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December 16, 2017  |  Login
 
Food Allergies
 
by James F. Balch, M.D. and Mark Stengler, N.D.

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

  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Bedwetting
  • Canker sores
  • Colic
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Ear infections
  • Eczema
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Hives
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohn's, ulcerative colitis)
  • Multiple chemical sensitivity
  • Overweight
  • Psoriasis
  • Reflux and ulcers
  • Sinusitis
  • Weakened immunity

 

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 allergies 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 apparently 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 cow's 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 threatening but are bothersome. These include, but are not limited to, abdominal cramps, bloating, 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 cow's 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.

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 aren't 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 elimination 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 kinesiology 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.

 

 
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the ecomii healthy eight
1 Vitamin C   5 Soy Isoflavones
2 Red Yeast Rice   6 Cholesterol
3 Food Allergies   7 L-Theanine
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