Welcome to our Food as Medicine Series

What we eat can and often does impact our health, for better or worse. Certain foods can intensify feelings of anxiety, or can worsen feelings of depression, or can even aggravate ADD/ADHD symptoms. Throughout the centuries, people have used food as medicine. There are foods which have been found to have calming effects, foods that can reduce feelings of anxiety, or that can ease feelings of depression.

The role that food and food choices play in the health and wellness of a person who may have mast cell disease (MCD) or a mast cell activation related disorder is enormous. The Counseling Center at CELA’s Food as Medicine series of informational booklets provides a basic understanding of how our health, our nutrition, and MCD reactions interact and how we are systemically affected by our food choices.

It is our goal and hope that, through supporting informed food choices, more and more people can improve their health, decrease reactions, and raise their baseline of wellness in their day-to-day lives.

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Glossary of Terms

Environmental Health & Environmental Illnesses – Environmental health refers to aspects of human health, including quality of life, that can be determined or affected by physical and non-physical factors in our world and in ourselves. Environmental health focuses on and examines the relationship and interaction between the environment and our health. Learn more

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) includes in their publication, “Environmental Diseases from A to Z,”: allergies; asthma; dermatitis; immune deficiency diseases; illnesses caused by chemicals and other agents, poisonous chemicals, dyes, metals; nervous system disorders; vision problems; and more (see here, and here, and here)

Environmental health and environmental illnesses embrace all genetic and non-genetic factors that may have an impact on our health—physical, chemical, biological, social, and psychological—and the resulting health issues. It’s not just “the outdoors” and/or toxic exposures. It involves COVID-19, long COVID, stress, hormones, aspects of modern lifestyles, noise pollution, infectious diseases, viruses, and more (see here, and here, and here).

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Mast Cells – a type of white blood cell found in the connective tissue throughout the body. Mast cells are the body’s gatekeepers at places where the body comes into direct contact with the environment, such as the skin, airways, gastrointestinal and urogenital tracts. Mast cells are also found in the brain (see here and here). Mast cells are involved in the regulation of a variety of physiological functions, they regulate functions of many different cell types, they have the capacity to be involved in the regulation of many organs and tissues, and also play a role in the pathogenesis of a variety diseases (see here).

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Mast Cell Activation & Mast Cell Mediators – when mast cells detect a germ, virus, or substance to which they react, they become activated which means they degranulate or crumble. When mast cells are activated, they start an inflammatory (allergic) response by releasing many different chemicals—called mediators—into the body which protect our body from germs and infections. Mast cells can be activated to release mediators by multiple triggers. The activation of mast cells and resulting release of various mediators into the body—especially histamine—affects multiple organ systems in the body including the brain (see here and here, here and here).

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Mast Cell Diseases (MCD) – the term used by mast cell specialists in the USA and internationally for all mast cell diseases and is inclusive of every person suffering from any kind of mast cell disease (see here and here).

Individuals with a mast cell activation related disorder–MCD–often present with very diverse and extremely fluctuating symptoms that can include brain fog, anxiety, depression, insomnia, only being able to eat a highly restricted diet, having not typical neurological symptoms, and more (see here and here).

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Triggers & Symptoms of Mast Cell Activation – mast cells can be activated to release mediators by all sorts of triggers. Possible mast cell triggers include but are not limited to: heat, cold, or sudden temperature changes; stress (emotional as well as physical including pain, environmental such as weather changes and pollution); exercise; fatigue; food or beverages including alcohol; medications, drugs, contrast dyes; infections (bacterial, viral, fungal); venoms (bees, wasps, snakes, spiders, fire ants, jelly fish, biting insects such as flies, mosquitoes, fleas); mechanical irritation, friction, vibration; sun/sunlight (see here).

Symptoms of mast cell activation include but are not limited to: flushing of face, neck, and/or chest; headache; tachycardia; chest pain; abdominal pain; bloating; acid reflux; gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD); nausea, vomiting, diarrhea; rashes; migraines; bone/joint/muscle pain; numbness and/or tingling; anxiety; depression; itching; hives; blood pressure instability; cognitive impairments including brain fog, forgetting, word retrieval issues; emotionality and mood swings; lightheadedness; dizzy/vertigo; balance issues; syncope (fainting); feelings of impending doom or that something is very, very wrong; anaphylaxis (see here).

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Click/Tap the titles below & download the pdfs!

Food as Medicine: Histamine & Food

Food as Medicine: Mast Cell Stabilizing Foods

Food as Medicine: Mitochondria Strengthening Foods

Food as Medicine: COVID-19, Long COVID, & Mast Cell Connection

Food as Medicine: Designing a Mast Cell Aware Eating Plan

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