Food allergies and Food intolerances
This is a huge issue that I see most of my clients are facing today. Previously we did not even know that there is a test that could reveal what foods one would be allergic to. But the IgG (immunoglobulin G) test determines the degree of total immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibody binding to each food is quantified. This test gives an indication of food insensitivities.
Why do we get food allergies?
Food allergies is a response of the immune system to any foods that may not suit you. It could be a rash, hives, itching, swollen airways, swelling on face or hands or all over the body, dizziness or digestive issues. Some reactions could even result in death. In Macrobiotics, we term it a ‘discharge’ that body is throwing out, to something it cannot handle.
The difference between a food intolerance and food allergy
Some reactions to certain foods are expected for many people, and are classified as food intolerances. For e.g., you may be lactose intolerant, which means you cannot take in dairy, but could do lactose-free milk. However, this does not mean that you will have a reaction to dairy and get hives. A food allergy sends the immune system into an overdrive, generating some fallout as mentioned above.
Causes for food intolerances
- LACKING AN ENZYME to digest the food; in the case of dairy the enzyme you may not have is lactase. Most people stop making this enzyme after the age of 4.
- IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME inflammation in the gut could lead to some food intolerances, e.g., gluten intolerance (celiac disease).
- STRESS could also trigger a response to not digestion some foods. E.g., sugar could cause heartburn, and stress also causes more acidic blood condition as well.
- MEDICATION some medication could make your gut very weak and cause a food intolerance; e.g., prolong use of pain medication could throw off your gut and make you less tolerant of leafy greens or raw foods.
To understand why food allergies happen we need to understand how the immune system works –
The immune system protects our body by producing antibodies. These identify potential threats, such as bacteria and viruses. Antibodies send signals to the immune system to attack the pathogens. The most common antibody is IgG immunoglobulin E (IgE) which targets a certain protein in food and mistakes it as a threat and then releases histamine. Histamine causes most of the allergic reactions that happen, that’s why the doctor prescribes an anti-histamine to fight the allergy.
Who is at risk for food allergies?
You are more susceptible to get a food allergy if you have a compromised gut, by this I mean a weak gut (inflammation); thereby causing a weak immune system as well. Think of your immune system as the gatekeeper to your health. It protects you against external pathogens, parasites, viruses and most of all disease. Your immune system is further classified into the innate immune system and adaptive immune system. If you have a cut, bruise or injury, your innate immune system kicks in. The adaptive immune system has its own memory and remembers past injuries. When your system is attacked repeatedly by a host of bad microorganisms, your innate and adaptive immune systems have to keep getting into gear, which overtaxes them. Now while fighting these invaders, antibodies (basically proteins created in response to driving harmful pathogens out) are created by the immune system.
To protect you, the antibodies attack healthy cell tissue as well creating a state of chaos within the body. Let’s look at the biggest ailment facing us today malfunction of the thyroid. Like a garbage truck that comes in to collect garbage, the antibodies clean up good and bad cell tissues of the thyroid, causing the body to switch to an autoimmune state. Hence, prolonged imbalance of microbes in the gut eventually leads to an autoimmune state. The microbes in our gut control the responsiveness of the entire immune system. They dictate the small processes of immune response like a fever, to a larger response like determining how long you will stay with a cold. A good microbiome is positively correlated with a strong immune system. An imbalance causes the T- and B-cells (also termed the killer immune cells) to attack harmless cells, triggering an autoimmune response.
Why are we getting exposed to so many food allergies today?
Food allergies are also on the rise due to an influx of processed and packaged foods that carry a host of additives, colourings and synthetic chemicals. Thus increasing our exposure to more de-natured foods. These are foods that are not in-line with the way nature intended foods to be, thus causing issues.
How to eat for food allergies
I follow an ‘anti-inflammation diet’ with my clients, and in the Macrobiotic approach anyways a lot of trigger foods get thrown out like: sugar, dairy, refined white flour, additives, foods with colourings, processed and refined foods. So the chance of you getting any contaminants are reduced drastically. Foods that are more natural and whole foods are introduced like: whole grains (brown/red rice, millets), lentils/beans, vegetables (all, including leafy greens), nuts, seeds, fruit and fermented foods (Note: people with food allergies may not take to fermented foods as they have histamine). Substitutes are made for e.g., dairy (a nut milk is introduced) or if you are allergic to eggs then richer sources of plant-based protein like tofu is included.
You must also know how to read food labels, and familiarize yourself with ingredients that could cause havoc with the immune system.
Treating allergies naturally
- Health Kinesiology seeks to identify what you may be allergic to on a food level, and correct those allergies all-together.
- Homeopathy is also another way to deal with allergies.
- Acupuncture also seeks to restore meridian line energies, just like kinesiology does.
- Ayurveda seeks to bring down the disturbances (could be aggravated pitta or vata) and balance the body to combat allergies.
Most of these treatments work better when the diet is also in-place.