately he also fell into the Gluten-free trap. I reasoned with him  – he had never been gluten intolerant before so it might be a temporary allergy and the illness was more likely to be from cheap/fast food, but so worried was he about pain that he wouldn’t budge. But hats off to him for looking into it, his GP had offered nothing except pills!

Recently I did some promotional work for Tea … made especially to go with non dairy milk alternatives! It’s true soya can dominate the flavour of tea but is there really a huge market for this, I wondered? Well yes, it seems there is. Most people I approached had tried non dairy milk: soya, coconut, almond etc,  or used it all the time, had friends/relatives who used it, had allergies to lactose or knew someone that had, so it wasn’t a new idea at all. In fact inventing a tea to go with it is a great marketing ploy. But necessary? Probably not. An ‘allergy’ to dairy/lactose is very common indeed, and the ‘fussy’ trend about milk/alternatives even more so. I also had to make people aware that soya milk contains guess what …? Soya (!!!)  – which in itself can cause allergies.  Is this a self-perpetuating circle, I wondered?

My next promotion was chocolate. Again an allergy warning – mainly nuts (and interestingly also soya). Nut allergies seem common in children so I was vigilant. What interested me is that, surprisingly, most parents said their children had no allergies whatsoever.  There were only 2 families (out of hundreds) where the children couldn’t have nuts – but parents strangely didn’t realise that chocolate made near other nut products can still cause the allergy – so I wondered whether it was really an allergy or just a preference.

On the radio one morning I heard  that the UK is apparently the most allergic country in Europe! Why? A caller maintained it was our poor quality and choices of food. instinctively I agreed.

We know that nut allergies can be very serious and indeed fatal, so I am not being dismissive of those who have serious problems – a recent case being a young girl dying from her sesame seed allergy. We know they can be dangerous, even lethal. My question is – do all the people who are told they have allergies really have them?

One of the biggest illnesses  triggered by allergies is Asthma. Eczema and Asthma (often linked) are  common in my family, and I have very sensitive skin. I solved this problem by avoiding soap for a while. Soap (and toothpaste/shampoos etc) nowadays contain huge amounts of chemicals, irritants and animal fats, and we use far too much of it – a doctor told me that!

Allergic Asthma is increasing. Why? I think because of all the pollution and unnecessary chemicals we pump out. Many ‘natural’ products are nothing like natural. A close relative, born with Asthma, had terrible eczema for years. After spending thousands on treatment it was solved by a simple change in diet. Looking back, I think chemically prepared soap exacerbated it. I recently discovered that Sodium Laureth Sulphate –  it’s in most soaps  – causes many problems, including tightness of the chest and sore throats, and is considered a hazard!

Trying  goats cheese years ago, my tongue and lips became tingly and then numb. That was happening a few times – goats cheese was the ‘in’ thing then! I avoided it for a while, and was fine upon returning to it eventually. This used to be the advice re allergies –  your body was telling you to avoid it, but it would be tolerable again soon. This mostly worked. But now the Allergy business – especially ‘Gluten free’ – has become a huge money making business. Friends say they are gluten intolerant, and insist I am too – but yet, until now, they had no signs of a  problem. Digging deeper I find they simply find it slimming – which rather belittles the serious and life threatening gluten-related Coeliac Disease.

I love bread and hate cardboard gluten-free – so I investigated. Apparently you can be OK for 60 years and suddenly develop Coeliac disease – the triggers are often physical: post-surgery, pregnancy, childbirth, viral infection or severe emotional distress. Why is it increasing? I think people have much more stressful lives now, eat more, and food is so over processed/interfered with –  some say wheat is even cooked differently which could cause the gluten intolerance – so us humans have self inflicted this (no surprise!).

The Allergy Business – particularly ‘Gluten free’ –  is worth billions, the ‘Free From’ market this year alone was surging by 40%  to £806.1 million already. You can see why it’s pushed everywhere, including in doctors surgery. A whole new money making opportunity! Questioning this does not denigrate genuine sufferers –  the opposite in fact! We don’t need ‘allergy political correctness’! Remember the boy that couldn’t leave the house, being allergic to the modern world? That was real and saddening. But now we have an allergy frenzy: we must be allergic to something! Surely! It’s supercilious, money-grabbing scaremongering.

If you still have any doubt that we are being exploited, think on this: in 2016 the UK spent £170 million on the gluten-free market alone, and our NHS spent 116 million on gluten-free prescriptions – yes, that’s right: prescriptions…!

Tip of the iceberg, I say…

 

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