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What Are Food Allergies and What Can I Do About Them?

mixed nutsThere’s a quote by the great philosopher Hippocrates that we love and live by: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” What we consume can feed our health or feed disease. Unfortunately for those with food allergies, even the healthiest of foods can contribute to chronic health problems. What does it mean to have a food allergy? How do you know if you have one, and is there a way you can treat it? Find out below:

What Are Food Allergies?

According to The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), food allergies are on the rise. About 4% of adults in America have a food allergy, and the number of U.S. children who suffered from peanut or tree nut allergy tripled between 1997 and 2008. A true food allergy occurs when the immune system immediately and severely reacts to proteins (allergens) in a particular food. Much of this comes from a widespread misunderstanding about how our bodies digest and use what we eat, dietary imbalances, and other chronic illnesses occurring in and harming the gut.

While food allergies are most prominent in babies and children, they can appear at any age. You can also develop an allergy to foods you have eaten and enjoyed with no problems for years.

The Difference Between Food Allergies, Intolerances, and Sensitivities

You might have heard the terms “food allergies,” “food intolerances,” and “food sensitivities” and thought they mean the same thing. This is actually untrue. Here are the differences:

  • True food allergies occur quickly and often severely when one ingests a particular food.
  • Food intolerances usually result from a difficulty in digesting a particular food (like dairy, for instance) or when said food irritates your digestive system.
  • While similar to intolerances, food sensitivities occur when one is exposed to a particular food that may generate an immune reaction, but not due to intolerances or allergies. Gluten is one of the most common food sensitivities for many people.

Additionally, food intolerances and sensitivities are much more common than allergies. It’s speculated that between 15 and 20% of Americans suffer from intolerances and sensitivities.

What Are the Most Common Food Allergies?

More than 170 foods have been reported to cause adverse reactions in the United States. Right now, there are 8 major food allergens that cause serious reactions:

  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Milk
  • Peanuts
  • Soy
  • Tree nuts
  • Wheat
  • Crustacean shellfish

What Are the Symptoms of Food Allergies?

Exposure to even the smallest amounts of foods you may be allergic to can trigger a wide range of symptoms from minor to nearly fatal. Here are the most common symptoms associated with food allergies:

  • Rashes, itching, and hives
  • Swelling
  • Anaphylaxis (the swelling of airways and difficulty breathing)

How Do I Know if I Truly Have a Food Allergy?

Despite the growing prevalence in the population, food allergies can be difficult to diagnose. Your body’s reaction to particular foods is largely dependent on your unique biochemistry, stress level, lifestyle, and your gut’s microbiome status. Often, an elimination diet and appropriate lab tests can help pinpoint which foods cause adverse reactions. If you think you might have food allergies, you should consult a nutritionist like our qualified staff at The Wellness Connection.

How Can I Get Rid of the Food Allergies I May Have?

Healing from food allergies is possible, but it will take some time. Elimination diets give your gut a much-needed opportunity to heal, restore your microbiome, and reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. We may also recommend using natural inflammation-reducing supplements and trying detoxification processes to rid your body of the environmental toxins you might have accumulated within. Once your gut has had enough time to heal and becomes more balanced, you may find that you can reintroduce those once troublesome foods into your diet without symptoms.

Count on The Wellness Connection

Do you suspect that you’re suffering from food allergies? Heal your gut and live the life you deserve by taking the first step toward healing – calling the experts at The Wellness Connection. We take a holistic approach to help you attain optimal health and well-being. Schedule an appointment with us by calling (636) 978-0970 or request a time with us online!

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