If you’re a TV channel surfer, no doubt you heard the latest news released throughout the media this weekend – food allergies are becoming more common and more severe based on a large, patient reported research study out of Northwestern University this month. This study which included 40,000 children, found that 1 in 12 children (8%) have reactions to certain foods with peanuts, dairy and shellfish at the top of the list.
For those of us who practice functional and integrative medicine, we say in a most respectful tone, “WE TOLD YOU”! Every now and then, it’s nice to see the conventional research validate the clinical findings that Functional Medicine has known for years.
We’re seeing it more in clinic and hearing it throughout the community, yet the literature has consistently reported that food allergies comprise less than 1% of the population. Why the discrepancy?
Well, traditionally, a food allergy has always been thought of as a severe reaction leading to anaphylaxis (throat closing, difficulty breathing) and unless a food caused this kind of reaction, it wasn’t considered a true ‘allergy’. The truth is, if the ‘allergy’ arm of the immune system (IgE) thinks something like a food or something in the air is an invader, it will react to it and try to defend your body. The reaction could be anaphylaxis, more oftenb, it’s less severe symptoms that you think of when hearing the word ‘allergy.’ Immune reactions (or more specifically, overreactions) can range from a little stuffy nose to a full out dripping faucet feature of your nose; some daily hoarseness to wheezing and asthma, or some minor itching under the skin to full out hives covering the body.
Some of the less known symptoms I see in the office on a routine basis include, diarrhea, constipation, intestinal pain, ‘tummy aches’, headaches, joint pain, nausea/vomiting, ‘foggy thinking’, acid reflux, extreme fatigue, high blood pressure, muscle pain, depression, anxiety, hot flashes, rash, psoriasis, heartburn, earaches, itchy mouth, acne. That’s quite a list, don’t you think? I could literally write a book of just food allergy case studies that would shock and awe most people. (Secret: I personally have life long issues with allergies and as it tends to run in families, as it does in mine, I am very vested in this topic and its promotion in our current medical education and patient care.)
So if your kids, and even if it is you, commonly experience any of these symptoms, there’s a reasonable chance that the symptom could be a result of a reaction to a specific food and I strongly encourage you to seek out professional testing. While there are several lab tests to help determine possible food allergies, there is a very simple, methodical way to ‘test’ yourself which should be performed under the guidance and knowledge of your doctor since there’s always the risk of an anaphylactic reaction. As this may be fairly new territory for you or your physician, you can always watch my Dr. Saxena Speaks! videos to learn how functional medicine docs have been managing this for decades.
Funny how the most common reasons why people visit their doctor is very often caused by the foods they choose to eat each day. And remember, “Those who think they have no time for healthy eating, will sooner or later have to find time for illness.” ~Edward Stanley
If you’re interested in learning innovative, medicationless approaches to this and related topics, visit our interactive online medical community, LivingWellnessUniversity.com, to watch the following Dr. Saxena Speaks! educational videos:
* Allergies: It’s Not Just Snot
* Testing Yourself for Food Allergies
* Heal Your Gut, Heal Your Body
* Digestive Rehabilitation
* Go Gluten Free