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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Quinoa PSA, and seven foods you should never eat

Yesterday was kind of an abrupt return to reality after my weekend of yoga - slammed with e-mails, a task list that only got longer as the day went on, and to top it all off I found a pretty glaring omission in one of our project plans and spent part of the morning doing damage control. So...that was fun.

I tend to take my stress out in the kitchen, so as soon as Ben and I were both home I whipped out my giant knife and started going to town on some broccoli - I figure this is more cost-effective than chopping up my laptop, which is what I kind of wanted to do.

As I was cooking, Ben walked by and happened to glance at the recipe I was using. He cast me a very suspicious look and asked, "Double Broccoli Quinoa? ...Can you eat quinoa?"

No, I can't.

"But wait!" you say. "You eat quinoa all the time!" Well yes, I did. But I don't anymore, and here's why. It started last spring when, after eating a meal containing quinoa, I started to feel really nauseous. For whatever reason, I convinced myself that it was something I had eaten for breakfast and just went about my life. The second time, I was in an immersion practice...and if anything it was worse than before. Of course this was also the day we practiced falling out of handstand...it was less than awesome. This time I decided it was because the bulk spinach I used in my salad was somehow contaminated, and I vowed never to buy bulk spinach again.

Then in June, after eating a giant lunch of quinoa and subsequently feeling like I was going to ralph, I finally put two and two together. I went back to my desk and googled both "quinoa causes nausea" and "eating quinoa makes me want to die," both of which proved fruitful. Apparently, developing an allergy or extreme sensitivity to quinoa is a real thing, and is usually the result of eating quinoa that has not been washed or cooked properly. The websites I found suggested taking quinoa out of your diet for a few weeks or months and then trying it again...but they also cautioned that sometimes, the allergy never goes away.

So I took about three months off, before one day accidentally scarfing down a sample of orange quinoa at the Linden Hills Co-op. I mean, it was free. Anyone could make that mistake. But the best part was...nothing happened. Convinced that I was now invincible after surviving a teaspoon-sized sample, I bravely purchased a quinoa salad for lunch the very next day. Bad idea. Quinoa came back with a vengance. Imagine Ben's surprise when he came home to find me curled up on the kitchen floor hugging the dog.
"What happened?!?"
"Umm... I ate some quinoa."

My almost-doctor friend Amanda suggested taking a full year off and then trying it again. I'm really bummed about this actually. I love quinoa -it is one of my favorite foods, and I would be pretty sad if I could never eat it again. But the nausea is BAD. And painful. It feels like the worst menustral cramps ever, except in your intestines. ... lovely visual, I know.

So I've started substituting other ingredients for my favorite grain...seed...thing. Last night I made my favorite double broccoli quinoa with millet. It was good - but it wasn't quinoa. It didn't have that snap to it. I loved the way the pesto would coat each grain separately, the contrast of textures... I like millet, but it just wasn't the same. Le sigh.

broccoli3


In a related story, this morning I stumbled across a Prevention Magazine article listing seven foods you should never eat. It was published through Fox News, which is ...not normally my go-to source for things that are real... but I learned a few things from reading this article. I already knew about farm-raised salmon, conventional apples, grass-fed beef...but canned tomatoes? And it is pretty scary that potato farmers say they would never eat the conventional potatoes they sell. If you want to read the whole article, you can find it here. Here's the list of seven foods you should never eat, and a brief explaination:

1) Canned tomatoes. Apparently the acidity from the tomatoes causes BPA from the cans to leach into your food, and BPA is no good for your reproductive system. Instead, buy the kind that come in glass jars, or TJ's brand in boxes.
2) Corn-fed Beef. Cows were meant to eat grass, not corn. Grass-fed beef is expensive, but it is a lot more nutritious.
3) Microwave popcorn Chemicals in the lining of the popcorn bag vaporize in the microwave and make their way into your popcorn. These chemicals can cause cancer and affect the reproductive system. Yikers.
4) Nonorganic potatoes. Root vegetables absorb more chemicals from the soil than other veggies do - and potatoes are treated with herbicide, pesticides and fungicides before being shipped to your local grocery store. Washing doesn't help. Their own farmers won't even eat them. Buy organic potatoes.
5) Farmed salmon The shit they are fed is just nasty. Plus they are exposed to (and absorb) all kinds of dangerous chemicals and are treated with antibiotics and pesticides (pesticides? In fish? Really??). The worst in terms of carcinogen content come from northern Europe, so avoid those at all cost.
6) Milk produced with artificial hormones. This is a little trickier to avoid. While most supermarkets carry organic produce, the milk choices are generally pretty slim. If you go to a co-op you can probably find milk from local dairies that is less processed. Also, check the label to make sure the milk is produced without artificial hormones. Bad news, cancer, etc.
7) Conventional apples. Duh. Apples are the worst in terms of pesticide content. The saddest part is that workers who are exposed to pesticides on a regular basis have higher rates of many cancers - so by buying organic you are giving less support to these practices, as well as doing something good for your body and the environment.

Yes, all of these options are more expensive in terms of the $$ you spend at the grocery store. But when you consider the true cost to your health and the planet, it really isn't. OK I'll get off my pedestal now...

Phew that was a long one! So many words!!

Happy Tuesday.

64 comments:

  1. very interesting - they were quite a few on that list I had never heard about!

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  2. C'mon! It's millet!! Business in the front, party in the back!! It's delicious!!!

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  3. Most of these aren't foods I eat anyway, but boy am I guilty of canned tomatoes! I'll have to try the TJs ones, I haven't been there in awhile

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  4. I know! Canned tomatoes were definitely a new one to me. And I always buy organic fruits and vegetables anyways, but I had no idea just how bad conventional potatoes were...

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  5. My fil came to my house with this gigantic bag of conventional potatoes. I decided they couldn't be that bad. So after washing and peeling them, I made French fries ... The usual way I do with grape sees oil. And they were so disgusting. I've been eating mostly organic for a while now and these non-organic potatoes were so nasty :(

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    1. I know, they really do taste different!

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    2. I get violently sick on quinoa. I keep having breaks from it and get sick again when i try it. Yesterday I hardly had any but was doubled over and felt completely fatigued. I'm sad about it because I also love it but my stomach doesn't

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    3. My 13 yr. old daughter started eating quinoa every day for lunch approx. 1 yr. ago. She has since developed Hydritinitis Suppertiva. Can anyone else out there make a connection with that?

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    5. I believe that I have a quinoa allergy. It has manifested in EXTREME itching,pain and little bump/blisters-under my arms, on wrists and palms, groin, behind knees, soles of feet and all around my neck-feels like the worst case of razor burn ever! I just ate some last night and have been eating it almost daily for a month. I had eliminated cabbage(weird, but I know someone that has an extreme allergy to it), nuts and tomatoes-trying to figure out what is making me itch like a mad woman. Finally today, I thought about the quinoa and Googled it. Plenty of people are very allergic and it's not to the saponins, it is to the proteins in it.

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  6. Very, very interesting. My husband just got back from the pharmacy, where he was picking up a prescription for an anti-nausea medicine my doctor's office kindly called in at 9pm. I had a giant quinoa salad today. It was delicious... I just love that snap sensation. An hour and a half later, I had extreme nausea and stomach cramps. I would have chalked it up to food poisoning except that I had the same reaction last week after eating a dish of sauteed wild mushroom, prawns and quinoa. My first incident was this past summer after eating a big bowl of quinoa with my homemade almond milk. At the time, I thought it was the milk made from raw, unpasteurized almonds. Third times a charm. I clearly have developed whatever you have. I commiserate with you the loss of our beloved quinoa.

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    1. I know, it is such a bummer :( My doctor friend actually revised her recommendation to taking 2 years off before trying it again. I'm in the middle of year 2, so fingers crossed...

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    2. hi to both - I'm having the same issues and it took me a while to figure out what's going on - I too made a break (few months) and it didn't help, couple times it went well, then again, same thing, sucks ! :)
      Any other ideas, this is a bit strange (and I tried different varieties it's not that one is bad or something, we also wash and soak the night before, cook very well, all the same, tried everything)

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    3. Two years won't make it any different. Once your body reacts to it, it will always react to it. I'm bummed out too, because I liked quinoa. But I'd rather skip the barfing.

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    4. When you do try to reintroduce quinoa, do it in little bits accompanied by salt that contains magnesium chloride and with foods that aren't considered common allergens. I've got a couple blog posts recently on why: http://petticoatgovernment.blogspot.com/2016/08/as-seen-in-preceding-post-ive-got.html and http://petticoatgovernment.blogspot.com/2016/07/celiac-food-allergies-connected-to.html. People do sometimes outgrow allergies.

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  8. I just learned of my own quinoa allergy. Zyrtec, benadryl, and hydrocortisone cream didn't even touch it. Went to the doctor and he prescribed me prednisone and said I would see improvement within a few hours. After six hours and six pills of prednisone, my condition continued to worsen and my airways and tongue began to swell. My eyelids were nearly swollen shut! I had to go to urgent care and get an epinephrine shot and prednisone shot. I'm still not out if the woods, so I have two epi pens just in case. I could still die from aniphylaxis. If you think you are having an allergic reaction to quinoa, get medical help NOW. Each time you expose yourself to an allergen, your reaction will be more severe. Mine was organic, I rinsed it twice, and I ate one cup of it once ever. Don't try it again. Love it or not, next time, you could be me, because allergic reactions tend to be worse with each exposure. Just let it go... for your own good.

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  32. I recently found out that farm workers who harvest conventional strawberries are required to wear hazmat suits! That fact will stick with me the rest of my life.

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  33. Your adverse reaction may be to the saponin content on the surface of the quinoa. Soaking for 48 hours has been recommended to break down quinoa's chemical defence - mix in vinegar and baking soda with the water, also. Saponins, lectins, and other anti-fungal and anti-predator inhibitors are present at high levels in most unprepared foods (oats, whole grain, and others.

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    1. Soaking doesn't solve the problem. Once you react to it, you will always react to it. That's my experience. Just forget about it.

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  34. I too have gotten horrible stomachaches after eating quinoa and at first couldn't belive it would be the quinoa until now. It is so bad to the point of wanting to vomit but can't. I have been awake for 5 hours when I should be asleep but can't get the pain to go away. I have determined the sensitivity is worse with the red than the regular. Any suggestions how to make the pain go away??

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    1. I too have same problem. I used to be able to eat it for a few months, but then all of a sudden, I am having horrible stomach pains qfter eating them, even one tablespoon brought the pain on. I wa d hed my quinoa thoroughly, multiple times. I used Pepto Bismol to relieve the pain, which helped tremendously. Follow direction on bottle, it was a life saver.

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  35. Please. Last time I ate quinoa I thought I would die in the subsequent 24 hours and will never eat it again. Yes, I did wash it. If u have had a severe reaction to a foodstuff - organic or not - there is a very high chance of anaphylaxis if u continue to use it. Just say no. Really.

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    1. The first bit of sensible advice I've seen. Two days ago I was violently sick after eating quinoa and will never go near it again... I've only just had a tiny amount of rice krispies and fortunately they've stayed down.After the reaction I had to the quinoa, I'll be advising all my friends to be very, very careful.

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  36. Lots of removed comments. I'm guessing they have to do with your shock at discovering that real facts do indeed exist on the Fox News website. These are facts that are not allowed to penetrate the ABC-CBS-CNN-NBC-NPR-PBS bubble. You may discover other interesting facts there if you explore with an open mind. Or you may just choose to delete any acknowledgement of inconvenient truths from people you choose to demonize. Sad.

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    1. Ha boy I know Fox can get it bad but if you trust ABC-CBS-CNN-NBC-NPR-PBS for news. Whelp I have no clue how you stay informed and how your bs meter hasn't exploded yet. Fox can be just as bad and they all are truthful from time to time but not enough for me to consider these dinosaur relics newsworthy any longer.

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  37. I love quinoa and have been eating it for 3-4 years, but I can't eat it anymore. It took me a while to figure out what food was causing my eyes to swell and get red.......it was quinoa and I probably can never eat it again. I'm so bummed.

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  38. I'm glad I switched to eating raw/organic...I feel I'm avoiding a lot of damaging foods...it's easier to go to store now,I feel better physically and emotionally, and hope to keep eating this way the rest of my life!

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  39. I had Quinoa three times in my life. Once was very pleasant and to be very honest I enjoyed it all three times I ate it very much. But The 2nd time was friday 6/13 and I awoke on Saturday 6/14 with a minor rash on my cheeks feeling like a sunburn, as the day went on it changed to itching having no clue as to what could have cause it as seeing how the whole past week was totally cloud coverage I thought nothing of it like maybe I forgot to shower and that's why is was uncomfortable. So hunger naturally I got myself into some left overs for lunch ate everything but the quinoa but was feeling still hungry. So naturally I went back and polished of the quinoa being my 3rd time ever eating them. They were so delicious I don't think I let one seed go uneaten. Later in the day I felt like my cheeks get worse and I fell into a mental fog and had a terrible sinus headache. By the end of the day my cheeks and forehead were swollen up making it impossible to change my expression and the following few days including right now have been agonizingly itchy and burny and swollen facey. NO MORE QUINOA. I miss you....

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  40. I ate quinoa today and had terrible pains in my stomach an hour later. This is the third time this has happened to me. Same thing happens when I eat brown rice. Are you able to eat brown rice without getting stomach pains? No more brown rice and quinoa for me!

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  41. What does psa stand for?

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  42. PSA = public service announcement

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  43. So, after doing some research, I've decided I also have this sensitivity. And I LOVE quinoa. We have a quinoa salad that is almost a staple... the last 2 times my husband made it and my stomach was upset afterwards. The first time I wondered if maybe he put too many onions in it, but didn't have leftovers. The second time I decided to try again and also had an upset stomach. I have a sensitive stomach so it's easy to blame it on something else. Then I made quinoa with black beans the other night... oh, it was SOOOO tasty. But a couple of hours after eating I began to feel horribly ill. Awful stomach cramps and nausea, I felt like I was going to "shuke". (where you don't know which way you need to use the toilet. I thought I would vomit, but couldn't. I thought I was going to have diarrhea, but didn't. No relief. I ended up just lying on my side in bed in a fetal position and staring at the wall. It was so bad that at one point I thought I might need my husband to take me to the ER. This time, I figured it was a cupcake I'd eaten as well. Well, fast forward a couple of days, and I decided to have some of that quinoa and black beans for lunch. Guess what? Same stomach issues again. Ding ding ding. I started to connect the dots, did a couple of quick internet searches, and found I'm not alone. What a bummer though. :-(

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  44. Reading this has brought me some relief! Even though I know I have to give up quinoa now, at least I think I know what is going on! I have enjoyed quinoa for some time, but the other night was horrible! I never felt too nauseous, it was more like sharp pain right in the center of my stomach, reminiscent of heartburn. it lasted from 8 PM until 12 PM the next day. I definitely considered a trip to urgent care/ER. I tried Pepto and Zantac, neither of which really touched it. But then I tried some Tylenol, which shockingly helped.
    I had quinoa again last night, and it was the second time I responded that way. I took the Zantac and Pepto again as well as Tylenol right away and it did improve it over the first time, though it was still bad. good luck everyone!

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  45. Every time I eat Quinoa I get high blood pressure and am unable to sleep...does anyone else get this?

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  46. Same for me. Ate it a few times with no problems, then BAM, started having bad reactions. Didn't know for a while what it was. Finally narrowed it down to the quinoa. Tried a different type, red, and that will be the last time. I had a horrible burning in the middle of my stomach, a lot like severe heart burn. Pepto, mallox, Alka Seltzer, etc. nothing worked. Lasted about 18 hours before the pain finally stopped. Worst and only food related pain I have ever had. Never let up. Rough! Be careful.

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  47. OMG, I'm so glad other people feel the same way as me - though obviously, not when we're feeling bad (!) I've eaten quinoa for years - YEARS - with no problems, always the grain sort, usually mixed with rice. Recently I saw some quinoa flakes and thought it might be nice to eat it as a morning porridge - BANG! Writhing on the floor in agony. First it felt like severe hunger pains, then like indigestion, then like really really bad period pains. I thought it was indigestion - I mean, again, I'd eaten this stuff for YEARS - and had some again the next week. Same thing again. Still didn't connect the dots - and then I baked some sweet potato buns and worked in some quinoa - less this time, but had horrible indigestion-feelings for hours afterwards. Finally have put two and two together. I contacted the company complaining and they started giving me the run around - saying I must be allergic to it, etc - whereupon I asked them to explain HOW ON EARTH HAVE I EATEN THIS STUFF FOR YEARS THEN? Surely yours can't be properly washed otherwise I wouldn't have had such a reaction. Now I'm scared to eat it again - I'll be really annoyed if they've made me allergic to it!

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  48. I had the same problem - was even told I had a stomach ulcer. Eventually I connected the dots and realised it was the quinoa. That was the time I ended up in hospital on a morphine drip after a nice meal out with my family. I'm 40 years old and had never been to the ER before - but that's how severe the pain got. Once you have the sensitivity/allergy, it seems to get worse every time you consume the stuff. I'm never going back, the pain was just too bad.

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  49. Dear Kristine:

    Just found your writing on http://sopranointherealworld.blogspot.com/2011/12/quinoa-psa-and-seven-foods-you-should.html .

    Usually your case with quinoa this is a "leaky-gut" problem. JUST wash your quinoa well, and do not eat pre-made quinoa food products from the prepared food section of any store incase they did not wash, or wash the quinoa properly -- probably stay away from quinoa flakes as well.

    The outer layer of the quinoa seed contains substances called saponins. In some foods, such as beans, saponins are edible phytonutrients that may deliver health benefits. The natural saponins in quinoa repel insects, which is a benefit because the plant doesn't need additional chemical pesticides. However, you should not eat quinoa saponins. They have a bitter taste and may damage the small intestine, according to Purdue University. This is the cause of "leaky-gut". Many brands of quinoa are pre washed to remove saponins, but it’s a good idea to rinse the seeds again prior to cooking to be sure all remnants are removed. If you’re not sure whether the seeds were pre washed, rinse them several times in fresh water.

    If you truly do think this is truly an allergy have yourself checked out by a professional and good allergist instead of self-diagnosising.

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  50. The last 2 times I ate quinoa I got very ill. First time I made it myself after rinsing well ad second time was from a food co-op. My daughter had it also and had no problems. I have the exact same reaction to salmon, avocado and kiwi. Burning gut, vomiting, nausea and overall feel lime I'm dying. My Dr. is running a food allergy panel. It's scary not knowing what I will react to next.

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  51. Ok..Now I see that I am not the only one that cannot eat quinoa. I bought a bag of organic frozen quinoa & vegetables and microwaved it in the bag. I had it with fish cakes and fresh broccoli. Right after eating I began to feel my stomach churning & grumbling; then soon after came the nausea, and then the ralphing. I thought it was the fish cakes that gave me food poisoning, so a few weeks later I had the same brand of organic quinoa with vegetables; and BAM, knocked me for a loop again. So I am convinced that my system cannot take that grain for whatever reason. So I am sticking to cooking brown rice for my grain fix.. :-)

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