It could be fair to say that allergies to natural things is one of Nature’s cruel jokes. Consider a friend of mine whose dog is allergic to her own dog hair! This same dog also suffers from hay fever!
If you, or someone you love, have food allergies, then here are 7 things you simply must know about your food allergies. It may not help you overcome the food allergies, but it will help you understand them.
1. An allergy is about your immune system over-reacting to the presence of a specific substance that has entered your body (by eating, breathing, skin pores,…) that it sees as an invader. Normally, your immune system does a great job of identifying and destroying substances that don’t normal belonging to your body. But in the case of an allergy, you could say that it just ‘loses it’! I remember one time, I washed my hair with a cheap shampoo I had just bought. After the shower, I noticed that my head was getting warm going on hot. My mother, who was there at the time, alerted me to the fact that I was having an allergic reaction to the shampoo and told me to have another shower to wash off the cheap shampoo I had used. I did and it brought relief to my head.
Clearly, my skin was reacting to a substance in the cheap shampoo I had bought.
2. Normally, when your immune system sees a substance as an invader, it will produce a particular anti-body and histamine to try and destroy it before it damages your body. However, when it over-reacts, it produces way too much of it which leads to your body reacting to its own defense system. Allergy symptoms then are the effect these two chemicals have on various parts of your body such as your respiratory system. This is why, for a person suffering from hay fever, anti-histamine drugs are prescribed.
3. The two most common ways of testing for an allergy are skin tests and blood tests. Personally, I have been tested for food allergies using kinesiology. I particularly like that method as it is non-invasive and does not put my skin at risk.
4. Do not confuse a food allergy with a food intolerance. They are not the same! A food allergy triggers a response from your immune system, whereas a food intolerance does not. A common food intolerance is lactose intolerance. A person suffering from lactose intolerance will ‘upset’ their digestive system by drinking milk, for example, but it will not provoke the immune system into action.
5. There are eight primary foods that are the causes of most food allergies: milk, peanuts, fish, soy, wheat, tree nuts and shellfish.
6. In general, if a person has a food allergy, then it will be to only one or two of these primary foods.
7. Being allergic to one type of food can lead to being allergic to other foods that are similar in nature. For example, if you are allergic to wheat, then you may also be allergic to rye. As you can see, a food allergy is really about your immune system, designed to protect you from foreign substances, overreacting to the presence of certain substances that it sees as a threat and tries to over-kill it.
The good news for children is that sometimes they grow out of their food allergies, no doubt because the immune system learns to see the ‘allergic foods’ as not being a such a big threat.