FOOD ALLERGIES & SENSITIVITIES
What is food intolerance?
An intolerance is when an individual develop sensitivities to commonly eaten foods such as milk, wheat, corn, eggs (often developed in that order). New sensitivities develop over time and can be precipitated by illness, stress, or a simple trip to Mexico and the ensuing Montezuma’s revenge. It is common to have between 1-5 food sensitivities and in more severe cases up to 20 or 30 foods.
It is not unusual for a person to react to a food on one occasion and not on another with the reactions depending on various factors such as amount eaten, how often the food is eaten, what the food is mixed with and level of stress.
Food reactions are slow; it can take hours, even up to 48 hours for bowel issues, and because foods are eaten so often there is no obvious link between foods eaten and symptoms.
It can be difficult to determine when food sensitivities first start as they can begin with mild symptoms such as headache, bouts of fatigue, indigestion, gas and bloating, irritability, water retention etc. Generally a person’s health will gradually deteriorate over time if the sensitivities are not dealt with.
Elimination of the foods for 2 weeks and subsequent reintroduction cause more prompt and severe reactions such as diarrhea, nausea, gastric pain, gas and bloating, headaches.
People tend to crave food intolerances and will have “withdrawal reactions” when the food is eliminated from the diet up to 7 days. Cravings tend to disappear within 2 weeks however with the first introduction of the food, the cravings will reappear.
Food intolerances that have the “addictive” tendency when eaten initially, gives great satisfaction and a sense of well being, however later they cause fatigue, irritability, bloating etc.
Unlike food allergies, food sensitivities cannot be measured by any standard medical testing.
What is a food allergy?
An allergy is any reaction that takes place in the body in which the immune system is involved. Common symptoms include asthma, hay fever, rhinitis-constant runny or congested nose, chronic ear infections, sinusitis, nasal polyps, post nasal drip, hives& swelling, eczema. There are immediate (anaphylactic shock) and delayed food allergies. With delayed allergies it can be several hours to days before symptoms such as asthma, urticaria, eczema, and digestive complaints manifest.
Food, inhalants, contactants, and injectants all can cause allergic reactions in an individual. We are all unique hence it is important to do individual testing.
We know allergies run in families and tend to start early. They can start from in-utero exposure, or a bit later from breast milk, or upon the first consumption of food.
In any allergic disease, there tends to be multiple allergens at work. For example a child may have improvement of eczema after removal of milk and tomatoes from the diet, but only lost all symptoms when on vacation from the family cat.
1) Skin prick : The standard test for allergy is the skin-prick test, which looks at how the skin reacts to a range of common allergens. Allergen extracts derived from pure samples of foods, pollens, dust etc. are used. A drop of the allergen is placed on the arm or back a prick or scratch made in the skin below the drop allows a minute amount of allergen to enter the system. If the patient is sensitive to the allergen a marked reaction will occur called a wheal-and-flare response. Skin prick tests work well for some types of allergens such as airborne and topical however do not work well for foods unless the patient reaction is immediate and violent such as anaphylactic type. The cause may be that the allergic reaction is local to a part of the body and does not enter the blood stream hence would not show up in the skin. One may have to do a biopsy of gut or lung for example to find the activated IGE antibody.
2) Serum IgG and IgE testing or RAST (radioalergosorbant test) measures the level of antibodies that a person has to a specific substance.
3) ALCAT testing
4) Allergy elimination diet
6) Muscle testing
Detective work is required to find out all of the offending substances.