Food Allergies

Allergies have become widespread in developed countries: asthma, hay fever, eczema, hives and food allergies are all increasingly prevalent. A generation ago only 10 percent of the Western population suffered from allergies, but now it has tripled to over 30 percent and one out of 10 children are asthmatic. Not only are allergies becoming much more prevalent but also their severity is increasing, the mortality rate for asthma increased 28% between 1980 and 1994.

Many individuals have one or more foods that they are allergic or sensitive to and their body does not function well when they eat these foods. Food allergies and sensitivities occur when your immune system mistakenly identifies a normally harmless substance and tags it as an invader, as it does to bacteria or viruses. Your immune system then attacks this substance the same way it would attack any invader. When your immune system chronically attacks an invader, it has side effects. It can cause aches, pains, fatigue, brain fog, mood and behavioral problems. Think about the symptoms you experienced when you last had the flu. Many of the symptoms were caused by your own immune system and not the bacteria or virus.

Symptoms of food allergies and sensitivities are varied. Conditions very commonly caused by food allergies and sensitivities are chronic muscle ache and pains, chronic fatigue, low energy, mood disorders, premenstrual syndrome, chronic and recurrent infections. Research is now connecting food allergies and sensitivities even to behavioral and learning disorders, ADHD and even autism. With food allergies and sensitivities gastrointestinal symptoms are quite common. The primary GI symptoms of food allergies and food sensitivities are bloating, gas, abdominal pain and discomfort, nausea and heartburn. I find in my practice that the vast majority of individuals being treated with medications for gastrointestinal problems such as reflux, GERD, IBS, IBD have undiagnosed food allergies or food sensitivities.

Primarily there are two types of immune system reactions which can cause typical food allergy reactions, IgE and IgG. IgE reactions are very quick usually in 2 hours or less and therefore easier to identify. If you eat a strawberry and your throat swells up from an IgE reaction it's easy to identify your allergy. On the other hand IgG food allergic reactions can take up to 48 to 72 hours to occur and are known as the ‘hidden food allergies’. Therefore, IgG food allergy reactions are more difficult to figure out on your own. For example you may have no symptoms from an IgG food allergy reaction for about 12 hours, followed by a full day of pain, fatigue and depression.

Undiagnosed food sensitivities are also a common trigger for a wide range of physical and emotional disorders. Instead of IgE or IgG antibody reactions, food sensitivities are usually mediated by physiological responses to the offending foods and are usually undetectable by lab tests. Some experts have estimated that as many as 60% of the population suffers from undetected food sensitivities. When a food is not properly digested, the intestines can become irritated or even inflamed. Because of this, the lining of the gastrointestinal tract can eventually develop little openings that partially digested food can pass through. This is referred to as "leaky gut syndrome." When these particles enter the bloodstream, the body's immune system recognizes them as foreign and attacks them. Thus, a complex immune response is initiated at this point that may not involve IgE or IgG antibodies.

Author Dr. Greg Fors

About Dr. Greg Fors

Dr. Greg Fors, D.C. is a Board-certified Neurologist (IBCN), certified in Applied Herbal Sciences (NWHSU) and acupuncture. As the clinic director of the Pain and Brain Healing Center in Blaine Minnesota he specializes in a functional medicine approach to fibromyalgia, fatigue, brain fog, digestive disorders, depression and anxiety. He is a sought after international lecturer for various post-graduate departments and state associations. Dr. Fors is the author of the highly acclaimed book, “Why We Hurt” available through booksellers everywhere.

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