What is A Food Allergy or Food Intolerances?
Do you suffer from post nasal drip, sneezing, red and watery eyes, hives, asthma, sinus congestion, chronic ear infections and or hay fever? These are the more recognizable symptoms that your body is experiencing a chemical response from food or the environment.
Many of you are plagued with physical and mental issues that seriously impacts your overall well-being and quality of life on a daily basis. When fatigue, brain fog, anxiety, rashes, constipation, gas and bloating become nuances that take a toll on your body and mind it is time to begin understanding what is going on in there?
There are many underlying stressors that can bring about these discomforts but food sensitivities or allergies can be one of the easiest to identify. Food intolerances and allergies are probably the largest causes of leaky gut syndrome which leads to a myriad of dis-ease in the body that causes systemic inflammation to run amuck.
This is the issue that really hit home with my family and why I chose a change in career paths after my fourth son was diagnosed with allergies to wheat, dairy, soy, eggs and gluten all became problematic and my “Ahha moment” for digestive issues no Gastroenterologist was able to help me with for so very many years prior. My daughter also had severe hives reactions to nuts so our cupboards and kitchen changed up quickly and nutrition became my passion and my holistic profession expanded.
I’m a firm believer “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”, right? Well, not always as you need to become a real food detective. Whether you have food allergies or even intolerances, specific foods can take a toll on your body and mind and I know this firsthand!
So what’s the difference between a food allergy and food sensitivity and most importantly how do you find out what’s causing the disharmony?
An allergy is an abnormal or inappropriate reaction by the nervous or immune system that occurs in rapid response to an otherwise harmless substances. When food is involved it is mistakenly identified as another specific protein thought to be a threat sending a swat team of white blood cells to attack it. When the protein enters the digestive system, an antibody called Immunoglobulin E (IgE) is produced and this immune response triggers an allergic reaction.
An allergy can manifest in many other ways and affects a wide variety of organs and tissues in the body. Reactions to food allergens come with a fast onset that can be mild to severe and may affect your skin (hives, tingling mouth, swelling of the lips, tongue, face or throat), within the digestive tract (nausea, vomiting, cramping, diarrhea) or the respiratory system (breathing and dangerous drops in blood pressure).
As you know severe cases can be life-threatening with asthmatic and allergic responses known as anaphylaxis, which requires immediate medical treatment. What you may not realize is that an allergy reaction to Calcium can materialize as a failure to grow, or emerge later in life as osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, kidney stones and bone spurs.
The most common food allergens are often referred to as the “Big Eight” from their protein sources:) Dairy or cow’s milk, tree nuts (almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, filberts/hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts), peanuts, eggs, citrus, shellfish, soy and wheat.
Whereas most food reactions are actually caused by food intolerances rather than by a true allergy. A food intolerance or sensitivity doesn’t involve a hasty immune reaction like an allergy so eating these foods in small amounts is possible without obvious flare-up responses. A food sensitivity is the inability to digest or break down a particular food and its protein involved triggers a reaction. This is why gluten and wheat intolerances go misdiagnosed as it takes a food molecule longer to reach the blood for the reaction to occur. There’s also over 200 known wheat proteins and as with peanuts there’s 11 to pinpoint.
It’s been well documented that these food chemicals clearly provoke a stress response to which the body expresses a symptom. Although with an intolerance it usually has a “delayed onset” from hours to days to physically manifest which makes the reaction difficult to connect the dots. Almost half the population suffers from some type of food intolerance.
When the immune system is affected an IgG(Immunoglobin G)mediated response sets off a constantly launching defense against a specific substance. This drains the immune systems precious resources and zaps your metabolic energy. This IgG response is just one mechanism but there can be other triggers to your symptoms such as a histamine response. To keep from getting really technical this complex stress response can result from built-in mediators like cytokines, prostaglandins, enkaphalins that keep the immune system ramped up and weakening your defenses.
It’s important to keep in mind that although food intolerances are generally less serious, if a specific substance is not eliminated from the diet this reaction will continuously cause a stress response causing inflammation within to remain chronic. While producing noticeable digestive upset, joint pain, migraines, eczema, sinusitis, brain fog, anxiety and many other expressions of dis-ease, its this “silent inflammation” that lands in an organ, gland, tissue or system that produces the discomfort.
As in the case if you’re lactose intolerant then your digestive system lacks the enzyme lactase which is necessary for breaking down the milk sugar lactose found in cow’s milk. This causes gas, bloating and diarrhea when consumed initiating your Autonomic Nervous System to trigger a stress response which eventually leads to a cascade of symptoms.
Other common food intolerances include gluten (found in wheat, oats, barley and rye), citrus, apples, pears, watermelon and mango’s and also the familiar nightshade family that includes tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, bell peppers. Alcohol and foods high in fructose such as high-fructose corn syrup, raisins, goji berries, honey, agave nectar can be culprits too.
Even Dr. Atkins, in his book awhile back stated that “the first and most basic principle of food allergy is that: “the foods you eat and love the most are usually part of your problem.” He describes the common phenomena that we often become addicted to the foods that we are intolerant of which unbalance our energy system. He explains that those foods that make us ill actually make us feel better for a short time after they are ingested. It is the classic addiction pattern: the alcoholic, the drug addict, the “carbohydrate addict”, all initially feel better when using their drug of choice. When food reactions cause cravings it can become a body/mind struggle
The evidence is out and the verdict is that eating foods that one is sensitive to will and can cause weight gain or add can sabotage weight loss. Food reactions cause one to also store water by disrupting the cells chemistry while releasing hormones that cause fluid retention. If you eat something and soon notice more extreme thirst, you are probably having a food reaction.
Allergies and food intolerances are probably the largest causes of leaky gut syndrome which have many different causes that need to be addressed. Weak adrenals, intestinal dysbiosis(lack of optimal healthy gut flora), chemical and toxic metal exposure and especially our consumption of Genetically Modified Organisms(GMO foods). I have found when people heal their guts and adrenal glands many food sensitivities disappear, but it may be very challenging to pinpoint the culprits and chemical substances that trigger reactions without using the right tools.
The underlying key factor is STRESS which causes or exacerbates most health related conditions: “According to The American Medical Association (AMA), stress is the cause of 80% to 85% of all human illness and disease. Every week, 95 million Americans suffer some kind of stress-related symptom for which they take medication. ” A general reduction of stress levels can significantly decrease symptoms of many conditions as the brain creates associations between stressful events and substances which is why this becomes a vicious cycle that subsequently leads to a host of chronic and acute conditions.
The stress response is the first step in the cascade of events that might range from watery eye’s, sneezing, sniffling, sinus pressure, gas, bloating, diarrhea, itching, welting and burning skin irritations, wheezing to difficulty breathing. These are all symptomatic expressions the body uses to expel toxins or substances it believes are harmful to the body through the nervous, circulatory, respiratory, digestive, integumentary (our skin) and musculo-skeletal systems.
Ongoing exposure to these food culprits which are in a sense a toxic reaction, produces low-level inflammation that over time will eventually result in the disease diagnosis. Here are 10 disease processes that are known to be linked to food sensitivities:
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS or IBD)
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Autism Spectrum Disorder
The pearl here is what if these associations can be broken? Yes, if a positive stimulus in conjunction with the specific stress inducing substance is initiated symptoms can be reduced or eliminated. Let’s have you hold that thought for a moment with the belief of all things are possible.
If you suspect that you have a food allergy, your doc can do a skin prick test or a blood test but either is NOT 100% accurate and family history and a description of your symptoms will need to be assessed to determine a final conclusion as to whether or not you have a food related allergy.
A skin prick test is exactly how it sounds, a tiny amount of the suspected food is placed on your arm or back and then your skin is pricked to let a small amount of the food below the surface of your skin. If you’re allergic, you’ll likely develop a raised bump on your skin.
For a blood test it requires a sample of your blood sent to the lab where different foods can be tested with your blood sample and the levels of IgE antibodies will be measured. You can learn more about the ELISA test at the Genova Diagnostics website or ALCAT intolerance testing which measures up to 350 foods, herbs and chemicals. The down side is that this testing is pricey and often shows many false positives for food intolerances and is not available for those living in NYS. For all these reasons, most health professionals do not recognize this testing model.
As with food intolerances or sensitivities, an elimination diet is highly recommended and used to determine whether or not certain foods are troublesome. Suspected foods are eliminated for 7-21 days and then added back in one at a time each week to determine whether or not a reaction occurs. If you suspect you have a specific food allergy, Do Not use this approach since you run the risk of experiencing a life-threatening reaction when the suspect food is added back in.
If the elimination diet doesn’t provide clear-cut food intolerance answers I use muscle testing as a very efficient tool to identify substances that are causing allergy-like reactions. Muscle testing identifies substances that negatively affect the body’s energy system. The muscle test clearly identifies to both practitioner and patient, which substances weakens the patient’s body making the distinction of substance dramatic and clear cut.
There is a non-invasive hydrogen breath test can be done to determine lactose intolerance or fructose malabsorption. The same test is done to diagnose IBS( irritable bowel syndrome) or SIBO when there’s bacterial overgrowth occurring because of a severe imbalance in the small intestine.
Unfortunately if certain foods are linked to the health struggles in your life then its vital that they be positively addressed or auto-immune disorders develop, metabolism runs amuck, digestive disorders, diabetes and heart disease can prevail when inflammation leaks out from the gut into the bloodstream.
Biolight technologies has measured specific stress levels in the Autonomic Nervous System, identified substances that cause stress levels to rise, and couples these environmental stressors with a positive stimulus. In this case, that is the release of endorphins and enkephalins triggered by nerve bundle stimulation during light therapy. Endorphins and enkephalins are the body’s natural sedative and pain killers and upon release calm the nervous system, breaking the previous negative association and replacing it with a neutral association. The net result is the positive conditioning or successful neurological relaxation training of the ANS (Autonomic Nervous System) to no longer respond in a stressful manner during real world substance exposure.
The benefits of reducing stress on the nervous system however, and reducing or eliminating autonomic nervous system mediated responses, can have wide reaching positive effects on a number of symptoms and conditions that previously had limited therapeutic options.
In my practice I use a cold light laser for NSRT(Neurological Stress Reduction Therapy) which has proven to greatly reduce or even completely eliminate the symptoms associated with:
- • Allergies and Food Sensitivities
- • Asthma and Hayfever
- • ADD/ ADHD and Autism
- Depression & All Neurological Imbalances
- Dermalogical Issues
- • Eczema/ Psoriasis
- Gastrointestinal Dysfunction; IBS, Crohns, Acid Reflux
- • Insomnia
- Metabolic Disorders
- Musculoskeletal Pain & Inflammatory Diseases
- • Bed Wetting
- Smoking and Addictive Behaviors
Why is this so important?
The benefits of low light laser therapy are further magnified due to the fact that these protocols and hundreds more that are pre-programmed for an array of substance specific sensitivities, inflammation reducing, immune boosting, enhancing cellular healing and repair while supporting neuroplasticity of the brain. This being totally non-invasive, painless and extremely effective. NSRT requires no drugs just homeopathy support, no needles as this is described as needleless acupuncture. Although an anti-inflammatory & bioindividual diet is recommended, there is no dietary restrictions . As one of your healthcare providers you’ve got myself who has your back with supporting you as a whole in making healthier dietary or lifestyle changes towards keeping you feeling your very best towards aging gracefully! This is a safe and holistic alternative for patient care which works amazingly and is wonderful to see the most young and old respond so well.
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It’s your turn to acknowledge your health struggles, the medications you might be on suppressing symptoms, the fatigue you might be feeling or the distress that’s going on within your body/mind? Whether it’s certain foods, heavy metals, environmental or hormonal factors, anxiety, autoimmune once you’ve identified more of the root cause to any dis-ease your body is trying to balance and take the action steps to bring it back to true health then kudos to you for addressing the bottom line.
When it comes to trouble foods for you, there’s always alternatives and creating delicious allergen or intolerant-free foods that you will probably find more satisfying as taste buds change when you remove the culprits over time you just feel better!