By Claire Georgiou, Reboot Naturopath, B.HSc ND
Food allergies are rising with more than 32 million people in America dealing with an allergy to one or more foods. It is estimated that 1 in every 13 children have a food allergy, which amounts to about two kids in each classroom.
The CDC reports that food allergies have increased by 50 percent in young people between 1997 to 2011, while peanut and tree nut allergies have tripled. And those numbers continue to rise.
An allergy is caused from the immune system overreacting to the protein content of the food. The system mistakenly thinks the protein is a pathogenic invader and works towards mounting an attack which causes an elevation in IgE antibodies and histamine release that can cause hives, an itchy throat, or even the airways restricting and blood pressure dropping dramatically.
While scientists don’t know all the causes of food allergies, according to Food Allergy Research & Education, research suggests that they can develop from a combination of genetic and environmental influences.
Allergies vs Intolerances
Food allergies are different from food intolerances. Food intolerances, which are also quite common these days, are a delayed immune reaction from a few hours to a few days while true allergies are immediate.
Food intolerances can also be caused from having a lack of enzymes and poor gut health to properly digest the food.
Some of the most common food intolerances include dairy products, gluten, caffeine, fructose and more.
The severity of food allergies can be reduced or even absolve with age and some treatments, while food intolerances can be resolved with the right course of action.
Allergies and intolerances can come up at any time throughout your lifespan.
Food allergies are skyrocketing in developed countries across the globe. The top 10 food allergies are milk, egg, peanuts, other tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish, crustacean shellfish, citrus and some other fruits and vegetables (less commonly).
These allergens can cause symptoms that range from a mild itchy mouth or throat, and/or hives to more severe reactions that include throat tightening, difficulty breathing and even in some cases death, if immediate care is not taken.
Food allergies can be mild and can also be an unknown culprit. So in some cases it’s hard to pinpoint why you’re getting strange unexplainable symptoms that come and go.
Symptoms of food allergies can include abdominal pain, cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty swallowing, shortness of breath, chest pain and itching of the mouth, throat, eyes, or skin. A small rash to a tummy upset can be enough to question whether a food allergy or intolerance is to blame.
Food intolerances tend to cause less severe reactions such as bloating, migraines, headaches, persistent cough, runny nose (often clear mucus), feeling tired, stomach pain or discomfort, IBS and hives. There is some overlap between food allergies and intolerances.
What to do if you suspect a food allergy or intolerance?
It is important to note that these tests are not 100% accurate, so completing an elimination diet is also very useful.
To complete an Elimination Plan, eliminate any major food suspects and keep a diary of all your symptoms, their severity and what foods you are eating daily for at least three months.
You can then re-introduce and re-challenge any food once you feel the symptoms have resolved and observe if the symptoms return.
Rebooting is also another way to partake in an elimination diet with either a Juice & Eating Reboot or a Juice-Only Reboot, which will automatically eliminate nearly all the foods that could be potentially causing a food allergy reaction.
A Reboot eliminates many foods (and all the major allergens) in one go. Wait and see if your symptoms resolve or diminish, this can take up to 10-15 days or longer in some chronic states.
Once this has happened you can then start to re-introduce the foods slowly, while you are doing this you log all your symptoms. If a symptom returns as you re-introduce a food or food group one by one, you can then eliminate and continue to reintroduce other foods, then re-challenge the suspect food again at a later time.
It often becomes very obvious but it all must be written down. This can also be done with a qualified nutritionist.
If you decide to do a Reboot be mindful that citrus in some cases can be a problem, if you suspect it is or have a reaction with high citrus juices then eliminate citrus and replace with other fruits and vegetables and continue to observe your health and symptoms.