Food Intolerances And Allergies – Is It Just In Your Head?

Food intolerance has become a major health issue today, dividing conventional and alternative medicine.

1. Are we a bunch of hypochondriacs?

“An astonishing 45% of us believe we are allergic to basic foodstuffs such as wheat and dairy – causing anything from headaches to bloating and insomnia.” (1)

So how do we get to a stage of leaky gut?

It is believed that through one of the most common digestive problems the irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) arise.

It is believed by many health practitioners Leaky gut is associated with one of the most common digestive problems; irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

2. Definitions

Food allergy – Is a genetic condition that affects about 2% of the population. The reaction to the food can range from a rash to something very severe including anaphylactic shock. The RAST test confirms this by detecting the antibody (like IgE). Common foods associated with a genetic inherited allergy are: cows milk, soy, tree nuts, eggs, strawberries, bananas, chocolate, wheat, peanuts, fish, shell fish, beans and oranges.

Those with a true food allergy if ever exposed to that food more than once will know about it. (2)

Food intolerance/sensitivity – Involves any adverse reaction to foods, but whereby the immune system’s roll is uncertain because the standard tests appear negative. There are other tests including the ones outlined in the Daily Mail but the validity of many is questionable. (2)

So where does this leave the 45% who experience real problems like abdominal bloating, gas, diarrhoea after eating a particular food? Furthermore, according to the Allergy Clinic scientific studies have suggested that intolerance may trigger or worsen the symptoms of a range of common conditions including asthma, joint and muscle pains, headaches, migraines, sinusitis, hyperactivity, ADHD, chronic fatigue, and Crohn’s Disease. (3)

Possible sources of food intolerance

There is a strong suggestion that the increased permeability of the gut wall, known as leaky gut syndrome (LGS), is behind food intolerance. The basic premise behind LGS is that large molecules pass through the weak (leaky) gut wall and enter into the bloodstream. This results in calling to arms the body’s defensive mechanisms like white blood cells that produce antibodies to destroy the invaders.

So how do we get to a stage of leaky gut?

It is believed that through one of the most common digestive problems the irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) arise.

According to Dr. Dan Rutherford, GP, IBS is the commonest condition seen by doctors and some estimates suggest that as many as one in five of the adult population in the UK suffer from it at any one time. (4)

So what is the source of IBS?

Experts give a range of probable causes including:

o Poor diet (including eating foods our bodies are not accustomed to)

o Toxins

o Lack of stomach acid or digestive enzymes

o Drugs (antibiotics, cortisone)

o Dysbiosis (leading to a bad bug overgrowth, e.g. Candida)

o Stress

o Inadequate chewing

As you can see this is a controversial topic because of the lack of hard evidence.

The Daily Mail (Tuesday, March 7th, 2006) contained an article called “The Allergy Fraud” from the reporter Charlotte Dovey. After receiving a RAST test (a blood test indicating an allergy) from a Harley Street doctor she was told she suffered from no food allergies. Then Ms Dovey compared the RAST result with other various methods of allergy detection from alternate medicine practitioners. Or as the reporter put it: entered the “wacky world of food intolerance testing”.

Now Ms Dovey, who was told by various alternate practitioners that she was intolerant to a range of foods like wheat, dairy and citrus (when the RAST test showed no allergies) concludes: “if I took this advice, my diet could be dangerous. Basics such as wheat, gluten, sugar and lactose are staples”. (However this I believe is an incorrect statement as I have personally seen amazing transformations from people giving up two commonly considered intolerances; wheat and dairy.)

What is interesting to note is the health columnist for the Daily Mail is Dr. John Briffa, author of Bodywise. Dr. Briffa is widely regarded as one of Britain’s foremost experts in the field of natural health. His book is an excellent source on the various causes of excess weight including food intolerance.

Dr. John Briffa has come up with a 10 question test as a guide to whether food intolerance may be a problem for you.

The following questionnaire is designed to help you ascertain whether food sensitivity is a problem for you. Score each question as indicated, and then add up your total score.

1. Do you feel lethargic soon after eating?

No 0 points

Occasional or mild problems 2 points

Frequent or severe problems

4 points

2. Do you often feel better if you don’t eat?

No 0 points

Marginally better 2 points

Much better

4 points

3. Did you have problems such as colic, glue ear, ear infections,

eczema, asthma or recurrent tonsillitis as a child?

No 0 points

Yes, occasional problems 3 points

Yes, frequent and/or severe problems

5 points

4. Do you have recurrent, unexplained symptons?

No 0 points

Occasional or mild problems 2 points

Frequent or severe problems 4 points

5. Do you suffer from excess mucus or catarrh formation in the

throat, nose or sinuses?

No 0 points

Occasional or mild problems 2 points

Frequent or severe problems

4 points

6. Do you feel particularly drawn to certain foods such as bread

or cheese?

No 0 points

Occasionally 2 points

Frequently

4 points

7. Do you have dark circles under your eyes?

No 0 points

Yes 2 points

Frequent or severe problems

4 points

8. Do you suffer from fluid retention? (Tight rings, puffy face or

ankles and a weight which fluctuates by two or more pounds

from day to day are classic signs.)

No 0 points

Occasional or mild problems 2 points

Frequent or severe problems

4 points

9. Do you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome?

No 0 points

Occasional or mild problems 1 points

Frequent or severe problems

2 points

10. Do you suffer from eczema, hives (urticaria) or undiagnosed

rash?

No 0 points

Occasional or mild problems 2 points

Frequent or severe problems

4 points

Interpreting your score

0-9:food sensitivity is unlikely10-20:food sensitivity should be considered as a possibility and testing is recommended21 and above:food sensitivity is very likely and testing is highly recommendedSo what are the options if you have food sensitivity?

Apart from the various tests conducted by allergy clinics a food elimination diet is one of the most common methods practitioners use.

Your 3d Coach

Craig Burton

References

1. The Allergy Fraud, Charlotte Dovey, Daily Mail, March 7th, 2006

2. Nutrition and lifestyle coach manual, Level 2, Chek Institute, 2002

3. http://www.allergyclinic.co.uk

4. http://www.netdoctor.co.uk

5. Bodywise, Dr. John Briffa, CIMA books, 2000