What Causes Food Allergies?

Many of the ailments we suffer from can actually be mild to severe symtoms of consuming our favorite foods, even foods that we know are healthy. The fact is that any food can cause an allergic reaction and as we get older, we can develop new allergies. Though most allergic reactions occur with in a few minutes to a few hours after consumption, many ailments are caused by foods we consumed several days before we feel a reaction. The reaction you feel that causes you to not feel well is your immune system fighting back against the two main food allergies IgE (Immunoglobulin E) and lgG (Immunoglobulin G).

lgE reactions occur within minutes to hours after eating a food that your body is allergic to and can cause hives, swelling around the mouth, asthma, diarrjea, vomiting, and even life-threatening anaphlaxis. The most common offenders for approximately 4% of the population, are cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish, and tree nuts. Just as your body’s immune system would attack bacteria and viruses, it would also treat a food allergy in the same defensive manner. Other food allergies are of the lgE type and are often referred to as food sensitivity or intolerance with more hidden and often delayed reactions within the body that can take hours or days to manifest and can irritate or worsen health problems you already have.

About 60% of the population is affected by ailments such as headaches, depression, anxiety, nasal congestion, itching, fatigue, muscle aches, stiffness, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Gastroesphageal Reflux (GERD), heartburn, indigestion, joint pain, inability to focus, palpitations, mental confusion, ADD/ADHD and other ailments caused by frequently consumed foods such as wheat, milk, and corn.

How do we get food allergies? Often we inherit our allergies through genetics or by constantly being exposed to the same foods over and over rather than having variety in our diets. If we have illnesses like IBS, we may be more inclined to have allergies as well as have our allergies cause illness. When our bodies are repeatedly exposed to offending foods, our immune systems become overwhelmed by the proteins in those foods and begin attacking weaknesses in our bodies. This can cause chronic illness when our immune system antibodies combine with serum proteins causing permanent cell damage such as in the case of arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and other chronic conditions.

How can you find out what you are allergic to? Skin tests are not very reliable, and elimination and placebo diets are a hassle, but there is a blood test that can show intolerances for 90 different foods. Once you determine what you are allergic to, avoiding it should eliminate your symtoms of allergy. Some experts would argue that there are medications and other treatments that can help eliminate the symptoms of allergy, but they are only a temporary solution and not a cure because they only block the body’s natural reaction to an offender such as antihistamines blocking the release of histamines which make us itchy from foods we eat. The itching is the body’s way of telling us that food is not healthy for us though it may be healthy for others. Sometimes the medications can cause other reactions that are not favorable, so the only safe way to keep you free from illness caused by offending foods is to eliminate them from your diet and if you are suffering from chronic symptoms, be sure to talk to your primary care physician about testing for food allergies and how to get the nutrition you need from sources that work best for your body.