Food allergies invoke the same type of immune reaction as seasonal allergies. They both utilize an IgE antibody reaction. The most common food allergies are shellfish, peanuts, eggs, milk, fish, wheat, soy, and tree nuts, as these make up 90% of all food allergic reactions. Food allergy symptoms include vomiting, stomach cramps, hives, wheezing, coughing, anaphylactic shock, troubles swallowing, swelling of the tongue, dizziness, fainting, and a weak pulse. Symptoms can be mild or life threatening.
Food allergies effect 15 million people, 4 million of those being children. 30% of kids with food allergies have more than one type of food they are allergic to. The cost of children’s food allergies, alone, costs $25 billion a year. According to a study from the CDC in 2013, food allergy rates rose 50% from 1997 – 2011. Children with a food allergy are 2 to 4 times more likely to have asthma or another type of allergy.
Food Allergy vs. Food Sensitivity5
Last week we talked about what happens in an allergic reaction. So what is a food sensitivity and how is it different than a food allergy? Just as the immune system is responsible for allergic reactions, it is also responsible for the reaction that take place in the case of food sensitivities. However, food sensitivity reactions do not involve the IgE antibody, and are more delayed than a traditional allergic reaction. Other immune cells called IgA, IgG and IgM antibodies cause a reaction that can take 45 minutes to several days to manifest through symptoms. Food sensitivities can also affect any organ, whereas allergic reactions usually only affect the skin, airways and GI system. Symptoms of a food sensitivity include headaches, brain fog, moodiness, acne, rosacea, and dark circles under the eyes, joint pain, gas, bloating, reflux, diarrhea, and constipation.
Another adverse reaction you can have to what you eat is through a food intolerance. These don’t come from an immune reaction, but can cause inflammation, and chronic inflammation can cause many problems. Food intolerances come from the improper breakdown of food. This can be due to the lack of an enzyme to break down what you eat; such as in lactose intolerance. People with lactose intolerance lack the enzyme lactase to digest lactose. Since the person’s digestive tract does not break down the sugar lactose, the bacteria in the gut do. When bacteria digest our food, they release gas, and this can cause flatulence and bloating. Besides enzyme deficiencies, food intolerances can also come from reactions to food colorings, preservatives, GMO’s, sulfites, chemicals like caffeine, or from natural chemicals in foods like lectins in beans and other legumes4.
One of the biggest hidden toxins in foods is glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s widely used herbicide, RoundUp. It has been found to be in present in 93% of Americans’ blood. It has also been found in breast milk at higher concentrations than allowed in drinking water6. The Bt Toxin used in GMO corn has also been found in 93% of blood and the placenta’s blood. 80% of babies also had blood in the umbilical cord contaminated with glyphosate7. In 2015, glyphosate was labeled as a “probable carcinogen” by the World Health Organization8.
A recent study out of Sweden shows that switching to an organic lifestyle can nearly eliminate all evidence of pesticides in two weeks with noticeable changes in just one day9!
Food Sensitivity Testing
We have the ability to do food sensitivity testing! Through a simple blood test, we can see how 180 different foods react with your immune system. In our office we can also do lingual muscle testing to see if your body has a reaction to certain foods. Ask our office how you can get this food sensitivity test done to see if certain foods are the underlying cause of your symptoms!
Another way to figure out what foods may be affecting you is to do an elimination diet. To do this, remove the suspected food, or a group of foods. A good group to eliminate are the eight most common culprits listed on the previous page. After 2 weeks, bring one food back in and then wait 72 hours. If symptoms return, you know you are allergic or sensitive to that food. If no symptoms appear, that food is probably OK to eat. Then add in the next food and see what happens. Repeat these steps until you have reintroduced all of the foods you eliminated.
You may recall EpiPens being in the news this past year. These devices, which contain epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) can be life-saving for someone having an allergic reaction. One dose costs about $1. However, Mylan, the company that makes the portable autoinjection tool, raised prices 20% a year until they cost $600 per dose. Add in the fact that these little gadgets expire after about one year, and it is recommended to use 2 at one time in case the first fails, and one can understand the uproar the cost increases caused.