The incidence of food sensitivities has increased dramatically over the years. It is estimated that up to 20% of the population has adverse reactions to foods. Allergens, also known as antigens, can be ingested, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin. From milk, corn, and fish to house dust, animal dander, chemicals, bacteria, pollens, and more, we are surrounded by substances with allergic reaction potential.
The incidence of allergies is rising, and some scientists believe that increased chemical pollution in our air, water, and food supplies is causing the frequency and severity of allergic reactions to escalate. Natural and synthetic hidden ingredients in food, the genetic manipulation of plants, less diversity in the diet, and poor digestive function also may be contributing factors. While the issue of food allergies is complex, testing can help identify offending substances. This information can be used to modify your diet—or your child’s diet—in order to experience optimal health.
Food is not Always Nourishing
An allergic reaction occurs when the immune system overreacts to a substance by identifying it as an invading organism, provoking a chain of defensive physical reactions. Both food and environmental allergies have been implicated in a wide range of symptoms affecting virtually every part of the body. These include mildly uncomfortable symptoms such as indigestion and gastritis to severe illnesses such as celiac disease, arthritis, and chronic infection. Allergies have also been directly linked to serious disorders of the central nervous system, including depression, anxiety, and chronic fatigue.
Food allergies cause the immune system to synthesize and release antibodies. In turn, antibodies stimulate the release of reactive chemical agents, such as histamine, which can dramatically influence how you feel. Eventually they can have far-reaching effects on the immune, endocrine, and nervous systems.
In some cases, reactions are delayed for up to days after exposure, making it difficult for the patient to connect the symptom and the offending substance. One study reported that nearly 60% of individuals with food intolerance experienced delayed rather than immediate reactions. The picture is further complicated by the fact that many commercial foods contain hidden ingredients that may act as agents in many allergic reactions.