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SobaAddict70

Food Allergies/Food Phobias

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That being said, there's an awful lot of fussiness out there hiding behind the guise of allergies.  I've seen people claim to have allergies to foods that they merely dislike, and I've witnessed a number of people lately diagnosing themselves with a food allergy, believing it to be the culprit behind their general malaise.  The latter strikes me as more a neurosis than a medical condition, but that's just MHO.

I think you're right in some cases---I worked at a small natural foods co-op for several years (years ago), right around the time a number of new diets were coming out--gluten-free, gluten, people being told by a naturopath they had yeast 'infections' throughout their bodies and so should eat X/Y or Z, but not A, B or C, detox diets, and then much later there was the 'eat right for your blood type' diets, whatever. For some people--who I watched go from one miracle diet/food to another miracle diet and/or food it seemed to be what I called, "perfection through food." Whatever problems they had, physical and/or emotional, this new diet or new food or not exposing themselves to this additive or food, would solve their problems, they'd be happy and healthy.

I know more people of the, "I don't like it and that's that" type. Usually it's vegetables and fish/seafood. It seems a bit odd to me in an adult (I was a picky eater as a child--although I did eat a wide variety of veggies and fruit) but if we're eating at my house, I accomodate. It's not worth arguing about--I've sat through way too much arguing over food--what is ok to eat, what is not, why aren't you eating that . . . to want to start any myself.

That said, my mother and her cousin are both allergic to celery--my mother can tolerate a small amount of cooked celery in a soup, but has a fairly strong rxn to raw celery. I was in my 20's before I finally tried some raw--and didn't have a problem. Years ago because of some difficulties I was tested (just the skin testing) for allergies and was told I was 'sensitive' to dairy (esp.cheese), tomatoes and wheat.' But the allergist didn't say to stop eating any of those foods--only that I might do better if I avoided dairy if I was having allergic symptoms (to the things like molds that I'm more allergic to--although I can eat a bit of blue cheese w/out a rxn). I still eat them--although I try to eat sheep and goat's cheese (Such a trial) since if I am mildly allergic to cow's milk, it's probably to the proteins. I have a friend who cannot eat anything in the curcubit (or curcurbit?) family. She says she had a mild rxn when she was young and it got worse until she just avoided anything in that family. A friend who was diagnosed with MS about 6 years ago (after being diagnosed w/lupus when she was 14) has found she's reacting (hives, upset stomach) to more and more kinds of fruit as she gets older and she hates it as she really likes fruit.

My father developed celiac disease when he was in his 70's so perhaps some sensitivities or allergies develop w/age.

Other than that (and a sister w/Crohn's), I have few friends with any kind of serious food allergy or sensitivity. My sister is lactose-intolerant. And my mother--the only one w/a major food allergy--she was born and lived in Austria until she was 18 so it's the European of the family who has the food allergy.

I've read that some food intolerances or sensitivities (inability to digest properly) or actual allergies have some ethnic connections: favism (which can vary in severity) or a rxn to a fava beans is pretty much restricted to people of Mediterranean area descent. Lactose intolerance or an inability to digest lactose (lack of lactase enzyme I believe) is supposed to be more common in Asians and Africans or people of Asian or African descent. Supposedly because cow's milk is not available much anyway or drunken much after very early chlidhood, while many northern European peoples have relied on milk as a significant food source for centuries and so retain the ability to digest milk. I'm not sure if the information on lactose intolerance is still current.

azurite

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FYI for all the scallop-reactives. My dear friend is allergic to all the 'sweet' seafood: lobster, scallops, but not crap or shrimp. She discovered conch is in the sweet group by accident. Just something to keep in mind if you travel to the Caribbean.


"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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On the other hand I had a customer who demanded a list of ingredients for several items due to her “glucose” intolerance.

“Glucose?” I asked.

“Yeah, you know, wheat and stuff”  :blink:

This is actually legitimate, though more commonly termed "insulin resistant" or "glucose sensitive." These are people with isulin problems which are not severe enough to quality as diabetics, but if they don't watch their diets can develop into Type II diabetes. The typical diet to treat this is low-carb diet, hence the comment about "wheat and stuff." Starches/carbohydrates are easily converted to glucose in the body. For an insulin resistant person, the more carbs they consume, the more insulin is necessary to process the glucose. This worsens over time until the body cannot produce enough insulin to process the glucose and the person has type 2 diabetes. By eating a very small amount of carbs per day (~30g or so) they can control the condition. Besides leading to diabetes, a high carb diet for these people leads to high cholesterol, high blood triglycerides, high blood pressure and heart disease. Typically patients are told to chiefly avoid sugar, flour and potatoes.

Edited to add: It's not an allergy, though, and the occasional splurge in carbs can be offset by a few days of extra frugality.


Edited by MT-Tarragon (log)

M. Thomas

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But if anybody told me they were allergic to peas I'd kick them out of my house. There's nothing in peas to be allergic to.  :laugh:

Not exactly true. Some are allergic to different chemicals within the peanut, which are also present in peas themselves. I know there are unrelated botanically, but there are at least similar substances in both. It can be enough to cause a reaction.

FistFullaRoux is right...

People can be allergic to peas... legumes in general are pretty allergenic. Of the top 10 food allergies, 2 are legumes (peanuts and soy). Being allergic to either or both puts you at much higher risk of developing allergies to other legumes.

Generally one is allergic to a protein in the food they're allergic to.

Two of my 4 kids have food allergies. Both have had extensive allergy testing done. My oldest son at one point was allergic to milk, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, tuna, cod, sesame, coconut, soy, oats, egg, shellfish, white potato, rice and peaches. My daughter is allergic to milk and has some suspected veggie and fruit allergies (she gets hives when she eats certain fruits and veggies). My oldest son has since outgrown half of those allergies (still peanut, tree nut, shellfish, coconut, sesame and egg allergic) and the first 4 are life-threatening in nature.

Some maroon on another food related bulletin board tried to tell me that you can't be allergic to soy because it's a common milk substitute, nevermind the fact that the AAP says that a large percentage of milk allergic children are also allergic to soy at some point. I got accused of having Munchausens by Proxy and was told that my kids allergist was a quack. The woman's claim to expertise was that she did a paper on food allergies for culinary school. :rolleyes::angry:

I do want to add a note about fruit allergies... some people who are allergic to fruit (including tomato) in their raw state can tolerate them when cooked. I don't know how or why it works, but both the allergists I've seen with my kids say that the cooking process somehow denatures the protein to the point where the body no longer recognizes it. There is a similar theory going about eggs and baked goods but I'm not willing to test that one.

How I cope with eating out with these food allergies is that we avoid certain cuisine styles and tend to stick to chain restaurants when dining with our children. With chain restaurants, there is a bit more uniformity of suppliers and ingredients. There are some family own restaurants we take them to, but these are carefully screened first.

The "glucose" intolerance thing may have been a goof when someone meant to say that they were gluten intolerant (like Celiac Disease).


Cheryl

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I have a young nephew who is life-threateningly allergic to crustaceans, so much so that his allergist asked that no one that is dining at the same table with him consume any (I think the reasoning is that he could touch one of our faces or forks). He also cannot eat food that would have been cooked on the same grill or in the same oil as crustaceans. We deal with it by mostly feeding him at home. If we do go out, we call first to be sure they can accomodate his allergy, and reconfirm when we arrive. The epi-pen is always on hand also.

He has another allergy, to egg, which is actually more time-consuming to deal with in terms of researching ingredients in food. However, this allergy is not life threatening--it manifests as hives, so the stakes are not nearly as high.

Interestingly, he is the only person in the entire extended family that has a food allergy. Well, kiwis make my tounge swell up, but I am not sure that counts as an allergy per se, since I have no reaction to strawberries, and I was told that I would if I was truly allergic to kiwi.

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  Well, kiwis make my tounge swell up, but I am not sure that counts as an allergy per se, since I have no reaction to strawberries, and I was told that I would if I was truly allergic to kiwi.

When my sisters and I were growing up, eating watermelon made our voices drop an octave--think Bea Arthur in 70-pound bodies. It was part of the fun of fruit consumption, along with watermelon seed spitting contests.


"She would of been a good woman," The Misfit said, "if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life."

--Flannery O'Connor, "A Good Man is Hard to Find"

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"I have a couple of life-threatening food allergies. The worst one is alcohol which is a rather odd allergy. I have had numerous scratch tests on my back for the numerous allergens that affect me, mostly hay fever, burning eyes, and the normal things one expects. However, with alcohol and iodine (the seafood thing) I get edema in the larynx which partially closes my airway and several times I have come very close to a tracheotomy. "

Can you consume alcohol if it has been cooked as in a poaching liquid or in deglazing a pan?

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Not exactly a food allergy but it's a "fooled you" type story. My grandfather has had issues with constipation his whole life, but refuses to take any laxatives/fiber supplements because he's convinced it'll give him a rash. Recently, my grandmother died, and my mom took over caring for my grandfather, which includes feeding him on a daily basis. She secretly began stirring Benefiber into all of his drinks and his meals. After a couple weeks of this, he mentions to my mother that after grandma died, he's suddenly able to go to the bathroom easily. My mom didn't have the heart to tell him the reason why.


Believe me, I tied my shoes once, and it was an overrated experience - King Jaffe Joffer, ruler of Zamunda

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I also don't like fish, or shellfish.

I know. I'm a freak, I'm missing out on so much good food, etc. Yep. I know, and I want to change my tastes! I try, at least once a month or so, to pick some seafood off my husband's plate. According to him, I have really really disliked some of the best scallops, the freshest lobster and the most amazing red snapper. I don't know why, fish just tastes bad to me.

Course, I also don't really care for chocolate, and I used to hate cheese. I still don't really care for super chocolately things, but I adore cheese now. I figure if I give it long enough, I'll come around to fish. I mean, I like butter and lemon, so I'm halfway there, right?

But I've never claimed to be allergic to seafood. I order around the fish, and for tasting menus, I ask for a substitution, and most places are very accomodating.

I am allergic to penicillin, avoid blue cheese because of it (and also, I never really liked it in the first place.). Interestingly, my dr thinks that I may have developed the allergy partially because of exposure to antibiotics in dairy and meat. Now I'm all about the antibiotic free organic meats and dairy.

The whole trickery thing is if a friend tried to pull a "gotcha" all it would prove is that my friend is a jerk.

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as with most things in science... we think we know... but we jsut dont know...

anyhow.... true allergies need to be distingushed from food intolerances which need to be distinguised from not liking certain foods

if youre not breaking out in hives, getting itchy, runny nose, itchy eyes or having an anaphylatic shock you probably dont have an allergy

naturapathic/holistic view on most allergies is a weak/congested liver... if youve been on the standard american diet for any amount of time, you probably have signs/symptoms of liver issues

theres too much to go over in a single message board post... google about it if youre interested or send me a PM because i'm actually quite interested in seeing whether or not taking care of your liver actaully helps... case studies are fun

yay food

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While I agree that it might be a betrayal of trust to feed someone food they would normally object to, I think this cuts both ways: If someone cares enough to create a nice meal for you, you'd better make sure your food preferences are real and not imagined, before you make them jump through hoops to accomodate you.

Myself, I've got a minor problem with bell peppers (bell pepper-flavored belches -- whether raw or completely dissolved through by prolonged cooking) so I never cook with them myself, but a friend of mine utilize them in some of his favorite dishes, and I've got no problem eating those, in spite of what I know will happen later.

The closest cooking experience I've had, to what is described in this thread's initial post, was to cook garlic mashed potatoes for party that included a couple of maniacally garlic obsessed guys, by going light on the garlic (so that everyone else could enjoy the stuff too), and using a good dose of horseradish instead -- giving everyone the impression of obscene amounts of garlic... I told everyone except the garlic fiends what I'd done, and it seemed to have worked out just fine. I only did this once -- now I just leave extra garlic out for people to help themselves...

But it goes to show how subjective our preferences can be.

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As unfair as it is to trick someone into eating something they don't like, I'm more annoyed by people misrepresenting preferences as allergies. You don't need to like what you're eating the way you need to breathe, not vomit, and so on. It must be hard enough to negotiate food labels, menus, etc., without also having to deal with skepticism that your allergy isn't real. It's like using a disabled parking placard when you don't need it. Those of us who do need them get the fraud-related fallout.

Then again, you have people like my friend who has gout. I've seen him eat red meat, shellfish, all the no-no's, and he just says, "This steak is so worth the pain."

As for preferences, it's all about degree. I'm cool with someone I've invited for dinner pushing tomatoes or whatever to the side of their plate. And I always ask folks about what they can have and want, and plan accordingly. That's just being a good hostess.


My fantasy? Easy -- the Simpsons versus the Flanders on Hell's Kitchen.

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Hands up everyone who extracted the pure joy of telling your 8 yr old that she's just ate Bambi after a particularly robust venison casserole/burger/fillet etc.

The joys of parenthood :rolleyes:

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There are many issues just beyond whether someone has or doesn't have an allergy versus a dislike preference. Some bordering on the legal, or at least ethical as well as social. Sometimes they are humorous. Many years ago, I invited a new friend and his wife over for dinner for the first time and virtually everything I made were things he did not like. We had a good laugh and his wife apologized for not pre-warning me. Now, it's a matter of course when inviting someone over whom I do not know well to ask about possible allergies, preferences, religious observances, degrees or not of eating meat vs. vegetarianism, etc. A number of years ago I unknowingly made a seafood paella for my step-father not knowing he was highly allergic to shellfish. One of the only times in my life that I was grateful for my mother's being nosy. I find this different from casually tricking someone by incorporating an ingredient in a dish that they allegedly don't like, but that you know would be safe for them to eat- e.g. anchovies, fish sauce, even onions (my brother-in-law says he hates onions-at Thanksgiving, they are diced so fine that they are unrecognizable in the dressing-he can't get enough of it), and having a perverse, if slightly guilty though satisfying feeling of putting something over on someone and countering their neurotic tendencies.


Mark A. Bauman

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doesn't seem to be a lot of people interested in this topic, huh. my hubby ate "normal" all his life. now that he's in his early 40s he has to stay completely away from wheat, eggs and dairy. it's one thing to discover allergies when you're little, it's entirely another when you're an adult and have to stop eating foods you've loved. not that my kids aren't "suffering" either. they have their sensitivities and allergies too, so now everybody's missing bread -- they haven't had any in 2 weeks. :sad:


stefoodie.net - now a wheatless, eggless, dairyless food blog

noodlesandrice.com (with b5media)

bakingdelights.com (with b5media, and my 15-yo-dd)

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Sorry to hear that, Stef. You're absolutely right about adults feeling terribly deprived when they have to stop eating their favorite foods because of allergies.

One Japanese friend of mine developed an allergy to soy! She was horrified when the allergist told her.


SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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I can't help but think that eating foods that we weren't meant to will start to cause us to react to them. What did humans eat when they were just evolving into humans? Not what we eat now, for sure. It makes me wonder how we'll evolve from now on? Maybe allergies are just nature's way of telling us to cut it out.

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I can't help but think that eating foods that we weren't meant to will start to cause us to react to them.  What did humans eat when they were just evolving into humans?  Not what we eat now, for sure.  It makes me wonder how we'll evolve from now on?  Maybe allergies are just nature's way of telling us to cut it out.

That could be. But I think it's just as likely that we've created such a clean and sterile world for ourselves, that our immune systems aren't building up enough resistance to things anymore...

Every cleaning product is anti-bacterial this or that. There's a TV commercial with a kid playing the piano, and then sneezing, and another kid coming along to play on the piano too -- but momsey intercepts the action by wiping down the piano keys with some kid of a cleaning prodct, lest Junior comes down with a case of ebola, rabies and/or scurvey.

If human evolution is to be taken into perspective here, I'm thinking the people of Industrialized societies might be getting the shaft on this one.

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I can't help but think that eating foods that we weren't meant to will start to cause us to react to them.  What did humans eat when they were just evolving into humans?  Not what we eat now, for sure.  It makes me wonder how we'll evolve from now on?  Maybe allergies are just nature's way of telling us to cut it out.

We also eat too much, especially wheat and dairy. Having struggled for years with these food sensitivities, I know the difficulties involved with finding foods to eat. When you start reading labels, wheat is in practically everything. Looking for a quick snack? Trying finding something besides a salad, that doesn't have a base of wheat in it. The North American diet is also heavy on dairy.

I can only speak from experience, but going through a period of abstaining may be just the thing for clearing up any health issues you may have. It worked for me.

May I also suggest exploring cuisines from other cultures. The world of rice is damn interesting.

For a thought provoking read on the human diet, try the book Eat Right for Your Type. The author(I've forgotten his name at the moment) bases his theory on blood types.

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...For a thought provoking read on the human diet, try the book Eat Right for Your Type. The author(I've forgotten his name at the moment) bases his theory on blood types.

Blood type?! :blink: What the hell is next? "Sorry, I'm a Libra. I can't eat tacos." Uh? :raz:

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I susect that the increase in food allergies is caused in part from non-food sources, stuff like pesticides, heavy metals, bovine growth hormone, among others. Humans are omniverous animals, built to eat everything. And if there's a single modifier that describes the human diet, it's "processed." It's rare that we don't modify our food before eating it, come to think of it.

I have a casual acquaintance who has a photocopied list of foods she doesn't eat. She gives it to event planners, friends, etc. There are 38 items on it, many of them single fruits and vegetables but others are broader, like "food additives." I like this woman and don't want to offend her. Yet I'm so wanting to ask, "Seriously, are we talking peanut-allergy-level risk on all of these or extra-morning-mucus-discomfort?" With 11 million allergy sufferers, I think we need a color-coded alert system.

Finally, I am a Libra and there's no way I'm giving up tacos.


My fantasy? Easy -- the Simpsons versus the Flanders on Hell's Kitchen.

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...I have a casual acquaintance who has a photocopied list of foods she doesn't eat.  She gives it to event planners, friends, etc.  There are 38 items on it, many of them single fruits and vegetables but others are broader, like "food additives."  I like this woman and don't want to offend her.  Yet I'm so wanting to ask, "Seriously, are we talking peanut-allergy-level risk on all of these or extra-morning-mucus-discomfort?"  With 11 million allergy sufferers, I think we need a color-coded alert system...

This woman would never get an invite to my house for dinner or for one of my parties.

I mean, damn...I know some people have allergies, but 38 items???? Are you sure she's not a hypochondriac?

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The USA Today piece cited above explains nothing about the study it relies on for the statistic that 11 million Americans have food allergies. This number, which represents nearly double the number routinely reported by the CDC and FDA, would seem to require a little investigation.

There's a small note in the article that says the study data come from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Looking at the MSSM website, there seems to be a study that contains the same numbers. It can be found here.

If that is indeed the study upon which this article relies, the claim should not be, as the article says, "an estimated 11 million Americans with food allergies." Rather, it should be "an estimated 11 million Americans who think they have food allergies."

This was not a clinical study; it was a telephone survey. According to the study press release: "Nearly 15,000 people were surveyed in the telephone study conducted in 2002 by FAAN and Drs. Scott H. Sicherer and Hugh A. Sampson, from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine."

This is more interesting from the standpoint of social psychology than it is from the standpoint of medicine, because it means twice as many people think they have allergies as do. It is well known that most people don't even understand the difference between a food allergy and a food intolerance, and that many more people believe they have allergies than do:

Estimates for the prevalence of food allergy are much lower than are perceived by the public. While up to one in three people claim to have a food allergy, the actual incidence is quite low. Only a few studies indicate the true prevalence of a food allergy, where an allergic reaction is confirmed in a double blind, placebo-controlled food challenge.

From these studies, it has been estimated that food allergy occurs on average in about 1-2% of the adult population. The prevalence is higher among young children, with estimates from 3-7%. Fortunately, 80 to 90% of these individuals outgrow their sensitivities by the age of 3 years.

(From EUFIC).

Moreover, most food allergies are not serious ("most allergic reactions to food are relatively mild," same source). The USA Today article makes it seem as though this huge percentage of the population is at risk of imminent death from food allergies.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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If that is indeed the study upon which this article relies, the claim should not be, as the article says, "an estimated 11 million Americans with food allergies." Rather, it should be "an estimated 11 million Americans who think they have food allergies."

Steven, I'm glad you went to the source and pointed out the truth in this matter. As I'd said upthread, I think there's a modern neurosis hiding behind the guise of food allergies, with many people self-diagnosing various foodstuffs as the culprit behind their feelings of general malaise.

I have a very dear friend who grandly proclaims herself to be allergic to wheat and dairy, and who must be accommodated by one and all who host her. And yet I once witnessed her, after showing up unexpectdly at a mealtime, eat a plate of pasta with cheese sauce. When I quietly said, afterwards, "I thought you were allergic to wheat and dairy," she said, "Oh, darling I am - I just can't eat very much of them."

I, who have experienced the misfortune of projectile vomiting, hives and wheezing before a trip to the emergency room after ingesting an allergen, was floored.

I know for a fact that there are rare few of us with nut and shellfish allergies about. And yet, of late, every other person I encounter seems to have a "food allergy." I once met a woman at a party who informed me that she was eating rice crackers instead of wheat crackers because her baby was "allergic" to wheat. Said infant was only 6 months old, and was breast fed. Never had a piece of toast so much as passed her lips, and yet she was diagnosed by her mother as an allergy sufferer. Why? Because mom believed that the baby's stools were somewhat looser after mom ate bread. Aside from the fact that I found this to be wildly inappropriate party talk from a stranger, :wacko: it struck me as less an issue of food or the child's health but rather of the mother's own neuroses.

I'm more than happy to accommodate any of my dinner guests' needs, be they health or preference issues (I have spent half a lifetime feeding vegetarians). But over the last 15 years, the degree of accommodation I've had to do has vaulted into the stratosphere. I don't like having to jump through hoops for the super picky, and I've begun to classify vegans and certain "allergy sufferers" as such.

Something is wrong with our relationship to food, and I don't always think it's the food that's the culprit here. Forgive me for sounding cranky, but sometimes I think we need a good famine to right ourselves again. And I'd be very curious to see, when food became once again our only salvation against death, how many of us would reach for that which we now decline?

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