Food Allergy Or Intolerance?

It is far from unusual nowadays to hear someone say ‘I can’t eat wheat’ or ‘I have problems if I eat dairy’, or one of a myriad other foodstuffs. Both food intolerance and food allergies are on the increase, and can have a major impact on your quality of life should you be unfortunate enough to suffer from them.

First, let’s get the semantics out of the way. Allergy produces an almost immediate response and can be life-threatening – airways swell, tissues swell, blood pressure drops and the person goes into what is called anaphylactic shock. Some of the more common trigger foods for this are nuts and seafood.

The severity of this response is due to an immune system malfunction which causes the body to produce antibodies against a certain type of food. Whenever this food is eaten, it immediately triggers a reaction. The more exposure to the allergen there is, the more severe the reaction becomes. So initially, eating a peanut may cause a low level reaction, but each subsequent time the reaction becomes more severe until it is life threatening without medical intervention. The only response to this is to completely avoid the trigger food.

Food intolerance produces much more low level symptoms, although they can severely impact on quality of life. Health problems can range from catarrh, sinus problems, digestive upset, rash or skin problems, fatigue and hives to hyperactivity, migraines, eczema, asthma and even joint pain. It is usually a delayed reaction, which means it is difficult to pinpoint to any one food easily.

As symptoms are often minor and wide ranging, and despite a battery of tests the doctor doesn’t find any physical disorder to explain them, the problem is often labeled psychosomatic.

Intolerance usually comes about in response to a number of factors including a weakened body system generally, due to poor nutritional status or ill health, or over-exposure to a foodstuff to chemical toxins in our environment. It is almost always commonly eaten foods which are the cause of the problem – the most common being wheat and milk in the West, although almost any food can produce intolerance.

The general pattern of food intolerance often begins with a problem with some commonly eaten food. As things progress, new sensitivities and new symptoms appear, to less commonly eaten foods. If the problem is left unaddressed as many as 20 or 30 foods may become problematic over the years.

At one time the best way of ascertaining an intolerance was by undertaking an elimination diet, where all commonly eaten foods are excluded for a period of time and then gradually re-introduced to see if they provoke a response. This can be time consuming and difficult to maintain.

Nowadays, many people are turning to a form of intolerance testing called electro-dermal testing, which has its roots in the theories of quantum physics. Everything has a defined energetic signal, and by forming a circuit and passing the energetic signals of a range of foodstuffs through the client’s own energy field it is easy to see what, if anything, is going to cause an imbalance. A report is produced, giving immediate results.

If any foods are found to be problematic, by excluding those foods for a few months from the diet, whilst also working to build up the underlying system weaknesses that have contributed to the intolerance, it is often possible to re-introduce the foods to the diet at a later stage. So, unlike food allergy, an intolerance or sensitivity to certain foods need not be a lifetime sentence!

Other factors which might be causing an intolerance reaction can be environmental. We are exposed to a wide range of pollens, chemicals and other xeno-toxins which can all cause problems in sensitive individuals. Indeed, our exposure to chemical toxins nowadays is huge, and it is believed this toxicity underlies many chronic health issues. So if you think your health issues might be down to an intolerance problem, you need to see a professional to check out your diet and nutritional status and ascertain what might be causing problems.

Food and Fibromyalgia Syndrome – It’s Time to Help Ourselves!

Nutritional therapy for Fibromyalgia can help reduce stress, free the body of toxins, and restore nutrients which have been stripped away. Supplements can be helpful, but right now, I want to focus on diet.

FM patients need to watch what we eat because there are many foods that exacerbate our symptoms. I know how hard it is – especially in the carbohydrate category, because I LOVE pasta, potatoes and chocolate. Unfortunately, one of the first things recommended in a nutrition program for FM sufferers is reduction of carbohydrates and adding more protein. I can handle adding protein, but take away my carbs? UGH! Maybe you can identify. The fact is, if we want to feel better and restore our mental and physical function, it is a necessity.

Since we (FM sufferers) already have a compromised immune system, a diet that includes the list of “no-no’s” can cause your body even more suffering. Also, certain foods have been found to cause fatigue. So, to avoid further destruction we need to follow the “fibro nutrition rules”.

Some Fibromyalgia sufferers have a low carbohydrate tolerance or reactive hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) that strikes after eating carbs. This can cause problems with carbohydrate metabolism, which in turn creates the inability to lose weight, fatigue, worsening symptoms and carbohydrate cravings. Carbohydrates stimulate insulin production. Excess insulin can cause an increased absorption of sugar into our muscles and liver, which can be stored as fatty acids in fat cells, and prevent carbs from being metabolized.

We need to lessen our consumption of unsaturated fats. It is recommended that we increase our intake of vegetables, whole grains, fruits and essential fatty acids found in cold-water fish, nuts and seeds.

Saturated fats should be reduced. You can do this by choosing fat-free dairy products, increasing vegetables or trying soy products. Also, red meat, in particular, is hard to digest and increases cholesterol. So, we should exercise caution when it comes to the amount of red meat we consume.

It is important to avoid alcohol, caffeine, and limit our sugar, salt, fat and the intake of specific additives like monosodium glutamate (MSG).

Eating foods rich in antioxidants like vitamins A, C, E may be used to combat stress and support the immune system. Foods rich in magnesium help support your muscles and vitamin B-rich foods can help with stress, energy/metabolism and mental clarity. The best food sources of magnesium are legumes, tofu, seeds, nuts, whole grains, and green leafy vegetables.

Some “fibromytes” find that foods high in acids like citric acid, trigger more muscle pain. Some examples are tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant, red meat, cow milk products, brown and white wheat flour products, sugary foods, coffee, and yes, chocolate.

Acidophilus and associated “good” bacteria can help balance the flora in your intestine. Some plain yogurts have active cultures that can help. You can also find other sources of “good” bacteria at health food stores like Kefir.

Fibromyalgia patients are more sensitive to food, drugs, chemicals and pollutants. With the myriad of common issues such as allergies, gastrointestinal issues and migraines we tend to have, there are foods that can trigger these symptoms or make them worse. It might require a little detective work to figure out what foods are a problem for you.

Use the process of elimination when you suspect that a certain food might be a triggering factor for you. Remove it from your diet for a couple of weeks and see if you start to feel better or the frequency of your negative responses decrease. Known foods that aggravate FM symptoms are the same as listed above but we need to also consider processed foods, fried foods, artificial sweeteners, bottled juices and diet soda. Processed foods are full of additives, preservatives, colorings, salt and sugar. These foods are what I like to call a “death trap”. I know, it sounds over-dramatic, but if we can think of them this way, we might be able to train our brains to reject them. We know our bodies already do because of the pain, fatigue and unhappiness that comes with a bad diet.

If your detective work doesn’t provide results, you might want to try a hypoallergenic or gluten-free diet. With a hypoallergenic diet, you eliminate one food group at a time. You can start with removing a single item each week and see how you feel. If nothing happens, remove another food the next week.

A gluten-free diet isn’t easy because it requires you to completely eliminate all wheat products. Since wheat is so common in a variety of foods, you will have to plan your diet it and follow it carefully. You can find wheat replacement products at health food stores. It is suggested that you don’t drink any liquids with your meals, avoid smoking, and avoid long periods of direct sun. You need to drink eight glasses of water each day between meals.

Just like medications and therapies, each FM sufferer will respond differently to specific foods than another. Some have certain food allergies that others do not. Food allergies can interfere with your nutrient intake. It is recommended that we keep a food diary to help identify our triggers. Write down everything you eat and at the same time track your FM pain. Comparing the two might help you determine what foods may trigger allergies or pain.

There is another diet method that has proved helpful for FM patients called Food Combining. The theory is that certain foods should not be combined because they work against each other. This diet is definitely worth looking into!

It is my hope that by changing our nutritional life-style, we can begin to feel better and regain as much of our mental, emotional and physical function as possible.

Sleep and Energy Stabilising Foods

The effect on mood and concentration from jolts in blood sugar can make coping with everyday problems more difficult. When the blood sugar level is raised, the pancreas produces insulin to bring it down again (and if this happens too often diabetes can develop). The short-term effect on our energy is to make us feel exhausted, irritable and stressed. We should choose foods that keep our energy levels at a fairly constant level, which helps us to concentrate on frees us from the urge to keep refuelling. It also improves our general mood, making us calmer and more balanced, so we are less likely to lie awake at night fretting over details or wound up from the caffeine in the emergency chocolate bar that we consumed before going to bed.

When looking for ingredients to create meals, keep in mind the following:

  • Water aids digestion, so try to drink at least 2 L a day
  • Fresh fruit is the best slow release energy source. Juicing fruits removes all the pulp and fibre, which stops you just get initially hid from the fructose.
  • Eating protein rich foods, such as lean meats, cheeses, eggs, naturally a bit and fish, the lunch will keep your levels balanced and into the natural dip in your circadian rhythm. Eating refined carbohydrates, like white bread, will cause your sugar levels to soar in crash, and only exaggerate this natural dip.
  • Pulses, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds are all great slow release energy tried them with whole grain bread.
  • Chromium rich foods, such as shellfish, cheese, baked beans and whole grain bread, help your body overcome extreme low blood sugar.
  • A ravenous hunger the morning after a night of drinking is because alcohol fix your blood sugar levels, making you reach for quick fixes the next day. Drinking on an empty stomach, makes it worse.

The Glycaemic index

The body needs glucose for energy. It is obtained from starches and sugars in the food we eat i used or stored as fat will stop everything we eat is processed this way, but it is the speed at which this happens that makes a difference to our weight and general health – this is what gives food its GI rating. The fast food is broken down, the higher its index rating (a high rating is about 70 or above). Low GI foods keep us fuller longer, have more fibre, and are usually full of minerals and vitamins. Below are the glycaemic index (GI) rating of food, the better it is for maintaining a balanced sugar level. Eating foods with a low GI rating, such as pulses, lentils and beans, is a great help when you’re giving up stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine because they help prevent the swings in mood and hunger. The more processed food is, like white bread, white sugar and junk food, the higher it tends to be on the index.

Choosing energy balancing foods and drinks in the day can help you feel healthily tired and unwound by bedtime a large breakfast of complex carbohydrates, such as porridge, fruit, nuts, seeds and lean protein will keep you balanced.

Tryptophan, the insomniacs friend

The good news is that for all the foods and drinks that all the stimulators innkeepers awake at night, nature has provided sleep inducing alternatives. Some karma is down while others actively deliver sedated effects. This is mainly down to a chemical called Tryptophan.

Tryptophan is an amino acid and essential chemical for life as it helps us to build protein. We consume about 1 to 3 g of Tryptophan a day, but we can boost our intake by seeking out foods have a higher concentration. It has the effect of speeding up the onset of sleep, decreasing the number of spontaneous wakings during the night and increasing the overall length of sleep during the night. Elderly people, who suffer from increased sensitivity to noise, find it especially helpful, as you go is on antidepressants because it can raise the level of serotonin, which is low in brains of the oppressed people. Eating a main meal around four hours before bedtime with a low to medium GI rating, including complex carbohydrates or some of the vegetables listed further down will help start the relaxing process.

If needed, a tryptophan rich snack before bedtime, such as suspects listed below should greatly improve your chances of getting a good night’s sleep. Remember, however, to make sure you give any snacks enough time to digest (an hour or so) before you go to bed.

Foods rich in Tryptophan

  • Bananas
  • Turkey
  • Milk and other dairy products
  • Almonds
  • Cabbage
  • Kidney will lean beans
  • Oats
  • Poppyseed
  • Pumpkin seed
  • Spinach
  • Wheat
  • Evening primrose seed (contains the most tryptophan of any food source)
  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Red meats
  • Soya bean
  • Tofu
  • Basil
  • Dill.