Originally published January 29 2008
Conquering Delayed-Onset Food Allergies in Three Steps
by Charmaine D. Mercado
(NaturalNews) Do you find yourself suffering from asthma, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue, fuzzy brain, non-seasonal rhinitis, depression, eczema, arthritis, bloating, or insomnia, yet no medical treatment seems to work for you? If you have one or more of these symptoms that just come and go and are unresponsive to medication, then there's a very big chance that your diet is the main culprit behind all your health complaints. A growing number of studies have established the connection between the above-mentioned ailments to food allergy. Even irritable bowel diseases such as diverticulitis, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and celiac disease have been linked to food allergies.
Doctors have long believed that the only kind of allergy is the immediate-onset type, the kind of allergy that triggers the formation of IgE (immunoglobulin E) antibodies. Symptoms of IgE or type 1 allergy appear within two hours, often showing up in a few minutes. Stomach cramps, hives, skin rashes, diarrhea, wheezing, swelling, and anaphylaxis (which could lead to death) are the common reactions an immediate-onset allergy sufferer experiences. This article shall focus more on the other more common yet harder to diagnose auto-immune disorder called delayed-onset allergy.
When Food Becomes an Enemy
Delayed-onset food allergy, also known as IgG (immunoglobulin G) or type 3 allergy, is an auto-immune disease that causes your immune system to overreact when you ingest certain foods. Studies reveal that there are more immune cells in the digestive tract than in any part of the body. The immune cells mistakenly attack food particles and treat them as antigens or foreign invaders, producing IgE antibodies, histamine and other chemicals as an attempt to fight what they perceive as toxins. A person suffering from immediate-onset allergy can only be allergic to up to three foods, while a delayed-onset allergy sufferer can have reactions to as many as twenty foods.
The top delayed-onset food allergens (in no particular order) are cow's milk, gluten (in wheat and other grains such as barley, rye, and oats), fish, egg whites, egg yolks, soy, peanuts, yeast, corn, and nuts such as cashew, almonds, hazelnuts, and Brazil nuts. The good news is that type 3 food allergies are reversible if you make a conscious effort to facilitate your body's healing by temporarily nixing the aggravating food, consuming raw food and taking enzyme supplements, and by eliminating disruptive energies in the body that could be causing your disease. All the suggested steps apply only to delayed-onset allergies and not to IgE allergies.
Step One: Avoid the Offending Food for at Least 3 Months
The best way in knowing whether you have delayed-onset food allergy is by having yourself properly tested. This would eliminate all the guesswork on your part. IgE allergy testing involves state of the art blood tests to properly diagnose your food allergies. Every person is unique and should be properly tested. A person with delayed-onset allergies may be allergic to less common allergenic foods such as chili peppers, chicken, kiwi, garlic, red meat, citrus fruits, tomatoes or onion.
If however there are no sophisticated blood assays in your area that would test your blood sample against more than a hundred kinds of food to determine whether you react to any of them or not, then an allergen-free diet for two weeks would help you make intelligent guesses as to what is causing your discomforts. Keep a food diary and write down all the symptoms that you'll be experiencing for the next few days. Take note of all the food that you frequently eat and see if they make you feel worse a few hours to a few days after eating them. A clue to determining your allergy to a certain food is if you strongly like a certain food and feel great satisfaction when eating it. Much like in alcoholism and chain smoking, the body creates a strong attachment and addiction to the very substance that is harming the person.
Once you've made your list of allergy suspects, carefully plan your diet for the next several days and eliminate all the suspect foods for two weeks. Notice how you feel when you are not consuming them. Chances are you will feel great relief within a week. Some people who suffer from edema due to gluten allergy lose a lot of retained water and therefore shed a few pounds in a couple of days without exercise.
Note that you might feel your old symptoms within the first few days of abstaining from the offending foods. This is a normal reaction and will disappear in about five days.
If you still feel bad after eliminating a number of foods from your diet, check your food diary if there is anything else that you eat often that you haven't eliminated yet. Could it be that cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate? It could be an ingredient included in a lot of the items that you eat. A highly-qualified nutritionist who specializes in food allergies would greatly help by asking you the right questions. Your nutritionist can help you determine whether you're truly allergic to something or merely sensitive or intolerant to it. But either way you would be advised to avoid the food that causes your allergy or sensitivity until you are ready to reintroduce it to your body.
After doing your elimination diet for two weeks, try reintroducing each food you've avoided one by one every five days. For example, if you avoided gluten, dairy, and soy, try eating food containing gluten on day one. Then completely avoid it again for the next five days. If you notice your symptoms go back within five days then you have a clear sign that you are truly allergic to it. Then you can move on to dairy and eat cheese for a day then abstain from any kind of dairy product or ingredient for the next five days and see if your symptoms recur. Do the same with soy. If you react to all three then you would have to avoid all of them in the next three to six months before you can reintroduce them in your diet.
You would also have to educate yourself with regard to food families and hidden food ingredients. You might be reacting to soy but decide to eat a product containing TVP or textured vegetable protein since it does not have the word "soy" on the label, and find your asthma symptoms coming back. You may be allergic to gluten but not to soy and may be surprised to find yourself reacting to soy sauce, which often contains gluten. This would involve a de rigueur label reading to check if a certain food contains an allergen as one of its ingredients.
Eating out can also be a challenge to the food allergy sufferer. Cross-contamination is frequently what happens when the restaurant doesn't wash utensils that would be used for the dish you ordered after preparing a food that you may be allergic to. You may ask the waiter to skip the breading in your fried fish if you have gluten allergy, but the cook may not change the oil and clean the pan where he just cooked breaded chicken. Don't hesitate to ask the waiter the ingredients of the dish you wish to order, or to inform the chef of your allergies. As a general rule practice caution when eating out.
It takes three to six months for your body to replace all of its IgG antibodies. The new batch of IgE antibodies would have no memory of the list of foods you were strongly reacting to. Provided that you have reversed your leaky gut, the new set of IgG antibodies would have no more reason to attack the food you were previously allergic to.
After three months or so you can start reintroducing all the previously offending foods one by one; it is better to take quercetin right before reintroducing old allergens (see below). Stay away from food that promotes inflammation and mucus formation such as dairy and meat. Avoid alcohol and drink lots of water.
Step Two: Heal Your Digestive System with Enzymes and Nutrients
The seemingly biggest factor involved in food allergies is having a "leaky gut." A leaky gut has increased permeability compared to a healthy one, thus allowing all the undigested food particles to pass through the intestines and enter the bloodstream. Heal the gut by upping your enzyme intake through raw food and enzyme supplementation. Eating at least 70% raw food would greatly assist in detoxifying your body from all the chemicals it released as a consequence of mistaking food as an invader. A mainly raw diet would also accelerate the healing of a leaky gut.
The main reason for the existence of undigested food particles is that the body is not producing enough enzymes to properly and completely break down food into simple, usable, and highly-assimilable substances. Enzymes are particularly known to break down the undigested food proteins that the immune cells attack as allergens. Proteolytic or protein-digesting enzymes such as protease, bromelain, and papain can greatly help in digesting unmetabolized protein allergens present in the blood. Enzymes can also boost immune system function by promoting the growth of good bacteria in the gut. An efficient immune system relies heavily on healthy intestinal flora in fighting a host of diseases, including allergies. So make it a point to take probiotics to enable your body to effectively fight your type 3 allergy.
Vitamins and minerals are also required to heal a leaky gut. In fact the enzymes depend on nutrients to carry out their tasks successfully. Poor nutrition leads to enzyme deficiency, which leads to poor assimilation of nutrients, resulting in greater nutritional deficiency. Enzyme and nutritional deficiency are the leading causes in the development of a wide range of diseases, from allergies to cancer.
Vitamin A destroys free radicals and regulates the release of prostaglandins during allergic reactions. Vitamin B6 helps reduce depression, migraines, and ADHD caused by food allergy. Like vitamin B6, zinc is important in the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach to increase the body's ability to digest food. Vitamin C helps the body detoxify by disabling free radicals produced during allergic reactions. Vitamins A, B6, and C, along with zinc, stimulate and maintain the thymus gland, the body's main immune gland.
Magnesium helps reduce symptoms of asthma, migraine, and depression. MSM or methylsulfonylmethane, quercetin, and omega-3 fatty acids are all anti-inflammatory supplements. They also aid a lot in reversing a leaky gut. Glutamine and probiotics both bolster the body's immune system function and assist in healing a highly-permeable gut.
Of all the nutraceuticals mentioned above, quercetin appears to be the most powerful anti-allergy supplement in removing type 3 allergy symptoms. As an insurance policy it is good to take quercetin thirty minutes prior to reintroducing previously aggravating food.
Good digestion begins in the mouth, so chew your food well whether you're eating raw food or not. Chewing raw food well helps release its enzymes in your mouth, thus making it easy for its nutrients to be broken down. Cooked food would also be more easily digested by the enzyme supplement if well-chewed.
Step Three: Try Acupressure
Studies have linked stress and negative emotions to various diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and allergies. But whether or not your allergy is due to an unresolved emotional issue, it is good for you to do acupressure on yourself or have it done to you by an expert.
Some of the possible emotional or psychosomatic causes of allergies are: the feeling of being unsafe, the need for attention, non-acceptance of oneself, and annoyance towards a certain person one lives with at home. EFT or emotional freedom technique is a good option in relieving a person from the underlying emotional causes of this disease. It corrects the energy disruption caused by negative emotions, usually offering immediate relief, and with persistence, often ends up in the complete elimination of both the emotional trigger and the physical disease. A lot of cases, nothing short of miraculous, have been reported by allergy sufferers who employed EFT in treating the said auto-immune disease.
Not all allergies are necessarily caused by negative emotions though. Early exposure to a 100% cooked diet can lead to digestive exhaustion at one point in a person's life, causing enzyme deficiency and other digestive disorders. Food then is only partially digested at best, which passes through a leaky gut and ends up being attacked as an invader upon entering the bloodstream. It is for this reason that non-breast-fed individuals are more prone to allergies than those exclusively given breast milk for at least six months. That is why it is important to stick to an elimination diet for at least three months to give the body ample time to heal, rest, and regenerate itself.
Even if one does not have any unexpressed emotional issues to deal with, exploring the cause of withdrawal symptoms and feelings of deprivation would offer the allergy sufferer great relief while helping him abstain from his favorite yet allergenic food. Both EFT tapping and traditional acupressure increase blood circulation and unclog blocked meridian points in the body, thus providing great relief upon tapping on or pressing acupressure points. It is good to consult an EFT practitioner to assist you in getting to your core issues, an acupressure expert to teach you which points in your body to press to improve your condition, or a reflexologist to do a proper foot massage to accelerate your healing.
There you have it. With proper education, dedication and perseverance you can become allergy-free for life!
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About the authorCharmaine D. Mercado is a freelance writer who is passionate about natural health, nutrition and well-being.
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