Food allergies and food sensitivities (also referred to as intolerances) are terms often used interchangeably. Technically, a food allergy is a measurable immune response to a normally harmless food. Symptoms include itchy hives, lip swelling, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. Common food allergies are to peanuts, wheat, milk, eggs, MSG, and shellfish. Scientists are not sure what exactly causes food allergies. Since many allergies tend to run in families, there apparently is a genetic component. There is also evidence that some allergies are the result of exposure to a certain food or foods too early in life before the immune system is fully developed. Many infants who are given cow's milk instead of breast milk in the first months develop an allergic reaction; the same goes for children who are fid wheat, eggs, peanut butter, or other products before they are ready. At any age, the over-consumption of food is thought to lead to allergies. Wheat, for example, is a common allergen in the United States, because most people eat it at every meal and snack.
Food sensitivities are reactions to food where there is not necessarily an immune response, as measured by standard lab tests. These symptoms are not life-threatening but are bothersome. These include, but are not limited to, abdominal cramps, bloating, headache, mood swings, reoccurring infections, joint pain, runny nose, skin rashes, dark circles under the eyes, and fatigue. Symptoms may occur up to thirty-six hours after ingesting the offending food. Common food sensitivities that we see with patients are to cow's milk, wheat, corn, soy, chocolate, citrus fruit, and artificial sweeteners and preservatives. Most food sensitivities are acquired throughout life. A lack of variety in the diet, poor digestion and detoxification, and genetics are often the underlying causes. Most people who have multiple food sensitivities have an underlying condition known as a leaky gut syndrome. This means that foods are not being broken down effectively (especially proteins), and once absorbed, they cause a heightened immune reaction. The key to these cases is to heal the gut lining and improve food breakdown, something that natural medicine is very effective for. Many cases of food sensitivities can be eliminated or improved with natural therapies.
Food allergies and sensitivities can sometimes be difficult to identify. Immune responses to food may take hours or days to develop, and they may be mistaken for seasonal allergies or for other disease associated with their symptoms: colds, flu, skin problems, chronic fatigue, and many others. And allergies aren't just triggered by the consumption of large quantities of a problem food: you can have a reaction from a minute quantity or even from simply touching or inhaling an allergen. Use the elimination diet to determine which food or foods, if any, you are allergic to.
Also, specific testing with blood, electrodermal, skin scratch, or applied kinesiology by a holistic practitioner or a doctor can help you quickly identify your problem foods. They can then be avoided or you can desensitize yourself to them.
** All of these prescriptions below have been proven effective; the level of effectiveness depends on the individual. Please consult your doctor when taking any and all supplements.
The top 7 vitamins and supplements have shown to help Food
Prescription for Natural
Cures by James F. Balch, M.D. and Mark Stengler, N.M.D.
|Super Prescription #1 Enzymes – Super Enzymes - LifeSource Product Take a full-spectrum digestive complex with each meal.
|Super Prescription # 2 Cleansing – LifeSource Products - See all Cleansing Products Take as described on the package. Cleansing has been shown to help the body with allergies of all kinds.
|Super Prescription #3 Probiotics / Dophilus - LifeSource Product Take a product that contains at least 4 billion active organisms daily, thirty minutes after a meal. These good bacteria favorably alter the way the immune system perceives foods and also helps with their metabolism and digestion.
|Super Prescription #4 Gentian root (Gentiana lutea)
This improves stomach-acid levels and overall digestive function. Take 300 mg in capsule form or 10 to 20 drops five to fifteen minutes before meals. It can also be used as part of a digestive bitters formula.
|Super Prescription #5 Thymus (Thymus vulgaris) extract
Take 1 to 2 capsules or as directed on the container three times daily on an empty stomach. Thymus extract balances an overactive immune system.
|Super Prescription #6 MSM – Methylsulfonylmethane – LifeSource Product
Take 1,000 mg twice daily. MSM has a natural anti-allergy benefit that includes food sensitivities.
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Food allergies can produce a number of symptoms. The most common are listed as follows:
- Nasal congestion
- Red, itchy, or watery eyes
- Dark circles or puffiness under the eyes
- Sore throat
- Difficulty swallowing
- Hives, rashes, eczema, or other skin eruptions
- Nausea or vomiting
- Fluid retention
- Swelling of the throat and the tongue
Common symptoms of food sensitivities:
- Abdominal cramps and bloating
- Reoccurring infection
- Joint pain
- Runny nose
- Skin rashes
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Over-consumption of a certain food
- Introduction of food too early in infancy or childhood
- Stress, which depresses the immune system
- Poor digestion and detoxification
If you experience difficulty breathing developing, hives that spread rapidly, get emergency help at once. Allergic reactions like these can be quickly fatal. If you know you have severe reactions to certain substances, talk to your doctor about emergency adrenaline kits you can keep on hand.
Obviously, the most important step in treating allergies is identifying them. Once you've identified the offending substances, adhere to the following suggestions to keep them out of your diet and to reduce your chances of having a bad reaction, should you be accidentally exposed. Food sensitivities can generally be improved or cured by rotating foods in the diet, improving digestion and detoxification, and using the desensitization techniques described in this chapter.
Fortify your immune system with a healthful, wholesome diet. Eat foods that are high in immune-building nutrients: seafood, beans, and nuts for magnesium; green leafy vegetables and brewer's yeast for B vitamins; and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables for vitamin C.
A varied diet will discourage the development of allergies, so try to eat different foods every day.
Breast milk is best for infants. If, for some reason, you are unable to provide your baby with mother's milk, use a cow's milk alternative or a predigested, hypoallergenic formula.
Drink a glass of clean water every two waking hours to flush allergens out of your body and to encourage overall health.
Foods to Avoid
Of course, you must avoid the foods that trigger a severe allergy response. In general, it is best to buy whole foods and prepare them yourself, so that you are aware of their content, but if you must buy packaged food, learn how to read labels and scrutinize them carefully. Food preservatives and artificial colorings or flavorings can be at the root of food reactions.
Food sensitivities can generally be rotated in the diet until you become desensitized to the offending food.
If you have recently suffered an allergy attack, go on a short, twenty-four-hour juice fast to cleanse the body of allergens. For chronic allergies, undertake a one- to three-day cleanse every three months.