Friday, April 28, 2006

FOOD ALLERGIES 101

OVERCOMING FOOD ALLERGY

I researched this topic and wrote the following while trying to understand, feed, and live with a son who has multiple food allergies to many common foods. I also have food allergy issues in a smaller way. I hope you are helped by the information found here. Please comment below to let me know you stopped in.

By Dori Harvey, BA
It is estimated that true IgE related food allergies are rare and that only 8 - 10 % of the population suffer them. This number appears to be growing as more patients with digestive difficulties see their doctor for relief. New understanding into the bodies allergy process can offer new treatment methods that result in a great reduction to the number of IgE related foods in a patient with multiple food allergies and relief from the allergic response in others. Most food allergies are not fixed and the development of new food allergies can be stopped! This paper will offer basic allergy understanding and then focus on the dietary treatment prescribed to help many suffering from food allergies overcome them.

ALLERGY 101 :

WHAT IS AN ALLERGY?
Allergy (2): exaggerated or pathological reaction (as by sneezing, respiratory embarrassment, itching, or skin rashes) to substances, situations, or physical states that are without comparable effect on the average individual Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary, © 2002 Merriam-Webster, Inc.
All allergic responses in humans take place after histamine is released into the body. Histamine is a chemical produced by the body . It’s job is to yell "HELP!" to the immune system which can release the IgE antibodies (the army) to fight off substances that can harm us. This is for our own good most of the time, but is a problem when the body begins to fight things that will not harm us, such as food or even our own working body parts as is the case in many the 128 auto-immune diseases, such as fibromyalgia, commonly diagnosed today. The way the "army" goes to work on a bad cold bacterium is the same as the allergic response with a good food protein, when the protein histamine is released we experience a wide variety of symptoms ranging from excess mucous, eye irritation or even sometimes an asthmatic reaction as the lungs try to block off the passageways in which foreign matter gets in.

An allergy is considered a problem because our body is at war with many things that usually do not affect humans or are considered harmless. (Much could be speculated about the harmless chemicals in the air we breathe, the synthetic carpet we walk on, or the laboratory made orange juice cocktail we drink, but this is beyond this essay’s scope.) When the immune system army is constantly at work we experience the irritating and sometimes life threatening side effects that can stop us from living productive lives, so we try to correct the symptoms by taking medication. Allergy medications are called anti-histamines and their purpose is to stop the histamine from alerting the immune system to respond. Although helpful at the moment because it can stop or help lessen the IgE mediated allergy symptoms, we can speculate the long term use of this remedy especially when a harmful cold bacteria comes in and our cells are not allowed to cry for help. This realization may lead us looking for other solutions, possibly ones leading to a real correction of the problem.

AN ALLERGY TO FOOD?
While many people experience food intolerance or sensitivities, this is not the same as an immune system response type of allergy. Usually a person diagnosed with a classic food allergy has allergies to other things such as inhalants, dust, molds, etc. and often has a first generation relative with allergies. A classic food allergy involves the protein in a food as it is released into the blood stream via the intestinal walls. The immune system sends out IgE antibodies that attack the protein in the same way that the IgE antibodies would attack a dust, mold, or "cold" bacteria protein. Some people seem to be born with an allergy and know very early in life while in other allergic reactions seem to come and go or develop/ worsen with age. With all this unpredictability it is hard to know what is a true allergy! Understanding that the body acts the same way with any allergen gives us an idea of why this is so.

Consider that our body is like a bucket that can only hold a certain amount of water before some begins to spill out if we keep adding to it. (1) It doesn’t matter what we are reacting to (food proteins, air fumes, chemicals in detergent, etc) , when the histamine response occurs the kind and type of reaction will vary depending on the amount and location that the histamine is released. This can make it nearly impossible to single out which foods may be triggering the histamine response creating a spillover of symptoms.

MEDICAL CONDITIONS ASSOCIATED (caused or aggravated by) WITH FOOD ALLERGIES (2):
RESPIRATORY:
hayfever, asthma, bronchitis, recurring ear infection, sinus conditions, rhinitis, laryngitis, allergic sore throat, hoarseness
DIGESTIVE:
gastroenteritis, irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, diarrhea, constipation, colic, malabsorption
CEREBRAL:
headache, dizziness, sleep disorders, learning disorders, tension fatigue syndrome, foggy thinking, irritability, depression
SKIN - RELATED:
dermatitis, eczema, angioedema, hives, rashes
RELATED TO OTHER BODY SYSTEMS:
arthritis, myalgia, urinary irritation, conjunctivitis, edema, hypoglycemia, diabetes, overweight, underweight, premenstrual syndrome, fatigue

Food allergy testing can assist with finding out what food may be helping to trigger the allergy responses as you travel toward the destination of good health. There are several methods of food testing available. The method you choose may be dependant upon the type of professional you see to help you in your search for good health. The range of doctorate level professionals specializing in helping others regain good health come from disciplines such as nutrition, orthopedics (chiropractors) who often take further study in naturalopathic remedies but may offer "new age" testing and treatments , doctors of medicine (commonly paid by most major insurance companies and offer laboratory drugs to relieve symptoms), and metaphysical doctors who may do "new age" muscle strength testing using food synthetics held in a glass vial in combination with aurora sensing. Just as the kind of help each professional offers may vary, the reliability of each type of testing varies greatly. Skin tests are often not recommended for food allergies because the allergic response may be severe. Since our definition of classic food allergy requires IgE antibodies to be present, only blood testing can be considered the most reliable test for diagnosis.

There are many varieties antibody level blood tests in which hundreds of foods can be tested using one blood sample. The RAST (radio-allergo-sorbent test) blood test involves mixing 96 differing food proteins with a small amount of blood to see if there are antibodies already present in the blood to "attack" the food. If IgE antibodies show up in reaction to the food then a positive IgE response occurs. This means that the blood already has built a defense against this food (thanks to the immune system) and histamine will be released. If the response occurs immediately the test results will conclude that there is a high level sensitivity, slower responses indicate a moderate to a low sensitivity. A slower response also indicates a lesser amount of histamines will be released when the protein molecules leave the intestine and enter the blood stream, helpful information when planning a rotation diet. Studies have shown about 95% of IgE-mediated reactions are not fixed and after avoidance for a few months they can be brought back into the diet occasionally in moderate amounts. (2)

POTENTIAL CAUSES OF FOOD ALLERGY:
1. Heredity
A recessive gene has been identified as being linked to IgE-mediated food allergies. (1)
2. Food introduced before intestinal maturity
Don’t feed babies solid food before one year old. The intestine is not mature and foods can be mistaken as harmful by the immune system opening the door for allergic responses or intolerance (2)
3. Repeated exposure to the same foods, especially in large quantities (4)
4. "Leaky Gut" or increased intestinal permeability (2)
Small openings in the lining of the intestine that allow large molecules of undigested or partially digested food protein molecules to be released into the blood stream. If the quantities are to large for the liver to work on the immune system then goes into action and produces IgE antibodies against them. Then when the food is eaten repetitively the antibody connects to the food in the bloodstream and can go to any part of the body to cause trouble.

"LEAKY GUT"??? POTENTIAL CAUSES (2)
1. Food introduction before intestinal maturity as a baby
2. TOXINS
Alcohol, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (aspirin, ibuprofen, arthritis medication, etc), corticosteroid drugs, antibiotics, and cancer treatment drugs
3. INTERNAL FACTORS
Nutritional deficiencies, inflammatory bowel disease, poor digestion, and food allergies (you know the chicken or the egg thing - did the allergy cause the problem or did the problem cause the allergy.)
4. UNFRIENDLY ORGANISMS IN THE DIGESTIVE TRACT
candida yeast, dangerous bacteria such as salmonella and botchulism,, or parasites
5. UNBALANCED OR LACK OF GOOD BACTERIA IN THE INTESTINAL TRACT
6. LACK OF HCI, a digestive acid, in the intestine that can cause food not to be digested enough thus allowing it to go into the blood stream in it’s undigested form

CORRECTING THE CAUSE OF LEAKY GUT
Through personal study and experience, author Nicolette Dumke says, "Most of the factors that increase intestinal permeability (leaky gut) can be treated or eliminated from the lives of patients with food allergies. By doing this, the "why" of out leaky guts can be treated, and therefore our food allergies can be lessened and our health can be greatly improved." (P. 5) MOST FOOD ALLERGIES ARE NOT FIXED! She continues saying, "Dr. Leo Galland estimates that in his practice of patients with digestive problems, after he treats their dysbiosis (unfriendly intestinal organisms), nutritional and other problems, and promotes intestinal healing, only 25% of those who come to him for EPD (allergy desensitivity) treatment for their food allergies still need it." (P.11)

FOOD ALLERGY TREATMENT POSSIBILITIES (2):
Medication and supplement: Gastrocrom, take before allergen exposure, or other anti-histamines to suppress symptoms
Digestive enzymes to help break down food into smaller less allergenic molecules
Vitamin C is an anti-allergy supplement
4-6 grams of quercitin
Pantothenic acid supports adrenal glands to make hormones that help us cope with reactions
Bicarbonate preparations such as Alka seltzer gold are a quick fix for food reactions. The Ph of the body becomes more acid during reactions and these help alkalinize the body, but also neutralize the stomach acid which is required for good digestion so should not be taken frequently
Inmmunotherapy, neutralizing drops to turn off the reaction to the specific food
EPD (enzyme potentiated desensitization) to suppress allergic reactions
Restoring healthy intestinal flora - probiotics or symbiotics
Nutrition and Diet
Further investigation into treatments other than dietary related is beyond the scope of this paper.

TREATING THE FOOD ALLERGY RESPONSE ROTATION DIET:
Rotation or rotary diversified diet is the most common way to treat food allergies. If the cause of food allergies is a leaky gut as theorized by Nicolette Dumke (2), the goal of the diversified rotary diet would be to keep the body from producing antibodies against non-allergic foods. If this hypothesis is correct the body will have ample opportunity to become allergic to more foods as any food in abundance in the diet can pass through the intestinal walls into the blood stream partially digested. If this happens in greater quantities than the liver can detoxify then the immune system will send out antibodies and a new food allergy will be born.

While the doctor can help heal the intestine the diet rotation accepts the leakage problem and instead focuses on lowering the antibodies created to attack the food from being released in the bloodstream. This happens when smaller amounts of a food protein (eaten on a rotational schedule) is released into the blood system and emptied out of the system before it is consumed again. This method also lowers the chances of the body creating new allergens against the unbroken down proteins to current non-allergic foods because food consumption quantities due to the rotational timing will be no burden the system as they remain small enough that the liver will carry the "toxins" out before the immune system has the chance to respond. The goal of the diversified diet is also to help recover from current food allergies, so that the body will no longer react negatively to these foods. For a period of time allergic foods should be avoided. This avoidance period should give the body time to slow down or stop the production of antibodies. Then the food will be added into the diet again, for one meal and not consumed again for at least four or more days.

Avoiding all allergic foods when dealing with multiple food allergies could cause nutritional deficiencies. The goal of the rotational dietary treatment is to be able to enjoy as many foods as possible again as soon as possible. The avoidance time of an allergic food is set depending on the antibody count to that particular food in the blood stream. High level allergic foods mean that the number of antibodies in the body at the time the IgE test was taken is high and an allergic response is quick, lower numbers of antibodies show a slower response and the food is considered a moderate or a low level allergy. When allergic foods are added back into the dietary schedule the frequency or quantity of the food will be adjusted if there are any adverse reactions. Some high level allergic foods may take a couple of years before a body can tolerate them again. Living without one or two foods at that time in recovery may be an acceptable and many people choose this and never desire to eat those foods again. Lower level allergic foods could be added into the diet as soon as three months on a 4 day rotational basis. Some foods will require a longer rotation, such as consumption once every two weeks. It is not uncommon to find other foods that were not tested can cause a negative reaction, the rotational diet will help identify these foods also.

STARTING DIETARY ROTATION
Finding 12 recipes you enjoy for each meal and snack listed on a chart would be a good beginning goal to strive for. As you find your meals write them down so you always have a good supply of meals ideas you enjoy. This chart will also help as you begin to create a rotational diet schedule.
BREAKFAST / LUNCH / SUPPER / SNACK
1. l l l
2. l l l
3. l l l
4. l l l
5. l l l
6 l l l
7. l l l
8. l l l
9. l l l
10. l l l
11. l l l
12 l l l
It is important to keep your diet varied so you do not repeat foods within a four day period. After you have avoided high and moderate level IgE mediated allergens for three to six months you may begin to add high allergens one meal each week or two, if tolerated. Low level allergens may be used every four days, as tolerated. The goal of food avoidance is to allow your blood system to lower the levels of antibodies it had for any one food to the lowest levels possible. Rotating an allergic food when you do begin eating it again after several months and then consuming it again for a few days doesn’t give the body a chance to create a bunch of antibodies again or add to histamines levels.

MY MEAL IDEAS
I have seen very complex food rotation diets. Personally I need simple guides and a list of possible choice ideas. If you need more of a rotation diet guide I would highly recommend any of the fine books cited in the bibliography.
muffins (vary grains) grilled meat sandwich fish soup (finnan haddie)
oat and bean waffles w/ allergy free chips nut or seed butters
buckwheat pancakes and salad or soup egg replacer for baked goods
cashew "yogurt" bean and veggie soups baked potato with topping
allergy free cereal mix chicken noodle soup chili with cornbread
cashew, oat, or soy milk salads of lettuce, cabbage, chili smothering potato fries
porridge grains with fruit and other veggies
potato hashbrowns vegetarian "meats" or tofu
leftover supper sandwich Fresh Fruit
Use proper substitutions for any item listed in the suggested menu (i.e. can’t have chicken, make chickpea or soy noodle soup, NO black beans, use white or red OR no kidney beans, use pintos). If you can tolerate soy or use other grain or nut milks. Can’t do potatoes or tomatoes, try white bean "chili" with a few chopped red peppers.
Leftover pancakes make great sandwich "breads"
Leftover muffins, crumbled and dried make a nice grapenut style breakfast cereal
Commercial pasta made from a wide variety of grains to fit any diet are now available
Keep leftover muffins or individual soup servings in the for quick heat and eat grabs in four days

BIBLIOGRAPHY:
1. Walsh, William E, M.D. Food allergies: The complete guide to understanding and relieving your food allergies. John Wiley & Sons, New York, 2000.
Provides an in depth explanation of classic food allergies, but has a special focus on "MALS" food chemical allergies. A general rotation diet description is offered, charts for finding allergens in commercially prepared products, identification of food families, and help with monitoring and relieving food allergy symptoms.

2. Dumke, Nicolette M. 5 years without food: The food allergy survival guide. Adapt Books, Louisville, Colorado, 1997. (P. 1-21)
Ms Dumke is the only author of the many books I read about food allergies who offered hope that food allergies can be overcome. Although the book was endorsed by her primary care giver and bibliography sites a multitude of professional medical references, Nicolette Dumke is not a doctor, nor a nutritionist - she is a woman who suffered from an allergy to literally every food and mothered two children with the same type of problem. She had been there and walked the path leading to good health.

3. Freund, Lee H. And Jeanne Rejaunier. The complete idiot’s guide to food allergies. Alpha Books; 1st edition, November 2003.

4. Jones, Marjorie Hurt, R.N. The allergy self help cookbook: over 325 natural foods recipes, free of all common allergens: wheat-free, milk-free, egg-free, corn-free, yeast-free. Rodale Books; Compl Rev edition (April 7, 2001).
This book teaches how to build your own rotation diet. The author uses a wide variety of grains with the exception of wheat and non-grains (amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa) often in the same recipe. There are helpful charts listing the properties of certain. A muffin recipe may list a big variety of grains or non-grains to use to that one could have a muffin every day of the week without repeating any one grain during an entire roatation. Nuts and fish are used freely.
(c) 2004

5. Melina, Vesanto, MS, RD. and Dina Aronson, MS, RD. Food Allergy Survival Guide: Delicious Recipes and Complete Nutrition. Book Publishing Company, Summertown, TN, 2003.
This book offers many vegan recipes and foods without wheat or dairy. Gluten free help is offered here.

21 comments:

Mindy T. said...

Wow. That's a thorough explanation, and I'm sure lots of people will make use of this information. I was just told by one of my holistic docs that during menopausal years, the pituitary gland -- the master hormone regulator -- is going through a lot of changes. One possibility is that food allergies will show up for the first time or be more troublesome at this time. I know you're not there yet, but this might be good info for some of your readers.

Thanks for the great resources...

http://mindycooks.blogspot.com

Johanna3 said...

thanks so much for this info., really good!

~L~ said...

I enjoyed your treatise on this subject. We have been dealing with anaphylactic foord allergies here for 6 years now. I will link to your blog if that is ok.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. This has been helpful. Our one year old daughter has several food allergies that affect her skin. It has happened over and over again where we eliminate from her diet everything we suspect she responds to, her skin clears up, and within a week her skin is rashing again. "What did you give her different?" "Nothing. It's the same food we've been giving her everyday for the past two weeks!" I realize now that we need to be very intentional about introducing a rotary diet.

This was very helpful...confirming of what I suspected.

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