TCM, Food Allergies

Food allergies can be a common source of discomfort and symptoms often go undiagnosed. Many people experience the daily effects of food allergies without realizing their unease is actually a food allergy symptom. One of the most common symptoms of a food allergy is weight gain. In the body, water is retained as a way of attempting to protect the body from the irritation of poisonous substances and food allergens. Fat cells also expand to provide a buffer and protect the body. When losing weight, water is often shed, but the body retains the fat because it is necessary to protect you from these toxins and allergens.


What causes food allergies? They are caused by reactions, produced by your immune system, to certain types of foods. A food allergy can produce critical health problems in people and in some cases it can be fatal.


It has been reported that about 2% of adults have a food allergy, while about 6% of children have the condition. Don't confuse them with food intolerances. Food intolerances don't have anything to do with your immune system.


A food allergy specialist will often first ask a patient to write down their three favourite foods and then eliminate those from the diet. This can result in us actually being addicted to the foods that make us sick! The cravings experienced for these foods are based on the same neurochemical responses that lead to drug additions. Removing the three favourite foods from the diet can not only reveal food allergies, without the need for expensive tests, but it can quickly make us feel great after the short period of "withdrawal" to the addictive substances is over.


Other common causes of food allergies include poor digestion, nutrient deficiencies; too narrow a food selection in the diet and leaky gut syndrome. Food allergy relief can often be achieved by applying greater awareness of the need for a broad selection of whole foods, and the limitation or elimination of processed foods.


While some people may be able to reintroduce foods which once caused allergy symptoms, as they improve their diet and focus on an improved state of wellness, variations in genetics leave some people with permanent allergies to certain foods.


Your Immune System and Food Allergies


When you have an allergy to food your immune system makes a mistake and treats a certain type of food as a harmful item. In order to defend your body from this food substance your immune system stimulates specific body cells to create antibodies to attack the substance.


If you consume that particular item again your immune system releases histamine as well as other chemicals that flow into your blood stream. These chemicals create allergic symptoms. Symptoms of food allergies typically occur a few minutes or up to about an hour after consuming the item.


Doctors believe that histamine is part of the cause of many common allergic reactions, such as rashes and hives, runny nose, diarrhea, nausea issues, itchy eyes, dry throat, difficulty breathing, and anaphylactic shock.


Most allergies from food are caused by certain types of proteins that are contained in:


Dairy (milk) Allergy : Many children are sensitive to this allergen, especially in the infant to pre-school years. Medical research believes this to be because many new mothers chose not to breastfeed, thus using formula instead. Milk-based formulas often are not compatible with a newborn's digestive system. It is normal though, often the child will outgrow this sensitivity as the child's digestive system matures. This allergen can be acquired though at any age in life.


Egg Allergy: This is probably the second most serious allergen in any young child, but again the very young eventually do seem to grow out of it. It can be acquired also at any age in life.


The third most common childhood allergy is a Soy Allergy. Avoiding soy sounds so simple to many people but the reality is soy is in almost every processed or prepared and packaged food in the grocery store's aisles. Eating all fresh foods is the easiest and safest way to avoid soy.


The following allergens now, although more prevalent in older children through the adult years, can also be found in the very young also.


Peanut Allergy: this allergen seems to hit the headline news the most often because of its capabilities to create the most severe allergy attack known as anaphylaxis. Without immediate medical care, many sufferers of a peanut allergy can lose their life to the severity of the symptoms.


Gluten Allergy: gluten intolerance or a wheat allergy are all different conditions but their treatment program is very close to the same. Avoiding the gluten protein (or several other proteins necessary to avoid with a wheat allergy) generally leads to a much easier lifetime with fewer recurring health drawbacks.


Tree Nut Allergies: although not as prevalent as the peanut allergy, this one can be just as serious because of the severity of a possible allergy attack. Many people can show sensitivities to only one or two tree nuts but often not all of them. This information though must be determined by a licensed allergist. Do not attempt an at-home care testing program to determine where your adverse reactions will lie. The chances for a severe allergy attack are far too great.


Fish (such as tuna, salmon, bass, trout etc.) and the next category Shellfish (shrimp, crab, clams, and lobster) is often found only in adults. One of the biggest reasons for this though is that very few young children often do not have these two types of foods in their diet.


What Causes Food Allergies in Children?


Most doctors and medical experts point to milk from cows, wheat, and soybeans as the main causes of food allergies in children. If your child is allergic to soybeans you need to remember to read the ingredients of all the food you buy that will be part of their diet.


Soy is in a lot more food items than you might think. You can find soy in protein powders, cereal, and candy bars bread oils, protein bars, fast food, and most meat, especially pork products.


Many peoples who have spent frustrating years trying to understand their health problems, only to discover that they do, in fact, have food allergies. Not surprisingly, a great many of these peoples or parents of allergic children tell me that they first suspected allergies, but their suspicions were dismissed by their doctors after their tests results showed negative. It is thanks to sheer persistence that these peoples eventually find the answers they have been seeking.


How to Recognise Food Allergies in Children


This questionnaire might help you determine whether your child is reacting to foods.


Does your child avoid certain foods?
Do behavioural or mood changes occur after a certain food is eaten?
Does your child crave certain foods?
Does your child complain about his/her mouth or throat itching?
Does your child frequently say that he/she feels dizzy?
Does your child have unexplained diarrhea, vomiting or tummy pain?
Do hives or skin rashes sometimes appear?
Has your child shown a strong dislike to a food that was previously eaten?


Other symptoms of food allergy in children are moodiness, frequent fatigue, stomach aches, constipation and muscle pain. Blocked airways due to excess mucus are a common sign in babies, whose small upper airways are easily congested.


One often missed warning sign is middle ear infections. More than 70% of children get them, and one study reported that as many as 78% of those children are allergic to milk, wheat, egg white, peanuts, and soy.


Psychological or emotional problems are also symptoms of food allergies, especially in children. Food allergies have been linked to autism and hyperactivity in children, anxiety, depression, inability to concentrate, mood swings, and 'fogginess'.


Kinds of Food Allergies


A food allergy can trigger either an immediate or a delayed reaction to food. This and whether or not the reaction involves the high levels of antibodies determine what type of food allergy it is.


Type l. immediately or soon after eating the food, you show clear and often dramatic symptoms. If you are allergic to fungus, you might develop abdominal cramps within an hour of eating a ragout containing mushrooms. A child with a type 1 reaction to kiwi fruit might experience severe itching in the mouth or vomiting within 15 minutes of eating a kiwi fruit.


Type 1 food allergies they result in high levels of IgE antibodies in the blood so they are easily diagnosed by tests for these antibodies. Many doctors consider IgE mediated allergies to be the only real allergies, yet most food allergies are not Ige mediated. Only 3- 5 % of children and 1-2 % of adults are estimated to be affected by Type l food allergies.


Anaphylaxis - a severe reaction that can be fatal within minutes - is a Type 1 reaction. Warning signs are dizziness, light-headedness, swollen tongue or throat, difficulty breathing, fainting or facial swelling immediately after eating food. Get immediate emergency care.


Type ll. Though not considered a true allergy by more conservative doctors, a Type ll reaction still results in high levels of antibodies, usually IgA, IgG and IgM, as well as the typical inflammatory reactions.


Type lll. Delayed reactions often go unrecognized because the symptoms are not usually obvious, and may occur days after the food is eaten. Also, since they do not involve IgE antibodies, delayed allergy reactions to not show up on standard skin tests or some blood tests. Instead, they manifest as clusters of physical, behavioural and learning symptoms that affect several body systems at once. Type lll allergies are for this reason often called 'hidden' allergies.


A person with Type lll food allergies can suffer from recurring breathlessness, mucous throat, sporadic hyperactivity and emotional swings, chronic stuffy nose, and flu-like symptoms. For another person, symptoms can include headaches, itchy eyes, stomach pains, depression, fatigue, sleep problems, and swollen lymph nodes.


These delayed reaction patterns of food allergy are difficult to diagnose. Yet health practitioners believe that they account for most food allergies, especially in children. In my opinion, any undefined pattern of illness that involves different symptoms and different body symptoms should be taken as a likely sign of food allergy until proven otherwise



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