Food Allergy - which diet to do

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Allergy is a very common problem and, astonishingly, almost completely ignored by the medical profession. There are two reasons I believe for this. Firstly, doctors have stopped asking the question why? They no longer look for causes of symptoms, they symptom suppress with drug medication.

Another reason I suspect is a lack of simple cheap tests to diagnose. This is because we react to foods in several different ways. No test can mimic exactly how we deal with foods in the body. For example, immune reactions to foods are different depending the point of contact - I remember one patient who could not peel potatoes because this caused a runny nose and asthma but who could eat them. Furthermore by the time a food has been chewed up and mixed with saliva, swallowed, partly digested with acid and enzymes it is very different from the food on the plate.

Foods cause problems for reasons other than allergy - notably hypoglycaemia, gut fermentation (by yeasts and bacteria), because they are poorly digested, because of natural toxins such as lectins and other reasons. This means that just because an allergy test is normal does not mean that food is safe to eat! This is why I rarely do food allergy testing!

Types of allergy

There are at least four described immunological types of reaction - the types are at least easy to remember (if not particularly illuminating!) as type I, type II, type III and type IV. Even I can hang on to that! The point is that food allergy may result in any one or combination of these mechanisms being used. So, for example, I can do tests for antibody levels to foods which will pick up type I and type II allergy (IgE and IgG) but tell me nothing about type III and type IV allergy. I rarely do food allergy testing, but the FACT (The Food Allergen Cellular Test) test which measures leucotriene levels in white cells following exposures to specific foods looks promising. Please see Positive Health webpage on FACT

Elimination Diet: At the end of the day one has to do an elimination diet (the Stone Age Diet) to work out which foods are really the problem.

Having said that, one can cheat! There are often clues in the patient's history. The things to look out for are:

  • Allergies run in families
If I find a patient with dairy allergy almost invariably there is a first degree relative also with dairy allergy. Sometimes I treat a family of allergics - one (usually mum - I wonder why?) does the diet and the children avoid the foods she reacts to.
  • Past problems
A history of colic as a baby, vomiting, failure to thrive, recurrent sinusitis, catarrh, sore throats, tonsillitis and swollen glands is often indicative of intolerance of dairy products. This is such a common history for dairy intolerants and may be followed by glandular fever and chronic fatigue syndrome.
  • Are you addicted?
I once had a patient with sinusitis who told me that when he died he would like to take a cow with him to heaven to ensure a regular supply of dairy products! The grain addict will eat cereals at breakfast, biscuits mid-morning, sandwiches at lunch, cake in the afternoon and pasta for supper.
  • What are the symptoms?
There are common associations. (For dairy products, see above - past problems).
    • Headaches - often tea, coffee, dairy products
    • Depression - wheat, coffee
    • Irritable bowel - dairy and wheat
    • Hyperactivity - hypoglycaemia (sugar problem), chemicals (colourings, flavourings) and general junk food
    • Fatigue - grains
    • Sinusitis - often dairy allergy
    • But always remember: Any food can cause any symptom! Allergy may not be logical or predictable!

Also consider Dairy free diet. If in doubt, or you get stuck, do the full The general approach to maintaining and restoring good health.

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