What The Big Deal About Allergies And Food Intolerances?
There are lots of people with psoriasis who have asked me about about their food allergies and intolerance, and a lot of people kind of get confused and think that all food reactions are allergies, when in fact, many reactions are intolerances to foods and NOT food allergies. So how do you distinguish between them both? How do you know if you are actually allergic to something, or can’t tolerate a food?
Article of interest: What is psoriasis?
It is important to understand and learn as much as you can about allergies and intolerances, because if you do have an underlying problem here and get tested, you may be pleasantly surprised to see a big reduction in our psoriasis flare-ups, all because you worked out one of your biggest potential triggers – the dietary triggers.
Food Allergies And Psoriasis
A true food allergy is not as common as you may actually think. Food intolerances are much more common in my experience. A food allergy is immune mediated, and involves a reaction to a food or drink which involves the immune system. A food intolerance on the other hand does not involve an immune response (an allergy) but is the result of your body having become intolerant to a food or something in that food or drink. In my experience, food intolerances are typically created over time and are typically the result of dietary indiscretions, stress and several other factors. A lack of sufficient digestive enzymes is one of the key reasons, and so is leaky gut syndrome which has become so very commonplace in today’s society. Modern medicine would like to think that functional complaints such as leaky gut simply “do not exist”. How convenient.
Immediate Food Allergies – Type 1 or IgE Response
Food allergies are either immediate (IgE) or delayed IgG). In the case of an immediate reaction, it will be quite noticeable and could take place within minutes to a few hours after ingestion of the offending substance. The best known and most studied form of food allergies is called a Type 1 immune reaction, or IgE mediated response. Type 1 food allergies occur in less than 5 percent of the population, and mostly in children, They are also called immediate-onset, and/or atopic food allergies. These types of allergies usually occur in the genetically predisposed individual (one or both parents have an allergy), and the immune system begins to create a specific type of antibody called IgE (immunoglobulin IgE) to certain foods.
An IgG food allergy can be quite tricky to uncover, as it can take up to three days for the allergy to be expressed in a person, causing confusion and doubt as to which (if any) food is responsible.
An IgE reaction almost always occurs immediately after exposure to the “allergen” (the allergic substance) such as a food or inhalant. The early phase reaction usually occurs as little as 15 minutes after exposure to the allergen. Other types of IgE reactions may occur 4-6 hours later and persist for days with increased inflammation including symptoms such as swelling, puffiness, redness and itching. I have often heard patients tell me that they will eat a certain food, or perhaps be exposed to a certain inhaled allergen like pollen and literally within hours have a reaction ranging from itchy skin to feeling just about completely disabled! I will never forget these two stand-out cases of and IgE response:
Psoriasis Case Histories
Case # 1 – A 36 year old psoriasis patient with a strong milk allergy.
Sarah was brought to my clinic with a pretty bad dairy food allergy, and particularly to cow’s milk. In fact, this allergy was so extreme that her daughter started to notice that when ever her mother walked past the large refrigerators which house the milk at the local supermarket, her skin would start to itch violently and by the time Sarah got home her skin was covered in large red welts. Sarah has been suffering with psoriasis since a teenager just like her mother did, and a Food Allergy IgE/IgG Blood Test revealed that not only dairy products were dietary triggers for her psoriasis, but so were bananas, peanuts, oranges, and all dairy, including cheese. Sarah has noticed an amazing reduction in her psoriasis since eliminating these trigger foods from her diet.
Case # 2 – A 63 year old psoriasis patient with a strong fish allergy.
Graham came to our clinic with digestive problems as well as psoriatic plaques around his legs and upper back, and he mentioned that he has to be very careful when out and about. He noticed one day that after he walked past a take-out store where they prepare deep-fried fish and chips that his throat got rather”scratchy. Over time, this got increasingly worse to the point that his wife had to dial emergency because Graham had breathing difficulties when they went shopping and he stayed for too long close to where the fresh fish was being sold. He was lucky, because on this occasion he suffered a strong anaphylactic attack and almost choked to death. After having completed a Food Allergy IgE/IgG Blood Test, the results revealed multiple allergies, including eggs, tomatoes, dairy products as well as the very strong response to fish. Graham’s psoriasis is hardly noticeable now that he follows the new diet.
Food Allergies – The Immediate Response
So what happens with these immediate responses? One side of the IgE antibody will recognise and firmly bind to the allergic food (like fish or milk). The other side of the antibody is attached to a specialised immune cell called a mast cell, packed with histamine. Ready and waiting for action, the IgE antibody now only has to patiently wait for re-exposure to food allergens. When you eat the allergic food is eaten the next time, IgE antibodies hungrily latch onto the food. Almost instantly, histamine and other allergy-related chemicals (called chemical mediators) are released from the mast cell, bringing on various signs and symptoms rapidly – like redness, pain, swelling and even choking as the airways become more constricted. Since this pathway occurs immediately, it is very easy to recognise a Type 1 allergy as a problem after an exposure to the irritant. This is the immunological pathway behind seasonal allergies such as hay fever. The most common test for this type of reaction is the “scratch” or “Rast” test which is performed by doctors or specialists. This involves scratching the skin and applying a test substance and then waiting for a “wheal and flare response”, often a skin reaction.
The problem I find here is that this test is not always a reliable indication of an allergy, with many patients showing a “false negative” test and at times even an exaggerated positive response. The test substance may be too old to invoke a reaction or the test substance may not specific enough to the particular person and therefore does not invoke the reaction. There are simply too many reasons why this test can fail, and it does, so don’t rely on it to be “100% positive”. here are NO guarantees in this life, certainly not in immune testing so don’t rely on testing. As usual, don’t get paralysis from analysis.
Type 1 food allergy responses include:
- anaphylaxis, the most alarming response (can’t breathe, fast heart rate, panic)
- stomach cramping
- skin rashes
However, some don’t have any idea that they have it. A food allergy is the result of the body’s basic reaction upon introducing the types of food that are difficult or cannot be digested by the system. Once these types of food are digested and penetrate into the bloodstream, some of the food nutrients or other food components are rejected by the body. The tendency of the antibodies and other related elements are to fight back. Thereafter, allergy symptoms become apparent. Common symptoms of food allergy include swollen hands, itchy and swollen eyes, burning sensations of the lungs due to thinning of the tissue lining, and closing of the larynx or throat.
Dealing with food allergies whether the condition is mild, moderate, or severe, must be something you learn over a period of time. It includes learning your actual causes of allergic reactions you experience, and then developing your own best options for preventing and fighting food allergies. You will find that as time goes by, you tend to develop your own skills and will eventually integrate ways into your lifestyle is to avoid your food allergies. Many patients I see have come to learn to adapt, whereas others get caught out regularly and just don’t seem to get the point of avoidance.
A good browse through many pages of our website will explain the various types of potentially allergic foods eaten by people, and I also try to provide you with detailed information on how to deal with major allergens such as eggs, dairy, gluten or wheat, corn, peanuts, shellfish, fish, and more.
Conventional Medicine Does Not See The Allergy/Illness Connection
It is amazing how many chronic illnesses like psoriasis are actually linked to food allergies, many conventional physicians don’t really focus in their clinical practices on how food allergies are interrelated with chronic illnesses such as psoriasis, arthritis, asthma, diabetes, and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). It is a known fact now that changes in behavior and a person’s emotion can occur due to allergic food reactions, and that different types of food can directly affects the health of the baby when breastfeeding. questions that must be asked to an allergist, using processed types of food, how to distinguish food sensitivity, food intolerance, and food allergy, how immunological process is connected to food hypersensitivity, and how to maintain eating healthy types of food through non-allergic substitutes.
With a little experience, it is quite easy to learn to cook and bake healthier types of food which don’t present a problem to your immune system, yet still retaining the flavor, texture, and richness of the yummy foods you’d expect to enjoy eating. A low-allergy diet does not have to be boring, bland and tasteless just because you have food allergy.
If you are one among the many people with psoriasis who may be unknowingly suffering from a food allergy, you should consider seriously browsing our website. Knowledge, clinical practice, and the many and varied recipes and natural medicines are all available through this unique website. By empowering you with the right information, great recipes and recommending you dietary supplements which are truly hypo-allergenic (low in allergic potential), we hope that you can deal with any food allergy with a more positive and affirming outlook. The result? A reduction in your psoriasis ranging from mild to an almost complete disappearance of those annoying skin lesions.