Gina has suffered from many allergic reactions since childhood. This affects their diet, which is reduced to 9 foods.
Cramps, flatulence, nausea and malaise – this is the daily life of Gina Gestetner from Los Angeles. Since childhood, she has suffered from an immune disease that causes hundreds of food allergies. Over the years, I discovered that cutting out many foods was the only thing that helped her.
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Mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS)
After traveling across the country in 2021, Jenna is diagnosed with something called Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS). Mast cells are an important part of the immune system and are responsible for releasing messenger substances that trigger allergic reactions. “It’s rare, but it’s more common than people think,” she says. “However, it affects each person differently, so the treatment is very different for everyone. My restricted diet is the result of years of observing my symptoms and what feels good for me.”
in mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS) Mast cells involved in the overactive immune system. Therefore, even contact with harmless environmental irritants can lead to allergy-like symptoms and, in severe cases, to anaphylaxis. Symptoms appear throughout the body. MCAS can lead to a variety of symptoms, such as pain, cramps, intestinal indigestion, or a rash on the skin. Cardiovascular problems or neurological diseases are also possible. Possible symptoms include blurred vision, shortness of breath, muscle twitching, itching, fatigue, or diarrhea.
A cure for MCAS is not yet possible. But the symptoms can usually be managed well. Treatment mainly consists of avoiding the stimuli of mast cell activation.
It’s on Jenna’s list
Years of restricting her diet have left Gina only able to eat a handful of things. Her current diet consists of turkey, mahi-mahi (fish), cucumbers, green beans, zucchini, olive oil, salt, lime, and glucose supplements. On an average day, she divides her meals into six small dishes, which she takes with several dextrose drinks to ensure she gets enough nutrients.
On TikTok you get an insight into Jenna’s life:
Impact on social life
Looking back on her childhood, Jenna says she always struggled with her diet. “I was always the struggling boy and that always seemed like an excuse. Eventually I stopped telling people something was wrong.” Because of her allergy, Gina cannot eat in restaurants. This affects her social life and makes her feel “excluded”. Gina hopes that one day she will be able to stabilize her mast cells so she can eat a wider variety of foods.
She tells her story to draw attention to her illness. “Having a chronic disease doesn’t always mean you have a medical device or life-threatening allergic reactions. Many people have invisible illnesses that aren’t obvious from the outside,” says Gina. “Those who face these challenges are still able to lead normal lives – there are just additional things to consider when traveling or even leaving home. It’s about living as best as possible within one’s healthy limits to live.”
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