CRC contributes to suppressed immune and intestinal health, which can result in an increased vulnerability to allergic disorders. Reactions to a wide variety of foods, chemicals and seasonal allergens are common. With compromised immune function, digestion and/or intestinal integrity, adverse reactions to benign food substances can be particularly overwhelming.
Most of the sensitivities that may develop during the CRC illness are temporary and will resolve themselves as your CRC is resolved. Having said this, it is also not unusual for long-standing allergies to be identified for the very first time during CRC recovery as a result of the health awareness that the recovery process necessitates. Your long-standing allergies and intolerances may be permanent.
There has long been a tremendous amount of controversy within both the medical community and the naturopathic community concerning how a food allergy should be defined. There are, in fact, many different types of allergy-like immune reactions. Symptoms may include any one of several hundred different physical and emotional responses. We must become sleuths to sort out what foods/substances are our medicines and what foods are our poisons.
Identifying and Diagnosing Food Allergies
Typical antibody mediated allergies affect the immune system directly and usually manifest symptoms within several seconds to several hours after exposure. If your body produces an antibody as a defense against the substance in the future, the allergy can be easily diagnosed with a skin scratch test. There are other types of immune reactions to substances but these are not technically referred to as allergies but rather as "intolerances". For clarity in this article I will refer to actual antibody mediated allergies as "allergies" and to non antibody-mediated reactions as "intolerances". When I am referring to problematic substances in general, I will use the term "allergens".
Non antibody-mediated reactions (intolerances) may be severe and can be either immediate or delayed. They can take from several hours to several days to appear. This delay can produce confusion in the investigative process for you and your doctor even if you are the most attuned and determined allergy sufferer. Within the medical community, there is little recognition of intolerance and delayed allergic reactions except within the environmental medicine field.
The best known of allergy tests is the scratch test, which identifies the typical IgE antibody-mediated reactions. However, over 80% of food reactions do not involve IgE. If your body produces an IgE antibody as a defense against a substance, the allergy can easily be diagnosed with a skin scratch test. In fact, there are four other types of antibodies; IgG, IgM, IgA, and IgD. Any one of them may be involved in your reactions to foods but an intolerance involving these antibiodies will not be identified using the standard scratch test.
Other "allergic/intolerance" reactions involve immune substances including: histamine, bradykinin, leukotriences, prostaglandins, immune complexes and thromboxin. Each one of these substances has a particular defensive role to play in 'protecting' your body from foreign substances. Their biochemical actions often result in uncomfortable symptoms like swelling, itching, pain, nausea, blood vessel dilation, diarrhea, etc. The list of potential symptoms from exposure to food allergies and intolerances are surprisingly diverse. Take a look at the list below to see if you recognize any of these symptoms in yourself.
Possible Symptoms Of Food Allergies:
- Impaired comprehension (brain fog)
- Aphasia (inability to find words)
- Mood swings
- Impaired coordination
- Respiratory Problems
- Violent behavior
- Skin Problems
- Circulatory Problems
- Hormonal Imbalances
- Gastrointestinal Symptoms
Leaky Gut Syndrome and the birth of an allergy
Food allergies can become a particularly serious problem for you if you are struggling with CRC (Candida Related Complex) or any other severe intestinal imbalance due to a weakening of the intestinal wall called Leaky Gut Syndrome. Many of these allergies will be temporary and will resolve themselves as your condition improves, but there may be a handful of allergies that have been long standing and are only recognized during the healing as a result of your increased health awareness and attention to tracking symptoms. Some of these may be foods that you will have to avoid permanently or you may find that mild allergens can be consumed on a rotational basis after recovery.
Chronic intestinal stress from candida-toxins, putrefaction and related indigestion can inflame your intestinal wall and make it super-reactive to irritation from antagonistic foods. In addition, the fungal form of candida has the ability to actually penetrate the intestinal walls, damage them and cause a leakage of food substances and fecal waste into the bloodstream.
Foreign substances stress the already fatigued immune system and can also result in the development of food allergies. If food particles leak through the permeable intestinal membrane before being thoroughly broken down into hydrocarbons (amino acids, simple sugars and fatty acids), the immune system does not recognize the particle as nutrition. It 'sees' it as something that is foreign and must be broken down by specialized immune cells that clean up the blood (macrophages). Basically, it responds as it would to any foreign particle in the blood. If particles of a specific food are repeatedly leaked into the blood stream, your body will see it as a troublesome invader to contend with and will develop a memory of the food. Your immune system will now have specific antibodies ready to attack the next time it encounters the substance. Whenever the particular food is eaten, the immune system is triggered into defensive mode and we experience symptoms of intolerance or allergy.
Unfortunately, this condition can be even more common during recovery from a candida infestation. As the anti-fungal therapy kills off the candida, the roots (or mycelia) that hold them onto the intestinal wall shrink and are released from the intestinal membrane, leaving permeations behind. It is for this reason that a hypoallergenic, four day rotation diet is recommended during a candida purge. Eating foods less frequently, can reduce the potential for the immune system to develop defenses against them.
How can I determine if I have food allergies?
There are a number of medical and non-medical approaches to allergy testing, none of which are 100% accurate. Our bodies have numerous types of immune reactions to both intolerances and allergies while medical tests are specific to one type of reaction only. However, there is no one test which provides a thorough look at all the potential food allergens you may be sensitive to. A very expensive barrage of testing and lab work would be required to diagnose a significant number of problem foods and you will still have some mystery reactions to uncover.
There is however, some diagnostic technology that is able to pick up a broader range of suspect foods and for much less cost than the medical tests. This technology is more commonly used by naturopathic physicians rather than medical doctors. Electro Dermal Screening (EDS) is the most accurate of all of the testing methods available, provided the equipment is well-maintained and the technician is highly skilled. The more modern versions of this equipment has built-in indicators to reduce the margin for operator-caused error.
EDS technology has the remarkable ability to identify allergens by the degree to which they cause stress on the body. This allows the test to pick up a broader range of intolerances and allergies than the medical tests which each identify only one type of immune reaction. The EDS also provides a print out of food intolerances according to the degree of stress with which the body reacts to each food.
For home testing, there are a variety of methods that focus on careful and thorough observation including the use of a food diary and various methods of food elimination and reintroduction. If performed with methodical care, these self-testing methods can be just as accurate as any other testing method. However, they take much longer and require a lot of commitment. In many cases, even when all allergy testing options have been utilized, it is the self-testing which is needed to clear up the final mysteries of how particular foods affect us or which foods are causing specific symptoms.
Allergy Testing, Tips and Treatments
The skin test involves applying a drop of antigen to the skin surface after pricking or scratching it. The results are then observed. A skin reaction indicates a typical allergy. The reaction is only caused if IgE antibody levels are high there will be a histamine reaction. Since over 80% of food allergy and chemical allergies are non-IgE mediated, this test is not conclusive.
Radioallergosorbent testing (RAST) is a highly specialized blood test to uncover IgE antibody allergic responses. It is not appropriate for food allergies, but useful for inhalent allergies. The test can produce 20 percent false positive and 20% false negatives and is very expensive.
This is a blood test for foods. Live white blood cells are mixed with individual food antigens. A reaction to the combination indicates the presence of a sensitivity. This test is expensive and can show false negatives of food that has not recently been consumed. The skill of the technician reading the slides is crucial.
The pulse test is done for one food at a time, usually after a fast (allergists use anywhere from a four hour to a four day fast). The pulse is counted every twenty minutes for an hour after exposure. If the baseline pulse reading increases or decreases by 20 or more beats per minute after exposure, an intolerance is presumed.
The rotary diet (a food is only eaten once every four days), the food diary (every food item consumed is recorded in a diary, along with symptoms) and the two-week elimination test (foods are systematically reintroduced after a two week abstinence) are all examples of elimination diets. These tests are slow and require a strong commitment from a patient. They are not completely objective but perhaps are at least as objective and accurate as any of the more clinical tests. The main advantages of this type of approach are the ability to connect a specific allergen with a specific symptom and the ability to conduct the test at home, at no charge.
Electro Dermal Screening
Involves registering the patient's response to the electromagnetic frequency of foods, inhalants and other environmental substances. A probe is used to direct a response signal into a specific acupuncture point on the hand or foot. The response is then displayed on a corresponding computer. This approach has a comparatively high accuracy rate. The accuracy is based on the technician's skill and the quality of the equipment. False negatives may be registered if the patient has not recently been exposed to a specific substance.
Antigen Leukocyte Cellular Antibody Testing (ALCAT)
This is a blood test based on the incubation of serum and white blood cells with a food or mould impregnated disc. Evidence of significant changes in cell size and numbers are indicators of sensitivity.
Provocative Neutralization Test
A dilution of the antigens tested are administered in drops under the tongue or by injection.
In my opinion, the electro dermal screening and the elimination tests provide the most empowering results and are the most affordable.
The four day rotary/elimination diet provides not only a diagnostic tool but an approach to treatment. Once CRC is resolved, most people can tolerate many more foods than they could during their acute illness.
Tips to help you unravel some of your allergy related mysteries:
The investigation of potential health stressors* (allergies or intolerances) that may cause symptoms as minor as a sniffle or as life-threatening as anaphylactic shock can be a mind-boggling process indeed. There are a number of factors that will prove helpful to keep in mind as you work through your personal allergic mysteries.
Too much of a good thing?
The frequency with which you eat a food can affect whether you have a reaction to it or not. Some foods may be tolerated if eaten infrequently (every 4-14 days). The more often you eat it, the more likely it is to cause a problem.
Cooked or Raw?
You may tolerate a cooked food while the same food eaten raw can produce symptoms, or vice versa.
What season is it?
You may become more sensitive to certain foods during a particular time of year due to the additional stress of inhalant allergens. You may even find that some allergies are only a concern for you at one time of year. Hay fever season can trigger certain food allergies as can the indoor winter season, when we are breathing more dust and indoor pollutants. A high-quality air cleaner with a charcoal and hepa filter can help to reduce the additional stress of inhalant allergies. Amaircare is a high quality brand of air cleaner.
You may dislike foods that you are allergic to, or you may crave them uncontrollably, experiencing several days of withdrawal when you avoid them. Eating these foods can even produce a sort of high. Stay alert to your most urgent cravings, as well as to altered states created by eating certain foods. Chances are, if a food leaves you feeling noticeably stimulated or sedated, you have sensitivity to it.
Become an avid label reader and ask before you eat!
You may think you are allergic to Chinese noodles or something in them but in fact you may be allergic to the MSG in the sauce that is poured over them. Hidden additives can be as much a problem as the foods themselves. Learning about dangerous additives and where to look for them is key. When eating out, ask your server to help you check for potential allergy hazards in your food. And don't forget your reading glasses when you go to the grocery store!
Agrichemicals, packaging and processing
Pesticide-residues or irradiated foods may cause reactions in some people. Organically grown foods that are not sprayed or treated may be well tolerated while their conventionally-produced counterparts cause serious discomfort. Use organically grown foods in their most natural state with as little packaging as possible to reduce the potential for reactions.
Also, packaging additives may be made from allergenic substances such as cornstarch used to powder cereal bags and milk cartons. Chemicals leached from the inside of a can or from plastic wrap may be an issue for you if you are severely sensitive. Again, eating foods in their most natural state is the most cautious approach.
Remember, you may have the same symptom in response to several kinds of food or a specific symptom for each different food. Keeping your reactions (both negative and positive) to foods recorded in your food diary is the best way to match specific allergens. Write down how you feel if a symptom develops even if you aren't sure if it is related to your meal. The diary can also be a place to record your other investigations (supplement and cosmetic trials, chemical sensitivity concerns, etc.).
Immune system recovery, restoration of intestinal integrity and healthy flora are the most important and most effective strategy. In addition, there are other emerging treatments for food allergies. One is called NAET, Nambudripad's Allergy Elimination Technique. This is combination of Kinesiology and acupuncture that can be used both to detect and treat allergies. You can find an abundance of information about this technique on the internet. Enzyme Potentiated Desensitization (EPD) is another treatment approach. Again, you can read more about this method on the internet.
The supplements Quercetin, Optimin Neutral Ester C, Grape seed extract and Digestive enzymes (such as those found in AbsorbAide formula) support your digestive system by doing the work for your body. In other cases, such as a specific digestive challenge, (an ability to break down protein for example), supplements do the work that your body is unable to do.
If you are exposed to an allergen unavoidably, you can take a handful of Ester C capsules immediately to help reduce the intensity of your reaction. Three to five 1000 mg capsules of neutral Vitamin C (Neutral C Plus sold at the Whole Approach® Shop) is ideal.
To stay symptom free during your recovery from food allergies and CRC, your best defenses are knowledge and self-awareness. Any or all of the following books can provide excellent guidance on your defensive strategies.
Best of luck to all of you and we'll see you on the WholeApproach® Forums!
Allergies, Diseases in Disguise by Carolee Bateson-Koch
Food Allergies Made Simple by Austin, Thrash MD and Thrash MD
Allergy Relief and Prevention by Jacqueline Krohn MD
Additive Alert produced by the Pollution Probe A Consumer's Guide to Food Additives by Ruth Winters
The Safe Shoppers Bible by Steinman and Epstein
Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia and Environmental Illness by Future Medicine Publishing