Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Are you Allergic to your Food?

Having an allergy to food is not uncommon. There are many people who know they can’t eat peanuts or shellfish because of the massive reaction they have afterwards. But, could you be allergic to dairy or maybe just reactive? What about red peppers, corn, soy, gluten? There are tons of foods out there that people can be allergic to, or at least reactive to, but they may never realize this. Why? Because the reactions are small, can result from a cumulative effect (so little is fine, but it adds up), these items are hidden in foods so we can’t always correlate a reaction with a specific food, or because we don’t realize we’re having a reaction. For instance, acne can be an allergic reaction to corn or gluten, your IBS like symptoms that are off and on and never predictable could be a reaction to gluten or dairy, or the headache you always seem to have could be an allergy to soy. These are just some examples, but I think you get the idea.

Another problem with food allergies is that blood tests are extremely unreliable. Again, you may not even be allergic but just reactive/sensitive to a substance which would not show up on blood work. So, how do you know if you are allergic to a food item, and how do you know which item? Answer: with an elimination diet.  If this is something you want to do, I suggest talking to your health care professional, but in general this is how they work: for 30 days you eliminate all possible allergenic foods (like gluten, soy, corn, and dairy) and during this time support your GI system (through probiotics, increased fiber, and some other herbal remedies). Then once the 30 days is up you have ‘splurge’ meals. That is you pick a food item like diary and then you have a dairy heavy meal. You then wait about 2 hours and see how you feel. If you feel fine then you are not allergic to dairy, otherwise dairy may be a substance you are allergic/reactive to. You do this with each allergic food making sure to only add one food back at time.  So, if you are having problems with low energy, headaches, GI issues, or acne doing an elimination diet may be a great tool to see if the problem is something you are eating.  

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