Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Food Sensitivities

Food sensitivities can be a problem; they are a problem on two fronts.  First, is the problems they create in your body.  If one looks up the symptoms that can be attributed to food sensitivities, the symptoms can cover just about every one in the book; everything from nasal allergies, headaches, and blurry vision to frequent urinary tract infections, abdominal pain, and fatigue can, in the right persons, manifest because of what they eat.

The second problem food sensitivities pose is diagnosing them and pinning down what foods are causing a problem.  It is a rare occurrence for a single food to be causing all the health problems one might have.  It is not as uncommon for multiple foods to be causing one's impaired health.  There is a general rule of thumb that the foods you are reacting to are paradoxically the foods you consume most; but even that isn't of much use.  The most effective test for food allergies/sensitivities is the elimination-challenge diet.  This diet removes the suspicious foods for a period of 2-4 weeks, and then methodically re-introduces one food at a time watching for the reactions to return.  It is extremely effective - if you eliminate all the offending foods.  The trouble is how do you know just what all to eliminate?  Also, eliminating your favorite foods for weeks is an intense challenge when the list was made up largely as a guess - "Well, maybe this is a problem?" 

One of the diagnostic tools that can assist in the food elimination decisions is a food allergy panel.  Food allergy panels take a small amount of blood and, depending on the type of test, look for immune system reactions to different foods.  The results then provide a list of the foods your immune system is showing a response to; you eliminate those foods and retest in a few months.  I use a test called the ALCAT.  It provides a great starting place.  It also gives an affirmation that you don't have sensitivities as well.   So, if you have mysterious symptoms that don't seem to have a conventional medical explanation or ones that haven't improved greatly with conventional treatments, you might explore the impact food sensitivities may be causing.

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