When we think of allergies most often we think of sneezing, itchy eyes and rashes or of anaphylactic allergies like those commonly found with peanuts. But there is much more to it than that! Food allergies have been cited to be the underlying cause for many disorders including asthma, excema and most recently mental illnesses including depression, anxiety, panic disorder, ADD/ ADHD and even schizophrenia.
These allergies are definitely not the type that appears in the first few minutes after ingesting a food, in fact they may take up to 42 hours to show an effect. They are also dose dependent and have a greater effect the greater the amount is consumed. These slower onset, dose dependent allergies are classified as IgG mediated allergies. The symptoms that they can cause can be extremely wide ranging and can include: bloating, abdominal pain, insomnia, mood disorders, dark circles under the eyes, fatigue, inability to concentrate or mental fogginess, heartburn, IBS- like symptoms and addictive overeating.
There are several reasons why a food can exert this kind of effect on the body. Firstly, several foods can cause the release of opioid-like hormones from the gut lining, and like an opiate drug, they have similar effects including pleasure and sedation, followed by agitation, withdrawal symptoms and subsequent irresistible cravings for more of the substance. In some patients, this craving can cause extreme binging or overeating of the food in question. This is why more often than not, the foods we are most allergic to are the foods we crave most often. Second, often the foods in question cause a stress response in the body. This causes a myriad of effects including cortisol release, which makes for blood sugar abnormalities and fat storage. Cortisol can also affect the thyroid and metabolism as well as the reproductive hormones including progesterone, estrogen and testosterone. It’s no wonder that so many people suffer from metabolism problems and reproductive difficulties.
Often there is also a gut dysbiosis problem in these patients. This may be caused by insufficient breast feeding, overuse of antibiotics, alcohol/ sugar overconsumption or plain old stress. By treating these problems through gut healing and avoidance of their specific food allergens many people can reduce or eliminate their symptoms.
For more information on testing for your food allergies, book an appointment with Dr. Katie today!
Frances Wang, ND
A naturopathic doctor and a mother who loves life, the outdoors and exercise.