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Healing Food Sensitivities : Addressing the Cause
By: Jennifer Chen, BSc, ND, LAc
Beach Metro Community News, May 2006

Food allergies and/or intolerances can be the cause of many symptoms/conditions that individuals suffer from every day. However, due to the fact that reactions to foods can present as a multitude of different symptoms (including: digestive problems, sinus congestion, headaches, joint/muscle pain, fatigue, and even depression), it is often overlooked as a potential cause for a person’s ailments.

How can food allergies be diagnosed/detected?
There are several ways in which an individual’s food allergies can be determined. However, the most accurate test is an ELISA blood test which measures a person’s immune system reaction to various foods. This test measures both immediate and delayed reactions to foods which is very important, since most food sensitivities are delayed reactions which are not easily detected by simply recording a person’s symptoms after eating.

Can food allergies be treated?
The common procedure to address food sensitivities is to determine what the culprit foods are and then to avoid them. However, the foods that a person is reactive to are only the triggers of their symptoms and not the actual cause. The cause is an inability of their body to respond normally to the offending food(s). This imbalance can be due to a compromised digestive system, an imbalanced immune system, an overgrowth of infectious agents or an overload of toxins. Although all these factors are inter-related, if the digestive system is not primarily treated, the individual will not recover from their food sensitivities.

What role does the digestive system play?
A healthy intestinal lining allows nutrients to enter into the body, while preventing toxins within the digestive system from being absorbed into the bloodstream. When the digestive lining becomes inflamed, these functions become compromised. As the lining becomes hyperpermeable (a condition known as “leaky gut syndrome”), toxins and undigested food particles are allowed to be absorbed into the bloodstream and subsequently can cause allergic reactions and inflammation elsewhere in the body.

Decreasing inflammation and healing the intestinal lining
In order to effectively eliminate food allergies and intolerances, we must heal and maintain the integrity of the intestinal lining. The first step is to address any factors that contribute to inflammation and injury of the digestive lining. This includes: avoiding allergenic foods (until the digestive tract is healed), avoiding certain medications when appropriate (especially antibiotics), eliminating infectious agents (such as an overgrowth of yeast or parasites), replenishing the friendly bacteria, and improving overall digestive function.

Various nutrients have been shown to be effective in decreasing inflammation in the digestive tract and in repairing the intestinal lining. Glutamine, an amino acid, is the main fuel for the small intestine cells and has been shown to help heal the digestive lining. Bioflavonoids, such as Quercetin, inhibit the release of inflammatory chemicals and reduce irritability of the intestinal muscles. Quercetin has also been shown to decrease the intestinal damage caused by the ingestion of food allergens.

Omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in fish oils, also possess strong anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties.

Improving the digestive process
Probiotics, such as L. acidophilus, produce lactic acid, which aids in digestion and also creates an unfavourable environment for the growth of harmful microorganisms in the digestive tract. This helps to maintain a healthy intestinal tract and to decrease allergic reactions to food.

Digestive enzymes can also be helpful in completely breaking down the food that we eat, into the smallest components. Once the food is fully digested, the smaller components that are absorbed can be recognized as nutrients, instead of foreign molecules that our immune system sets out to attack. This in turn decreases the tendency towards allergic reactions to food.

Allergy-elimination techniques
Neuromodulation Technique (NMT) is an effective, non-invasive treatment that uses acupressure to help eliminate a person’s tendency to food reactions. For more information on this technique, please visit: www.neuromodulationtechnique.com

In conclusion, when dealing with food sensitivities, simply avoiding the allergenic foods, without healing the underlying imbalance will not lead to a cure. The naturopathic considerations discussed above can have profound effects in healing from food allergies.

Note: This article is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace proper diagnosis and treatment by a qualified healthcare professional.
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