Eating Locally Can Prevent Food Allergies

A Northern Ireland food allergies expert has revealed that eating local food not only tastes good but can help prevent illness and intolerance

Roisin Armstrong. 16/06/2015. Roisin Armstrong with her book "Porridge is an Aphrodisiac" . Pic Philip Walsh

Roisin Armstrong.
Pic Philip Walsh

Kinesiologist Roisin Armstrong said that by committing to buying and cooking local food we are ensuring our bodies are getting the right food at the right time.

“Eating local food is so helpful on many levels, firstly when we eat locally we are forced to eat seasonally. This change is enormously important as it changes what we eat on a daily basis, from warm winter soups, stews and roasts, to lighter salads and short lived summer fruits and vegetables. A really important aspect of healthy eating is to choose your food from as many and varied sources as possible, eating seasonally immediately means that you widen out your nutritional intake. This is not just about fruit and vegetables but also our meat, fish and poultry sources. Think turkey, spring lamb and the variety of fish that we can buy.

“Secondly, when you eat local food it is much more likely to be fresh as it has not had to endure huge air journeys. It is unlikely to have been subject to irradiation, or gassed to artificially ripen it on route.

“The shorter journey is also so much better for the environment, and shopping locally supports local producers, suppliers and retailers, helping our own economy,” explained Roisin, adding: “There is also the case that through generations our body’s were adapted to digesting certain foods, in the last 30 years we have been eating foods using ingredients that were not available. Factually it is said that Britain as a nation was at it’s healthiest in the immediate post second World War when rationing was still in place – that’s something to think about.”

breakfast-697243_1280Roisin’s work focuses on food intolerances, both identifying them and improving the health of her clients by helping them cut out foods that are making them unwell.

She said: “Food intolerances are of mammoth importance to all of our health. I carry out a food test, through muscle testing, on almost all of the clients that I see and it constantly amazes me the effects of removing trigger foods from their diet. A huge raft of conditions can be helped from the obvious digestion related conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Chrohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis to migraines, hay fever, arthritis, rheumatic pains, Urinary Tract Infections, MS, Chronic Fatigue, athletes foot, cystitis, eczema, asthma, chronic rhinitis, snoring, constant tiredness, menstrual and menopausal issues, the list is goes on and on.

“There are four food allergies which are the most common, yeast, wheat, sugar and dairy. The first cause is simply excessive consumption; we all eat much more than we need. Portion and plate sizes have both got bigger. We eat much more bread than we should and breakfast cereals, largely because of the convenience factor. In an average day it would not be unusual to have a wheat based cereal for breakfast, a biscuit with elevenses, a sandwich for lunch, pasta for dinner and maybe another bowl of cereal before bed. Using a variety of foods: porridge, eggs, yoghurt or fish for breakfast, fruit and nuts or oat or rye crackers with hummus or guacamole as a snack, a salad with poultry, beans or chick peas for lunch, and brown or wild rice or potato, white or sweet, as your carbohydrate for dinner creates the variety which is so much easier on our digestive systems.

Roisin Armstrong. 16/06/2015. Roisin Armstrong with her book "Porridge is an Aphrodisiac" . Pic Philip Walsh

Roisin Armstrong with her book “Porridge is an Aphrodisiac” .
Pic Philip Walsh

“Ask any coeliac too, when you can’t have any kind of gluten it is shocking how many unlikely foods it is from some beers, breakfast cereals to potato crisps, processed soups  and many desserts as a thickening agent. Start checking labels, it can be amazing.

“Once you identify the trigger food or foods, and remove them from the diet, for a period of time it can be completely amazing how an individual’s health can improve, and how rapid that change can be. Sleep patterns often normalise, pain is reduced, energy comes up, bowel problems and bloating settle, skin problems clear and sneezing can stop, weight loss often occurs, all by just taking an irritant food out of the person’s system.

Over the years, food intolerance has increased and these days they affect the lives of almost everyone. Roisin explained why this might be.

“There are many probable causes such as: the fact that many of the foods eaten are processed and so are chemically altered, and therefore alien to our systems. There is the theory that we have introduced so much hygiene into our world which affect our immune responses. It is possible that the use of allergenic foods like extracts from nuts in cosmetic, subject the body to allergens in a way that it has not encountered before. Another thought is that our gut flora has become damaged by excess sugar and alcohol and just cannot cope.”

After her own experience with chronic fatigue and stress, Roisin became a local food author and natural health practitioner. At her kinesiology practice, Roisin helps people deal with food intolerances.

“In a kinesiology session an extensive medical history is taken, most sessions include a food test, spinal check and a balance to restore you to “factory settings”. Nutritional advice and possibly supplements will be recommended if necessary.  I am also an acupuncturists I will often include some needles as it offers a very deep relaxation and therapeutic benefit.

“I have been in practise for 20 years and almost all my clients come through recommendations from friends whom I have been able to help. It is a privilege to be involved in this work and to witness first hand how much better so many feel after just some very basic physical adjustments, changes the diet or through the right nutritional support. For me the therapy and results speak for themselves.”

Plus, there are plenty of local producers creating brilliant, healthy products, especially for people with intolerances.

“Probably the issue which is best serviced is the gluten free market. An excellent resource is the www.glutenfreeireland.com site which gives you county by county eateries and food producers. There is an excellent company in Newry called Bfree Foods and if you go onto www.buynifoods.com you will get information about the 15 companies who won prizes at this week’s first Free From Ireland Award ceremony, amazing success from just 37 categories! There are gluten free beers available from some of the local craft beer producers and you can access unpasteurised raw organic milk from Kilrea and Portadown which has proven very popular with those suffering from various allergic conditions.”

Porridge-is-an-Aphrodisiac-Roisin-Armstrong-book-available-nowRoisin’s first cookbook, Porridge Is An Aphrodisiac, which was published in 2015, showcases delicious, healthy and simple recipes for wholesome dishes.

Roisin explained: “Cooking your own food ensures that it is additive free and you control what you put into it. All the recipes are really simple and user friendly. The ingredients are readily available and the point is, to up the nutritional content of food. For example, there is even a fish finger sandwich, improved by adding a whole meal pitta, some freshly grated vegetables and some good olive oil to dress it.”
“My experience of helping people to change their eating habits is you have to bring them along slowly, introducing new tastes and allowing them to see how much better they feel when they tweak their diets. It is not expecting radical change overnight, those kind of changes rarely are long-lasting.” 

Porridge is an Aphrodisiac by Roisin Armstrong, published by Shanway Press (Price £13) can be purchased online through Shanway, Waterstones and Amazon, or from many local book shops.

Roisin has clinics in Holywood, Belfast and Portglenone. For more information go to: www.roisinarmstrong.com or call 07770 862637 for appointments.

About the Author

Jessikah Hope Stenson
A young, enthusiastic writer who appreciates a good scone.