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Identifying and Preventing Food Allergies

By Nancy Mehlert, MS

In Collaboration with Mila McManus MD

oral food challenge

Researchers estimate that up to 15 million Americans have food allergies. Food allergies affect 1 in every 13 children (under 18 years of age) in the U.S. That’s roughly two in every classroom. According to a study released in 2013 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food allergies among children increased approximately 50% between 1997 and 2011. Eight foods account for 90 percent of all reactions: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish. Even trace amounts of a food allergen can cause a reaction.[1] In comments on the US Food & Drug Administration’s 2005 Food Safety Survey, FAAN stated that “Accurate and reliable data on food allergy and anaphylaxis is lacking, and it is generally believed that the limited data now available represents an under-reporting of food allergy-related reactions and deaths”[2]. Here at The Woodlands Institute for Health and Wellness, we agree that food allergies are on the rise and prevalence is underreported for children and adults.

The information above pertains to IgE, or immediate type, allergic reactions such as lip swelling, hives, and/or anaphylaxis. What we see much more frequently at TWIHW are IgG, or delayed type, reactions which are generally ignored and dismissed in the conventional medical community. Symptoms related to IgG reactions are listed below in the paragraph that begins with “1”.

You can help yourself and your family to minimize the effects of food allergies and avoid them all together by taking a few proactive steps.

ONE: Clean up your diet. Focus on real, whole food and eliminate packaged, processed, and fast foods in exchange for plenty of fresh vegetables, fruit, healthy undamaged fats and meats. Reduce sugar as much as possible.

TWO: Restore and heal the gut (intestinal lining where digestion occurs) with plenty of probiotics and bone broth. Our highly processed sugary/carbohydrate diets with artificial sweeteners, flavors and chemical additives, in addition to overuse of antibiotics and steroids, have made it difficult to maintain a healthy gut. (Call us at 281-298-6742 for treatment programs to heal and seal and restore the gut and reduce allergic reactions to foods!)

THREE: Rotate, Rotate, Rotate. Food rotation means to eat a wide variety of foods and avoid eating the same foods day after day and week after week. When we bludgeon the body with a single food, day after day, the opportunity to induce a food allergy to it is very high. This is especially true of the eight listed foods above. Making sure that you only consume these foods once a week (or at least 3-4 days apart) can go a long way to reducing the opportunity for a food allergy to develop. While it is not as necessary to rotate the foods the human body is perfectly wired to consume such as meats and vegetables, undamaged fats, fruits and most seeds, rotation also helps to keep interest in a healthy diet and more importantly, provides a much needed diversity of nutrients for the body thus preventing nutrient depletion.

FOUR: Food allergy tests are available and can be expensive but there is a way you can do a little testing on your own. It is called an Oral Food Challenge. We suggest taking a look at the list above of the eight most common food allergens and conduct your own personal test. Your results will be better than any test available and it will allow you to witness in your own body what effect a food has on you. Instructions for performing the challenge:

1.  Choose any one food listed above that’s currently part of your regular diet and eliminate it totally from your diet for a full 30 days or more. Three months would be an ideal test environment.   Be sure to check ingredient lists carefully on everything to make sure you are doing a complete elimination. This is especially important with soy, wheat, milk and eggs since they are commonly found in many restaurant items, as well as processed and packaged foods. Make notes a couple times a week in a log regarding how you are feeling before elimination and how you are feeling as the elimination period is progressing. Common allergy symptoms can include aching joints, diarrhea/constipation, headaches, irritability/depressed moods, marked fatigue, inability to lose weight or weight gain[3], anxiety, sneezing, post- nasal drainage, cough, ringing ears, watery eyes, hives/itching/rash, cramps/bloating/ gas, asthma or breathing difficulty, canker sores, or difficulty concentrating. You may want to start by jotting down which of these symptoms you already experience on a regular basis to see if elimination of a food resolves the symptom.

2.  Once the elimination period is complete, add the food back into your diet following precisely the three steps listed below. Remember that food allergy symptoms can be both delayed and cumulative, meaning increasing levels of the ingested food can trigger the reaction.  If at any point in the steps you experience a reaction, stop eating the challenge food and recognize your sensitivity/allergy to it. We recommend documenting your symptoms to each food you test. Here is how to add the food back in:

   i.    Day 1-4: Eat the chosen food for 4 consecutive days, at least one serving each day.

  ii.   Day 5-8: Omit the chosen food totally again for the next 4 days. Be sure to omit the food and anything in which it is an ingredient.

  iii.  Day 9: First thing in the morning, eat a portion of the chosen food with nothing but a glass of water. Watch for symptoms over the next 30 minutes. If no symptoms occur, eat a second portion of the food with nothing but a glass of water. Without eating any more of the chosen food, wait and watch for symptoms over the next 3 days.

If you can complete this process without observing any symptoms at all, then you can draw the conclusion that you are not sensitive or allergic to the food. If at any point during the process you experience symptoms, stop eating the food, noting the food sensitivity for future reference. If you have a reaction, we recommend the ideal course of action to be avoidance. If the reaction is mild, it’s best to avoid the food for a few months and then attempt food challenge again and if you pass the test the next time, you may wish to eat the food once a week or less, if possible, with the understanding that more frequent ingestion will have a cumulative effect and could trigger symptoms again in the future. If your reaction is more severe with the first oral food challenge, then total avoidance is your best and wisest course of action, but with faithful avoidance for at least 6 to 12 months, you can test again and may be able to rotate the food back into your diet. It’s important to reiterate the importance of focusing on cleaning up the diet and healing the gut as part of a long-term plan to recover from food intolerance and prevent the development of more food allergies.

Call 281-298-6742 for more information and assistance from our skilled and experienced medical staff and nutritionist.

[1] http://www.foodallergy.org/facts-and-stats

[2] (FAAN, 2005

[3] Your Hidden Food Allergies Are Making You Fat by Roger Deutsch and Rudy Rivera M.D. (2002)

By |2015-10-06T12:36:01-05:00October 6th, 2015|Articles, General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|