Often wondered whether the foods you eat may be contributing to your lack of well-being? Of course we know that sugars, caffeine, alcohol and fried foods are ‘bad’ for us and should be consumed in moderation. But what I’m referring to here are the ‘food allergies’ and more importantly ‘hidden food allergies’ that may be creating more havoc in your life than you even realize. Let’s first define these terms. ‘Food allergy’ typically results in an immediate hypersensitivity reaction that can trigger acute asthma or anaphylaxis and in some cases can result in a life-or-death situation requiring the timely intervention of an Epi-pen. ‘Hidden food allergies’ or ‘food sensitivities’ can result in immediate but more subtle reactions, or symptoms can frequently be delayed by many hours or even several days.
Clinical observation backed by scientific lab data has confirmed the presence of hidden food allergy in practice and that it is commonly a cause or contributing factor for a wide range of physical and emotional disorders. Conditions which frequently have allergic components include: fatigue, migraines, persistent headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, gallbladder dysfunction, arthritis (rheumatoid and/or osteoarthritis), lupus, asthma, rhinitis, eczema, psoriasis, aphthous ulcers (canker sores), recurrent infections (i.e. ear infections, sinusitis, post-nasal drip), anxiety, ADHD/ADD, autism, depression and PMS. Some symptoms may be very vague in presentation, such as lack of mental clarity or ‘fogginess’ after meals, inability to focus, difficulty sleeping, irritability, gas and bloating, constipation, diarrhea and in some cases may be a cause of unexplained weight gain.
The most common food sensitivities are: dairy, eggs, corn, wheat, coffee, peanuts and sugar. There are many ways to test for food sensitivities. In my opinion, the two most accurate methods are the ‘elimination diet’ and Mediation Release testing (MRT).
The elimination diet involves eliminating all potential food allergies (hypoallergenic diet) for a minimum of 4-6 weeks. During this time, the body is in a state of increased alertness and sensitivity. After the 4-6 week avoidance period, foods are re-introduced one at a time (1 food per day). Ingestion of an offending food results in a rapid and exaggerated reaction, allowing for identification of previously suspected or unsuspected allergens/intolerances. The downside to the elimination diet is it can be very tedious and prove difficult for young children.
The MRT method, involves a simple blood test, whereby 170 or more foods are tested for reactivity against the immune elements collected in the blood sample. Results can take 2-3 weeks to process. The lab provides a multi-dimensional report, which demonstrates a clear ‘degree of reactivity’ or ‘severity of sensitivity’ to the foods being tested. This allows the patient and physician to determine which foods must be completely avoided and which foods can be consumed in moderation or in a rotational manner. This test can be costly, but it is quick, easy and very informative.
Once food sensitivities have been identified, I have my patients eliminate or avoid these foods for a period of time that is determined according to one’s severity of reaction(s). I then work with the patient over time to reduce reactivity to foods so that eventually, ingestion of the offending agent will not provoke such a severe reaction when consumed in moderation. The benefits of identifying and eliminating food intolerances are tremendous and many of my patients will say, “life-altering”. For children suffering with the ill-effects of food sensitivities, it can have a significant impact on their present and future well-being. The earlier the intervention, the better.
As seen in the Tri-City News (Nov 4, 2007)