Ingredient FAQ

All of the recipes at Daka Mama are free from corn, dairy, soy, sugarcane and wheat because all of these industrial foods cause inflammation in varying degrees. This does not mean we recommend you NEVER eat these foods. It means know YOUR body. What works and doesn’t work for your body? How much works and how often? Most people will benefit from reducing or eliminating some or all of these ingredients in their diet.

An easy way to assess which of these foods is your friend or foe is by eliminating these ingredients for 4-6 weeks and then reintroducing them to your diet and tracking how you feel. Many will find one or two of these foods doesn’t make them feel well. Many will also find that they can tolerate these foods if they only rotate them into their diet once a week.

It is important to understand why these staple foods in the American diet trigger so many adverse reactions.

Why Corn-Free?

  • The corn grown 200 years ago resembles little of Monstanto’s GMO corn of today. With hybridization and genetic modification to withstand the toxic poison Roundup, corn affects our bodies very differently than it did our ancestors.
  • Corn today contains high sugar levels and high levels of lectins which spike blood sugar and disrupt your body’s “feel-full” hormones actually creating cravings to eat more. Animals are fattened with corn to earn more money for the farmer and add more marbling (fat) to the meat for a richer taste. The processed food industry also earns more by fattening consumers and luring them to eat more and buy more. Corn and all of America’s corn by-products (especially high fructose corn syrup) contribute to obesity, diabetes and heart disease in America. Watch KING CORN and get an proper education on big business corn.
  • Many who adopt a gluten-free diet and still are still symptomatic find that in addition to a wheat or gluten sensitivity they also have a corn or corn mold sensitivity which affects their bodies as much as gluten. Symptoms can be digestive related or an inflammatory histamine allergic responses ranging from headaches, hives, rashes or panic attacks.
  • Corn often contains the poison aflatoxin – a cancer-causing fungi that grows on corn and peanuts. Hmmm – maybe I should have started with this – CANCER PEOPLE – CANCER! This mold as well as hundreds of other molds that grow on corn may also trigger the allergic responses to corn. The FDA permits 20 parts per billion of aflatoxin in corn sold in the US. The FDA permits up to 300 parts per billion for mature beef cattle. Yet another reason to buy pasture raised and pasture finished meat.
  • I found this CORN MOLD POST enlightening about aflatoxins and other mycotoxins in corn.
  • Like gluten, children and adults with ADHD find positive behavioral changes when gluten is removed from their diet.
  • I am asked why I am not peanut-free advocate since peanuts and corn both contain similar molds and often individuals allergic to one have reactions to the other. I am severely allergic to corn and do think I am sensitive to peanuts and would not recommend anyone consume peanuts more than once per week. I get cyst-like pimples if I consume peanuts frequently. I identified this by being on a rotational diet and did eliminate peanuts for a few years. Now, on occasion I can enjoy a peanut butter satay sauce or peanut butter and chocolate and I have no reaction. I also followed the principles of early peanut introduction to my children while they were young and neither have a peanut allergy. They do love peanut butter and as they’ve gotten older it’s a struggle to rotate in almond and other nut and seed butters – but we do!
  • Here is a link to the astounding FOOD INGREDIENTS MADE FROM CORN.

Why Dairy-Free?

  • Google “why does dairy cause” and before you can finish typing, a litany of items pop up: constipation, acne, mucus, gas, phlegm, ear infections, inflammation, reflux. Dairy causes all sorts of problems for about 75% of the world’s population. Only the genetics of those with northern European bovine herding ancestors have the enzymes to properly digest raw milk – and not all with this ancestry have the gene or tolerate milk. It’s no wonder many Americans experience negative symptoms consuming dairy and why it’s one of most common allergies.
  • Some people are allergic to milk (a histamine response) and some people are lactose intolerant (a digestive response) and lack a digestive enzyme to break down milk sugar. Either way, most humans are not intended to eat dairy.
  • There is evidence of nutritional benefits from consuming organic, pasture-raised, fermented and/or raw dairy products for the segment of the population that can tolerate milk. And some people find they can’t consume cow dairy but are fine with sheep or goat dairy or at least have reduced symptoms.
  • There is also evidence that some milk sensitive individuals can enjoy milk again just by eating milk in only one meal per week. This moderate intake can give the body a chance to recover from the symptoms more quickly and manage inflammation. The real problems occur when milk is consumed every day in several meals.
  • For anyone having any digestive or autoimmune issues, however, all dairy products cause high levels of inflammation – second only to gluten in our modern diet – and should be avoided until individuals are symptom-free. Then fermented and possibly raw dairy could be tested and reintroduced once a week to see if your body can tolerate it. Also starting with sheep or goat dairy is recommended prior to cow.

Why Gluten-Free?

  • The number of gluten-free dieters tripled in the five years between 2009 and 20014. An estimated 1/3 of Americans today are choosing to either cut back on gluten or eliminate it from their diets, saying that it eases digestive distress, boosts energy levels, and reduces bloating and inflammation. This demographic includes those making a health choice as well as an increasing number of non-celiac gluten sensitivity suffers and those with celiac disease.
  • Wheat actually has three proteins that are all gut irritants: gluten, wheat germ agglutinin and amylase trypsin inhibitors. Even if you do not have celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, anytime wheat is consumed your body’s inflammation levels elevate.
  • Individuals with arthritis and other autoimmune disorders are prescribed an anti-inflammation diet which excludes gluten (wheat, rye, barley), other grains, sugar and dairy.
  • Children and adults with ADHD also find behavioral changes when gluten is removed from the diet.

Why Xanthan Gum & Carrageenan-Free?

  • Many processed gluten-free products in super markets contain cheap artificial ingredients to mimic gluten’s texture and also make the products shelf stable. Sadly these same ingredients also mimic inflammatory responses in those with sensitive intestines. The two chief offenders Carrageenan and Xanthan Gum are not used in any of the recipes at Daka Mama.
  • Carrageenan is a red algae commonly known as Irish Moss that is chemically altered to act as a emulsifier, binder and thickener in countless processed foods and even toothpaste. Research links it directly to gastrointestinal inflammation (exactly what those eliminating gluten need to avoid) and cancer. The National Organics Standards Board voted to ban carrageenan from all organic foods in 2016 – however this has not yet been approved by the US Department of Agriculture which votes on the measure in 2018. Fingers crossed, they ban this dangerous additive.
  • Xanthan Gum has begun to take the place of carrageenan but is likely not better. Xanthan Gum is typically derived from corn but can be ironically derived from wheat and still be called gluten-free. Dairy and soy can also be fermented to create xanthan gum. If you are allergic or sensitive to any of these foods (many people are) xanthan gum should not be in your diet. And there have been tragic results with using xanthan gum as an emollient in infant formula which resulted in many deaths. Studies have shown that adults consuming xanthan gum do not exhibit the same reactions that fragile infants do and are not consuming it every two hours as the infants that died did – BUT as a mother I would never invest time baking foods for my children that contain xanthan gum when there are perfect;y healthy natural food alternatives like ground flax seeds. I do on occasion let my son eat gluten-free pizza at a restaurants which I know contain xanthan gum and he has gotten a minimal itchy rash from it that lasts a couple days. Some people may be far more sensitive to xanthan gum and should avoid it at all times.

Why Soy-Free?

  • Small amounts of properly fermented organic miso, tempeh and even soy sauce – as Asian countries have demonstrated for centuries – does not pose health or digestive problems. Fermenting soy breaks down the phytates, inactivates lectins and reduces saponins. Phytates bind to essential minerals like calcium and iron making them unavailable for your body to absorb. Lectins affect leptin sensitivity which can lead to insulin resistance and in turn lead to many other health problems. Saponins injure the gut mucosa and contribute to “leaky gut syndrome.” Sadly, Americans are not primarily eating fermented soy and thus are affecting their mineral absorption, their insulin resistance and the healthy flora in their gut.
  • Americans typically eat tofu, soy ice-cream and soy milk – none are fermented. These foods have high concentrations of the phytates, lectins, saponins as well as high levels of estrogen which can be an endoctrine disruptor for any age but is extremely dangerous for infants (some formula is soy based) and children – especially boys. Processed soy causes many problems – read more at PALEO LEAP and the AMERICAN NUTRITION ASSOCIATION.
  • And if the hormone disruptors weren’t enough, soybeans like corn and wheat in the US are genetically modified to withstand toxic pesticides. This means your system is doubly taxed eating a hybrid version of soy with a slew of unhealthful chemicals and poisonous residues.
  • The cheap efficient way soybeans are process also makes them another perfect ingredient for cheap processed foods. Meaning consumers are unknowingly eating soy EVERYDAY which can over tax the digestive system and cause an allergy. Soybean oil is used in ALL restaurants across America and in most processed foods. Soy lecithin, another excellent emulisfier is used in thousands of shelf stable products from chocolate to crackers to canned goods. It’s no wonder soy is a very common allergy and can also affect ADHD.

Why Paleo?

  • As an ardent supporter of a nutrient dense, whole foods, plant based, rotational diet for over twenty years, I was happy to see a similar diet gain popularity. The Paleo diet encompasses everything I believe and is just missing the benefits of rotation.
  • The Paleo diet addresses the harm industrialized food has brought to humans: obesity, heart disease, autoimmune disorders and type 2 diabetes. The focus of the diet is to decrease inflammation through eating the ancestral foods we were intended to eat not processed GMO boxes of food. One of my favorite bloggers, Michelle Tam of Nom Nom Paleo writes about the BENEFITS OF PALEO with insight, humor and eloquence.
  • I do think it’s important to remember that no one diet is right for everyone. And Paleo can be a spectrum of how many carbs and what type of carbs are right for each individual. This is where rotating foods – and especially starches can determine what carbohydrates process best in your body.

Why Elimination Diets like Whole30 and AIP?

  • Most people will see tremendous benefits by cutting out processed foods, eliminating gluten, dairy and other inflammatory ingredients and following a simple rotational diet. Others who have a weakened immune system, allergic reactions or digestive issues may need to go deeper and do an elimination diet to more precisely assess triggers adversely affecting them. Daka Mama can help you tackle the right elimination diet for you and provides two types of rotational elimination diets that can be catered to your needs:
  • The Daka Mama Challenge35 is very similar to the Paleo Whole30 (popularized by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig). This elimination diet lasts the recommended 5 weeks (35 days rather than 30 days) for a true elimination with the added component of a set weekly rotation. This makes keeping a food diary effortless. This diet helps curb sugar and carb cravings, excludes the most common allergens and can be modified to remove any additional suspected food allergens. Once you’ve completed the 5-weeks (35 days), you reintroduce omitted foods and challenge them one food at a time every 5 days. Most reactions occur within hours of consumption but some reactions such as headaches or rashes can take several days to appear.
  • The Daka Mama AIP Challenge is a much more restrictive rotational elimination diet typically recommended only for those suffering from severe autoimmune issues. AIP or Auto-Immune Protocol is a very low carb, low sugar (maximum 15-20 grams per day) diet that further eliminates potential inflammatory foods such as the pseudo-grains (quinoa, buckwheat), nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes), all nuts and seeds (and their oils) and even most spices since they are mainly derived from seeds. The AIP diet on this site also reduces the oxalate and salicylate burden on the digestive system to further heal the gut. The most thorough book I have read to date on how and why the AIP diet heals the gut and thus restores healthy autoimmune function is written by the Paleo Mom blogger Dr. Sarah Ballantyne: THE PALEO APPROACH. I highly recommend reading it if your issues fall into this category.

Why Vegan?

  • Many of the baked good recipes on Daka Mama are inherently vegan since they are all dairy-free. Many are also egg-free and if they aren’t, an easy sub of ground chia or flax mixed with water, can be substituted. Obviously there are A LOT of animal protein-based recipes on the site as well – I hope that doesn’t alienate my vegan and vegetarian friends. I was actually a vegan for three years in college and didn’t find that the diet worked for my metabolism or propensity to develop allergies and sensitivities.
  • I do try to incorporate a “Meatless Monday” on my family’s weekly rotation to help our planet. If everyone in the US did this just one day per week, the results would phenomenal: THE BREATHTAKING EFFECTS OF CUTTING BACK ON MEAT.

Why Ferments?

  • Another means of decreasing inflammation and disease prevention is improving gut flora. This can be accomplished with decreasing sugar intake, eliminating yeast overgrowth, increasing probiotics with supplementation and by eating cultured (properly fermented) foods. The most natural way to increase beneficial microbes is simply to eat:
  • cultured vegetables (krauts, kimchi, pickles)
  • yogurts (coconut, cashew, almond)
  • cultured condiments (salsa, ketchup, mayo).
  • Kombucha teas and probiotic sodas can also be good in small quantities but contain unwanted sugar calories.