Could you have food allergies and not know it? Let’s begin by defining what food allergies are. Food Allergies happens when a specific food or foods affects the immune system and triggers the production of an antibody known as IgE to fight it. When the immune system responds in this manner, symptoms can occur within a few minutes or not show up for several hours. A person may experience mild to severe or even life threatening reactions, anything from a skin rash to swelling of the throat and tongue (known as anaphylactic shock). A much more common negative reaction that people have is a food intolerance. This can be similar to food allergies, but the immune system does not produce the antibody IgE. Just like food allergies, the symptoms can appear very quickly or be delayed several days. If the reaction is delayed, it can make the intolerance more difficult to detect. A runny nose on a Tuesday may be hard to relate back to eating a sandwich on the previous Sunday. Food intolerance reactions are not life threatening, but can make life miserable. Some of the common food intolerance signs I see in my office are gastrointestinal symptoms such as gas, bloating, diarrhea and constipation, sinus problems, headaches, fatigue and skin conditions. Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), mental disorders such as depression and bi-polar disorder, fibromyalgia, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, yeast infections, obesity, and autism have all been shown to be more manageable and in many case totally relieved by avoiding foods that can cause allergic or intolerance reactions. The adverse reactions from allergies and food intolerances all cause inflammation in the body. You may be aware of the inflammation but it is not always obvious. A good way to find out if you have inflammation and how much is to have a blood test to measure the level of “C reactive protein”. The higher the C reactive protein in your blood, the more inflammation you have. It is important to know, because inflammation has been shown to be related to cancer, heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Common Food Allergies – Dairy Products Of all the different foods, by far, the most common reactions in food allergies I see are from dairy products. I submit that everyone has some type of adverse reaction to dairy consumption, some worse than others. If you suffer from any type of sinus condition, the first thing to do is to stop eating all dairy products and see what happens. This is a quick, cheap way to get started on your own testing for food intolerance reactions. After giving up all dairy products for 5 days, on the sixth day, try adding dairy to your diet again and see what happens. Just about everyone I have ever tried this on say that they had more energy, better digestion and less sinus trouble when they went off the dairy and it returned when they went back on the dairy. Then you have to make a decision, eat dairy and suffer for the rest of your life (not to mention all the other negative side effects from dairy, including increased risk of heart disease, cancer, and osteoporosis), or do you want to find alternatives to dairy products? Believe it or not, there are many tasty alternatives to dairy including rice milk, organic soy milk, almond milk, oat milk and sesame milk, just to name a few. In my first book, “Eating Right… For The Health Of It“, I have 5 different recipes on how to make your own dairy-free milks. The good thing about making your own milk is that the milk you make at home is not heated. When you heat any food above 110 degrees, you begin to destroy the nutrients. There are also dairy-free cheeses (be careful, some “vegetarian” cheeses contain casein, a protein that is found in cows milk and put in their cheeses to help them melt better). There is soy or rice milk ice creams, and there are several dairy free “butters” that taste just as good as ordinary butter. The second most common food that causes food intolerance reactions is wheat. This is a tough one, because so many foods have wheat in them. The good news is that there are many wheat free foods on the market today. Try spelt bread or Ezekiel breads, many people with wheat intolerance can eat these breads and not have a reaction. Again, the best way to find out if you have intolerance to wheat is to not have any wheat products for 5 days, then on the sixth day, eat wheat and see what happens. Remember that it may take a few days to see the reactions. Wheat can be found in a wide variety of foods. Pastas, cereals, breads, soups, baked goods, and sauces are just a few. The protein in wheat that causes a majority of the reactions is gluten. Gluten is not only found in wheat, it is found in rye, barley, seitan, and spelt and sprouted wheat. You might not have a reaction to gluten, but you might have a reaction to wheat. Some folks can handle gluten in other forms, but not in wheat. Bottom line, if you have a reaction to gluten, you cannot eat wheat. If you have a reaction to wheat, you might be able to handle other sources of gluten, such as spelt bread or sprouted wheat. If you have an intolerance to wheat, you might very well have other food intolerances, such as dairy, soy, eggs, nuts, peanuts (which are not really nuts, they are legumes) and fish, especially shell fish. Even the Bible said to not eat shellfish, and that was when the water was clean and pure. Soy has received lots of press as being a health food, but it may not be as good as it is cracked up to be. If you eat soy products, monitor your reactions. If you get gas, bloating or sinus reactions stay away from soy. If you eat soy, be sure it is organic. A majority of non-organic soy has been genetically modified, a process that changes the cellular structure of the soybean. It is a fairly new procedure and we are not sure what the long term side effects are to the human (and animal) body. It is much better to be safe than sorry and avoid genetically modified foods (GMO on a food label means “Genetically Modified Organisms”). The other question we need to ask is why our bodies respond in an abnormal manner? Numerous studies have shown the direct correlation between a weak or damaged nervous system and allergic reactions and food intolerance. Pinched nerves to the immune system organs, including the spleen, lymph glands, thymus or even the stomach and colon can cause these organs to malfunction. When the organs malfunction, food and other foreign particles are not processed in the proper manner and this can lead to symptoms appearing. A qualified chiropractor will be able to determine if your nervous system is working properly. If it is not working properly, your chiropractor will be able to tell you what might be done to help fix it. Other Common Food Allergies The bottom line is to avoid the most common reactive foods: (besides dairy) wheat, eggs, soy, nuts, peanuts and fish. Even if you are not noticing an obvious reaction, you might be having an internal reaction that is causing inflammation and stressing your immune system. The only food on this list that you should include in your diet, if you are not having an obvious reaction to it, is nuts. They are loaded with nutrients and are a good part of a healthy diet. Also, be sure your nervous system is working properly by getting it checked by a qualified chiropractor. We can perform testing for food allergies in our office. Give us a call at 770-427-7387 to schedule your appointment or you can send us a message in the live chat.