What is a Food Allergy?
A food allergy or sensitivity occurs when there is an adverse reaction to the ingestion of a food. The allergic reaction may or may not be mediated (controlled and influenced) by the immune system. The allergic reaction may be caused by a protein, starch, or other food component, or by a contaminant found in the food (colorings, preservatives, etc.). Food allergies are associated with a multitude of symptoms and health conditions:
|Gastrointestinal||Canker sores, celiac disease, chronic diarrhea, duodenal ulcer, gastritis, irritable bowel syndrome, malabsorption, ulcerative colitis|
|Genitourinary||Bed-wetting, chronic bladder infections, nephrosis|
|Immune||Chronic infections, frequent ear infections|
|Mental/emotional||Anxiety, depression, hyperactivity, inability to concentrate, insomnia, irritability, mental confusion, personality change, seizures|
|Musculoskeletal||Bursitis, joint pain, low back pain|
|Respiratory||Asthma, chronic bronchitis, wheezing|
|Skin||Acne, eczema, hives, itching, skin rash|
|Miscellaneous||Arrhythmia, edema, fainting, fatigue, headache, hypoglycemia, itchy nose or throat, migraines, sinusitis|
What causes Food Allergy?
Food allergy is often inherited. When both parents have allergies, there is a sixty-seven-percent chance that the children will also have allergies. Where only one parent is allergic, the chance of a child being prone to allergies is still high, but drops from sixty-seven percent to thirty-three percent.
Repetitious exposure to a food, improper digestion, and poor integrity of the intestinal barrier are additional factors that can lead to the development and maintenance of food allergy.
A classic food allergy occurs when an ingested food molecule acts as an antigen-a substance that can be bound by an antibody. Antibodies are the protein molecules made by white blood cells that bind to foreign substances, in this case, antigens. The food antigen is bound by allergic antibodies known as IgE (immunoglobulin E). The IgE are specialized immunoglobulins (proteins) that bind to specialized white blood cells known as mast cells and basophils. When the IgE and food antigen bind to a mast cell or basophil, it causes the release of histamines, which cause swelling and inflammation.
What dietary factors are important in Food Allergy?
An allergy elimination diet is valuable in identifying food allergies. In an allergy elimination diet commonly eaten foods are eliminated and replaced with either hypoallergenic foods and foods that are rarely eaten, or special hypoallergenic formulas. The fewer the allergenic foods eaten, the greater the ease of establishing a diagnosis using an elimination diet. The standard elimination diet consists of lamb, chicken, potatoes, rice, banana, apple, and a cabbage-family vegetable (cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli, etc.). There are variations of the elimination diet that are suitable. However, it is extremely important that no allergenic foods be consumed.
The individual stays on the elimination diet for at least one week, and up to one month. If the symptoms are related to food sensitivity, they will typically disappear by the fifth or sixth day of the diet. If the symptoms do not disappear, it is possible that a reaction to a food in the elimination diet is responsible. In that case, an even more restricted diet must be utilized.
After the elimination-diet period, individual foods are reintroduced every two days. Methods range from reintroducing only a single food every two days, to reintroducing a food every one or two meals. Usually, after the one-week “cleansing” period, the patient will develop an increased sensitivity to offending foods.
Reintroduction of allergenic foods will typically produce a more severe or recognizable symptom than before. A careful, detailed record must be maintained, describing when foods were reintroduced and what symptoms appeared upon reintroduction. It can be very useful to track the wrist pulse during reintroduction, as pulse changes may occur when an allergenic food is consumed.
During the elimination phase, it is best to use RevitalX from Natural Factors – a powdered drink mix that provides targeted nutritional support for the intestinal tract. The development of the product was spearheaded by Michael Lyon, MD. RevitalX is specifically designed to soothe the stomach, intestines and colon, and help to heal a “leaky gut.” The low allergy potential formula is designed specifically for people with food allergies, but is suitable for everyone. It provides balanced levels of vitamins and minerals, phytochemicals, and probiotics to support the body, while healing the gastrointestinal track. The RevitalX formula base is GoldPeptides, a non-GMO protein source from golden peas. It is a superior source of protein to rice or soy in a hypoallergenic product because of its high protein, low sugar, and low glycemic profile.
When used as the key component of an elimination diet, RevitalX is taken twice per day as the primary source of sustenance. RevitalX is made up with water or juice (fresh vegetable juice is preferred), or it can be made up as a fruit smoothie. Fresh or steamed vegetables and small amounts of fruit can be eaten when hungry and one simple meal is prepared in the evening with steamed vegetables, lean chicken breast and brown rice (cooked beans, split peas or lentils along with brown rice can be used as a vegetarian alternative). A lightly sautéed stir fry can also be prepared for this meal.
Natural Products for Food Allergy Sufferers
RevitalX should be continued as a medicinal food. Take one or two servings daily for maintenance.
Digest Gold from Enzymedica is a high potency enzyme formula is able to breakdown large allergenic food proteins into small non-allergenic peptides. In the late 1930s and early 1940s there were reports that enzyme preparations were quite effective in relieving food allergy symptoms. These benefits were confirmed in a recent double-blind study. For best results, simply take one high potency Digest Gold before meals and another after meals.
Green tea extract has been shown to inhibit histamine release and other allergic mechanisms. It may have some benefit in reducing the allergic response to a food allergen, but there have been no studies in this area. The recommended dosage of green tea extract (55-70% polyphenols) is 150 to 300 mg daily.
How do I know if the recommendations are working?
Disappearance of any symptom attributed to food allergies during an elimination diet is the real determinant of a food allergy.