First I’d like to look at the definition of allergy. It is a Greek word meaning “altered reactivity”. The (standard) medical definition is “proven allergen-antibody reaction”, which is proven by the finding of IgE antibodies in the blood and includes anaphylactic shock reaction. Food allergies are most often (but not always) of the “delayed allergy” reaction. The allergen (gluten for example) reacts directly with the white blood cells and shows up in blood tests as IgG antibodies. However because of the delayed reaction that quite often occurs it can be very difficult to pinpoint the food that is causing the reaction. Symptoms or reactions can show up several hours to 1-2 days after the food in ingested!
Food allergies make up approximately 80-90% of the allergies that people experience, yet standard medical care looks only at allergies that cause instant or near instant and/or life threatening reactions as “allergies”. These reactions could include swelling, rash, itchiness, breathing issues and more. As already mentioned they also show up in blood tests with a marker known as IgE. Most of these types of reactions don’t come from food but other sources like (the #1 cause) drugs (especially penicillin and aspirin), bee stings, sulfites, etc. Food allergies only rarely create reactions of that magnitude. Sometimes a person is told they are “intolerant” to a particular food or substance in a food, for example being lactose intolerant. In the standard medical system intolerant is defined as “any adverse reaction to food where involvement of the immune system IS STILL POSSIBLE, but is UNPROVEN by lab tests.” You will find few doctors who will test for IgG antibodies. “Food sensitivity” is a blanket term.
Symptoms from food allergies can include but aren’t limited to, headaches, joint pain. stiffness, mild rashes, brain fog, dizziness, gallbladder issues, kidney issues, mental health and behavioral issues, arthritis and more.
Anti-allergy medications don’t work beyond the temporary relief of symptoms because they do not address the root cause, and antihistamines prevent histamine from being released by immune cells. The role of histamine is to create a reaction (inflammation, swelling, pain, nasal issues, etc) directly on the small blood vessels in order to help the body remove the allergen substance from the body.
There are many external and internal influences that can affect food allergies in a person. This includes outdoor pollution, improper diet, GMO foods, pesticides, inadequate absorption, yeast overgrowth, not enough EFA’s (Essential Fatty Acids), lack of exercise, vitamin deficiency, indoor pollution, chemicals in food, viruses, mold and bacteria, stress, parasites and genetic predisposition.
There are various ways to test for food allergies, the cheapest being an elimination-provocation diet. This one though can be tough as it takes time and concentrated effort, usually about 6-8 weeks of eliminating and carefully re-adding suspected foods from and into the diet. Other tests include the ELISA test which tests for IgE and IgG antibodies in the blood, Electro-derma screening (Vega testing) which involves a weak electrical current passing in a closed circuit through the allergen, the person and the machine. The Vega test is more cost effective and allows you to follow along with your progress with regular retesting.
Curious about the top 8 food allergens?
1. Fish, especially shellfish. (This could be counted as 2 separate allergens as many people can eat fish but not shellfish)
4. Tree nuts.
5. Soy. (I believe because the vast majority of soy is now genetically modified)
7. Wheat. (The wheat we now eat does not resemble the wheat we ate 40 yrs ago. It has far far more gluten in it)
8. Corn. (You don’t see this listed on many charts but it is another major genetically modified food, and is becoming more common)