5 Tips to Reduce Your Food Allergies

What are food allergies?

When we think of food allergies we often recall peanut allergies, that may send a person to the emergency room with an anaphylactic reaction. This is called an immediate reaction or an IgE hypersensitivity reaction. It can result in swelling of the face & eyes, extreme itchiness, severe rashes, swollen tongue and worse still, inability to breathe. Fortunately, this is not common.

The less dramatic & deadly type of allergic reaction is a delayed allergy or IgG delayed hypersensitivity reaction. This is much more common and can create a lot of suffering for millions of people. It can cause symptoms from a few hours to a few days after ingestion. Problems like weight gain, fluid retention, fatigue, brain fog, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), headaches, joint pain, sinus, acne, eczema and much more. 

Putting the Puzzle Together

Collectively, these common adverse food reactions can be associated with:

  1. alteration of the gut bacteria (eg. antibiotics will reduce the good gut bacteria in the microbiome)
  2. intestinal enzyme deficiency (eg. low lactase in the gut means a person will be sensitive to dairy)
  3. a defective mucosal barrier lining the gut
  4. poor immune function
  5. heightened inflammatory response

 

Why do some people have allergic reactions to food?

In a nutshell, the diet you eat, your lifestyle choices (such as alcohol consumption, caffeine intake, overwhelming stress) and the medications you are taking are to blame for allergic reactivity. All of these things impact on your gut lining and break down the barrier that protects us from many of these assaults. This exposes our immune system to the toxins and results in leaky gut. 

When the partially digested food particles begin to ‘leak’ across the damaged barrier, your immune system begins to attack these particles. This is when the food intolerance or IgG allergic reaction occurs.

How can Naturopathy help reduce allergic reactions?

Here are 6 ways a Naturopath can help reduce the ‘flames’ and allergic raections:

  1. Eating an anti-inflammatory, low allergy diet will go a long way to improve the situation. Reduce refined, processed carbohydrates and starchy sugars (found in white potatoes, flour etc). Also avoid refined vegetable oils or ‘trans fats’. These are highly toxic. Many of these are found in refined processed foods.
  2. Eliminate food allergens & sensitivities in the short term and boost immunity, with a personalised detox. This will enable the gut to heal and toxins to be cleared out, to help reduce reactivity and strengthen the gut mucosa. 
  3. Some foods irritate the immune system more than others. These include gluten (wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt, kamut), dairy (milk, cheese, butter, yoghurt), eggs, soy, corn, some nuts, nightshades (tomatoes, capsicums, eggplant, potatoes), citrus and yeast. Some of these can cause acute reactions and need to be taken seriously.
  4. Exercise regularly as this helps reduce inflammation. Begin with a low impact regime such as yoga & Pilates, and progress to higher impact exercise and weight training as inflammatory load reduces.

Reflux Relief for People in a Hurry

GERD

Many people suffer from a condition called GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) and are often prescribed medication for high stomach acidity. But is this treating the real cause and is it the best treatment?

Stomach pH

It is a well-documented fact that as we age we produce less hydrochloric acid in our stomach. This acid environment is the natural environment for our stomach so that proteins and other nutrients can be largely digested before passing into the small intestine. If we make less of it as we age, why are so many elderly people being increasingly prescribed more medications to lower stomach acid levels, when they are already low? Reflux medications are one of the highest selling medications to the elderly.

An interesting point to note is that these medications can temporarily mask some symptoms (of low stomach acidity), but once the medication is stopped, the symptoms often return and can be a lot worse than before. 

Causes of reflux

When reflux occurs, a burning sensation or bitter, acid taste can be felt in the throat and mouth. This is largely as a result of a faulty esophageal sphincter valve, which is no longer separating the stomach from the esophagus effectively, thus allowing acid to move upwards. Whether stomach acid levels are normal or low, this will still occur if the valve is faulty. 

Reasons for faulty valves

The main reason for malfunction of this sphincter valve is intra-abdominal pressure. This can occur due to:

  • overeating
  • being overweight
  • consuming too many refined, processed carbohydrates
  • bending over or lying down too soon after a meal
  • eating too many spicy, fatty foods
  • a bacterial overgrowth

How to treat reflux

  1. Reducing intra-abdominal pressure will help improve the integrity of the sphincter valve.
  2. Reducing intake of refined, processed carbohydrates
  3. Avoiding overeating 
  4. Losing weight
  5. Avoiding lying down after meals. 
  6. Avoiding spicy, fatty foods.
  7. Providing enzymes & digestives to promote better digestion if stomach acid levels are low.
  8. Being treated for bacterial overgrowth with herbs that knock out the pathogens.

Food for thought.

Should I Be Taking Probiotics?

The answer lies in paying attention to your body. If you have any of the following 7 signs, I suggest you take a therapeutic probiotic (high strength) to improve the balance of your gut bacteria:

If …

  1. You have taken antibiotics in the last 6-12 months – you may have an imbalance of good to bad gut bacteria. 
  2. You can’t seem to lose weight, especially belly fat, no matter what – stubborn belly fat is a hallmark sign of Insulin Resistance.
  3. You have digestive issues – bloating, cramping, excess wind, or occasional constipation or diarrhoea, means there is a good chance you have an imbalance.
  4. Your skin is itchy or broken out – probiotics aid in the normal elimination of toxins via your gut. Since skin is an elimination organ, this may suggest you have a bacterial imbalance in the gut.
  5. You crave sugar, refined or processed foods – emerging evidence suggests that “bad” gut bacteria feed off sugar and unhealthy trans fats. By boosting more good gut bacteria,  the bad will be kept in check.
  6. You feel moody or blue – probiotics can alter brain function. Our greatest concentration of seratonin (our good mood hormone) is found in our intestines, not our brain.
  7. You are feeling tired during the day and are not sleeping soundly at night – Melatonin (our sleep hormone) is found in the gut in abundance, like seratonin. We need a balance of good to bad gut bacteria for ideal health.

Do You Have the Guts?

Our gastrointestinal tract (GIT) or gut is essentially a complex ‘tube’ that runs from our mouth right through the body to the colon. It is responsible for a multitude of functions: digestion, hydration, maintaining immunity, nutrient absorption and eliminating toxins. If it is not functioning properly, not only can you experience a host of uncomfortable symptoms, like bloat, wind & constipation, but also it can compromise your mood, hormonal balance, energy and immunity.

Here are 3 Hot Tips for Restoring Great Gut Health:

  1. Refocus on food – increase your intake of bitter foods (lemons, limes, apple cider vinegar) to stimulate the secretion of digestive juices and ensure proper breakdown & absorption of food. Include pre-biotic foods such as bananas, leeks, garlic, onions & wholegrains – these all support the growth of good gut bacteria. Fresh garlic is a powerful antibacterial and antiseptic that can ward off unwanted pathogens.
  2. Go GREEN! – Include a daily handful or two of your favourite greens eg. spinach, watercress, kale, rocket etc. These all contain chlorophyll which alkalise the blood (reduce acidity & inflammation). Slippery elm powder, a natural fibre with no additives, can be added to your daily smoothie, to boost fibre and soothe & heal the digestive tract. 
  3. Add fermented foods – by including fermented foods daily, such as yogurt, miso, kimchi, sauerkraut and kefir, you will be increasing your supply of probiotics to boost your good gut bacteria.