Delayed Food Allergy
It is often very difficult to recognize symptoms of delayed food allergies. Normal test reports do not present food as the causative agent behind the occurring symptoms. Food allergy is more commonly tested by checking the count of immunoglobulin E (IgE) in the bloodstream via skin prick or radioallergosorbent (RAST) serum testing.
It is not necessary that the food allergy may be IgE-mediated, rather, only 3% of people are affected by IgE sensitivity. While the classic IgE food allergy results in immediate immune reactions or symptoms, the other form known as delayed IgG food allergy causes the signs to appear after a few hours or within 3 days.
The involvement of body’s immune system is the only similarity between these food allergies.
Many don’t acknowledge the difference between the two food sensitivities and often delayed food allergy or food intolerances are confused with:
- IgE induced allergies such as hives, asthma, life-threatening allergic reaction – anaphylaxis
- Food allergies caused by peanuts, seafood, cow’s milk/dairy, soy, hen eggs, nuts, seeds, wheat that often result in respiratory, skin or digestion concerns.
- Severe immune reactions to natural ingredients present in foods such as salicylates, theobromine in chocolate, caffeine in coffee, tyramine in cheese are a few examples.
- Adverse reactions to toxic substances in the food like pesticides, herbicides or allergic response to drugs or antibiotics administered to livestock like bovine growth hormone (BGH).
- Symptoms arising due to food additives, preservatives, artificial colors and similar.
The GUT feeling
The gastrointestinal tract (GIT) or digestive tract is simultaneously involved in various food-related functions. The GIT has a role to play in preventing pathogenic invasion, biochemical breakdown of food molecules, production of energy, immune barrier and gastrointestinal system homeostasis.
While, it operates to allow the intake of food, it has to restrict the toxins from entering the bloodstream. The cells forming the lining of the tract are tightly packed with healthy and compact gaps. These tight gaps makes the GIT selectively permeable and a mucus layer forms a protective shield between the bloodstream and GIT.
As a result, the absorption of nutrients is permitted, while, toxic and hazardous substances are restricted from entering the blood. Thus, a good immune system, physical and mental health, optimal nutrition content are all dependent on the maintenance of these tight gaps and the mucus layer.
The Story behind Leaky Gut
We discussed above about these tight gaps in the GIT cell lining and their selective permeability. What if this lining is breached and large, toxicated food particles enter the bloodstream? The mainstream medicine terms this health condition as “leaky gut”.
As a result of leaky gut, these unwanted substances pass through the lining into the blood and are considered foreign by the immune cells. The immune cells immediately secrete IgA antibodies in the GIT as the first line of defence against the foreign particles. These antibodies attach to the undesired substances and form immune complexes (ICs).
Most of these ICs are removed by the liver and spleen, however, a few may still pass through the gut. On the other hand, a leaky gut is unable to hold high numbers of ICs and hence, they get circulated to different body tissues resulting in persistent health concerns.
Another related scenario arises when the foreign-tagged proteins in the food are similar to a protein in your body. This case of mistaken identity enforces the immune system to attack its own body protein. This state is scientifically termed as molecular mimicry and it can lead to autoimmune diseases.
Grains and dairy are more often found to be contributing to autoimmune diseases, however, the food and affected tissue differ depending on the individuals.
The Foods at Fault
Food allergies vary from individual to individual; the intensity, the symptoms and consequences, the responsible foods etc. As far as the triggering foods are concerned, more often corn, dairy, egg, soy, wheat, yeast, and citrus are held guilty in case of delayed allergic reactions.
Approximately, 80% of the detected food allergies are due to dairy, wheat and corn.
The Initial Signs of the Ailment (Symptoms)
In case of delayed food allergy, the symptoms begin to show after two hours to three days from the consumption of triggering food.
The allergic reactions may affect different tissues of the body but the more common symptoms of food allergy include:
- Joint and muscle pain
- Puffy eyes
- Respiratory problems (such as asthma)
- Flu-like symptoms
- Rashes (e.g. chronic hives, eczema, and acne)
- Several digestive symptoms (e.g., pain, reflux, gas, bloating, indigestion, nausea, vomiting, constipation, and diarrhea)
People at Risk
Although, there is no specific cause that behind the occurrence of delayed food allergy in people, genetic history of allergies or autoimmune diseases are suspected to support its development.
Other factors that are believed to trigger the existence of this allergy are:
- Chronic fungal or bacterial infections
- Yeast overgrowth
- Alcohol consumption
- Diet high in sugar and low in nutrients
The medical practitioner will take a detailed note of your diet schedule, medical, and family history, followed by comprehensive physical examination to start with the diagnosis.
Several clinical tests such as lactulose/mannitol urine test and a serum total IgA will help determine whether you have been affected by delayed food allergy. You can also diagnose food allergy at home by eliminating specific classes of food and analyzing the after effects.
However, medical intervention is recommended for quick and better recovery.
Treating the Uncommon Allergy
It may take months or even longer to completely treat delayed food allergy. Once, the triggering factors are determined, avoiding the specific foods can help overcome the symptoms with time.
These food allergies can be classified as fixed and cyclical. In case of the fixed allergy, eating the reactive food will result in allergy even if it has been avoided for long duration.
Cyclical allergy signifies that if the allergy-causing food is eaten after a significant period of avoidance and in low dosage, it will not cause harm.
The following tips and food habits can help restore leaky gut and avoid allergies:
- Glutamine, zinc, probiotics (friendly gut bacteria), hydrochloric acid, digestive enzymes, fish oil, antioxidants, vitamin A (to boost total IgA), minerals are good for a healthy gut. Hence, you must adopt a diet rich in these nutrients to support leaky gut.
- Additionally, you may even follow the Paleolithic diet(medical definition) to restore leaky gut. The diet is rich in fresh vegetables and fruits, lean meats, seeds and nuts to prevent the gut from being burdened.
- In case of infants, breastfeeding can help enhance their immunity. However, you must recommend a specialist if there is a family history of allergies. It must be clear as to what foods are to be included in the diet for your children to avoid allergies, rashes, runny nose, irritability, diarrhea, and puffy, red ears or cheeks.
The Hopeful Approach
The delayed food allergy symptoms may vary from mild to severe and its treatment may require changes in the lifestyle and diet for lifetime. However, once diagnosed, the affected individuals have a hope to restore their health by following the right course of treatment.
The shared information is an outcome of tremendous research done by Dr. Gruenn in the favor of delayed food allergy.