According to medical studies, it is estimated that over 60% of the population suffers from one form of food allergies or sensitivities. I'm not talking about the traditional food allergy associated with a constriction of the throat, a rash, or immediate digestive issues. Instead, over half of us are affected with a 'silent' food allergy that goes undiagnosed.
These allergies can lead to: headaches (including migraines), joint pain, arthritis, hyperactivity, skin rashes, asthma, dry cough, wheezing, diarrhea, kidney damage and elevated liver enzymes. Food allergies can make you feel lethargic, sleepy, or low in energy, especially after eating. They can also be responsible for mood swings and cravings. And worst of all, unexplained weight-gain!
Does that ring a bell for any of you?
Ironically some of the foods that you crave could actually be the foods that you are allergic to.
Let me explain the two types of allergies to you.
1: IgE food allergies account for about 5% of all adverse food reactions and affect between 1% and 2% of the population. This gets the most attention from the medical profession and is what most of us associate with when we think of 'food allergy.' Problem foods tend to be: peanuts, shellfish, and milk products. These symptoms happen immediately - usually within minutes after consuming the food product.
2: IgG food allergies account for 95% of all adverse food reactions and affect nearly 60% of the human population. These go undiagnosed because the reactions can happen hours to days after the offending food is eaten. The reactions involve multiple body systems, not just the digestive system, making it hard to pinpoint exactly the offending ingested item. Many doctors will argue that food allergies are uncommon. This is because they have been trained to identify the IgE allergies as opposed to the IgG allergies.
When people are craving their problem foods, they aren't craving the food itself but the opium-like pain killers which are release as a result of eating the problem foods that they are addicted to. And because of the cravings associated with food allergies, there is the tendency to over eat leading to weight-gain and dependency on certain foods.
When you eat a food which you are allergic to, a couple of things happen.
1. Your adrenal glands release cortisol and adrenalin to cope with the allergic reaction. These hormones cause a breakdown of glycogen in the liver and increase your blood sugar levels. The increased blood sugar stimulates the release of insulin. However, the high cortisol levels direct your cells to stop taking in sugar from the blood, causing a state of temporary insulin resistance. Because your blood sugar levels are still high, your body releases even more insulin into the blood. This high level of insulin in the blood inhibits the activity of the enzyme triglyceride lipase. This enzyme is responsible for breaking down stored fat as energy.
What does this all mean? If you have chronically high insulin levels because you're eating foods you are allergic to, your body cannot break down fat stores and any fat you eat is likely to be stored as fat rather than used for energy.
2. Inflammation in the body. When your body is inflamed, the hormone leptin (which regulates the body's master weight) is rendered ineffective. Overweight people generally have a high level of leptin, but it does not do its job. This condition is called leptin resistance. In a normal-weight person, if they overeat, their leptin level rises which increases their metabolic rate and decreases their appetite. If you have constant inflammation due to food allergies, this does not occur.
And speaking of inflammation in the body, when you eat the Standard American Diet (SAD), you foster the growth of bad bacteria in your digestive system. The gut lining becomes damaged and produces toxins that are absorbed into your system. Because of the damage, partially digested food particles leak into your blood stream. Your immune system reacts to both the toxins and the food, producing: inflammation and food allergies (to food you previously were not allergic to before).Â To elaborate, when large particles, such as whole protein molecules, pass into the blood stream due to a “leaky gut,” they act as powerful antigens. The body's immune system treats them as foreign objects, an immune reaction occurs and the result is a food allergy. This inflammation also leads to insulin resistance, which as stated before, leads to weight gain.
Once again, food allergies, inflammation and weight problems are all intimated related. Eating foods to which you are allergic causes inflammation which makes your adrenal glands secrete hormones which destabilize your insulin and blood sugar levels. High levels of insulin causes you to hold onto fat instead of burning it for energy. Thus food allergies can lead to weight gain and high level of body fat, which then promotes inflammation and exacerbates problems with allergies.
So, what can you do!?
It's a great question and there are ways you can figure out what you are allergic to, in addition to rebuilding a healthy gut.
- Try an elimination diet for 3 weeks. Cut out the common food allergens including: gluten, dairy, eggs, corn, yeast, soy and peanuts. You also need to read labels as wheat, dairy, corn and soy are hidden in most packaged foods, including packaged meats. Essentially you are eating a vegetable-rich, clean diet for 3 weeks. After which, you add in one food group at a time a day at a time and journal any adverse reactions. Make sure you are only adding one food group back a day at a time. Additional, you can use this time to try a cleanse. Not only are you removing the potentially harmful foods, you are cleansing your body of toxins and a life-time of chemical build-up. I conduct monthly 5 or 10 day Purium cleanses with clients all over the planet. The product is shipped to them. I virtually guide them through the process and the effects are amazing! Inflammation goes way down. Food allergies disappear. Metabolism is re-set. Food cravings go away. And one is inspired to eat correctly again.
- Eat a whole-foods, plant-based ORGANIC high-fiber diet. This is essential to feeing the good bacteria in your gut and providing you the nutrients you need to function optimally. Foods that are known for fighting inflammation include: blueberries, cherries, grapefruit, oranges, pomegranates, arugula, bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, lettuce, scallions, shitake mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, almonds, flaxseeds, sesame seeds, and walnuts. Herbs include basil, cardamom, chives, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, garlic, ginger, parsley, and turmeric.
- Take probiotics daily to boost the healthy bacteria in your gut. Look for those that contain 10 billion CFU of bifidobacterial and lactobacillus. You can also add in probiotic rich foods such as: kombucha, kimchee, sour kraut, and miso soup.
Emyrald Sinclaire is a Certified Natural Health and Holistic Nutrition Practitioner (CNHP; CHNP) She specializes in detoxification programs, internal cleanses, and helping clients build strong immune systems. She also travels internationally to do raw food workshops, yoga retreats, and personal coaching. In addition, Ermyrald is a Certified Power Yoga Instructor and a Certified Raw Food Chef from the SunKitchen. For more information, visit PureRadiantSelf.com.