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5 Signs Your Food is Making You Sick - Modern Alternative KitchenModern Alternative Kitchen

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Many people suffer from food intolerances or allergies. They can cause a wide variety of symptoms and may be very obvious, but in many cases are easily overlooked. Either way, food intolerances or allergies can have serious health implications. So, what exactly is a food allergy? Allergy is officially defined as ‘an abnormal reaction of the immune system in response to an otherwise harmless substance’. So, your immune system reacts to something that is actually harmless, like food, treating it as a foreign intruder and causing inflammation.

Allergy or food intolerance?

An immune response is mediated by antibodies. There are several types of antibodies. Classical allergies involve a type called IgE antibodies, and is usually well recognized as symptoms occur within minutes after consumption. If you suffer from allergies caused by IgG- or IgG4 antibodies, however, symptoms can take anywhere from half a day to two days to manifest. This makes it very hard to connect a certain food to a certain symptom.

It has long been believed that IgE were the only antibodies responsible for allergies, and some say only an IgE-mediated immune response is to be called an allergy. Hence, an IgG or IgG4-mediated immune response to food is often called a ‘food intolerance’.  Which seems a little weird to me, because technically, it is an immune response to an otherwise harmless substance – thus an allergy.

The term ‘food intolerance’ can be quite confusing, because there are also food intolerances that do not involve an immune response. (An example of a non-immune-related food intolerance is lactose-intolerance, where one lacks the enzyme to digest lactose.) In this post I will discuss IgG or IgG4 allergies, as they are very common and very easily overlooked, but may be the underlying cause of many health conditions.

5 signs it might be helpful to check for allergies or immune-related food intolerances

1. If you have an imbalanced gut flora, frequent yeast infections or irritable bowel symptoms

An unhealthy gut flora leads to inflammation, causing the gut lining to become more permeable. As a result, bigger parts of protein are passed into the bloodstream. These bigger protein parts are more likely to be recognized by the body as a ‘foreign intruder’, causing the immune system to attack it. This in return leads to inflammation which damages the gut… it’s a vicious circle that can lead to a wide variety of symptoms.

2. You suffer from fatigue that cannot be explained otherwise

A healthy gut is the basis for a healthy immune system, and is essential for proper nutrient absorption. In people with unhealthy, imbalanced or inflamed guts, nutrient deficiencies are almost unevitable. These deficiencies often build up over time, causing vague symptoms like unexplained fatigue, brain fog, concentration problems or irritability.

3. You have behavioral issues like attention problems, depression or autistic symptoms

Years ago, Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride published her ideas about the relationship between gut health and mental disorders. This article will provide you with a good overview of her ideas. Recent scientific research also indicates that food intolerances or allergies lay at the root of various mental disorders. A Dutch study performed on children with ADHD found that after following a restrictive elimination diet for only 2 weeks, 65 percent of the children did not meet the criteria for ADHD anymore! Also, children with autistic symptoms seem to have significant improvements. In this research though, they did not eliminate gluten… leading me to believe results can be even more promising.

4. You suffer from autoimmune disease like type 1 diabetes, asthma, reumathoid arthritis or ms

Autoimmune diseases, like allergies, are an expression of a dysfunctional immune system. Our immune systems are based in the gut: a dysfunctional immune system is a strong sign you might be in the vicious cycle described above. Like allergies, ADHD and autism, autoimmune diseases are on the rise. Big time. Some theories state that because of excessive vaccination and hygiene, we prevent our immune system from developing the way it is naturally built to. It has too little to do, causing it to attack harmless substances like food or even our own tissues.

5. You have other allergies (e.g. seasonal, animal or dust mite), eczema or recurring respiratory infections

Other allergies, like food allergies, are a sign of an overactive immune system and often occur together. Eczema and recurring respiratory infections are a strong indicator you are prone to allergies.

So, how to proceed if any of the above applies to you? There are various options to find out:

  • Blood testing: IgG or IgG4 antibodies to the most common foods can be measured in the blood.  Tests can cover anywhere from 100 to 300 or more different food items. Blood testing is by far the easiest way, but it is also the most expensive. You can also test for total IgG or IgG4, which is a cheaper alternative to determine if more extensive testing can be helpful.
  • Stool testing: You can test your stool for certain markers to measure gut health and flora. This is often cheaper than a blood test and will give you an indication of whether you are likely to be caught in the vicious cycle of gut imbalance – inflammation – allergies.
  • Restrictive elimination diet: The most reliable and cheapest way is to leave all possible allergens out for 4 weeks, then add them back in one at a time. Start with just a little bit and gradually build up to a regular portion size within a couple of days. If you notice any adverse reactions, leave the food out for a longer while. Common allergens are: wheat, gluten, egg, nuts, shellfish, dairy, nightshade vegetables. If there are any other foods you consume daily and/or in large amounts it might be wise to leave those out too. When choosing this option, having a natural dietitian or other health professional to turn to may be very helpful!

What are your experiences with food allergies or intolerances? Do you avoid certain foods?

 

 

 

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2 Comments

  1. I have multiple food allergies and a few suspected intolerances. I have strong allergies to wheat, barley, and rye. I have major neurological symptoms and GI within 10 minutes of ingesting the tiniest amounts. I also get hives with all nightshades. I’m allergic to buckwheat, garlic and mustard. I suspect I have an intolerance to chocolate and a couple of other grains , as well. My son (whom I’m nursing so avoiding these foods as well) is allergic to dairy and soy. He has an intolerance to corn and citric acid.
    Thank you for the concise explanation. My first dr didn’t care abiut even the foods I tested lower gor being in my diet. She said just don’t eat them raw! I eliminated them and have felt so much better for it!

    Reply

  2. Wow Heather, that must be quite a puzzle! Thank you for sharing your experience! Did you do a blood test?

    Reply

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