Uncover Your Food Allergies and Sensitivities
By EeVon Ling ND
Your immune system
Your immune system is very sophisticated. Through lifestyle, diet and the environment, it must learn and remember how to respond to everything that comes into contact with our body. The immune system produces different kinds of antibodies that produce different reactions depending on the “intruder” or allergen.
IgE antibodies are responsible for immediate allergic responses, especially the well-known reactions to things such as peanuts or shellfish.
IgA antibodies are responsible for general surveillance and neutralizing toxins and potential allergens. Interestingly enough, IgA antibodies are passed onto to the newborn through breast milk. IgA is found in large quantities in the lungs, the mucosa of the eyes, mouth, intestines and on the skin. IgA acts as our first line of immune defense. Those with asthma, allergies, migraines and eczema tend to produce high levels of IgE and low levels of IgA. Thus, allergic conditions are the result of an imbalanced immune system.
IgG antibodies are associated with “delayed” food reactions. They are also called “blocking” antibodies because they moderate the IgE reactions by interacting with food antigens. This blocking action prevents the immediate IgE response. However, if there is excess antigen exposure over time, IgG-food complexes accumulate. The accumulated complexes tend to form deposits and cause inflammatory reactions.
Food Allergies and Sensitivities
Did you know?
The top 6 food allergens are:
“But I’ve been eating the same foods all this time and I feel fine.”
“I got allergy tests from my doctor and they showed no allergies to any foods.”
Food IgG mediated allergies are more subtle than immediate IgE mediated food allergies. Also, the allergy tests from your doctor measures only IgE mediated responses, not IgG mediated responses.
Symptoms of IgG sensitivities can include:
- Chronic nasal congestion and post nasal drip
- Recurrent sinus or migraine headaches
- Fatigue after meals
- Itchy throat, irritation, cough and/ or hoarseness
- Gas and bloating
- Chronic low energy
- Itchy , watery eyes
- Itchy, fullness and/ or ringing in the ears
- Chronic muscle tension and pain
- Itchy skin and/ or rash
- Digestive cramps
lso, because the allergy is due to an accumulation to the IgG complexes, you may have been eating that food all your life, without thought of stopping it for a period of time (longer than 2 weeks), thus you may not associate your symptoms with that food.
In fact, there is a phenomenon in which food allergies maintain food addictions because if the problem food is taken away, the individual initially feels worse and so needs more of that food to feel better. Why does this happen?
Say you are someone who eats a lot of wheat (in the form of bread, pasta, cereals etc) everyday. Over your lifetime, the constant exposure to wheat may create an accumulation of circulating IgG antibodies against wheat. With your daily intake of wheat, the IgG antibodies are able to pair up with wheat antigens to form small complexes. Over time, your body would have created a large number of wheat-specific IgG antibodies.
So one day you decide to stop eating wheat. Unfortunately, the large number of IgG antibodies are still there (they will take some time to clear away) and residual wheat antigens may linger around. This results in more than one IgG complexing with the residual wheat antigen, producing even larger complexes and aggravated symptoms. In an effort to reduce the size of the complexes (and the symptoms), you crave and eat more wheat products.
However, the longer you are able to avoid wheat, your body will be able to clear away the IgG antibodies and the residual wheat proteins from your body. How long is a long time? You should avoid the allergenic food for at least 2 weeks, ideally for 1-3 months. Food allergies cause micro-damage to the intestines, thus the longer you avoid the offending food, the better the chance for your gut to heal, improve digestion and reduce your general food sensitivities.
Naturopathic medicine has long recognized the connection between food sensitivities and a wide variety of health conditions. On going food allergies can aggravate digestive problems, arthritis, auto-immune conditions, infertility, neurological problems, anxiety and depression and skin problems.
One way to uncover your food allergies or sensitivities is to avoid the suspect food for 1 month. Notice how you feel. And then re-introduce that food one day and notice any changes. An easier method of uncovering your food allergies is to get a IgG food allergy test that employs the enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay (ELISA) method of identifying specific antibodies. ELISA is a commonly used method in scientific laboratories to detect specific antibodies. It is highly sensitive and specific, the method used to test for antibodies for viruses. In food allergy testing, the concentration of the positive IgG antibody for a specific food will help determine your sensitivity to that food.
Once your food allergies are identified, steps can be taken to develop an appropriate diet plan and treatment plan to heal the gut and lessen the food allergy itself. Often times other health conditions improve when the diet and digestion are corrected.
Non-invasive Food Allergy Testing is now available. If you would like more information please inquire.