Food allergy: the body’s cry for help
If you often feel bloated, tired, or not so well after a meal; if you had frequent stomach aches, cramps, or intestinal problems; if you have strong food cravings or dislike food; If you experience a number of symptoms that you simply cannot explain, or if you become more anxious, irritable, or depressed at times, you may be suffering from a food allergy.
The allergy has reached epidemic proportions, and it has been estimated that at this rate, half of Europe will have allergies within a few years. Food allergies are of particular concern as they are now recognized as a factor in many health problems and illnesses, especially in children.
Many scientists and health professionals believe that a poor diet and the large amount of toxins that are now present in our food are important factors in this unprecedented increase in the number and severity of allergies in recent decades.
When food hurts instead of helping
Much of our food is over-processed and treated with toxins from production to sale. So instead of being a major source of true health and stamina, the foods we eat can undermine our body’s ability to deal with daily stress effectively and eliminate toxins that attack us from all sides. It’s no wonder that more and more of our bodies react to food allergies.
Not only do food allergies harm our bodies (and our minds), but they also prevent us from getting the full nutritional benefits of the healthy foods we eat. By causing damage to our digestive system, they can prevent the complete breakdown of food into essential nutrients and interfere with the body’s ability to properly absorb available nutrients. This can lead to nutrient deficiencies and malnutrition, although you may be eating a lot of good foods.
Another problem is that food allergies can restrict your ability to eat the foods you need. A diverse diet offers maximum assurance that you are getting the nutrients you need, but if you live in fear of a reaction, you may limit your diet more than necessary. For example, a person with an allergy to chard or silver beet might eliminate all vegetables from their diet, when in reality, they may only react to one particular chemical found in plants of the genus ‘beet’. By eliminating all vegetables, this person is losing many healthy properties of vegetables, which are excellent sources of chlorophyll, calcium, and magnesium.
An allergenic or reactive food is one that causes an allergic reaction, such as hives, wheezing, stomach cramps, or nasal congestion. The foods that tend to be more allergenic (especially for children) are: milk, wheat, corn, sugar, soy, nuts, eggs.
Other highly reactive foods are: oatmeal, yeast, chocolate, seafood, beef, and citrus.
However, you can develop an intolerance, sensitivity, or allergy to any food. The degree of sensitivity to a food depends on your tolerance “threshold” for that food. You may be able to eat small amounts of a food, but react to larger amounts. Or some foods can be eaten without reaction from time to time, but not more often.
In fact, it is possible that it is not reacting to the specific food, but to one or more of the components of that food. You may be surprised to learn that the most common problem substances are vitamins and minerals in food. They can cause us to have allergic reactions to many foods we eat every day. Other major causes of food allergies are food additives, sulfur, pesticides, biotechnology, and genetic engineering.
Food allergy symptoms
There are many warning signs that you may have a food allergy: dark circles under your eyes, frequent sniffing or clearing, irritability, bad mood, hyperactivity, or frequent fatigue. Other signs may include headaches, stomach aches, intestinal problems, muscle aches, coughing or wheezing, and frequent digestive or breathing problems. Symptoms vary from person to person. Common signs of a food allergy include the following:
Digestive Issues – Reactions to food allergens can damage the lining of the digestive tract and also upset the balance of hormones and chemicals necessary for proper digestion and elimination. This can lead to problems like leaky gut syndrome, where the walls of the small intestine leak partially digested food into the bloodstream. This can lead to bloating, stomach cramps and inflammation, irritable bowel syndrome, autoimmune and immunodeficiency diseases, and many other problems.
Blocked Airways – Food allergens are responsible for excess mucus in many allergy sufferers, leading to chronic blocked noses and a mucous throat, as well as ear infections. Babies have very small upper airways and it takes very little to block them. When allergens are removed from the diet, the mucus dries up.
Middle ear infections: More than 70% of children suffer from a middle ear infection at some point, and many researchers believe it is due to food allergies, particularly to milk and wheat. One study reported that 78% of children with otitis had allergies to milk, wheat, egg white, peanuts, and soy, and when these foods were eliminated from their diet, 86% experienced significant improvement.
Psychological or emotional problems: Food allergies have been clearly linked to a variety of psychological and behavioral disorders such as autism and hyperactivity in children, anxiety, depression, inability to concentrate, mood swings, and “confusion.”
Food addictions: If you are addicted to a food, you are probably allergic to it. This is because allergic reactions in the body trigger the release of certain chemicals, including opioids, that make you feel good. If you feel happier when you eat such food, you may develop a desire for it.
Types of food allergies
If you are allergic to a food, you may experience an immediate or delayed reaction to food. The immediate reaction pattern is known as a type 1 food allergy. Immediately or shortly after eating the food, symptoms are clear and often dramatic. If you are allergic to mushrooms, you may develop abdominal cramps an hour after eating a ragout that contains mushrooms. A child with a type 1 reaction to kiwi may experience severe itching of the mouth or vomiting within 15 minutes of eating a kiwi.
The most dangerous type I reaction is called anaphylaxis, a serious reaction that can be fatal within minutes. If you or your child experience dizziness, swollen tongue or throat, shortness of breath, fainting, or facial swelling immediately after eating food, seek immediate emergency care.
Type l food allergies are easy to diagnose. They respond to allergy skin tests and show up in blood tests because they produce an excess of IgE antibodies. For many doctors, this is the only true type of food allergy. Recent estimates show that type I food allergies occur in 3-5% (sometimes up to 8%) of children and 1-2% of adults.
Type II food allergy does not involve IgE antibodies. Instead, IgA, IgG, and IgM antibodies can be produced. This reaction pattern is associated with the release of inflammatory substances by the immune system. Many food allergies are of this type, therefore they are not detected by standard allergy tests, which generally only evaluate IgE antibodies.
Some reactive patterns are “hidden”. Late patterns of food allergy (called type III food allergy) often go unnoticed because the symptoms are not usually obvious and can occur days after eating the food. In addition, since they do not involve the production of excess IgE antibodies, delayed allergic reactions do not appear on skin tests or IgE antibody tests. Rather, they tend to present themselves as clusters of physical, behavioral, and learning problems that affect several body systems at once.
You may experience type III allergy as a combination of recurring or persistent symptoms such as shortness of breath, frequent clearing of the throat, episodes of hyperactivity and emotional hypersensitivity, chronic nasal congestion, and frequent flu-like symptoms. Another person may experience recurring headaches, frequent itchy eyes, abdominal pain, fatigue, bouts of depression, trouble sleeping, and swollen lymph nodes. These delayed reaction patterns of food allergy are difficult to diagnose. However, according to many health professionals, they account for the majority of food allergies, especially in children.
In fact, food allergies are so common, and still so often undiagnosed, that you should take any indefinite pattern of illness involving different symptoms and different bodily symptoms as a sign of a food allergy until proven otherwise. .
It used to be accepted that children outgrow food allergies and adults sometimes report the same, but now we know that allergies simply evolve and change over time. For example, allergies to milk or eggs can develop into respiratory or other allergies, or as various health problems. For true healing to occur, the underlying allergies must be addressed.
The most common treatment for food allergies is avoidance. This will relieve symptoms and prevent further damage; however, it can mean a lifetime of restrictive diets.
There is some evidence that eating organic food can decrease the incidence or severity of allergic reactions to food and may even help protect against allergic reactions. Organic foods provide more quality nutrients needed to strengthen the immune system, which is always weak in allergy sufferers. Certainly, a diet rich in organic foods decreases the chances of developing allergies to food additives and pesticides, and can reduce the incidence of allergies.
However, if you already have food allergies, the damage they have already caused still needs to be corrected.
The best solution for food allergies is desensitization. There are different treatment options available, some of which immunize the body against allergens with extracts taken under the tongue or through injections. Acupuncture has also been shown to be effective in treating some allergies. The problem is that these therapies may not address the underlying health problems – such as nutrient deficiencies, toxin overload, or stress – that caused the food allergies in the first place.
For a real solution to food allergies, choose a program that involves detoxification to cleanse the body of toxins that contribute to allergies, correct other underlying health problems, and desensitize it to the allergens that are affecting it.
Once food allergies are under control or eliminated, it is important that you get sound nutritional advice to help you maintain and strengthen the health of your immune system. If you don’t eat enough of the right foods or eat too much of the wrong foods, you risk developing new allergies or other problems. A good diet is still your best protection.