What are food allergies?
When we think of food allergies we often recall peanut allergies, that may send a person to the emergency room with an anaphylactic reaction. This is called an immediate reaction or an IgE hypersensitivity reaction. It can result in swelling of the face, eyes and throat, extreme itchiness, severe rashes, swollen tongue and worse still, inability to breathe. Fortunately, this is not common.
The less dramatic & deadly type of allergic reaction is a delayed allergy or IgG delayed hypersensitivity reaction. This is much more common and can create a lot of suffering for millions of people. It can cause symptoms from a few hours to a few days after ingestion. Problems like weight gain, fluid retention, fatigue, brain fog, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), headaches, joint pain, sinus, acne, eczema and much more.
Putting the Puzzle Together
Collectively, these common adverse food reactions can be associated with:
- alteration of the gut bacteria (eg. antibiotics will reduce the good gut bacteria in the microbiome)
- intestinal enzyme deficiency (eg. low lactase in the gut means a person will be sensitive to dairy)
- a defective mucosal barrier lining the gut
- poor immune function
- heightened inflammatory response
Why do some people have allergic reactions to food?
In a nutshell, the diet you eat, your lifestyle choices (such as alcohol consumption, caffeine intake, overwhelming stress) and the medications you are taking are to blame for allergic reactivity. All of these things impact on your gut lining and break down the barrier that protects us from many of these assaults. This exposes our immune system to the toxins and results in leaky gut.
When the partially digested food particles begin to ‘leak’ across the damaged barrier, your immune system begins to attack these particles. This is when the food intolerance or IgG allergic reaction occurs.
How can Naturopathy help reduce allergic reactions?
Here are 4 ways a Naturopath can help reduce the ‘flames’ of inflammation and therefore reduce allergic reactions:
- Eating an anti-inflammatory, low allergy diet will go a long way to improve the situation. Reduce refined, processed carbohydrates and starchy sugars (found in white potatoes, flour etc). Also avoid refined vegetable oils or ‘trans fats’. These are highly toxic. Many of these are found in refined processed foods.
- Eliminate food allergens & sensitivities in the short term and boost immunity, with a personalised detox. This will enable the gut to heal and toxins to be cleared out, to help reduce reactivity and strengthen the gut mucosa.
- Some foods irritate the immune system more than others. These can include gluten (wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt, kamut), dairy (milk, cheese, butter, yoghurt), eggs, soy, corn, some nuts, nightshades (tomatoes, capsicums, eggplant, potatoes), citrus and yeast. Some of these can cause acute reactions and need to be taken seriously.
- Exercise regularly as this helps reduce inflammation. Begin with a low impact regime such as yoga & Pilates, and progress to higher impact exercise and weight training as inflammatory load reduces.