Have you ever had hiccups or a runny nose after eating something spicy? Or a case of loosies after consuming milk or cheese? These symptoms can often indicate a food allergy or intolerance.
Food allergies are more common than you think. So, we get closer to Janvi Chitalia, Functional Nutritionist and Integrative Health Coach of the Gut Microbiome, and asked him to share his expert input on what food allergies are, how they differ from food intolerances, what are the most common food allergies and their symptoms, and the forms in which we can eliminate them. Scroll down to read everything Janvi shared with us!
What is a food allergy?
Food allergies are a response of the immune system to food or toxins that enter our system. It is the part of the protein in the food that causes the allergy, which triggers the immune response. It is an IgE-mediated immune response. When the immune system considers food or substances to be pathogens or invaders, allergies are an immune response. The immune system produces antibodies, the cells of the immune system produce histamines, and histamine produces allergic reactions. Janvi says,
70% to 80% of the immune system is found in the intestine, making the immune system the guardian of the body. Each food that enters the system is considered good or bad for the body and has a different reaction pathway. An allergic reaction can appear in a few seconds or even four hours!
Wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, cramps, diarrhea, and even extreme reactions such as choking or anaphylaxis are some of the symptoms of an allergic episode.
What are the main food allergens?
Wheat contains proteins like gluten, gliadin, and more. Gluten is found in many daily sources such as rava, Maida, barley, dahliaand semolina. In today’s age, it is often seen that gluten has changed its shape from what our grandparents ate to what it is now. The wheat grain available years ago had 14 chromosomes (einkorn) while the wheat we find today has 42 chromosomes (triticale). This leads to gut-related symptoms that cause inflammation, diarrhea or even wheezing, throat irritation or swelling, and hives.
Substitutes: wheat can be substituted with low, jowar, nachni, amaranth, buckwheat, water chestnut, red rice, brown rice and quinoa.
As we recognize that dairy is often touted as an unfit food for people due to its hormonal imbalance, it is said that most people develop dairy intolerance after the age of three; However, some people reach their threshold immediately, while others take months or years to show up. The molecular structure of dairy can mimic the protein structure of wheat, which can lead to severe symptoms such as wheezing, sore throat, hives, diarrhea, abdominal pain, cramps, and loose stools.
Substitutes: Dairy can be substituted for almond milk, coconut milk, and oat milk.
Tree nuts and peanuts
Nuts like almonds, walnuts, cashews can often cause allergic reactions to produce excess histamine in children and adults. Nut allergy can lead to wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing, inflammation of the airways, or even hives.
Substitutes: Walnuts can be substituted for raisins, figs, apricots, and prunes.
Corn and soy
Soy and corn are highly processed and cause inflammation in the gut, causing symptoms similar to those caused by gluten and dairy.
Eggs and fish
Eggs and fish have also been shown to have allergic reactions in the body and cause symptoms similar to those caused by gluten and dairy.
Substitutes: They can be substituted for organic chicken and organic chicken bone broth.
How to deal with allergy?
The best way to work with allergies is to work on an elimination diet. An elimination diet works by eliminating the allergic food groups one by one, eliminating the foods, and correlating symptoms for the next two days to see if those symptoms cause any severe or moderate responses. Complete elimination of that food or food group should be followed.
The best way to resolve allergies is if the immune system can rest from food and then reintroduce it after healing the gut with a 5-hour gut healing process: remove, replace, re-inoculate, repair and rebalance.
Recognize the food allergen in each case by keeping an elimination diet diary. Eliminate food that seems to cause symptoms for more than 4 to 6 weeks. It would also help remove each allergen one by one to track how their absence makes the immune system feel.
What is food intolerance?
Food intolerances are an IGG-mediated immune response known as a delayed immune system response. The reaction is delayed up to 6-8 hours or even 24, 42 or 72 hours, and the symptoms are more digestive.
Common symptoms of intolerance are bloating, gas, headaches, constipation, and reflux. The main food intolerances found in people are beans, cabbage, citrus fruits, cereals with gluten, and dairy.
What is the difference between allergy and intolerance?
An allergy is related to the reaction of the respiratory system and can even be fatal in certain cases if an epi-pen is not used. On the other hand, an intolerance is related to the digestive tract and does not present serious symptoms.
People with allergies should consult with a physician or functional nutritionist for dietary changes or use antihistamines as a way to control their allergies.
What would you like to know about food allergies? Share it with us in the comments below!