It is estimated that once every 15 minutes a patient is admitted to an emergency room for a severe food allergy reaction. The Centers for Disease Control reports that approximately 15 million Americans have been diagnosed with food allergies, including one out of every 13 children, a nearly 50 percent increase.
The Specifics of Food Allergies
Simply put, a food allergy is an immune issue. When working properly, the body’s immune system identifies and destroys illness-causing microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses. A food allergy occurs when the immune system mistakenly identifies a harmless food protein, called an allergen, as a threat and attacks it. In extreme cases, food allergies — especially to items such as peanuts or shellfish — can result in anaphylactic shock, which can cause death.
While people with severe food allergies know it from an early age, more mild food allergies can go undiagnosed throughout an individual’s lifetime because the symptoms are more subtle and are frequently misdiagnosed. People can also develop food allergies as they get older. Common symptoms include headaches, muscle pain, indigestion, irritability, insomnia, and even belly fat.
There are different theories about why food allergies are occurring with greater frequency. Some nutritionists point to prepackaged, heavily processed food products that lack the nutrition needed to maintain healthy immune function in the digestive tract. Also, the chemicals used in processed foods — from artificial flavors and colors to sweeteners — interfere with digestion and detoxification, which further disrupts the digestive tract. Inflammation in the digestive tract leads to undigested proteins going directly into the blood stream, where they create an allergic response.
Another theory is the overuse of antibiotics. “Good” bacteria in the digestive tract are called probiotics, which help the immune system’s response and promotes detoxification, digestion, and absorption of nutrients. Antibiotics are given to livestock, and they end up in the food and water people consume. While antibiotics are good for killing bacteria when individuals are sick, a steady consumption will kill probiotics, leading to increased inflammation in the digestive tract, which contributes to food allergies.
Controlling Your Food Allergies
Controlling food allergies can be a laborious task. For many with mild symptoms, a few dietary changes can make a dramatic difference. The most obvious is to stay away as much as possible from heavily processed, prepackaged foods. Avoid fast food — it won’t only save money but will probably help you lose weight. Eat organic. Opt for fresh food and produce as much as possible. Buy a water filter for your tap and drink a lot. One expert suggests you take your weight, say 150 pounds, cut it in half (75) and drink that many ounces a day in water — in this case, that would be a little more than half a gallon.
Probiotics products are all the rage today. Certain strains of probiotics have been clinically proven to reduce inflammation and improve detoxification, so consider adding some of these products to your regular diet.
Moderately strenuous exercise, the kind that works up a sweat, is an effective way to detox and improve oxygenation.
Perhaps one of the most important ways to reduce inflammation and stress on your body is to incorporate regular chiropractic treatments into your weekly routine. It is not that chiropractic treatments can “cure” allergies. However, chiropractic care enables the immune system to function more effectively, because a nervous system with less stress functions more efficiently. That boost in immune function can benefit all allergy sufferers, food and otherwise.