What does food sensitivity mean?

Scientists are still examining the causes that make people develop food sensitivities to different food products. Diagnosing someone with food sensitivity is difficult because, most of the time, the symptoms are delayed for two days after a food has been consumed by that person. What we know so far is that food sensitivities are caused by a toxic reaction in the body after a specific food is consumed. There are two types of food sensitivities: allergic responses, and food intolerances.

Does a food allergy involve the immune system?

Food allergies are actually toxic reactions to food or food additives from different products. These reactions involve the immune system. The immune system has a network of cells and molecules which protect the entire body from potentially harmful foreign elements. The protective cells of the immune system are more active on the skin, in the nose, in the lungs or in the gastrointestinal tract. They are more active in those areas because those places in our bodies are more exposed to the outside environment. More than 60% of the immune activity takes place in the gastrointestinal area. This is the area which is directly exposed to potentially harmful agents from the outside.

Our immune system is created from different types of cells. T-cells are the ones killing dangerous bacteria, B-cells are responsible for producing antibodies, and macrophages are those cells which clean up any residues.
If the body identifies specific cells as being harmful then an allergic reaction occurs in our organism. These protective cells are called antigens. Histamine is released in the body, which together with other chemicals destroy these foreign cells. Sometimes, an excess of histamine release can cause even breathing problems. More than 29.000 people in the United States go the emergency room every year because of these problems.

Which are the symptoms of food allergies?

Most people with food allergies report these symptoms:

  • eczema
  • vomiting
  • tongue, face, or lip swelling
  • abdominal cramps
  • diarrhea
  • blood in stools
  • hives
  • difficulty breathing
  • skin rashes
  • loss of consciousness
  • wheezing
  • swelling of the throat
  • runny nose

Symptoms can be different for each person depending on the age, the amount of food that person consumed and the type of allergen. A person allergic to fish can expect to have an allergic reaction within minutes after she or he ate the fish. It can occur as a rash, hives or breathing difficulties or a combination of all three symptoms. Another person allergic to cow’s milk can feel and experience the symptoms only after 24 to 48 hours after consuming the milk. Those symptoms are not that severe, but they can last for several days. Because all the allergic reactions to foods are delayed, it is difficult to determine the food product that created the allergic reaction. It is recommended to eliminate the food from the diet for at least several weeks. After this period of time, the person can gradually reintroduce it. Make sure to observe if any emotional, physical, or mental changes occur after you have reintroduced specific foods in your diet.

Which are the foods that cause allergic reactions?

It seems like there are more than 140 different foods which can cause allergic reactions. It seems like more than 90% of food allergies are caused when consuming these 8 food types:

  • Cow’s milk
  • Peanuts
  • Wheat
  • Hen’s eggs
  • Soy foods
  • Fish
  • Shrimps, prawns, lobster, and crab
  • Tree nuts (such as cashews, walnuts, almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, pistachios, Brazil nuts, and chestnuts)

If you develop an allergy and you are not sure which is the cause, you should eliminate cow’s milk from your diet for a while. Cow’s milk contains over 25 different molecules which can cause an allergic food response. The most common allergen in the cow’s milk is a protein called casein. This protein is contained in many dairy products. If you think you have an allergy to cow’s milk, then it is safe for you to avoid consuming milk and other products made from or containing milk including ice cream, cream, creamy sauces, and milk chocolate.

The food can be prepared, processed, handled and stored in different ways and these procedures are also influencing a food to cause an allergic reaction. Experts found that some molecules responsible for allergic reactions are destroyed when the product is exposed to heat. If you have cow’s milk allergy then you should try to drink your milk hot. There are high chances that the molecules responsible for creating the toxic reaction to being killed during the heating process. However, the effects that peanuts have on allergic people cannot be reduced or eliminated by heat.[1][2]

Is there a difference between food intolerance and a food allergy?

Many physical reactions to certain foods are caused by food intolerance rather than a food allergy. It is normal to believe you have a food allergy because those two have almost the same symptoms.

If you are dealing with food allergy it can be very severe and you might have many symptoms. Food intolerance symptoms are less serious and often they are only affecting the digestive system for a short period of time.

If you have a food intolerance, you can eat small amounts of that specific food without problems. You can, sometimes, prevent an allergic reaction. If you have lactose intolerance, you are allowed to drink lactose-free milk or take lactase enzyme medication (Lactaid) to help your digestive system.

Which are the causes of food intolerance?

The absence of a specific enzyme needed to fully digest that food. It is the case of lactose intolerance.
Psychological factors and long-term exposure to stress. For some people, the mere thought of a food can make them feel sick in the stomach. Doctors do not fully comprehend this phenomenon.

Irritable bowel syndrome. In the case of this health condition, the allergic person is dealing with diarrhea, constipation, and cramping.
Food poisoning. If a food product is expired or spoiled it can cause severe digestive symptoms.

Celiac disease. Celiac disease might give the symptoms of food allergy because it affects the immune system. People with gluten intolerance have only gastrointestinal symptoms, and they are not presenting the risk of difficulty breathing. It is recommended that the person to avoid eating gluten, the protein found in wheat and other grains.

Sensitivity to food additives. Some sensitive people can have asthma attacks. These attacks are triggered by sulfites. They are usually used to can goods, to preserve dried fruits and to make wine.

If you have an allergic symptom after eating a specific food, make sure you consult your doctor to determine if you have a food intolerance or a food allergy.

If you have a food allergy, you might need to avoid completely particular foods. But if you developed only a food intolerance, your doctor will prescribe you medication to help your digestion when you consume specific foods.
Here are the most common agents which can cause food intolerance:

  • Lactose
  • Preservatives and Additives
  • Tyramine
  • Gluten

What is tyramine and how can be avoided?

Tyramine is an amino acid-like molecule. Very similar to tyramine is the phenylalanine (another amino acid-like molecule). You can avoid consuming this amino-acid if you stop eating and drinking the following foods and beverages:
Fermented cheeses

  • Red wine
  • Sausage
  • Avocado
  • Chocolate
  • Beer
  • Raspberries
  • Sour Cream
  • Yeast

If you develop a tyramine intolerance you might experience these symptoms:

  • angioedema (swelling of different parts of the body)
  • urticaria (hives)
  • migraines
  • wheezing
  • asthma

Some doctors suggest that many migraines are caused by food intolerance or allergy.
You can follow a detoxification of tyramine diet. This diet has to include sulfur-containing foods such as:

  • Onion
  • Broccoli
  • Garlic
  • Brussels Sprouts

How the preservatives and additives affect the human body?

Many people started to develop food intolerance reactions to food preservatives and additives. When you go next time to the supermarket read the label and see if you find any of these chemical agents that can cause hives:

  • benzoates
  • sulfites
  • hydroxytoluene
  • flavoring agents like salicylates
  • dyes like yellow dye No. 5 (tartrazine)

Many studies observed that health conditions such as allergic rhinitis, asthma, and atopic dermatitis are more and more frequent. The damaging pollutants in large cities are playing an important role in the occurrence of these health problems in humans. But many doctors believe the consumption of foods containing additives and preservatives and the increased level of stress are the main factors that influence the organism to develop such allergies.

It is recommended to read carefully the label and to avoid buying these products. Sometimes, when these ingredients are used in small quantities, they are not even mentioned on the label. You can avoid consuming these toxins if you start buying your fruits and vegetables from local organic farms.[3]

Sugar Allergy

If a person consumes too much sugar, he or she can develop not necessarily sugar allergy, but sugar intolerance for sure.

If you have reasons to believe you might develop sugar intolerance, make sure you perform the 21 Day Sugar Test:

It is a very easy to do this test. All you have to do is to eliminate the sugar and the carbohydrates from your diet and then to see what happens, if your symptoms disappear. If you are wondering about the symptoms you might have in case of sugar intolerance, here is a list that can help you identify them:

  • Low energy after lunch
  • Bloating and gas
  • Lack of sex drive
  • Increased weight
  • Low mood, anxiety or depression
  • Pain in joints
  • Inability to sleep well during the night
  • Pain in the back when getting out of bed
  • Increased blood pressure

Make sure you don’t eat sugar for the next 21 days to determine if you have sugar intolerance. You have to avoid carbohydrates as well, they tend to transform in sugar in your body.

You have to avoid these foods:

  • Alcohol of all kinds
  • Potatoes of all types, corn, beans, and rice
  • Energy drinks and energy bars
  • Fruit and fruit juices (natural or processed)
  • Sugar of all kinds –honey, agave syrup, maple syrup, candies and even ketchup
  • Bread, crackers, pasta, cookies, cakes rolls, pastries, desserts
  • Sweetened yogurt

These foods you are allowed to eat:

  • Vegetables of all kinds – except potatoes
  • Eggs
  • Meat of all kinds
  • Vegetable juice
  • Oils and Fats (olive, coconut, butter)
  • Salads
  • Nuts
  • Avocados
  • Water

In the next 21 days, your insulin and stress hormones that respond to sugar are supposed to come back to a normal level. If these hormones were at a high level, you will feel an improvement in your body.

Because the body tends to get addicted to sugar, you might feel unusual the first 5 days after you stop consuming sugar. Some of the symptoms are irritability, lethargy, pain in the body. These are only the normal withdrawal symptoms. After 5 days, you will feel a boost of energy in your organism and you will be in a better mood. Some people feel better right way after they gave up sugar. That means their bodies did not get addicted to sugar. If after 21 days you don’t feel an improvement in your health, it means you do not have sugar intolerance.

You might wonder why it is necessary to avoid sugar for 21 days. Experts are saying that the brain needs this period of time to adjust to new habits.[4]

What foods can someone eat if it has food allergies?
Specialists came up with a list of safe foods which do not give allergic reactions:

  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Apples
  • Carrots
  • Pears
  • Cherries
  • Lamb
  • Winter Squash
  • Rice
  • Carrots, winter squash, and sweet potatoes are not only keeping you safe from consuming allergens, but they also provide a rich source of phytonutrients.

Why people crave foods to which they are sensitive?

Cravings and addictions to food that causes allergies is caused by the reaction that takes place in the human body. The organism struggles to increase the number of antigens and to prevent the formation of the large antibody complexes. These complexes are the ones that create all the allergy symptoms.

In other words, a person allergic to a particular food (such as sugar) might develop and addiction to it. If it continues to eat that food, that person feels relief the short term. While the person succumbs to the urge to eat that food, the reactions in the body give new signals (hives, eczema etc) that toxins are unbalancing some essential processes in the organism. This yo-yo effect explains why people who go on restrictive diets, they feel severe withdrawal symptoms a few days. As we said before, after a short period of time, these persons feel better again.

What is the link between food sensitivities and aging?

Most experts agree that children develop more food allergies than adults. It seems like adults can develop food allergies, as well, if their digestive function is compromised due to the intake of alcohol, the use of drugs such as aspirin, and due to stress. It is known that the production of digestive enzymes and digestive function deteriorates with age. That is why so many people of 40 years old start developing lactose intolerance.

How food allergies manifest in infants and children?

Doctors say that many infants develop food allergies when their immune system is not fully developed. The parents who are feeding the baby too early with formulas or milk can be responsible for causing serious problems to an infant’s organism. The baby’s immune system is incapable of handling the toxic molecules in the food. Infant colic is one of these examples. This health condition is associated with lactose intolerance in infants.
It is important to pay attention to any of the baby’s symptoms because food allergies can cause ear infections and inflammations. In rare cases, children developed even behavioral problems such as attention deficit disorder (ADD, ADHD).

You can protect your baby if you breastfeed him or her and if you introduce allergenic foods at a later age. It is important for mothers who are breastfeeding to be careful with their diet as well. Select cautiously the food you are consuming during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, because it might cause different allergies in your child.

Cow’s milk is often a necessary food in a woman’s diet because it is a source of calcium. If you have to avoid milk though there are a few foods which are rich in calcium:[5]

  • Bok choy
  • Spinach
  • Mustard
  • Turnip
  • Kelp
  • Greens collard
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Chestnuts
  • Soy
  • Tofu
  • Kale
  • Cabbage

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