How do food allergies form?
Summit Daily News
A few people working their way through life with food allergies, along with some supporting partners, gathered in the lobby of the Mountain River Naturopathic Clinic in Frisco Wednesday to hear Dr. Justin Pollack speak on the subject.
Pollack is a naturopathic doctor with expertise in allergies, liver problems, digestive issues and immunology, among other things.
One man attended because, after finding out he has numerous food allergies years ago, he is starting to have problems again. His wife was interested in learning more about allergies in general and eating as naturally as possible. Another woman was diagnosed with Celiac disease as a baby, but still doesn’t feel well as an adult. One woman thinks she has a sensitivity but isn’t sure; a doctor advised her 33 years ago to stay away from flour and sugar when her arthritis flares up.
Pollack said food aversions come in a few different forms. An intolerance is something that isn’t being digested well, like lactose. Pollack said since lactase enzymes, which break down lactose, start to decline after infancy, lactose intolerance is fairly common. And a person’s lineage seems to matter: Pollack said studies have shown people of European descent do better with it, while Asians or African-Americans seem to have a higher chance of being lactose intolerant.
Food sensitivities are a negative reaction to something eaten, although they won’t necessarily show up on a test.
“You could be sensitive to gasoline fumes and get lightheaded, or sensitive to soy and get stuffy,” Pollack said.
Food allergies produce antibodies in reaction to the food, which is what most medical doctors test for.
“There’s so many different theories as to why we’re seeing more allergies,” Pollack said. Some professionals think people are too hygienic now, so the immune system starts going after everyday antigens instead of parasites, he said.
“I’m more inclined to think when the immune system is stressed, it might overreact to something – kind of like if we’re hungry or tired, we snap at little things” he said.
Another rationale Pollack subscribes to is the leaky gut theory, which says that as inflammation causes damage to the intestinal lining, whole food particles like gluten can slip into the blood stream. Not recognizing the new material, an immune over-reaction is triggered and an allergy is formed.
Another premise is the amount of chemicals or toxins in the environment, which the body may not know how to respond to. Pollack said some doctors think peanut mold, or pesticides sprayed onto the legume, are triggering an increase in peanut allergies.
Many signs of inflammation – even asthma or frequent ear infections – may actually be a sign of an underlying food allergy, Pollack said. Common symptoms include mucus congestion, eczema, brain fog and digestive disorders, although signs vary.
While Pollack offers a few different allergy tests at his clinic, he says an elimination diet is one of his favorites. Patients remove common allergens from their routines – like wheat, dairy, soy, eggs and peanuts – for a few weeks before slowly reintroducing each item and recording any symptoms. Another favorite is a bioenergetic testing method called BioSET, which tests energy responses along different points of the hand. Pollack called the process cutting-edge, and said it can pick up both allergies and sensitivities with ease.
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