Many people are clear that a nut allergy can be a very dangerous thing. But, outside of this, food allergy isn’t always taken as seriously as it should be. As it’s Food Allergy Awareness Week this month, I want to give you the lowdown on food allergy and intolerance, and what to do if you suspect there are foods that don’t agree with you. I also have a Food Intolerance Quiz and Handout that you can download for FREE to find out if your health is being silently damaged by food.
To start, let’s get clear what a FOOD ALLERGY is …
A true food allergy is an abnormal reaction of the body's immune system to a particular food. This can range from a mild reaction to one that is severe and life-threatening (anaphylaxis). The immune system produces IgE antibodies in response to a food, and the body mistakenly thinks it is attacking it. The issue can be restricted to one area (your digestive system, skin and so on) or the whole body, where the immune system triggers widespread inflammation and swelling which can be deadly. The reaction is often immediate.
If you have a food allergy, you will need to avoid the food forever. That’s because part of the immune system works on the basis of memory. In exactly the same way your body remembers its response to, say, the polio vaccination you were given as a child (and can prepare its attack should it come into contact with polio again), it remembers its response to nuts, seafood, or whatever.
If you think you have a food allergy, you can often get tested free of charge via your GP, but private tests are also available.
One clinical pearl I’m going to share with you is that, if you’re struggling with the symptoms of a true allergy (itchy eyes, swelling and the like), yet testing reveals no problem foods the answer might be in the gut. Parasites also cause the body to produce high levels of IgE antibodies, yet these are not often considered by conventional medicine as a potential cause of allergy-like symptoms.
An intolerance is something very different, producing low grade inflammation through the body and symptoms that are far ranging, but altogether less dramatic. These can include the following:
Weight that won’t shift
Itchy or overly waxy ears
Although the symptoms might seem less dramatic, it really is worth dealing with food intolerances, especially if you’ve had niggly issues for years. This is because there is the potential for low grade inflammation everytime you eat that food. Download my Food Intolerance Quiz here.
During my 30 Day Gut Healing Programme I encourage my clients to cut our common food triggers: dairy, gluten, grains, soy, eggs and coffee for 30 days to see if there is an improvement in symptoms. Then we slowly start introducing foods again to see if this provokes a reaction. An elimination diet is the gold standard for diagnosing food intolerances and allergies.
You might have seen many alternative way of detecting food intolerances including bioresonance machines and IgG skin prick tests, but these have little scientific data to back them up.
In case you’re wondering, if you have a food intolerance, you don’t have to remove the food forever but it’s important to know that it’s not enough to just take the food out and not do anything about it. Developing a food intolerance is an indicator that you gut might need some support!
If you find you have a food intolerance, this is your body telling you your gut needs some TLC to restore, rebalance and heal. Without this vital step, you’re likely to end up (over time) with more intolerances and more symptoms.
If you are wondering whether you have an allergy or intolerance, please do get in touch. I can help by offering a variety of testing options to help get to the bottom of the problem, and my gut health programmes can help bring your body back into balance. You can also download my FREE Food Intolerances Quiz