Allergies and Sensitivities

Food Sensitivities and Allergies

Thankfully true allergies are rare enough and most of what people think as allergies are food sensitivities and over time with persistence one may be able to de-sensitise the reactions. This can even be done with true allergies under the proper guidance of a medical doctor trained to do so. The incidence of true food allergies in adults is estimated to be 1.4% and in children where the prevalence of IgE mediated food allergies is 5-7% 1.

The author of the Basics of Food Allergy, 2, J.C. Breneman, M.D, (1978) attributes many health conditions to allergy:

  1. Acne: Anecdotal evidence
  2. Arthritis, Rheumatoid: Studies show symptoms are worsened by eating. Foods sufferers are allergic or sensitive to and this improves by avoiding same foods. Researchers suggest that up to a third of RA sufferers could control their condition completely by eliminating allergens.
  3. Asthma: Unrecognised food allergies have been confirmed by double blind research to be contributing factors. Nuts, peanuts, dairy, eggs and soya were most common causes.
  4. Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD, ADD): In a study of 20 children their behavioral problems and inability to concentrate, disappear when allergens were removed from their diet. Other studies also showed eliminating food additives also helps.
  5. Bed Wetting: If no medical cause presents, allergies can be a cause.
  6. Urinary Tract Infection
  7. Yeast Infections: Recurring yeast vaginitis has been reported to be a cause and when avoiding same allergens the chronic yeast infections can resolve.
  8. Canker sores: Sensitivities or allergies can make mouth ulcers worse, yet in double blind study found to only play a minor role. (can this be reworded)
  9. Colic: 38 bottle fed babies and 77 breast fed babies with colic were studied in a double blink radomised placebo controlled trial and it was found that distress was reduced by 25-39% on a diet free of milk, wheat and nuts.
  10. Constipation: In a double blind trial of infants with chronic constipation an intolerance to cow’s milk was found in 2/3 of infants studied. Eliminating the cow’s milk saw the symptoms disappear in most of the infants.
  11. Crohn’s Disease: Can be exacerbated by food sensitivities and one study found that sufferers are most likely to react to cereals, dairy and yeast.
  12. Depression: Several studies have shown that allergies may trigger mental symptoms including depression.
  13. Diarrhea
  14. Ear Infections: More than ½ children studied with recurring ear infections have food allergies. 86% of children improved once the offending foods were removed from their diet.
  15. Eczema may be triggered by an allergy
  16. Food sensitivities may exacerbate gallbladder attacks in people who have gallstones. Foodstuff such as eggs, pork, and onion are most common offenders
  17. Gastrointestinal Symptoms
  18. Allergies can be exacerbated yet don’t cause glaucoma
  19. Hay fever may be connected to allergies.
  20. High Blood Pressure may be a contributing factor.
  21. Hives
  22. Hypoglycemia
  23. IBS
  24. Migraines appear to be triggered by allergies.
  25. Musculoskeletal Pain (including Back Pain)
  26. Nephrotic Syndrome: Several studies have found a link between allergies and this kidney disease.
  27. Obesity
  28. Psoriasis: One study showed eliminating gluten, improved symptoms.
  29. Rhinitis
  30. Ulcer
  31. Upper Respiratory Infections

 

True allergies can be life threatening and cause anaphylactic shock and where an individual has experienced this it is advisable to always carry an epi-pen and have a medical id bracelet or necklace. People with sensitivities would be advised to always carry anti-histamine in the form of zirtex or piriton.

Thankfully I have discovered the power of natural vitamin C as an antihistamine so this is my first go to, yet I have a tablet form of an antihistamine in my pocket just in case. A simple fresh mango and orange juice has served me well when I reacted last summer to fumes of traffic as they passed the bus I was travelling on. I had not reacted like this since the summer of 2007.

How did I move from regular reactions to foods consumed and environmental fumes? – well quite simply I used lifestyle changes which included dietary changes, less processed food, more natural and where possible organic foodstuffs (pesticides are linked to reactions), limit dairy consumption and mainly have spelt products and oatcake and rice products. I reduced my alcohol intake as it damages the lining of the gut and can cause reactions. Bowen Technique is very effective for reducing allergies and in fact the British Asthmatic Association recommend Bowen Technique as in a study it was found to resolve asthmatic symptoms for 60% of study participants. Craniosacral has also greatly helped normalise a reactive sensitive system like mine and I regularly have Craniosacral Therapy and Bowen Technique, which I offer here at Kincora Therapy Centre.

What I wish I knew when I started out on this journey was firstly where to go for help. Dr. Joe Fitzgibbon (Tel: 091720155) is one of the countries leading allergy consultants and works out the Galway Clinic. He uses the skin scratch test (a very gentle effective method) for over 30 known allergens for digestive and skin reactions. He inspired the author The Extra Virgin Cookbook (sugar free and wheat free recipes). Annemarie Tobin, Dermatologist (Tel: 0872758380)who works out of Tallaght hospital and checks for over 150 known allergens with her skin scratch test helping identify causes of eczema and other skin conditions. I highly recommend that my clients attend a specialist nutritionist like Collette McMahon (Tel: 0868903710) and Andrea Cullen (0872472092). I am qualified in nutrition with my masters yet the difference between normal nutrition qualifications and a naturopath nutritionist is they are highly trained in using food as a medicine and attending someone who specialises in nutrition is optimum for fast effective results. Hippocrates said “Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food”.

Adverse reactions to foods may be classified as either a true food allergy or a non-allergic food intolerance (sensitivity). Food aversion is where symptoms are non-specific and unconfirmed by double blind placebo controlled food challenge.

Types of Reactions to Foods:

  • IgE mediated mechanism
  • Not involving IgE, other immunological mechanisms are causative.
  • Non-allergic food intolerance (pharmalogical, metabolic, toxic reactions to foods).
  • Food aversion (symptoms are often non-specific).

When ingestion of a small amount of food elicitis an abnormal immulogically mediated clinical response is referred specific true food allergy. The classic type 1, IgE Mediated mechanisms is the most studied and most dangerous in view of life threatening reactions. Mounting evidence is increasing on the importance of delayed reactions (Type IV Mediated reactions). In this incidence a childs eczema may be aggravated by milk ingestion or in a small proportion of adults with severe contact dermatitis caused by nickel which may have adverse reactions to nickel in their diet.

In their article, Emcy. et al 3 (2010) refer to one of the possible reasons a baby of 6 weeks old is progressively vomiting after each feed may be due to milk intolerance of gastro-oesophageal reflux. They also suggest that thriving babies who vomit after each feed may be simply overfed. Acute vomiting may be a serious illness such as sepsis. Large volumes of projectile vomit within 30 minutes of feeds indicate pyloric stenosis. Effortless vomiting might indicate possetts. The colour of the vomit can also be indicated for example bilious (green bile not yellow or blood stained) vomit might indicate bowel obstruction.

Allergies are based on immune system responses that may occur:

  • Immediate reactions
  • Sometimes after a time-lapse
  • Sometimes life threatening (anaphylactic reactions)

Intolerances are:

  • Gradual
  • Less serious and limited to digestive problems

Treatment

  • Elimination diets
  • Medication

Symptoms

  • Watery, itchy, red eyes
  • Asthma
  • Throat swelling
  • Non-seasonal runny nose, congestions
  • Eczema
  • Hives
  • Swelling of mouth, eye lids, lip
  • Itching
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Bloating
  • Stomach aches
  • Flatulence (passing wind)
  • Dizziness
  • Irritability/aggression
  • Anxiety or hyperactivity
  • Exhaustion
  • Dark circles under eyes
  • Excessive sweating or slight fever
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Muscles aches.

References:

  1. Food allergy BMJ 1998; 316 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.316.7140.1299 (Published 25 April 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:1299
  2. Breneman, J.C. M.D, Basics of food allergy, Springfield, IL: Charles C Tomas 1978, pg 45-53
  3. Emcy, Naina et al 2010 “My Baby Keeps Bring up his Feeds !”BMJ 2010; 340 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c2189 (Published 30 April 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c2189
  4. 4.(Holford, Patrick., 2010, The Optimum Nutirition Bible, The Wonderful World Withing, Chapter 27, pg 238-239, )