There's been a lot of buzz in the last couple years about a peanut patch that may offer tolerance for those who suffer severe peanut allergies. It's basically the same idea as a nicotine patch -- slap this little sticky patch on your arm, and small amounts of peanut protein will be absorbed into the skin, hopefully helping the body build a tolerance. Because it doesn't enter the bloodstream, it's possible to avoid deadly allergic reactions while introducing the system to the allergen.
In an article earlier this year, Time magazine noted that "Viaskin" was on the cusp of offering this truly new treatment option for patient with anaphylactic allergies to peanuts. Where avoidance is generally the rule, cross-contamination is a deep fear for many who manage food allergies -- when even a minute amount of an allergen could cause a life-threatening reaction, any contact can be lethal. The peanut patch offers hope that patients can tolerate small amounts, meaning cross-contamination fears would be alleviated. Many of the patients who participated in the trials couldn't even tolerate 1/10 of a peanut. This is the fear we live with every single day: minute amounts of allergen exposure can cost a life.
A number of studies have demonstrated that building tolerance to allergens is possible, and epicutaneous immunotherapy (EPIT) is now in its final human testing phase, with all good results. Viaskin trials included more than 200 patients, who were treated with either peanut patches or placebos over the course of one year. Dr. Hugh Sampson, director of the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at the Kravis Children's Hospital at Mount Sinai and lead author of the study noted that, "After one year of therapy, half of the patients treated with the 250ug patch tolerated at least 1 gram of peanut protein -- about four peanuts -- which is 10 times the dose that they tolerated in their entry oral peanut challenge." One patient was able to eat an entire handful of peanuts without reactivity and there were no adverse reactions to the peanut patch. This is incredible! If building tolerance yields such results, imagine the freedom for those with life-threatening allergies?
I'm not sure whether it would be a lifelong treatment, or how coverage would work, but the fact that this treatment is out there, and is effective gives me so much hope!
Last year, a friend shared some nutty news with me — she'd discovered peanut-free nuts and seeds at her local grocery store from a company called Royal Nuts (find out how to get them in YOUR local store below!). To someone without allergies, that's probably not very exciting, but to someone with a peanut allergy (who isn't allergic to tree nuts) this is BIG news.
Nuts and peanuts are usually processed in the same facilities, which means there's a high risk of cross-contamination. So, many people with peanut allergies avoid tree nuts just to be safe. The downside is that they're missing out on really healthy (and yummy) snacks (they produce nuts, seeds, and dried fruit). Thanks to Royal Nuts, this isn't an issue because all of their products are produced and packaged in a peanut-free facility.
I'm even more excited about their products now, because my son's most recent skin test showed no reaction to the tree nut panel, and he's being sent to SickKids in the spring for an oral food challenge. So by fall, there's a good chance we could introduce tree nuts back into our household! Since nuts are one of my favourite foods, and a healthy source of protein, it would be awesome to be able to stock our house with Royal Nuts products. They're not only safe for those with a peanut allergy, they're also DELICIOUS.
Royal Nuts are also kosher and gluten-free. Of course, nuts are naturally gluten-free, but during processing, there's a risk for gluten contamination. Not so with Royal Nuts! They guarantee their machinery is never contaminated with gluten.
Royal Nuts are also preservative-free. This opens up a whole new world of safe nuts, seeds, and dried fruits for so many people!
One of the things I love most, and that you can definitely taste in these products, is that they're oil-free, and never fried. Dry-roasting, through prolonged exposure to heated air, is a healthier way to process the nuts. It preserves the amazing flavours, scents, and satisfying crunch without adding unnecessary oils and fats. Royal Nuts' Freshness Guard packaging ensures that the daily roasted nuts are delivered to stores at peak freshness.
Now, I need to address size for a moment. I'm honestly trying to figure out how to tell you this without exposing my extreme immaturity. Size matters. And these nuts are big. Royal Nuts chooses only the largest-sized nuts from highest-grade crops year-round to ensure that you're getting only the tastiest, biggest nuts!
One of my favourite memories as a kid, strangely enough, is the ever-present bowl of nuts we had in our house, especially during the holiday season. Nuts and Christmas just kinda go together, don't they? My mom would put out both shelled and unshelled nuts of all kinds, and I actually have an antique nut cracker:
Of course, with Royal Nuts, the hard work's all been done for you, no nut cracking necessary, but they still bring back memories for me. The deluxe mixed nuts in the image above are amazing. They have just a touch of sea salt and are the most amazing post-workout snack I think I've ever had.
These nuts also perfect for adding to yogurt, baking or cereals, and to just carry around as a midday snack. I love the pumpkin seeds in my morning oatmeal, and I threw some dried cranberries into muffins that were absolutely divine. Imagine how delicious some pumpkin seeds would be in these Carrot Oatmeal Muffins? I'm going to try it!
If you're having a hard time finding Royal Nuts where you live (here are the stores that currently carry them), and you would like your local grocer to stock them, here's what you can do. Download this form, print it out, and give it to your grocery store manager.
Have a question about Royal Nuts? Leave a comment below and I'll pass it on to them. And don't forget to keep in touch with Royal Nuts on Facebook. Tell 'em Alex sent you.
Hi, everyone, it's me, Debbie Downer again! I'm here to tell you that with the sparkle and joy of the Christmas holidays come allergens. Allergies often spike over the holiday season, since we're trapped inside with our allergens. As if the cold and snow this time of year wasn't depressing enough, we can't even get an allergy reprieve! But it's ok, I'm not just a bearer of bad news. I'm here with some tips for keeping your allergies at bay over the Christmas season:
Real trees are gorgeous, that's true. But they're also covered in dust, mold and who-knows-what-else from being outside. Many are pre-cut before you buy them and have actually already started to decompose, breeding even more allergens. An artificial tree is a better option for those with allergies. But be sure to give the tree a wash before setting it up in your living space. Chances are, it's got a decent coating of dust on it from being stored since last Christmas.
Christmas balls, people. Come on, now. This is a family blog. Those pretty ornaments are dirty, yo! Buy cans of condensed air (the kind you use to spray out keyboards and electronics), and spray off your ornaments outside before decorating with them. Depending on how and where your decorations have been stored, they could also be covered in allergens.
I bet you didn't know that poinsettias are dangerous to those with latex allergies, did you? Well, it's true. They can not only poison your pets, they can cause rashes and wheezing in those with latex allergies. And let's face it, nobody really likes them anyhow.
Ok, maybe not your smell, but the scents in your home. It's tempting to light a scented candle or use air fresheners during this season because of all the entertaining happening, but those smells can trigger allergic or asthmatic responses. If you really need to overpower the stink of your kids' hockey bag or your husband's sneakers, try putting a pot of water with cinnamon sticks and cloves on the stove to simmer a bit.
When you're hosting a festive dinner, be sure you ask guests about food allergies and sensitivities. Nothing brings down a dinner party quite like an anaphylactic reaction.
Because we spend so much of our time indoors in winter, it's important to make sure that the recycled air you're breathing is healthy, so be sure to read these other tips for surviving winter allergies, too.
Oh, and Happy Holidays!