Food allergies can produce immediate and obvious symptoms that occur within minutes of consuming the offending food. Inflammation occurs when proteins from the offending food slip out of the gastrointestinal tract as large protein molecules or antigens, directly into the blood stream. The body’s immune system recognizes these undigested large protein molecules as foreign substances and attacks them with the Immunoglobin E (IgE) antibody.
Not all food allergies evoke immediate and severe symptoms. Most food allergies are delayed, with reactions occurring after a day or even longer and trigger the Immunoglobin G (IgG) antibody that produce symptoms such as chronic headaches or migraine, chronic indigestion or heart burn, fatigue, depression, joint pain, canker sores (cold sores, normally around the mouth, including cracked lips), wheezing, middle ear infections and enuresis (bed wetting), constipation, or diarrhoea.
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Food allergies can sometimes be cyclical where symptoms worsen with repeated exposure. Food hypersensitivity also produces similar symptoms but does not trigger either IgE or IgG antibody response.
The most common allergenic foods for an immediate food allergy are nuts and shellfish. Delayed food allergies and food hypersensitivity are caused by common foods such as coffee, sugar, wheat, eggs, corn, soy products, milk and oranges. Sometimes when foods are eaten together at the same meal they trigger synergistic allergic reactions. Examples of such synergistic foods are corn and banana, cane sugar and orange, milk and mint.
Fighting food allergies
• If your allergy symptoms are very severe, identify whether you had an immediate or delayed food allergy in the path lab.
• If your allergies are not so severe and you have identified the offending food then skip the blood test and try and totally avoid the offending foods for a period of two months at least. This can help reinstate tolerance. Once the food can be tolerated then care must be taken to avoid overexposure to the food.
• Asthma can be triggered by almost any food allergen, especially eggs, milk, seafood, peanuts, chocolate, corn and nuts. That’s why these foods are best avoided.
• Reduce arthritic pain by not having sugar, wheat, tomatoes, potatoes, bell pepper and eggplant. These foods can increase joint pains and must be avoided for at least six to nine months to determine their role in arthritis.
• If you have recurrent upper respiratory tract infections, control the inflammation of the mucous membrane by avoiding milk, egg, corn, and wheat. These foods can increase the inflammation of the mucosal lining of the lungs.
• For migraine, avoid eggs, wheat, milk, chocolate, corn, cinnamon and wine. Preservatives, food additives and pesticides that these food items contain can trigger allergenic responses that can lead to a migraine.
Madhuri Ruia is a nutritionist and Pilates expert. She runs InteGym in Mumbai, which advocates workouts with healthy diets.
Write to Madhuri at firstname.lastname@example.org