Food Allergies/Sensitivities

Food Allergies/Sensitivities

 

Food allergies and food sensitivities (also referred to as intolerances) are terms often used interchangeably. Technically, a food allergy is a measurable immune response to a normally harmless food. Symptoms include itchy hives, lip swelling, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. Common food aller- gies are to peanuts, wheat, milk, eggs, MSG, and shellfish. Scientists are not sure what exactly causes food allergies. Since many allergies tend to run in families, there appar- ently is a genetic component. There is also evidence that some allergies are the result of exposure to a certain food or foods too early in life, before the immune system is fully developed. Many infants who are given cows milk instead of breast milk in the first months develop an allergic reaction; the same goes for children who are fed wheat, eggs, peanut butter, or other products before they are ready. At any age, the overconsumption of a food is thought to lead to allergies. Wheat, for example, is a common allergen in the United States, because most people eat it at every meal and snack.

Food sensitivities are reactions to food where there is not necessarily an immune response, as measured by standard lab tests. These symptoms are not life threaten- ing but are bothersome. These include, but are not limited to, abdominal cramps, bloat- ing, headache, mood swings, reoccurring infections, joint pain, runny nose, skin rashes, dark circles under the eyes, and fatigue. Symptoms may occur up to thirty- six hours after ingesting the offending food. Common food sensitivities that we see with patients are to cows milk, wheat, corn, soy, chocolate, citrus fruit, and artificial sweeteners and preservatives. Most food sensitivities are acquired throughout life. A lack of variety in the diet, poor digestion and detoxification, and genetics are often the underlying causes. Most people who have multiple food sensitivities have an underlying condition known as leaky gut syndrome. This means that foods are not being broken down effectively (especially proteins), and once absorbed, they cause a heightened immune reaction. The key to these cases is to heal the gut lining and improve food breakdown, something that natural medicine is very effective for. Many cases of food sensitivities can be eliminated or improved with natural therapies.



 

Do be aware that hundreds of conditions can be at least in part caused  or worsened by food allergies or sensitivities. Common  exam- ples include

Arthritis Asthma Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder

Food allergies and sensitivities can sometimes be difficult to identify. Immune responses to food may take hours or days to develop, and they may be mistaken for seasonal allergies or for other diseases associated with their symptoms: colds, flu, skin problems, chronic fatigue, and many others. And allergies arent just triggered by the consumption of large quantities of a problem food: you can have a reaction from a minute quantity or even from simply touching or inhaling an allergen. Use the elim- ination diet given here to determine which food or foods, if any, you are allergic to.

Also, specific testing with blood, electrodermal, skin scratch, or applied kinesiol- ogy by a holistic practitioner or a doctor can help you quickly identify your problem foods. They can then be avoided or you can desensitize yourself to them.

 

SYMPTOMS

 

Food allergies can produce a number of symptoms. The most common are listed as follows:



Bedwetting

Canker sores Colic Constipation Depression Diarrhea

Ear infections

Eczema

Gallbladder disease

Headaches

High blood pressure

Hives Hypoglycemia Irritable bowel syndrome

Inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohns, ulcera- tive colitis)

Multiple chemical sensitivity

Overweight

Nasal congestion

Sneezing

Coughing

Red, itchy, or watery eyes

Dark circles or puffiness under the eyes

Wheezing

Sore throat

Difficulty swallowing

Common symptoms of food sensitivities:

Abdominal cramps and bloating

Headache

Mood swings

Reoccurring infections

Joint pain

 

ROOT CAUSES

 

Overconsumption of a certain food

Introduction of a food too early in infancy or childhood

Stress, which depresses the immune system

 

 

TREATMENT

Hives, rashes, eczema, or other skin eruptions

Nausea or vomiting

Headache

Fatigue

Fluid retention

Swelling of the throat and the tongue 

Runny nose

Skin rashes

Dark circles under the eyes

Fatigue

Poor digestion and detoxification

Heredity

Psoriasis

Reflux and ulcers Sinusitis Weakened immunity

 

If you experience difficulty breathing or develop hives that spread rapidly, get emer- gency help at once. Allergic reactions like these can be quickly fatal. If you know you have severe reactions to certain substances, talk to your doctor about emergency adren- aline kits you can keep on hand.

 

Diet

 

Obviously, the most important step in treating allergies is identifying them. Once youve identified the offending substances, adhere to the following suggestions to keep



 

Elimination Diet to Detect Food Allergies

 



Although it takes some time and dedication, an elimination diet is the best way to uncover  any hidden  food allergies. The first step is to come up with a list of possible trigger foods. Do this by keeping a food diary, writing down everything you eat each day for a week (or longer, if you sense that one week cant adequately represent your eating habits). At the end of the week, note

the foods youve consumed most often during the week. This is your list of possible triggers.

Next, you should eliminate  all the suspect foods on your list from your diet for a total of two weeks. For most people,  this stage is difficult, as youre asked to give up the foods you love and rely upon the most; try to keep in mind that you’ll be able to return to your usual diet, perhaps  with

a few modifications, soon.

If, after two weeks, your symptoms have disap- peared,  you know that you are allergic to at least one of the foods on your list. To identify which food or foods is the culprit, reintroduce the sus- pect foods to your diet one at a time. When

reintroducing foods that have been eliminated, be sure to use the purest form of the food. For exam- ple, if milk is on your list of suspects,  add whole milk back to your diet, not skim. If youve elimi- nated wheat,  reintroduce it by eating cream of wheat or shredded wheat. Allow two full days to pass between reintroducing foods, as it may take

a while for symptoms to manifest themselves. Should your symptoms reappear, you can assume that the food most recently  reintroduced is an allergen,  and you should banish it from your diet or work to have your immune  system desensitized to it. Continue  to make your way through the list, however,  as you may be allergic to more than one food. Wait at least forty-eight hours after the onset of symptoms before reintroducing the next elimi- nated food.

At the end of the elimination diet, you will know which,  if any, foods produce an allergic response  in your body. Depending on your reac- tion, you can avoid or reduce  your intake of this food.

 

 

 

 

them out of your diet and to reduce your chances of having a bad reaction, should you be accidentally exposed. Food sensitivities can generally be improved or cured by rotating foods in the diet, improving digestion and detoxification, and using the desen- sitization techniques described in this chapter.

 

 

Recommended Food

Fortify your immune system with a healthful, wholesome diet. Eat foods that are high in immune-building nutrients: seafood, beans, and nuts for magnesium; green leafy vegetables and brewers yeast for B vitamins; and plenty of fresh fruits and vegeta- bles for vitamin C.

A varied diet will discourage the development of allergies, so try to eat different foods every day.

Breast milk is best for infants. If, for some reason, you are unable to provide your baby with mothers milk, use a cows milk alternative or a predigested, hypoallergenic formula.

Drink a glass of clean water every two waking hours to flush allergens out of your body and to encourage overall health.

 

Food to Avoid

Of course, you must avoid the foods that trigger a severe allergy response. In general, it is best to buy whole foods and prepare them yourself, so that you are aware of their content, but if you must buy packaged food, learn how to read labels and scrutinize



 

Testing Techniques

 

The following tests help assess possible reasons for food allergies/sensitivities, as well as determine  the offending foods:

Intestinal permeability—urine

Detoxification profile—urine

Digestive function and microbe/parasite/candida testing—stool  analysis

Food allergies/sensitivities—blood (IgE and IgG4), electrodermal, skin scratch

Hormone testing (DHEA, cortisol)—saliva,  blood,  or urine them carefully. Food preservatives and artificial colorings or avorings can be at the root of food reactions.

Food sensitivities can generally be rotated in the diet, until you become desensi- tized to the offending food. 

 

Detoxification

 

If you have recently suffered an allergy attack, go on a short, twenty-four-hour juice fast to cleanse the body of allergens. For chronic allergies, undertake a one- to three- day cleanse every three months.

 

Studies done with infants and nursing mothers have found that probiotics  help improve food aller- gies. It appears  that probiotics  directly reduce  the immune response  to food allergens and indi- rectly improve symptoms, due to improved  food digestion.

Super Seven Prescriptions—Food Sensitivity

 

Super Prescription #1    Digestive enzyme complex

Take a full-spectrum digestive complex with each meal.

Super Prescription #2    Protease enzymes

Take 1 to 2 protease enzyme capsules between meals two to three times daily. When taken on an empty stomach, protease enzymes are believed to metabolize food antibody complexes that cause symptoms. Do not use if you have an ulcer or gastritis.

Super Prescription #3    Homeopathic Desensitization Drops

Take a homeopathic dilution of the food(s) you are sensitive to, up to three times daily or as directed on the container. This approach of like cures like helps desen- sitize the immune response to sensitivity reactions.

Super Prescription #4    Probiotics

Take a product that contains at least 4 billion active organisms daily, thirty min- utes after a meal. These good bacteria favorably alter the way the immune system perceives foods and also helps with their metabolism and digestion.

Super Prescription #5    Gentian root (Gentiana lutea)

This improves stomach-acid levels and overall digestive function. Take 300 mg in capsule form or 10 to 20 drops ve to fifteen minutes before meals. It can also be used as part of a digestive bitters formula.

Super Prescription #6    Thymus (Thymus vulgaris) extract

Take 1 to 2 capsules or as directed on the container three times daily on an empty stomach. Thymus extract balances an overactive immune system.



Super Prescription #7    Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)

Take 1,000 mg twice daily. MSM has a natural antiallergy benefit that includes food sensitivities.

 

 

General Recommendations

 

L-glutamine repairs the lining of the small intestine for improved absorption. Take

500 mg three times daily.

An adrenal glandular supplement supports adrenal gland function and allergy con- trol. Take 1 capsule three times daily between meals.

Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) supports adrenal gland function and allergy control. Take 500 mg three times daily.

Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) supports liver function and detoxification. Take

250 mg of a 85 percent silymarin extract with each meal.

Betaine hydrochloric acid improves stomach-acid levels. Take 1 to 2 capsules with each meal.

Quercitin has antiallergy benefits. Take 500 mg three times daily.

Vitamin C with bioflavonoids reduces allergy reactions. Take 1,000 mg two to three times daily.

 

Homeopathy

 

Pick the remedy that best matches your symptoms in this section. For acute food reac- tions, take a 30C potency four times daily. For chronic food sensitivities, take 6x, 12x,

6C, 12C, or 30C potency twice daily for two weeks to see if there are any positive results. After you notice improvement, stop taking the remedy, unless symptoms return. Consultation with a homeopathic practitioner is advised.

Note: Homeopathy is not a replacement for medical treatment for serious acute food allergy reactions.

Lycopodium (Lycopodium clavatum) is for people who have problems with food reactions and also suffer tremendous bloating and gas. They crave sweets. Symptoms are usually worse in the early evening.

Nux Vomica (Strychnos nux vomica) is for people with multiple food sensitivities and digestive problems, such as heartburn, reflux, constipation, or stomach cramps. They tend to be chilly and irritable.

Urtica Urens is helpful if you have welts or hives with itchy, burning skin, espe- cially after eating shellfish. If your hives or welts are rapidly spreading, get emergency help at once.

 

Acupressure

 

See pages 668–675 for information about pressure points and administering treatment.

Large Intestine 4 relieves headaches and sneezing.

If you have fatigue, swollen eyes, or head pain, use Bladder 10.

Triple Warmer 5 fortifies the immune system.

Stomach 36 strengthens the entire body and promotes a healthful balance.

 

Bodywork

 

Massage

If food allergies have left you chronically or severely congested, consider a percus- sive massage to help break up mucus.



Percussive motions are best used on people who are relatively strong and healthy. If you are frail, thin, or elderly, check with your massage therapist about the suitabil- ity of this treatment for you.

To reduce stress, get a relaxing massage that incorporates any of the soothing essen- tial oils listed in the Aromatherapy recommendations.

 

 

Reflexology

See pages 686–687 for information about reflexology areas and how to work them.

To ease allergic reactions in the upper respiratory tract, work the big toes and the inside of the heels.

If you have been exposed to an allergenic food, work the liver and the colon to speed the processing and the release of toxins.

 

 

Aromatherapy

Use melissa in a bath, an inhalation, or a massage oil to reduce the intensity of an aller- gic attack.

Lavender and chamomile will relax and soothe the body after the stress of an aller- gic reaction. Use either oil according to your particular symptoms. If you have acne, mix into a lotion and apply directly to the skin. For other reactions, you can use a com- press to apply the oil to a specific body part, add to a bath, or use in a massage for all-over relief.

If youre congested, try any of the following oils in a steam inhalation, a bath, a diffuser, or a massage: eucalyptus, peppermint, melissa, and tea tree.

 

 

Stress Reduction

 

General Stress-Reduction Techniques

Stress can impact your immune and digestive systems and can contribute to food sen- sitivities. Read the exercise and stress reduction section in Part Two and choose a cou- ple of stress-reduction techniques youd like to try. Once youve found one or two that you like, incorporate them into your daily routine. Regular practice will help you han- dle daily tension with detachment and equanimity.

 

 

Bach Flower Remedies

 

According to Bach Flower Remedy philosophy, intolerance of other people is a cause of most allergic conditions. If you have little patience for others, use Beech or Impa- tiens to expand your sense of goodwill. To take Beech or any other Bach remedy, place

10 drops of the liquid under your tongue. Hold the drops in place for thirty seconds and swallow. Use as often as needed.

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