It is estimated that 1 in every 6 person is sensitive or allergic to some foods, and that many health, psychological and behavioural problems are due to food allergies. Yet conventional allergy testing methods often fail to identify allergies in patients.
I see many patients who have spent frustrating years trying to understand their health problems, only to discover that they do, in fact, have food allergies. Not surprisingly, a great many of these patients or parents of allergic children tell me that they first suspected allergies, but their suspicions were dismissed by their doctors after their tests results showed negative. It is thanks to sheer persistence that these patients eventually find the answers they have been seeking.
Kinds of Food Allergies
A food allergy can trigger either an immediate or a delayed reaction to food. This and whether or not the reaction involves the high levels of antibodies determine what type of food allergy it is.
Type l. Immediately or soon after eating the food, you show clear and often dramatic symptoms. If you are allergic to fungus, you might develop abdominal cramps within an hour of eating a ragout containing mushrooms. A child with a type 1 reaction to kiwi fruit might experience severe itching in the mouth or vomiting within 15 minutes of eating a kiwi fruit.
Type 1 food allergies they result in high levels of IgE antibodies in the blood so they are easily diagnosed by tests for these antibodies. Many doctors consider IgE mediated allergies to be the only real allergies, yet most food allergies are not Ige mediated. Only 3- 5% of children and 1-2% of adults are estimated to be affected by Type l food allergies.
Anaphylaxis – a severe reaction that can be fatal within minutes – is a Type 1 reaction. Warning signs are dizziness, light-headedness, swollen tongue or throat, difficulty breathing, fainting or facial swelling immediately after eating food. Get immediate emergency care.
Type ll. Though not considered a true allergy by more conservative doctors, a Type ll reaction still results in high levels of antibodies, usually IgA, IgG and IgM, as well as the typical inflammatory reactions.
Type lll. Delayed reactions often go unrecognized because the symptoms are not usually obvious, and may occur days after the food is eaten. Also, since they do not involve IgE antibodies, delayed allergy reactions to not show up on standard skin tests or some blood tests. Instead, they manifest as clusters of physical, behavioral and learning symptoms that affect several body systems at once. Type lll allergies are for this reason often called 'hidden' allergies.
A person with Type lll food allergies can suffer from recurring breathlessness, mucousy throat, sporadic hyperactivity and emotional swings, chronic stuffy nose, and flu-like symptoms. For another person, symptoms can include headaches, itchy eyes, stomach pains, depression, fatigue, sleep problems, and swollen lymph nodes.
These delayed reaction patterns of food allergy are difficult to diagnose. Yet health practitioners believe that they account for most food allergies, especially in children. In my opinion, any undefined pattern of illness that involves different symptoms and different body symptoms should be taken as a likely sign of food allergy until proven otherwise.
Effective tests for Food Allergies
Given the prevalence of type lll food allergies, other testing methods are called for. The most common non-standard test is the Rotation Diet. Common allergenic foods and suspected food allergens are eliminated from the diet for 4-7 days, then reintroduced. When the body is given a chance to clear of food allergens, symptoms will usually subside or disappear. By reintroducing the food again, you cause symptoms to reappear, allowing you to identify just what foods affect you.
Kinesthetic and Energy Testing
Many natural therapists test for allergies by identifying energy disturbances caused by different foods. Some methods work on the principle that these disturbances will temporarily weaken the long muscles of the body, while others use energy technology to identify which foods cause disturbances in the body's energy fields. Though still not accepted as valid tests by conventional medicine, these testing methods are providing breakthroughs for thousands of patients whose allergies previously went undiagnosed.