What is a True Allergy?
I hear people talking about being allergic to this and sensitive to that. We need to remember that a true allergy is the body’s oversensitive immune response to a substance that should normally be harmless. Food allergies lead to a variety of symptoms that can range from annoying to life threatening. When people deal with food allergies, exposure to specific proteins leads to their immune system going into overdrive. It triggers the release of chemicals into the bloodstream that creates inflammation in parts of the body. These allergies can contribute to skin problems such as rashes, dermatitis and eczema. They can lead to digestive issues like nausea, bloating, gas and elimination problems. When allergies get severe they can lead to asthmatic symptoms, or even systemic reactions like anaphylaxis that can be fatal.
1-2% of adults and 8% of children have a food allergy.
How do Allergies work?
We may not know we are allergic when we originally eat a food. When a trigger food is eaten for the first time the protein is digested into amino acids which are absorbed into the body through the intestine. (Just a note that sometimes the allergen can be absorbed through the skin or inhaled.) The immune system will react to this trigger food by producing antibodies that are specific to the allergen or that particular food. The antibodies travel in the bloodstream and bind to the surface of white blood cells called mast cells which are then “sensitized”. After the first exposure there is no reaction in the body, but the cells are primed and ready for the second exposure.
The next time this trigger food is eaten the mast cells recognize the protein allergen. The mast cell then binds to the antibodies on the mast cells. This activates a process called degranulation. As the mast cell degranulates it releases histamine and other chemicals into the bloodstream. It is the effect of these chemicals on the body that produces different allergic symptoms. In extreme cases anaphylaxis occurs. Anaphylaxis results in extreme symptoms like throat swelling, severe asthma and a drop in blood pressure. It requires emergency medical attention always.
What is a Food Intolerance?
Food intolerance occurs when the body is unable to digest a component of food. This type of intolerance does not aggravate the immune system in the same way as a true allergy. You can be born intolerant to certain foods or become intolerant later in life. Intolerance occurs when you don’t have a particular enzyme that helps break down nutrients. Sometimes, it’s part of a food that a person is intolerant to and sometimes it’s the additives, chemicals or toxins in particular foods that triggers a digestive reaction. Symptoms can arise any where from hours after eating to days later. They can vary from individual to individual but commonly include nausea, bloating, cramps, constipation/diarrhea and gas. Intolerances are difficult to pinpoint as symptoms are delayed and often more than one intolerance can coexist. Elimination protocols can help remove problematic foods and relieve symptoms.
If this is something you think you might be dealing with No Shoes Nutrition can help! We can help you identify the foods that don’t agree with you and make sure you are getting all the nutrients your body needs to feel your best! Allergies or intolerance, often the only treatment is to avoid the trigger food. The exclusion of more and more foods can mean a lack of important nutrients. Are you concerned that you might be dealing with allergies or intolerances? Curious about how health coaching can help you make changes? Let’s talk! Schedule an initial complimentary consultation with me today—or pass this offer on to someone you care about! Visit www.noshoesnutrition.com and sign up for a FREE consultation. I work with people from all over the world individually or in groups so don’t let anything hold you back!