Spring fever: Achoo!

For some, spring doesn’t only signal blossoms and the birth of new life, but the start of debilitating allergies. Barbara Reale looks at the causes of allergies and what we can do to prevent them.

Allergies can be caused by a great variety of substances and materials. Cat hair, hay dust, strawberries, pollens, chemicals carried by food, air, and detergents are just some of the many causes. Most allergies—determinable by skin tests—are classed as ‘secondary allergies’, which appear due to underlying basic allergies and a seriously disturbed intestine. Considering that 80 percent of the immune system is concentrated in the intestines, this isn’t surprising.

Avoiding allergens that cause secondary allergies only gives temporary relief—for instance embarking on a through spring-clean of the house for a presumed dust allergy— as the basic allergens are usually found in the components of diet. It makes more sense to eliminate the basic allergens in the foods we eat.

What allergies are

Often food allergy and food sensitivity are confused. A food allergy is an anaphylactic immune response which is usually severe, life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Unlike this classic allergy, the symptoms of food sensitivity are delayed and may show up from a few hours to three days after eating the offending food. This makes it very difficult to associate the symptoms with the food that causes them. Many people with food allergies are unaware of which food is causing their symptoms. Reactions such as bloating, swelling in the hands, feet, ankles, abdomen, chin, and around the eyes come several hours after ingesting the foodstuff. Much of the associated weight gain is fluid retention caused by inflammation and the release of certain hormones.

In addition, there is fermentation of foods, particularly carbohydrates, in the intestines which can result in a swollen distended belly and gas production. Candida is a particularly current theme brought into close association with allergies. It is the most common type of ailment occurring in people dependent on a western type of diet.

Food poisoning and prevention

“One man’s medicine is another man’s poison.” (Latin proverb)

Some common foods and additives most associated with allergies are artificial flavourings and colorants, caffeine, chocolate, citrus fruits, chicken, corn, dairy products, eggs, gluten, genetically modified products, peanuts, pork, yeast, shellfish, sugar, and wheat,.

A growing body of scientific literature points to hidden food allergies and food intolerances as a cause of many medical conditions including not only sensitivity symptoms but also more serious illnesses.

Symptoms of food sensitivity can include headache, otitis media, indigestion or heartburn, heart palpitations, fatigue, depression, joint pain, sores, chronic respiratory symptoms such as wheezing, sinus congestion or bronchitis, and diarrhoea or constipation.

Illnesses of food sensitivity can include arthritis, asthma and other respiratory problems, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), chronic fatigue syndrome, eczema and other skin disorders, fibromyalgia, infertility, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), migraine headaches, multiple sclerosis, obesity, osteoarthritis, post-viral fatigue syndrome (PVFS), rheumatoid arthritis, thyroiditis, weight gain and weight loss.

Many natural remedies address the problem of hyperacidity (usually diet-based) which affects the organism’s entire regulatory ability. One of the most important steps in allergy therapy is generating a de-acidification of the organism with a personalised diet plan and the use of digestive enzymes.

Several new studies published in major medical journals over the last three years are giving further scientific support for the use of probiotics and digestive enzymes to lesson food sensitivity symptoms. (Erik L. Goldman, Editor in Chief, Holistic Primary Care, Fall 2005)

So what makes a natural substance like food can be dangerous for your health? In short, many foods on the market today are far from healthy. For example, processed foods and genetically modified foods contain bleaching agents, anti-mould agents, and preservatives, all of which alert the immune system to a poison or toxin being present in the body. This causes the body to limit digestion of the food which also limits digestion of the nutrients needed for good health, as well as react to the poison, which gives symptoms of sensitivity, allergy or physical illness.

Natural remedies

Eliminating certain foods from the diet can show improvement of symptoms. Active involvement and commitment to a treatment plan is important in managing the problem successfully. It can also save time and money involved in allergies tests and misdiagnosis.

If you suspect that you have a food sensitivity or allergy, it is important to seek support. To completely avoid a food common in your diet, such as wheat, you need to learn a lot about it in order to understand the full benefits of eliminating it. Your fear of getting ill through eating the ‘wrong’ foodstuff can make you feel isolated. But you are not alone. Many other people suffer from allergies to these same foods. As time goes by, coping becomes easier.

Is cows’ milk good for you?

Children are often victims of colds and respiratory diseases because their immune system is sensitive to milk and dairy products. People who have been taught that cow’s milk is the “perfect food” may be shocked to hear many prominent medical doctors are now saying that dairy consumption is a contributing factor in nearly two dozen of diseases in both children and adults. One such expert is Frank Oski, M.D., author of ‘Don’t Drink Your Milk!’, who is currently Director of the Department of Paediatrics of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Physician-in-Chief of the Johns Hopkins Children’s Centre. Oski writes: “Drinking cow’s milk may weaken immune function in children and expose them to recurring infections or developing of juvenile diabetes.”

There seems to be sufficient scientific evidence for us to assume that, through cutting down on dairy products we can reduce the duration of a cold.

Allergy-free diets: making the change

Foods included in an allergy-free diet must be carefully selected on an individual basis so that all problematic foods are eliminated. An allergy-free diet emphasises the consumption of a wide range of so-called hypoallergenic foods. These foods include lamb, pears, apples, rice, most vegetables, most beans and legumes (excluding peanuts) and the non-gluten grains including millet, quinoa, and amaranth. For those who are sensitive to sugar, typically the only natural sweeteners allowed are maple syrup or agave syrup. Acceptable beverages include rice milk, pear nectar, chamomile tea, and sparkling water without added sweeteners.

Some people are even sensitive to hypoallergenic foods because of lectin reactions to food. Lectins are the abundant and diverse protein founding foods which have agglutinating properties that affect your blood. When you eat a food containing protein lectins that are incompatible with your blood type antigen, the lectins target an organ or bodily system and begin to agglutinate blood cells in that area. Ninety-five percent of the lectins you absorb from a typical diet are sloughed off by the body but at least five percent of the lectins you consume are filtered into the bloodstream and have different reactions on different organs.

Your blood type diet is an indication of your natural genetic rhythm. A diet designed for your specific blood type is based on your cellular profile. Each food group is divided into three categories: category one–highly beneficial where the food acts like medicine, category two — allowable which are foods that do no harm and category three –not allowable which are foods that act like poison.

The best strategy for improving your health is to look carefully at the diet you are using, finding out what types of food promote good health and which work against your individual system. The next step involves learning how to cook these foods in interesting ways to enable you to make the long-term necessary changes to your diet without reverting to preferred and familiar ways of eating

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