Monday, May 11, 2009
There has been much confusion about food allergies. When I was in school in the early eighties, many doctors didn't believe that foods allergies even existed. Many people think that food allergies only cause digestive problems. Well now it is clear that food allergies cause many health problems. It is estimated that a minimum of 4 percent of the population has some sort of food allergy. The number of people affected by food allergies is more likely around 15 percent.
Food allergies effect several parts of the body and cause many symptoms. The first place food effects is the digestive tract (stomach and intestines). They also cause problems in the liver, gallbladder, brain, lungs and thyroid. The symptoms food allergies cause are wide ranging. The obvious symptoms are bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea and burning. But food allergies also cause itching skin, runny nose, watery eyes, “brain fog”, fatigue, ringing in th ears, eczema, depression, anxiety, hyperactivity, aggression, joint inflammation and others. Food allergies also cause people to be more susceptible to environmental allergies such as dust, mold and pollen. Food allergies have been associated with autoimmune disorders such as Hashimoto's Thyroid (autoimmune) and celiac disease. Several prominent neurologists feel that gluten allergies( wheat, rye, barley and spelt) cause more problems in the brain than the digestive tract. MRI scans of gluten insensitive who still eat gluten, show shrinkage of the brain. Since food allergies are an immune system problem they stimulate adrenal stress reaction which leads to insulin resistance, inflammation, fatigue and hormone imbalances. Also the immune stress leads more frequent colds and flus and other infections. So you can see that food allergies can cause big problems.
The most common food allergens are:
- Gluten --- wheat, rye, barley, spelt, kamut
- Milk Products --- cream, ice cream, cheese, yogurt
- Shell fish
There are different types of allergies. The three main types of sensitivities are fast reacting, slow reacting and food intolerance.
Fast acting allergies are caused by IgE antibodies and are the classic food allergies most people have heard about. This is the type of allergy that causes a rapid reaction and may lead to death in a matter of minutes or hours. Peanut, shell fish and strawberries are the most well known. These allergies are usually genetic in origin.
Slow reacting food allergies are less known by the general public. These allergies are mediated by IgG and IgA antibodies. These allergies can take up to 3 days to cause an allergic reaction. Because of this it is difficult to know what foods you are allergic to. This type of allergy is most often responsible for the chronic health problems associated with food allergies. Slow reacting food allergies can be genetic or acquired. People can develop slow reacting allergies because of chronic stress and adrenal fatigue, chronic insulin resistance (high blood sugar or metabolic syndrome), gut infection from yeast, parasites or bacteria, dysbiosis (too many bad bacteria and not enough good bacteria, liver toxicity or just eating too much of one type of food.
Food intolerance is where a person's body doesn't have the enzymes or lacks the ability to digest a particular food. Lactose intolerance is a good example. This is not an allergic response, as no antibodies are produced. But it does cause inflammation in the digestive tract. Also some foods cause rapid rise or drop in blood sugar and this can cause symptoms similar to food allergies.
So how you do figure out what you are allergic to? In the past the only way test for this is the Rast scratch test. In this test the patient's back is painted patches of different allergens. And then these patches are scratched. If the patches swell up, then the person is allergic to the food in the patch. This type test is really only accurate for fast reacting allergies. Many doctors only accept this type of testing.
Now we have blood testing to check for allergies. The ELISA/EIA antibody testing can test for IgE, IgG and IgA antibodies. This is becoming more accepted. Most medical doctors usually only look at IgE antibodies, because they are looking for fast reacting allergies. Functional doctors look at both. The ELISA/EIA have some limitations. If the patient's antibodies are low overall due to chronic immune stress or the patient hasn't eaten the offending food for a long period of time, then there will be false negatives and the test will not be accurate. Muscle testing or kinesiology and Electro-dermal Screening is often just accurate as ELISA/EIA blood testing.
Elimination and challenge is probably the most accurate method to determine food allergies. But it is the most difficult. In this method the patient eliminates the most common foods and foods that are suspected for three weeks. Afterwards, the foods are re-introduced one at a time every three days and the patient looks for any return of symptoms with each food. This very accurate but it takes discipline. I use this method in conjunction with the Clearvite Program and muscle testing. See www.clearvite.info
After a food allergy is identified, the food should be avoided for 120 days. Afterwards patients can eat most foods every 7 days or so. With severe fast reacting allergies or celiac disease, those foods should never be eaten at all. NAET or ASERT are also helpful in reprogramming the body and sometimes eliminating the allergy. However to be most effective the gut must be repaired, yeast and parasites must be removed, adrenal stress removed and bad bacteria replaced with good bacteria.