Most people associate food reactions with either acute responses such as those caused by e.g. peanut or fish allergy (hives, face swelling, breathing problems) or digestive problems such as bloating or IBS. In fact, food substances can disrupt many body systems. Symptoms may include fatigue, insomnia, muscle and joint aches and pains, skin problems such as eczema, asthma, attention deficit disorder, or headaches, for example. It has been suggested that certain foods may even be a major cause of clinical depression or schizophrenia.
Food reactions are increasing partly because of processed foods and additives which our bodies aren’t designed to cope with. Unfortunately this can include our daily bread, which is now produced using ingredients which are causing problems for a lot of people. Food reactions also result from widespread poor digestion (see separate briefing). If you have a “leaky gut”, for example, undigested food particles may cross the gut wall and set up immune system reactions, causing multiple symptoms. Poor levels of good gut bacteria may also encourage food reactions.
Food intolerances may also be implicated in C.F.S./M.E., inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, asthma and eczema, and other chronic conditions such as M.S.
I use a range of food intolerance and allergy tests using the very latest ELISA technology, including blood tests for both acute (classical allergy) and delayed food reactions, as well as inhalant allergies. The most frequently chosen test is probably Dairy and Grains, which covers most of the commonly offending foods, including yeast.
In my experience, digestion is often a root cause so tests may not be necessary at all. So often, if the digestion is fixed, problem foods can be eaten again. I don’t believe in people staying on over-restrictive diets for long periods if it’s possible instead to sort out the underlying cause so that people can eat more normally again. Of course, if you just go back to eating a high additive, low nutrient, very processed diet your problems will almost certainly come back!
In some cases, however, a food allergy or intolerance may turn out to lifelong or genetic, in which case you usually feel so much better that you don’t want to eat it again anyway.
See also separate briefings on Digestion, Candida and IBS.