Nutrition and Asthma, Food and Cancer Treatments, Iridology

Q: Is it true that early nutrition can influence a child’s risk of asthma and allergies?
Q: What do you suggest when people undergoing cancer treatment start to dislike food they used to enjoy?
Q: Can the irises of our eyes signal nutritional deficiencies?


Karen Collins, MS, RD, CDN
American Institute for Cancer Research

Q: Is it true that early nutrition can influence a child’s risk of asthma and allergies?
A: According to the latest clinical report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), nutritional interventions in infancy may offer some protection. And identifying interventions that may reduce atopic diseases like hay fever, eczema and other allergies is more important than ever as incidence of asthma, peanut allergy and eczema has increased dramatically in recent decades. The tendency to develop atopic conditions seems to be hereditary. Infants with at least one parent or sibling who has one of these allergic conditions are considered high-risk for developing an allergy themselves. Thankfully the AAP report cited some preventative measures. Exclusive breastfeeding for at least four months is the new report’s top recommendation for preventing atopic dermatitis, cow’s milk allergy and wheezing in early life – especially for infants whose family history puts them at risk. Exclusive breastfeeding for a minimum of six months is recommended by other reports that focus on decreasing a baby’s risk of respiratory and gastrointestinal infections. If formula is used in the first few months, babies at high risk of developing atopic disease may benefit from using a special “predigested” formula in which the protein is partially broken down as opposed to traditional cow’s milk or soy-based formula. The report found no convincing evidence that restricting a mother’s diet during pregnancy or delaying solid foods for a baby beyond four to six months of age offers any protection.

Q: What do you suggest when people undergoing cancer treatment start to dislike food they used to enjoy?
A: Food aversions that develop during cancer treatment are quite common. Sometimes dislike of a food occurs due to a physical intolerance resulting from side effects of treatment. For example, intestinal changes from radiation or mouth sores can make particular foods painful to eat. Other times, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or the cancer itself can change a patient’s sense of taste, making once-liked foods taste terrible. Aversion to foods can develop when people so strongly associate certain foods with off-flavors, nausea or other negative experiences during treatment. Oftentimes just tasting or smelling those foods can trigger a powerful negative reaction. These aversions can last for years after treatment ends. Because of this, some treatment centers recommend that patients avoid eating favorite foods during times when they might feel sick. If someone does develop an aversion, whether new or long lasting, don’t try to force the food. There are some tactics you can employ to try to bypass potential problems. Sometimes, how a food is prepared or served can make a difference. Meat, chicken or fish may taste more pleasant if it is marinated in sweet fruit juices or Italian dressing. Eating from plastic utensils may decrease metallic tastes. And room temperature food may produce less nausea-promoting aromas than hot food.

Q: Can the irises of our eyes signal nutritional deficiencies?
A: No. Iridology claims that markings in the iris (the colored part of the eye) correspond to individual parts of the body and can reveal signs of specific abnormalities. But there is no reliable evidence. The few clinical trials that have tried to test these claims have shown iridology diagnoses to be inaccurate and widely conflicting among practitioners. Moreover, the assertion that the iris can reflect physical changes in the body is in direct conflict with human physiology, which shows that the iris doesn’t change after the first year of life (except for marks that may develop with glaucoma treatment). Note that iridology is not regulated or licensed by any governmental agency.

Reprinted with permission from the American Institute for Cancer Research www.aicr.org

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