2019 is just beginning, and in an effort to celebrate the arrival of the new year, Cameron Jean-Pierre and his father, Steven, drop in on their grandparents. When the pair arrive, the little boy’s grandma is in the midst of preparing a seafood dish for the family. However, just a few moments later, it becomes apparent that the happy and hopeful sense of festivity is turning into tragedy. That’s right, Cameron suddenly falls unwell and subsequently passes away. His death has since been attributed to a common medical issue – and it was linked to what was frying in that pan.
Cameron and his family were no different than the rest of us, you see, as they wanted to spend New Year’s Day in 2019 together as a family. After all, Christmas and New Year bring people together across the world. And on this particular day, it seems as though the 11-year-old boy was keen to visit both sides of his family.
And all appeared to be normal when he dropped in on the grandmother from his mom’s side first. Following that, he traveled to his other grandma’s house with Steven, where they were set to spend the rest of New Year’s Day. Then, as the evening drew in, the father and son decided to make their way home.
Upon realizing that they’d forgotten something, though, Cameron and Steven turned around and went back to the house. When they got there, the boy’s aunt and grandmother were preparing a Caribbean salt fish meal in the kitchen. And unfortunately for everyone, nobody could’ve predicted what was about to happen.
Before we find out what happened, though, let’s get to know Cameron a bit better. The family used to live in Brooklyn, New York, but then they decided to move on from here in 2017. Little did his family know, however, their son wouldn’t have much time to get used to their new home.
After New York, Steven and his partner, Jody Pottingr, packed their bags for Piscataway, New Jersey. As a result, Cameron became a student at Theodore Schor Middle School – the area’s local institution. And by the time the holiday season rolled around at the back-end of 2018, he was in the sixth grade.
Cameron was just like many other children his age, taking a real interest in sports. Yet the the young man also recognized the importance of his education, as he’d earned a place on the middle school’s honor roll. In addition to that, he was also a keen reader.
In an interview with ABC 7 News in January 2019, the little boy’s mom revealed a bit more on his attitude towards learning. Jody said, “His principal told me, she was like, ‘Cameron is like a mentor for all the kids here.’ When he used to live in Brooklyn, it was the same thing. All his teachers love him.”
But while Cameron was clearly a good pupil at school, there was one aspect of his life that proved problematic. As it turned out, you see, he suffered with asthma. And that medical ailment meant that the sixth-grader needed to carry a nebulizer machine with him at all times.
However, that wasn’t the only medical issue that Cameron had to contend with. Alongside the asthma, he also had allergies to certain foods that his parents were acutely aware of. According to Steven, then, his son couldn’t eat or be around peanuts – like a lot of other people across the world.
Furthermore, Cameron also had an allergy to fish. And this was something his mom and dad had discovered in a rather alarming moment. Talking to ABC 7 News, Jody recalled, “We know that he’s allergic to fish. When he was in kindergarten, they gave [him] fish sticks at lunch one day and he threw up.”
Much like peanuts, fish allergies are well known in the medical sector, with the Food Allergy Research & Education organization dedicating an entire page to this particular subject on its official website. And the post revealed some interesting information.
The website read, “Finned fish is one of the most common food allergies. This allergy is usually lifelong. About 40 percent of people with fish allergies experience their first allergic reaction as adults. Salmon, tuna and halibut are the most common kinds of fish [that] people are allergic to.”
Meanwhile, another medical site detailed some other points of interest in similar post. KidsHealth, you see, is a website that’s dedicated to helping concerned parents, and it shares information on a variety of issues. Unsurprisingly, then, it also has a page devoted to fish allergies and the problems that are associated with them.
“When someone is allergic to fish,” the KidsHealth post explained. “The body’s immune system, which normally fights infections, overreacts to proteins in the fish. [So] every time the person eats fish, the body thinks these proteins are harmful invaders and releases chemicals like histamine.” At that point, the site then touched upon the symptoms that you need to look out for.
That’ s right, if you suffer from an allergic reaction to fish, you could feel nauseous or notice a pain in your stomach. You might also experience signs of diarrhea and swelling. On that note, though, the website also made it clear that not everyone displays the same signs when going through this.
The KidsHealth post continued, “Allergic reactions to fish can differ. Sometimes the same person can react differently at different times. Fish allergies can [also] cause a severe reaction called anaphylaxis, even if a previous reaction was mild.” But the message didn’t conclude there, though, as we’re about to find out.
“Anaphylaxis might start with some of the same symptoms as a less severe reaction, but can quickly get worse,” the post explained. “The person may have trouble breathing or pass out. More than one part of the body might be involved. If it isn’t treated, anaphylaxis can be life-threatening. A child who has a fish allergy must completely avoid eating fish.”
After that, the post then switched its focus to an additionally important point. While the signs of an allergic reaction could be obvious, you might not know how to go about treating the issue. With that in mind, the medical website revealed what usually happens when a kid visits their physician with this problem.
“If your child has a fish allergy,” read the post. “Or any kind of serious food allergy, the doctor will want him or her to carry an epinephrine auto-injector in case of an emergency. An epinephrine auto-injector is a prescription medicine that comes in a small, easy to carry container.”
The KidsHealth website added, “[The injector is] easy to use. Your doctor will show you how. Kids who are old enough can be taught how to give themselves the injection. If they carry the epinephrine, it should be nearby, not left in a locker or in the nurse’s office. Every second counts in an allergic reaction.”
Tragically for 11-year-old Cameron and his family, they were caught off guard at the very start of 2019. As previously explained, they were visiting with their relatives over the holiday season. Yet in a heartbreaking turn of events, Steven and Jody’s world was turned upside down during the seemingly innocuous trip.
Cameron’s two grandparents lived in his old hometown of Brooklyn, so he and Steven made sure to drop in on them on New Year’s Day. They intended to hang out with the latter’s mother for most of that day, before heading home in the evening. However, no one could’ve predicted what actually transpired.
Jody told ABC 7 News, “[Cameron] went to his grandma, which is my mom, just to wish her a happy New Year. And just to let her know that he loved her. [Then] he went back to 82nd Street, where his dad’s mom and the aunt were cooking what they call in the Caribbean household salt fish.”
From there, Jody tried to explain what happened next. She continued, “[The grandma and aunt] thought that [Cameron] left, because when his dad left, they thought he left with his dad. I guess they forgot something at the house and went back [to get it]. And he went in the house, and then he inhaled the fish.”
As it turned out, you see, the mere smell of the fish appeared to kick-start an adverse reaction in Cameron’s body, leading to a severe asthma attack. “He couldn’t breathe,” Jody added. “His lungs tightened up, and his dad attempted to give him the nebulizer machine.” But despite Steven’s best efforts, he couldn’t save his son.
And a short time after the tragedy, Steven had his own interview with ABC 7 News, as he gave a firsthand account of the events. His emotional words were captured on camera, and he frequently broke down as the conversation progressed. Unsurprisingly, the shock of losing Cameron was still painfully fresh at that stage.
To begin with, Steven said, “For me, my son was a leader [and] ambitious. I had a special slogan for him, I called him ‘Swag Nerd.’ My son was loved by everybody, anytime when somebody came across my son, they loved him. And I’m just devastated by the situation right now. Like, it just happened so suddenly.”
Following this, Steven looked back on his final few moments with Cameron. The dad continued, “We were just visiting my mom’s for the holidays and stuff. We go in there, and he just got an asthma attack. And I tried, you know, to give him the nebulizer, so it was like a normal situation.”
In this instance, though, Cameron’s predicament was far more serious than a normal asthma attack. For you see, while the nebulizer did have an effect at first, it didn’t last for very long. Within moments, the youngster was struggling to breathe once again, which prompted Steven to contact the emergency services.
However, Cameron’s condition worsened while he waited for the ambulance, and this led to a gut-wrenching exchange. Steven recalled, “My son’s last words were, ‘Daddy, I love you, daddy, I love you.’ And he gave me two kisses. He said, ‘I feel like I’m dying.’ And I said, ‘Don’t say that. What are you talking about, don’t say that.’”
Sadly, by the time Cameron was taken to the local Brookdale Hospital, he had passed away. As for Steven, he was able to compose himself when talking about his son’s medical ailments. He said, “We know he had asthma, we know what he’s allergic to. He’s allergic to peanuts, fish, everything like that.”
From here, Steven reiterated what happened when they walked back into the house, mentioning the fish that was being cooked. The father revealed that Cameron would usually be taken away from the area when that kind of food was being prepared. Yet in this case, the attack came on out of the blue.
Steven then explained that Cameron was excited to go back to school the following day, as the Christmas vacation had come to an end. Tragically, though, those plans didn’t come to pass. And in terms of what the Piscataway resident was hoping to do next, he shared his thoughts during his talk with ABC 7 News.
Indeed, Steven then outlined that he wants to “raise awareness” of this issue so that no one else goes through a similar situation in the future. He also admitted that he was really struggling in the immediate aftermath of Cameron’s untimely passing. “I don’t know what to do, I don’t know how to think,” the father says.
Steven continued, “I keep telling everybody that Cameron didn’t need me. I needed him. That was my backbone. If anybody knows me, [they] know that Cameron’s my backbone. You see me, you see Cameron right next to me. I’m always with my son. I loved him. And all these people that came to see him, I’m thankful for that.”
Off the back of this outpouring of emotion, Steven had one last thing to say. He added, “I still don’t believe it, I’m still talking like this and I don’t believe it. People come to my house and I feel confused. Like, why’s everybody coming here to see Cameron? I’m confused. Like, why? Cameron? No not Cameron, that’s my love.”
With that, the highly emotional interview finally came to an end. The video has since been uploaded to YouTube via the ABC 7 News official channel, earning over 22,000 views. It’s also generated in excess of 100 comments, with many online users offering words of condolences to Cameron’s heartbroken family.
Meanwhile, one comment in particular really stood out on the Daily Mail’s website when the newspaper covered this story. The user wrote, “Airborne proteins can cause an allergic reaction. My daughter has the same allergy to finned fish. She first had fish when I gave her a tiny piece of catfish at two years old.”
The user explained, “[My daughter’s] lips swelled up within a minute and we rushed her to the ER. We didn’t realize her allergy was severe until my mom was cooking fish at our house, and my daughter woke up throwing up. Cooking fish released fish proteins in the air, which caused the allergic reaction. Her oxygen level had dropped, which caused nausea.” Perhaps, then, this explains what happened to Cameron that New Year’s Day.
It’s not just fish that can have an impact on our health, of course. Back in the summer of 2015, the journal Psychiatry Research published an intriguing study on fermented foods. And the paper, which was compiled following some in-depth research at the College of William & Mary in Virginia, had some rather stunning findings – especially for those who love the taste of pickles. In fact, even if you’re not a pickle fan, it may just be worth you holding your nose and chowing down on the sweet and sour vegetables, as it turns out that they could have startling benefits for your wellbeing.
And perhaps you could begin by adding a pickle to a meal or two. After all, just as certain foods are a little bland without some seasoning or sides to liven them up, a pickle’s tartness could provide just the kick you’re looking for to take a dish to the next level.
That said, thanks to their incredibly strong taste, pickles are often a rather love-or-hate food. Yet even if you fall down firmly on the hate side, you may just have to acquire an appreciation. You see, in August 2015, fans of fermented foods received some good news that could just be a game-changer.
That month, the latest issue of Psychiatry Research hit the shelves. And the medical journal contained details of an interesting research project covering fermented foods’ health benefits – of which, it seems, there could be several. Yes, as it turns out, products such as pickles may have a significant effect on our brains.
As a result, then, pickles may be a good option for a handy go-to snack when you’re feeling peckish. But, of course, they’re not the only food said to boost our well-being. And while fruit and vegetables are naturally among the healthiest options out there to nibble on between meals, nuts are pretty beneficial, too.
Yes, certain types of nuts – such as Brazil nuts and almonds – are loaded with vitamins. Brazil nuts, for example, contain zinc and magnesium as well as an important mineral called selenium that aids in the good functioning of the thyroid gland.
Almonds, meanwhile, are a great source of fiber, iron and calcium – but that’s not all. Back in 2011, a research paper published in the journal Nutrition Reviews suggested that the tree nut can also play an important role in keeping cholesterol levels down.
Indeed, the medical study revealed, “Consumption of tree nuts has been shown to reduce low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) – a primary target for coronary disease prevention – by 3 to 19 percent. Almonds have been found to have a consistent LDL-C-lowering effect in healthy individuals and in individuals with high cholesterol and diabetes.”
The research paper suggested, too, that this revelation needed to be shared on a wider scale, adding, “The message that almonds in and of themselves are a heart-healthy snack should be emphasized to consumers. Moreover, when almonds are incorporated into a healthy, balanced diet, the benefits are even greater.”
Foods such as lentils and oatmeal are good for our health, too. Much like almonds, the breakfast favorite can keep high cholesterol at bay thanks to its levels of fiber. And oatmeal contains plenty of potassium and vitamin B to boot.
But when it comes to talking about healthy-eating options, you naturally can’t forget about vegetables. Take broccoli, for example; the cruciferous green is loaded with nutrients that can help us maintain our wellbeing. The phytonutrients within broccoli can even play a vital role in staving off serious medical issues such as diabetes and heart disease.
The vegetable boasts high levels of vitamin C, too, which is handy when we need a boost. In fact, it’s believed that a regular portion of broccoli could cover our daily intake of the important vitamin quite comfortably. And, of course, there are plenty of benefits to be had in fruit as well.
Blueberries, for instance, are not only full of phytonutrients and fiber, but they can also keep our blood pressure down. And that’s certainly not all; researchers at Texas Woman’s University discovered that consumption of the small, round fruit can actually help tackle obesity as well. But don’t entirely write off meat in the bid to become healthier.
Indeed, both fish and chicken are fine choices if you’re looking to improve your diet. White meat contains a lot of protein, for example, while fish such as herring, salmon, sardines and trout boast omega-3 fatty acids that can be very beneficial for the heart.
In amongst the usual suspects, however, there are a whole host of other foods that are similarly good for health. And, yes, fermented items such as sauerkraut, yogurt and pickles are among their number, as nutrition expert Casey Seidenberg explained in a 2012 article for The Washington Post.
Seidenberg explained, “Fermented foods aid in digestion and thus support the immune system. Imagine a fermented food as a partially digested food. For instance, many people have difficulty digesting the lactose in milk. When milk is fermented and becomes yogurt or kefir, [however], the lactose is partially broken down so it becomes more digestible.” But there was more.
Seidenberg added, “Organic or lactic-acid fermented foods – such as dill pickles and sauerkraut – are rich in enzyme activity that aids in the breakdown of our food. [This helps] us absorb the important nutrients we rely on to stay healthy.” And there are apparently long-term benefits of consuming such foods, too.
The nutrition specialist revealed in her Washington Post piece, “When our digestion is functioning properly and we are absorbing and assimilating all the nutrients we need, our immune system tends to be happy and thus better equipped to wage war against disease and illness.” And three years later, a fascinating report appeared to further emphasize fermented foods’ health benefits.
The study in question was headed up by a trio of researchers: the University of Maryland’s Jordan DeVylder and Catherine Forestell and Matthew Hilimire from the College of William & Mary. And their close examination of fermented foods found that they have the potential to bolster more than just people’s physical health.
Yes, crucially DeVylder, Forestell and Hilimire looked to see if mental health – in particular, any experience of neuroticism and social anxiety – could also be improved by eating such foods. And there was already some scientific basis for the study, as similar experiments involving animals had previously taken place – with some incredibly interesting results.
On William & Mary’s official website, Hilimire explained, “These studies with animal models showed that if you give them certain kinds of bacteria, which we call probiotics – the beneficial microorganisms that help our health like lactobacilli – these animals tend to be less depressed or less anxious.”
Now, as probiotics can be found in fermented food, Hilimire, DeVylder and Forestell were curious to see if the same results could be reached with humans. But before their test got under way, Hilimire reflected on the previous figures – particularly the GABA levels on show.
In essence, gamma aminobutyric acid – or GABA – is a neurotransmitter that helps keep our anxieties in check. And while there are medicines out there that replicate its effects, it turned out that levels of GABA may well be able to be boosted naturally – at least, according to the findings of the animal experiments.
Hilimire went on to explain, “Giving these animals these probiotics increased GABA. It’s almost like giving them these drugs, but it’s their own bodies producing GABA. So, your own body is increasing this neurotransmitter that reduces anxiety.” There would be a key difference, however, in the approach that the assistant professor and his colleagues would take for their assessment.
“Given that background, we were interested in doing a naturalistic study,” Hilimire admitted. “So, we didn’t actually give people probiotics; we just asked them in their day-to-day life how much fermented foods they were eating.” And as it turned out, the researchers’ experiment would be pretty extensive.
In fact, DeVylder, Forestell and Hilimire opted to interrogate more than 700 people at the College of William & Mary. Fortuitously, these students were already about to take a “mass testing” survey – which included elements on personality types and anxieties – at the start of their respective degree courses. In addition, then, the trio threw in a questionnaire of their own.
And Forestell later explained how she and her fellow researchers had come to the conclusion to do this, telling the college’s website, “It was an ideal situation to get a good cross-section of the students at William & Mary, because many students take [the] Introduction to Psychology [module]. They were not selected based on their social anxiety or the types of foods that they ate.”
So, the survey from the research trio not only included questions about diet and exercise, but it also queried whether members of the group had eaten any fermented food – such as pickles – in the previous month. Then, once the results had come in, they were subsequently measured against the answers from the mass testing survey.
And after the data had been compiled, Hilimire divulged exactly what it had revealed. He told the William & Mary website, “The main finding was that individuals who had consumed more fermented foods had reduced social anxiety, but that was qualified by an interaction by neuroticism.”
Hilimire went on, “What that means is that that relationship was strongest amongst people that were high in neuroticism [tendency to be anxious or negative]. The people that benefited the most from fermented foods were high in neuroticism. And the secondary finding was that more exercise was related to reduced social anxiety as well.”
Those intriguing results were subsequently included in the August 2015 edition of the Psychiatry Research journal, after which they were covered by a number of media outlets. And in an attempt to sum up his and his colleagues’ work, Hilimire revealed why the findings excited him so much.
As the assistant professor went on to explain, “It is likely that the probiotics in the fermented foods are favorably changing the environment in the gut. And changes in the gut in turn influence social anxiety. I think that it is absolutely fascinating that the microorganisms in your gut can influence your mind.”
However, the trio’s work didn’t come to an end after the report was submitted. You see, DeVylder, Forestell and Hilimire intended to run yet another experiment in an attempt to clarify the findings from the study – although, on this occasion, their sole focus would be on fermented food and social anxiety.
“If we use a naturally fermented food – we give people yogurt instead of isolated probiotics – it will be among the first experimental studies that use these fermented foods,” Hilimire told the William & Mary college website. “So they’ll get the benefits of the probiotics but also the peptides as well.”
And while the results from the previous study suggested that there was a connection between fermented foods and mental health, a practical experiment was also needed to further determine any links. Yet in Hilimire’s mind, the past tests involving the animals suggested that he and his fellow researchers were already on the right track.
The academic continued, “If we rely on the animal models that have come before us and the human experimental work that has come before us in other anxiety and depression studies, it does seem that there is a causative mechanism.” He also made a bold claim on what this could mean for mental health therapy going forward.
Hilimire explained, “Assuming [there are] similar findings in the experimental follow-up, what it would suggest is that you could augment more traditional therapies (like medications, psychotherapy or a combination of the two) with fermented foods – dietary changes – and exercise as well.”
Traditionally, drugs such as benzodiazepines and tricyclic antidepressants are utilized to help battle anxiety. According to Hilimire, though, introducing fermented foods as part of a mental health treatment plan could potentially do away with a number of the side effects of such medication – including, in some cases, addiction.
Yet while Hilimire and his colleagues were working hard to make the connection between fermented foods and anxiety, there’s apparently still some way to go before such a link is accepted by the scientific community at large. Nevertheless, the associate professor had faith that more people would start to listen in the near future.
Indeed, Hilimire concluded, “I think there is some skepticism that there can be such a profound influence [between fermented foods and anxiety], but the data is quite substantial now. I think people would be accepting if they looked at the data, but the connection between the mind and gut is not something you typically think about as a psychologist.”