Know your food allergies

Digestion + Nutrition

It is critical for people who have food allergies to identify them and to avoid foods that cause allergic reactions. The word ‘allergy’ means that the immune system has responded to a harmless substance as if it were toxic. Allergies are an over-reaction of the body’s immune system to a specific component, usually a protein. These proteins may be from foods, pollens, house dust, animal hair or mounds and are known as allergens.

What is Food Allergy

A food allergy is an abnormal response to a food triggered by the immune system. Food normally doesn’t provoke a response from the human immune system, the body’s defense against microbes and other threats to health. In food allergies, two parts of the immune response are involved, one is the production of an antibody that circulates in the blood. The other part is a type of cell called a mast cell. Mast cells occur in all body tissues but especially in areas that are typical sites of allergic reactions, including the nose, throat, lungs, skin, and gastrointestinal tract.

Our bodies are protected from infections by our immune system. We produce molecules, called antibodies, which recognize the germs causing an infection. There are two types of antibodies that need to be monitored whenassessing for food allergies, these include IgE (acute reaction) and IgG (delayed reaction). IgE and IgG act like a tag, sticking to molecules in food or pollen called allergens. When someone who has an allergy eats a problem food the IgE and IgG attach to the allergens, setting off an allergic reaction. They both trigger the release of histamine, which causes the changes we see in our bodies as symptoms, like nettle rash or wheezing.

Risk of Food Allergy May increase if:

  • You have a family history of allergy. Food allergies are most common in people who are atopic, meaning they have an inherited tendency to develop allergic conditions such as asthma, various allergies, and atopic dermatitis. If both of your parents have allergies, you have an increased chance of developing allergies.
  • You have another allergic condition such as atopic dermatitis or asthma.
  • You are young, Infants and children have more food allergies than adults.
  • You have a medical condition that makes it easier for allergens to pass through the walls of the stomach and intestines and enter the bloodstream. These conditions include gastrointestinal disease, malnutrition, prematurity, and diseases that impair the immune system.

Symptoms of food allergy

Given that there are two types of food allergies, both acute and delayed, it is easier to recognize the acute response, given that the delayed response can take up to 72 hours for symptoms to show.

Acute IgE reactions include:

  • Itching and burning and swelling around the mouth
  • Runny nose
  • Skin rash and hives, eczema, urticaria (skin becomes red and
  • Diarrhea, abdominal cramps
  • Breathing difficulties, including wheezing and asthma
  • Vomiting, nausea
  • Life-threatening anaphylaxis

Delayed IgG reactions include:

  • Headaches, migraines and sinus infections
  • Constipation, gas, bloating and diarrhea
  • Hyperactive behavior in children
  • Insomnia
  • Mood imbalances
  • Fatigue
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Joint and muscular pain
  • Eczema and Psoriasis
  • Ear infections in children
  • Immune Imbalances

How to Treat a Food Allergy

The best treatment is to avoid the foods you are allergic to. Learn to read food labels and spot other names for problem foods. For example, milk may be listed as “casein,” wheat as “gluten,” and peanuts as “hydrolyzed vegetable protein.” When you eat out or at other people’s houses, ask about the foods you are served. Addressing gastrointestinal health is the key in helping patients recover from their food allergies. An unbalance of healthy flora and intestinal infections can promote the development of food allergies. Probiotics and digestive enzymes can help reduce the reactivity to foods

How to get Tested

At Vitality Natural Health Care we test for food allergies both IgE and IgG reactions through a blood draw or a finger stick. 100 foods are tested.