True or False: If you eat anything that you are allergic too, you will have an immediate reaction. False. True or False: The human body can adapt to a food allergy and therefore, the food item appears to be harmless. True. Food allergies, intolerances, and reactions vary quite a bit depending on the type of allergy. For example, I am allergic to shellfish, yet, I can still eat it and not show any sign of any reaction. However, only when I eat a lot of shellfish in a short period of time will I notice any physical symptoms. This is known as a cyclic allergy because a reaction is not apparent until consumed in excess. It’s a shame because I really love shellfish. In this article, I will cover the different types of allergies, causes, signs and symptoms, and identifying allergies.
Continuing on, there is a lot of “lingo” surrounding allergies, such as food sensitivities, intolerances, and of course, the last main category is allergies itself. A food sensitivity or intolerance does not mean you are allergic to the food. A sensitivity is a pseudo-allergy because a reaction occurs, but there are no antibodies involved. Intolerances are not a true allergy because they occur due to a lack of digestive enzymes, which causes gastrointestinal distress. Lastly, a full on allergy is when a reaction occurs because the allergen has been identified by the immune system and there is an antibody-mediated response.
With that said, there are five other categories of allergies, which are Addictive Allergy, Cyclic Allergy, Fixed Allergy, Multiple Allergies, and a Trigger Allergy. An addictive allergy is one that is usually hidden because your body has temporarily adapted. However, some minor symptoms will still be present such as gas or bloating and that is why most people ignore the fact that this might be an allergy. A cyclic allergy is one in which a reaction does not become apparent until you consume that food in excess. For example, that best describes my allergy to shellfish. Only when I consume a lot of it, my skin begins to develop white blotches, commonly known as loss of pigmentation or skin colour. A fixed allergy is the most obvious one because a reaction occurs every single time, within minutes or a few hours. Multiple allergies are having many allergies develop all of a sudden. This is usually a result of consuming foods that your body just isn’t able to metabolise and often occurs with overeating a particular food or eating processed foods. Finally, there are trigger allergies, which are underlying food allergies. This means that you might be allergic to just one particular component of an ingredient or food and thus it may be more difficult to narrow down.
Some of the main reasons for developing food allergies are genetics, constant exposure to certain foods (sensitivities can lead to allergies), too early exposure to certain foods (such as wheat, dairy, and sugar), having a leaky gut or weak digestion, overuse of antibiotics, low immune function, autoimmune disorders, and chronic stress.
Some of the common, yet uncommon symptoms may frequently present themselves as constipation, diarrhoea, heartburn, abdominal pain, asthma, coughing/wheezing, concentration and memory problems, nausea, chronic pain, psoriasis, skin rashes, anxiety, drowsiness, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, panic attacks, insomnia, headaches, and migraines.
So how do you distinguish between eating too much and having indigestion and food allergies? First of all, keep a food journal and write down how you feel before and after each food that you consume. After about a week’s worth of food journal, notice any patterns you may see. However, it is best to consult with a nutritionist before assessing your own food journal to help you with distinguishing any subtle patterns. Another option is to do an elimination diet. Click here and you will be directed to all the steps to do one at home. Lastly, if you would like to have a non-invasive test for food allergies, speak to your nutritionist about muscle testing or applied kinesiology. As for children, one of the best ways to see initial signs of food allergies is to pay close attention to their bowel movements, sleep patterns, and energy levels. Usually, these three areas are most affected when children have food allergies.
Remember, food allergies should never be taken lightly, as it can cause severe harm to your body. Therefore, if you have any doubt, you should speak to your doctor or nutritionist and they will help you further. And as always, if you have any questions or concerns, I am here for you.
Health and happiness,