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Food Allergy Solutions Review

News, Ideas & Strategies to Improve Your Health

February 2003

Food Allergies:
You May Have One and Not Even Know It

Food allergies may be one of the most prevalent health problems in our country and are certainly the biggest problem that I see in my clinic. But if you’re like most of my patients you’re saying, "Not me, I don’t have a food allergy."

Most people think they have a pretty good idea about food allergies. They may know someone who has one and think, “My problem isn’t like theirs.” Or they may just think that food allergies normally result in hives, a rash, or some kind of medical emergency.

In fact, food allergies can be the cause of many health problems, some of which are listed here:

Why Is It So Difficult to Detect Your Own Food Allergy?

The difficulty is in connecting the symptoms with your eating habits. You eat every day, yet your symptoms seems to vary in intensity or come and go. Often you don’t associate the problem with the food because the feedback isn’t immediate enough and/or you are eating the food too often.

Even if you only eat something 2 or 3 times per week, it may be causing you significant symptoms.

“But my symptoms change in severity” you say. “So it can’t be the food.” Yes, but food allergies can exhibit themselves immediately after ingestion, an hour later, several hours later, or even the next day.

For example, I’ll bet that almost everyone reading this eats wheat and dairy, in some form, nearly every day. If that’s the case, then how can you be sure that they are not causing you a problem if the symptom doesn’t show up for 24 hours?

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Which Foods Cause Which Symptoms?

Unfortunately it’s not that simple. Foods don’t correlate with specific symptoms. The same food could cause any one of the problems in the previous list. And any symptom can be caused by a number of different foods.

Further complicating the matter is that many people have multiple food allergies, and that any food has the potential be an allergen. That’s why it’s so important to do an ELISA blood test to check for food allergies.

What Is an Allergy?

An allergy is what results when the immune system is inappropriately activated. Food does not normally trigger an immune response. (Bacteria and viruses should.) When it does, the immune system produces antibodies (also called immunoglobulins).

Antibodies in turn trigger an inflammatory response. Inflammation can result in pain and tissue damage, leading to further symptoms. Mucous production is another factor involved in an immune response.

When a food is broken down and absorbed it is taken throughout the body. Therefore the allergic reaction can be exhibited just about anywhere.

We don’t really understand why an allergy can exhibit itself so differently in different people. However, individuals are different and we each seem to have a unique weak point where symptoms show up first.
Why Do People Have Food Allergies?

There are many theories about why people develop food allergies, and there are probably several causes. We know that some food allergies are genetic in origin and are detected in both parents and children.

Regardless of the cause of food allergies, when it comes to food we are not created equal. If you suffer from health problems that seem mysterious, maybe the answer is closer than you think.

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Blood Testing for Food Allergies

Food allergy testing is a very specialized procedure only performed by doctors trained in recognizing and treating the signs and symptoms of food allergies and by laboratories especially equipped to handle such sophisticated testing.

Testing involves a simple blood draw for the patient. The blood is then sent to the lab and any antibodies against food that are present in the blood are detected and measured. Most comprehensive tests measure reactions to approximately 100 common foods. The test is called an ELISA (ee-LIE-zuh) food allergy panel. ELISA stands for Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay, a big fancy word describing the biochemical process whereby the antibodies are detected in your blood.

This test is a direct measurement of the immune systems response to food. It is not affected by what you ate the day of the test or even the week of the test.

The ELISA food allergy test measures both IgG and IgE antibodies, unlike other food allergy testing. In a normal healthy person, or in someone with no food allergies, no antibodies will be detected. However, in a very high percentage of people with the problems listed on the previous page, this test demonstrates elevated antibodies to a specific food or foods. Invariably, these people feel better after removing the offending food(s) and haven been treated for deficiencies related to their food allergy.

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Why It's Important to Identify Your Food Allergies

It may seem obvious that if you have a health concern, you might like to solve it. But even if you’re willing to live with the symptoms you may be doing much more damage to your body than you realize.

Research done on gluten allergies provides an excellent example of this. Studies have shown that gluten allergies are associated with several chronic diseases. These diseases include osteoporosis, hypothyroidism, attention deficit disorder, lupus, Sjogren’s, scleroderma, intestinal cancer, and even infertility.

Studies have also clearly shown that food allergies interfere with the absorption of nutrients. This can result in significant health problems, the most obvious being osteoporosis due to decreased calcium absorption and iron deficiency anemia due to poor iron absorption.

As you can see, food allergies can cause much more than annoying gastrointestinal symptoms. And in some cases they cause no obviously problematic symptoms until one of these chronic diseases shows up later in life. Therefore it is important to detect and treat food allergies as soon as possible.

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Why Skin Testing Doesn't Work for Food Allergies

Skin testing has for several decades been the traditional way to test for allergies. This test involves injecting a substance under the skin and measuring the ensuing inflammation, also known as a wheal.

In skin testing the wheal is measured and the size of the wheal determines whether or not an allergy is diagnosed. The technique leaves a lot to be desired inasmuch as we don’t inject food under our skin, nor do we necessarily get a red bump when we have a food allergy. But even more importantly, this test only measures one type of antibody, called IgE. (RAST testing, or Radioallergosorbent testing, has the same limitation.)

“What’s IgE,” you ask? Good question. First, you need to understand that the immune system is very complex. Numerous kinds of antibodies are produced, including IgE , IgG, and many others. They are called immunoglobulins. If you are deathly allergic to something then it is usually an IgE reaction. (However, you can have an IgE reaction to food that isn’t deadly.)

The problem is that most food allergies are not IgE, but rather IgG reactions. IgG is a delayed response that typically shows up hours later and may never result in a wheal. However, IgG is a potent stimulator of the inflammatory process, resulting in a variety of symptoms in people. (See the list on the Page 1.)

The most accurate way to detect food allergies is through ELISA testing of the blood. This test measures the actual amount of both IgE and IgG in the blood.

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Kaili's Kitchen: A Refuge for Those with Food Allergies

If you or someone you know has a food allergy to wheat or gluten and would like an option for eating out, now you can head on over to Kaili's Kitchen in Shoreline.

Kaili’s offers cafeteria style dining, frozen meals, and treats. If you’ve got a craving for pancakes or a hankering for some lasagna, then this is the place. But Kaili offers much more.

“My menu includes entrées, salads, sides, hors d’oeurves and desserts. If you are dreaming about a delicious treat, just call! I make everything from scratch. I am always available for catering, wedding cakes, take-out and other possibilities.”

The list of menu items is available on her website. Kaili says, “Be sure to call ahead and order” if there is something specific that you want to pick-up or are looking forward to eating when you get to her kitchen.

If your food allergies go further than wheat or gluten, please contact Kaili to request a special order. It’s very possible that she’ll be able to make it for you.

I can honestly say that the food is great and so is Kaili. Be sure to visit and tell her I said “Hello.”

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Dr. Stephen Wangen

Email: info@CenterForFoodAllergies.com
1229 Madison St., Suite 1220 · Seattle WA 98104 · 206-264-1111

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