Three little bites of health….by Hannah Dare of Organico Bantry (from the May edition of The West Cork People)

May 9, 2013 by

1. They put WHAT in the dough?
Sometimes we are, quite literally, what we eat! Human hair has been on our menus for quite some time although few of us knew it and we certainly won’t see it listed on ingredients labels. In organico, we recently received an organic pastry product and were intrigued to read on the label ‘Does not contain L-Cysteine’. When we looked into it we found out that E920, which is also known as L-Cysteine (not to be confused with amino-acid supplements of the same name though!) is a food additive that is produced in countries such as China, often from human hair, or feathers, or pig hair. I guess after the recent horse meat scandal we should not be surprised by anything that international food giants produce to make cheaper and cheaper foods…but this seems beyond the pail!

For a while now the EU has banned this type of L-Cysteine from food (Brussels simply felt the use of hair was ‘unethical’) but it is still impossible to be sure where the L-Cysteine in your food was sourced, say food experts.
The difficulty is, you may not even find the ingredient listed on the labels of L-Cysteine-laced foods at all. If any flavouring constitutes less than 2% of the ingredients then the manufacturers need not declare it on labelling, says another UK directive. So this curious act of potential cannibalism may go unnoticed even by the most scrupulous label hound.
Of course, by the time it reaches the world’s pizzas, bagels and croissants, where it’s used predominantly as a dough conditioner (it reduces mixing time, prevents shrinkage of pizza crusts and helps in the machinability of dough) the hair has been thoroughly gone over and reduced to its chemical constitutes. Still, it’s extraordinary to think that the body can be recycled like this – and it makes another really good reason to avoid all packaged processed foods! Eat hand made, (preferably organic) breads, pastries and pizzas and cook at home yourself – and you can avoid putting hair (and God knows what else) on your menu!
2. What do colic and migraines have in common?
Dr John Briffa (a UK based GP who is an expert on the impact of nutrition and lifestyle on health) this week discusses research that link infants who have colic and individuals who suffer from migraines. The conventional theory is that the link is in the gut, possibly inflammation caused by a pathogen. However, Dr Briffa’s theory is that the connection is food – or rather, food sensitivities:
‘’I find a very common cause of intestinal discomfort is ‘food sensitivity’. Here, it seems specific foodstuffs have the capacity to initiate immune-reactions and inflammation in the intestinal wall, causing discomfort and perhaps other symptoms (e.g. bloating) too. Any food, in theory, might cause problems, but certain foods do seem to be frequent offenders. In practice, I find the very worst offender to be wheat. Dairy products (especially milk) are other likely suspects in my experience.’’
It is well known that migraines are triggered by certain foods. Often quoted are red wine, chocolate, coffee and citrus fruits. But Dr Briffa thinks other foods can trigger them also – eggs, tea, corn, cane sugar and yeast all come up in research as triggers.
And it is also known that colic can be triggered by food – most often by cows milk formula, and in the case of breast fed babies, often by dairy foods in the mother’s diet. Other known triggers in mum’s diet are cabbages, broccoli, onions and chocolate.
If you want to find out whether you have food sensitivities, why not take a simple IgG intolerance test – we can now offer these tests in Organico if you are interested. If you suffer from migraines, or from other gastrointestinal discomforts such as bloating, chronic constipation, gut pain and generally poor digestion it could be an excellent way of discovering how you can reduce your symptoms without needing medication.
For more information on this test call in and ask for Christine Meadows. Christine is a trained nutritionist, and one of the most common reasons people call to her is to find out if they have a food sensitivity.
3. Don’t be afraid of the sun!
Over the last winter and non-spring we have seen a huge surge in the number of people taking Vitamin D supplements, as more and more research comes out linking vitamin D deficiency with all kinds of health problems such as MS, Arthritis, cancer, depression, auto-immune conditions, muscular pain and joint stiffness, osteoporosis, low immunity and childhood rickets. Hopefully now with more daily sunlight we will be able to cut back, but it is important to understand how sunlight helps to generate Vitamin D and also to remember to take a supplement even during the summer months if you have an indoor job and/or wear creams with sun protection factors every day.
While it is important not to let yourself burn, and to respect the power of the sun, we all need approximately 20 minutes of sunlight on bear arms, legs and torso every day to boost vitamin D levels sufficiently – bear arms meaning no sunblock or not too many clothes. Unfortunately in Ireland this can be hard to manage! And it is especially important for babies and children who need Vitamin D to build healthy bones (the re-appearance of Rickets in Ireland is directly linked to Vitamin D deficiency). Food sources include oily fish and egg yolks. Supplement doses have gone up and up – we now have a 3000IU spray in Organico and the suggestion is one to two sprays a day for a healthy adult. There is also a 1000IU Spray for kids – a nice and easy way of taking the ideal amount.
Recent research shows that if you are vitamin D deficient and you take a supplement or manage to find the time to sun yourself enough you may well notice a real lift in your energy. We all know we feel more energetic in the summer with longer days, more fruit and vegetables and warmer weather but it’s worth remembering that in order to maximise your energy you need to focus on getting that 15-20 minutes in the sun with no sunblock as often as you can.
Organico Shop Cafe and Bakery is located in Bantry on Glengarriff Road. Call us on 027 51391 and email us on is our website.

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