How Much Food Should My Five Month Old Be Eating Are the Foods You Eat Making You Sick? Identifying Food Allergies

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Are the Foods You Eat Making You Sick? Identifying Food Allergies

We’ve all heard the old saying, “You are what you eat.” Unfortunately, for many people, food is a source of chronic disease. Food allergies and food intolerances can create a range of health problems, from hives and anaphylaxis, to eczema, asthma, headaches, sinus infections, celiac disease, digestive issues, depression, fibromyalgia, autoimmune diseases and many more other conditions.

More than fifty million people, or one in five people in the United States, suffer from allergies. According to the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, one in twenty children under the age of five and one in twenty-five adults are allergic to at least one food. It is suspected that the number of people affected by food intolerances is higher.

Food allergy or intolerance

The terms food allergies and food intolerances are often used interchangeably, although they have two different definitions. A food allergy is when the body’s immune system generates an immunological reaction when exposed to a food allergen. Symptoms of a food allergen appear quickly, such as eating a peanut and then having hives or a rash or even anaphylaxis minutes or hours later. The term food intolerance is used to describe reactions to foods, but the immune system is not directly involved. People with food intolerances can experience a variety of symptoms, including headaches, brain fog, fatigue, depression, stomach aches, eczema, asthma, colic, joint pain, insomnia, and many other symptoms, but the symptoms are usually delayed and can occur hours to days after eating the irritating food.

The ten main food allergies

The list of most common food allergens includes: wheat, eggs, dairy, soy products, corn, citrus fruits, nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and potatoes), peanuts, shellfish, and alcohol. Babies and young children are often allergic to milk, eggs, wheat, soy products, and peanuts. Older children and adults are often allergic to peanuts, tree nuts (walnuts, almonds, cashews), fish and shellfish.

The elimination diet / challenge

The gold standard for evaluating food allergies is the elimination/repetition diet, which involves eating a restricted diet, avoiding any potential food allergen for four to six weeks, then reintroducing a suspected food allergen to the diet and observe any reaction. The advantages of this test method include:

• People can easily identify an adverse reaction to a food when they reintroduce it to the diet

• There are no added costs or expensive tests involved with this diet

Cons of this diet include:

• Many people find it difficult to follow a restricted diet for 4-6 weeks

• It takes extra effort to buy and prepare hypoallergenic foods

ELISA test (Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay).

This food allergy testing method is performed using a blood test where the serum is measured for specific immune markers (IgE and IgG antibodies) to specific foods. The benefits of this test include:

• Less time than the elimination/challenge diet

• May be safer than skin prick testing if a person has anaphylaxis reactions to food

• The results can be very motivating for people to change their diet

Disadvantages of this test include:

• This test is not 100% accurate or reliable

• Some people show elevated levels of immune markers, such as IgE antibodies, but when they eat the food they have no adverse reactions.

How to cure food allergies and intolerances

Healing food allergies or intolerances usually involves some avoidance of foods that aggravate symptoms for a period of at least 3 to 6 months, sometimes longer. Avoiding food triggers will help decrease inflammation in the body and give the body time to heal. There are a variety of supplements used to help heal the lining of the gut. Probiotics are an essential component to restore bacterial balance in the digestive tract and promote intestinal healing. The most researched probiotic strains include lactobacillius rhamnosus GG, bifidobacteria, and sacroymyces boulardi, which is actually a strain of yeast that helps balance gut flora. Other nutritional supplements used to heal the gut include:

• Digestive enzymes used to help break down food

• L-glutamine, an amino acid used to heal the lining of the intestine

• Whey protein powder used to strengthen the immune system in the gut (not recommended for people with dairy allergies)

• Quercetin, a bioflavonoid used to prevent histamine reactions

• Drinking green tea can reduce allergic reactions

Curing food allergies and food intolerances takes effort. It requires a willingness to change your diet and lifestyle. There are many health professionals who specialize in treating food allergies and intolerances. Consider checking with your local health provider to learn more about identifying and treating food allergies.

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