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Review of Flo Makanai’s Les intolerances alimentaires: Cuisiner gourmand autrement (meaning literally, Food Intolerances: Epicurean Cooking with a Difference), published in French. Even though the book has not yet been published in English, we consider the information in this review helpful to an English-speaking audience.
When interviewed by Flo Makani, Nicolas Zamaria, with a Ph.D. in nutrition and director of a medical biology laboratory made a highly cogent point: “During the course of a life, 30 tons of food go through an individual’s digestive tube.” Imagine that before the era of synthetic pesticides that began in the 1930s (the word pesticide includes fungicides as well as weed and parasite killers], if there was to find a “Maginot” date, indicating an “after” and therefore a “before”, all of what that individual ingested, in other words, those 30 tons of food people ate before the 1930s, was organic. Yes, organic, without making any big deal about it! This was simply because farmers were not yet able to “rectify” nature’s big homeostatic equilibriums and therefore to endanger them. Today, rightfully, we are entitled — and in desperate need — to ask ourselves how that same digestive tube will treat the truly problematic situation, from a nutritional point of view, of the 30 tons of food it takes in these days. Because, of course, apart from the organic-labeled products (in France, 2.5% of the total cultivated area was devoted to organic farming in 2009), nothing else is organic anymore.
Flo Makanai’s book is timely when it comes to food allergies and intolerances with no medical names and, above all, that the medical profession is not comfortable talking about and diagnosing. “The state of the gut’s lining is crucial for each one’s immune balance,” Nicolas Zamaria explains, “but pesticides, fungicides, antibiotics, heavy metals, GMO, etc., as well as some diseases, weaken, sometimes seriously, the mucous membrane, making it leak. Unwanted food particles then enter the human fluids, provoking abnormal immune reactions and inflammations that, through the blood and the lymphatic system, circulate in the body and settle in here or there, leading to ear, nose or throat affections, migraines, joint and/or digestive troubles, among many other illnesses.”
The watchword for the citizens’ food revolution for the next decade is clearly for each of us to “win back” our colon and small intestine. But how?
This book is by Flo Makanai, a teacher and researcher in law, who has to deal personally with these issues. It offers the consumers we all are — confused by the constant influx of information and advice that is all too often contradictory — some kind of vital food “compass”. You are introduced to the 4 major types of food intolerances Makanai has identified (enzyme deficiency-linked, immune system attack, physical/structural imbalance and energy imbalance) and learn not to confuse intolerances with what we generally call allergies, or “immediate” allergies — that immune system reaction that is THE food danger par excellence and that justifies a radical response in terms of diet.
The difference between an immune system-provoked food intolerance (often called hypersensitivity in English but not –yet?- in French) and what is commonly called allergy is that the former does not involve IgE antibodies but IgG antibodies, the ones that are implied in secondary immune reactions. It is therefore now commonly admitted in the general research literature that food can induce a non IgE-mediated immune reaction. One might as well say that we are just beginning to explore and understand our metabolic capacities in these times of heavy food pollution, and that we will need to adapt what we put on our plates in accordance with the news that will arise out of research.
As it is, each time threats are identified, humanity searches for answers. Flo Makanai’s book offers practical food and cooking solutions for those who have been diagnosed with a type of intolerance or allergy or other food-related problem. No one has perhaps ever died just by eliminating from his diet a “host” that has been proven, after thorough tests and examinations, to be highly undesirable. The contrary will even occur. Therefore, those allergic to gluten (who suffer from Celiac disease) have created gluten-free communities all over the world to share recipes and precious recommendations. Social networks are then a real breath of fresh air for those people who are forced to tackle food intolerances in their day-to-day lives.
The author takes the reader by the hand to help them live in harmony with those necessary eliminations from your diet. Let her do guide you; she knows through experience.
One explains that classical theater was born from the constraint of having to use 2000 words only, and not a single word more. Racine’s great theater is born out of this “low-cal” diet. There always is a challenge and an art in having to turn a handicap into a tool that helps you grow in stature.
Flo Makanai, Les intolérances alimentaires. Cuisiner gourmand autrement, Anagramme éditions, 2011. 14.90€