Many medical experts predict that between 50%-60% of all Americans have negative reactions to some foods. These reactions are not restricted to the intestinal tract but can also cause brain, immune system, genitourinary, musculoskeletal, respiratory and skin symptoms (see chart below).
Most food reactions go undiagnosed as they are not related to the digestive system or may not occur immediately on ingesting the food. The problem can be with a protein in the food, such as casein in milk, a starch in the food, such as gluten in wheat, or by additives to the food product, such as preservatives and food colorings.
One of the standard tests for allergies, the skin patch test, is ineffective for many food allergies. Other laboratory tests, like the RAST test, are costly and do not address problems resulting from combinations of foods. This leaves three testing methods that effectively can help isolate food sensitivities.
First, there is an elimination diet. Let's say you suspect that eating a particular food is causing headaches. You would eliminate that food for a period of time. If your symptoms improved, you would then deliberately eat that food again for several days. If you did, indeed, have a sensitivity to it, the headaches would return with a vengeance. The problem here is too often not knowing what to eliminate. The possibilities can include almost anything that you eat or drink.
Secondly, there is a test that measures your heart's response to what you ingest. In this test, you take your pulse rate before you eat or drink and again ten minutes after you finish. If your pulse rises, and you haven't consumed caffeine or exercised, you could have a food sensitivity.
The third method employs Applied Kinesiology, a diagnostic tool that tests your body's response to the tasting or ingesting of a liquid or food. This is done in the office and allows us to discover both singular substances and combinations of foods that could be causing allergic symptoms.
One of the advantages of in-office testing is that we can often determine what can be done to help you overcome the sensitivity. Sometimes it is a failure of proper digestion. In these cases, supporting your digestive system so that you can more fully break down and assimilate your food will eliminate the symptom pattern.
Digestion affects allergies as follows: Think of a protein as a long extension ladder. In the digestive process, the sides of the ladder are split away and the steps (or rungs) are split in two. This final product of protein digestion leaves us with singular amino acids that are assimilated into our blood stream from the digestive tract and then are used for rebuilding or producing hormones, among other things. If the digestion is faulty, you absorb chunks of protein that are not easily used and can create symptoms.
Once we have determined what you are sensitive to, there are several options. The first is to just avoid the food. This is not easy when the food is milk, soy, corn or wheat, as these are found in many foods. The second is to use a rotational diet in which you rotate the foods you eat every four to five days. This will stop the sensitivity to most foods, but it is also hard to do. A third option is to make your body work better so that it does not react as severely. This could entail boosting your digestive, detoxification, and/or immune systems. Finally, sometimes you can be desensitized to the foods to which you are allergic.
Choosing which options are right for you and your lifestyle depends upon your food sensitivities and upon how many foods or food products are involved.
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