Food allergies are more prevalent than people realize, and they can cause a slew of health related complaints. More and more we hear talk of just by locating individual’s food sensitivities and or allergies we can clean up our health in a big way.
We can be responsive to any number of foods and these responses once located can have significant improvements upon one’s health. There is a common list of roughly 20 foods that cover 85% of such reactions. We can assess the impact through dietary modifications to locate these foods offenders, which is generally considered the gold standard, as there are no false positive or negatives (your body wont lie to you).
Or we can test blood samples to find levels of reactivity across a large list of foods via a number of different Immunoglobulin’s which mediate different forms of immune and inflammatory reactions in the body. Here we discuss the impact and solutions of this commonly overlooked aspect to chronic health concerns.
Approximately 70% of your immune system is located in your digestive system, so it is not surprising to doctors that you could develop allergic reactions to food, since the food you consume on a daily basis comes into direct contact with your immune system each time you eat. Though many downplay systemic reactions to food sensitivities. Though don’t be fooled food sensitivities can impact many, many health condition within or without the digestive system.
Inflammation and Disease
Inflammation can cause all sorts of health issues. The real point is that the body has so much energy and so many resources at its disposal. If our lifestyle causes increased body inflammation then we have to utilize more resources to deal with a more complicated internal biochemical environment.
A great metaphor to this is rush hour traffic. There are times when the highway is crowded and to get where you are going takes longer-you might be late for work due to traffic. Well when our system is inflamed we have extra cars on the highway that our backed up.
Things don’t get done in an effective way and the system suffers due to any number of mechanistic explanations. When we have chronic health concerns one basis of recovery is a reduced body burden of stress and inflammation-we want everything to run at peak performance. It is hard to do so when you can’t efficiently get from point A to point B.
Many things can cause a general inflammatory state. A very easy and very common solution can be adjusting your diet to decrease inflammatory or allergenic load. For instance one can eat what is referenced as an anti-inflammatory diet (a discussion for another time) also one can find their food sensitivities or what is commonly called food allergies.
“But My Doctor Told Me I’m Not Allergic to Any Foods?”
Well this all maters what your doctor uses to assess for food allergies. A true allergy-mediated by IGE (Immunoglobulin E)-causes a sudden response with in usually minutes to some foreign element in the body-such as perhaps a food or a pollen. Your Doctor might perform a scratch test-or the RAST Test-to determine IgE food allergies. From this skin surface scratch test if you develop a small harmless skin lesion with in a small amount of time then you have an IgE food allergy.
Well here is the thing. Most people have an idea of their IgE food allergies as the response is immediate-you eat it and then you get it! But the truth is that most inflammation created by foods is not so speedy. Infact they take somewhere within 72 hours to develop or build. This form of reaction really should not be called an allergy, rather it should be referenced as a hypersensitivity to the food.
You won’t see these responses from an IgE RAST Test. But you will see these responses from an allergy elimination diet or a blood test for an IgG Immunoglobulin-sma efamily as the IgE immunogobulin. This is the take home point. Your child and or yourself may have had an IgE test but more then likely you will need an IgG test for the results you are looking for.
What Might an IgG test reveal and or Treat
Oh my-where does it end!
Once again we are talking anything from general health to specific health conditions. What I mean is that food allergies (IgE) or Food Sensitivities (IgG), which are much much more common, can both cause general inflammation and back up the highway leaving a traffic jam that allows nothing to get done.
What do I mean by nothing to get done. Well in this metaphor perhaps we are talking about your blood and the delivery of nutrition, oxygen and other vital components and the removal of waste products from cellular structures. Inflammation impairs different biochemical processes that aid any number of important biochemical steps (brain chemistry, thyroid function and respiratory function are three common highlights). But, if we are talking about digestive function well then we are talking about the possible gradual impairment of the GI barrier.
Just about any digestive symptom or condition can be impacted by chronic inflammation as started by simple food allergies (mind you simple to treat as well). Also consider if the GI barrier to the circulation is impaired and nutrition is compromised then all sorts of down stream effects become possible. The bottom line is that general inflammation can start from food sensitivities with out one even knowing it.
Why, because an IgG response builds over 72 hours as opposed to the immediate response of IgE mediated allergies. So if you eat an offending IgG mediated food every 72 hours you then initiate a cascade affect. This affect is never diminished as you keep reintroducing the allergy and can increase other affects from there-hence a cascade and or increasing impairment.
Celiacs Disease – A Range of Symptoms in the Gluten intolerance
Foods can also trigger different immune systems in different ways, causing many different symptoms and making them difficult to diagnose. For instance, celiac disease is often thought to be a food allergy to gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. But celiac is actually a genetic autoimmune disease, and is an IgA (another Immunoglobulin but more specific to the GI lining) and IgG antibody reaction to food as well as an autoantibody (autoimmune) reaction.
Many estimate as high as 1 in 13 people have some level of reaction to gluten foods (not all of these Celiac’s) through IgG, IgE, IGA, autoantibody (autoimmune) or some other immune mediation. The possible symptoms of celiac disease, the most damaging form of gluten reaction, ranges from none (asymptomatic celiacs), to diarrhea, weight loss, weakness, and fatigue. All forms of celiac cause damage to the lining of your intestines. They can also cause liver damage, anemia, and osteoporosis, all of which can be subtle enough that you don’t actually feel them.
There is also atypical celiac, which is the most common form of the disease. Atypical celiac can have a range of symptoms, and is therefore much more likely to go undiagnosed. The symptoms of this can vary from migraines to constipation, but is usually affects the immune system, digestive system or nervous system. Celiacs can also cause Dermatitis Herpetiformis, an itchy skin rash that can affect any part of the body. For some it looks like facial acne and for others it can look like eczema.
There are three parts to the diagnosis of celiac disease:
- Blood work, which includes Tissue transglutaminase IgA, anti endomysial IgG, anti gliaden IgA and IgG and total IgA
- Small intestinal biopsy; and
- The response to the gluten free diet.
The treatment for celiacs, the gluten free diet, has to be strictly followed for life. Treatment also involves reversing any nutritional deficiencies that may have developed as a result of the damage to the small intestine, which is where we absorb nutrients from our food. Many celiacs still have multiple nutritional deficiencies even years after going gluten free.
How We Can Help
Dr. Joseph Dubroff is a Naturopathic doctor, with comprehensive training in nutritional biochemistry and therapeutic diets, leaving him an ideal Doctor to work with these conditions. He offers herbal, homeopathic, nutritional, hormonal and other treatments that allow his patients to improve their symptoms effectively, safely and typically without side effects.