Friday, April 10, 2009

Allergies and Food Sensitivities - whats the difference?

Everyone has heard of and most people probably have at least one allergy. Some people are allergic to cats (or their dander), dogs, mold, oak (if you live in the Midwest), pollen in general or ragweed, just to name a few. If you have these allergies you are familiar with the symptoms. They range from itchy, watery eyes to a full blown sinusitis, followed by sore throat and aches. There are many over-the-counter and prescription options used for these kinds of symptoms. Some people have more serious allergies like bee stings, or an allergy to a food like shellfish, that requires immediate medical assistance. These allergies are serious, and sometimes life threatening. If you have these kinds of allergies you most likely already know about them, and are probably doing something to prevent yourself from exposure to them.

These immediate responses to allergens happen when the body over produces what is called Immunoglobulin E antibodies (IgE). There is also an antibody called IgG. This IgG antibody is comonly associated with delayed food allergies, in which symptoms usually show up in 6-12 hours, but can take as much as 72 hours to appear. The IgG antibody is the largest circulating antibody in our immune system. Since foods are often mixed together, and eaten with other foods it is difficult to narrow down these slow reacting allergens. Some people experience symptoms such as eczema, headaches, ADD/ADHD, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, IBS, or insomnia for years, not knowing that their symptoms could be caused by a food sensitivity. People who have Celiac disease have been found to be sensitive or allergic to gluten, which is found in most breads and pastas. Gluten is not necessarily bad for you, unless you are sensitive to it.

In order to determine what foods maybe causing symptoms in our patients. Our office recommends a blood test which isolates the foods that cause an IgG response in their system. Once these foods have been determined, a meal plan is set up for their individual needs. This meal plan not only shows which foods and substances should be avoided, it also provides suggestions and substitutions. In most cases the foods we are sensitive to, are not permanent allergens. Once your system has had a chance to recover, and the inflammation from the antibodies is gone, foods can be re-introduced one at a time. Many times, after detoxification "favorite foods" can be eaten safely, but sparingly.

We also recommend that our Autistic patients have this food allergy test, because food allergies can aggravate their sensitive systems. Children with ADD and ADHD can also benefit from this kind of testing. IgG allergens may be the trigger to many autoimmune and otherwise mysterious disorders.

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