Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Could it be Food Allergy?

Eating food that you are ALLERGIC to can have some very serious consequences that may require hospitalization, the numbers of people afflicted with this condition is around 8% according to estimates.

Food intolerance is much more common and the signs and symptoms are varied in degree and reaction. It has been estimated that up to 75% of the population has some type of food intolerance.

Some common signs of food intolerance are; sneezing, wheezing, skin reactions and rashes, digestive disturbance; including gas, bloat, constipation and/or diarrhoea/cramp/IBS. Fatigue is frequent and there can be headache, vertigo and mouth ulcers.

A long list really, and many of those symptoms could be confused with a number of other health problems. It is important to discover if it is a troublesome food or number of different food, as it is perhaps the easiest of all health problems to control. Simply avoid the offending foods and the majority of the symptoms go away.

That sounds pretty simple, but to discover if it is in fact a food intolerance or not can be a little more complicated. The traditional method has been to do an elimination diet, which involves eating a very restricted diet until the symptoms subside then gradually introduce or challenge food groups in a controlled way. This is best done under the supervision of a qualified health professional.

Restricting dietary intake has it’s own draw backs, the calories for energy could be limited, nutrient to maintain a healthy functioning immune system may also be challenged. This can be aided a little by taking suitable supplements and herbals to support the person while doing the elimination diet. I can set you up with an elimination diet, email for details.

Personally I am not totally in favour of the elimination diet, for a number of reasons. Primarily, the person suffering from a host of the signs suggested above is already suffering from a compromised immune system and to remove more nutrients from their system would add to the stress on their immune system. Plus there are much quicker, ways to find out accurately exactly which foods pose a problem and how much of a problem that is, granted it cost more.

The immune system is perhaps the key factor when it comes to food intolerance. I explain it to my clients like this: Your immune system is like an army whose primary brief is to ward off invaders; it usually does a very good job of this, save the odd cold. If there is a lot of stress on the body, the immune system become over reactive, as it fatigues it begins to fire on anything that slightly resembles an invader. It is designed to remember ‘invaders’ for future reference, so once it takes begins to react to what is a normal food, it remembers this food as an invader in the future. Thus we have the reactions that show up as the signs and symptoms of food intolerance.
Stresses can come from the physical world, such as pollutions, environmental toxins (let’s face there is no shortage of those these days!) Household chemicals, food additives and colours, or even some medications. The stress could be from a lack; a lack of specific nutrients required to maintain a healthy immune system. Or it could be emotional stress, major life drama can have a massive effect on your health, please refer to a previous article “When Stress Affects Your Health” http://naturalwell-being.blogspot.com.au/2009/03/when-stress-affects-your-health.html

With careful questioning and iridology, sometimes prime suspect foods can be isolated and it may be just a matter of removing that food group for a period then challenging it at a later date. At the same time I find it very important to address specific areas to support individual’s wellness while this process is happening. Every person is unique and as a holistic health care professional it would be against everything I have been taught and believe in, I treat the whole person, not simply a sign or symptom.

For those whose indicators are not so clear and as a trained professional I cannot take an educated guess as to a particular food group, and for those who really want to know for sure exactly which foods could possibly be causing a host of distressing signs and symptoms, I prefer to use a food intolerance test.

The food intolerance test is a simple procedure; a kit is posted to the client with instructions for collection. The sample (a drop of blood) is sent via post to our fully accredited libratory for processing and the results returned within 10 days. Visit www.thehealtnut.com.au for more information.

Kathy Edwards, Naturopath, Wellness Business Coach; Specializing in Women’s Health, Hormone Balance, Stress, Food Intolerance and Anti-Aging