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Food Allergies Stir a Mother to Action

New York Times, January 9, 2008

Here is an excerpt from a New York Times article that was taken from www.mercola.com.  It includes an explanation from Dr. Mercola and offers advice on how to recognize and control food allergies and intolerances.


For more information, or to sign up for Dr. Mercola’s newsletter, please visit his website.


Robyn O’Brien used to roll her eyes when a child with a peanut allergy showed up at a birthday party. Then, two years ago, she fed her youngest child scrambled eggs. Her baby’s face swelled into a grotesque mask.

This led her to an examination of the perplexing world of childhood food allergies, and she soon came to the conclusion that there is a conspiracy that threatens the health of America’s children. And she believes it is up to her and parents everywhere to stop it.

Her theory that the food supply is being manipulated with additives, genetic modification, hormones and herbicides, causing increases in allergies, autism and other disorders in children, has made her a populist hero among parents looking for answers regarding why their children have food allergies.

O’Brien recommends that people throw out their non-organic, processed, genetically modified, artificially created, or hormone-laced food. Once she did it, her four children’s health problems cleared right up.

Dr. Mercola's Comments:



Despite this New York Times’ reporter stating that no one knows whether food allergies are actually rising as fast as some people believe, a 2006 study published in the medical journal Thorax found a 400 percent increase in hospitalizations due to food allergies in the UK since 1990. Admissions for anaphylaxis increased by 600 percent.  Food allergies send another 30,000 to the emergency room each year.


The Difference Between Allergies and Sensitivities

Allergies occur when your immune system overreacts to environmental triggers, causing tissue inflammation, organ dysfunction and an array of other symptoms.

Sensitivities on the other hand may include both true allergies and/or reactions that are not triggered by your immune system. So whereas allergies typically trigger immediate antibody reactions in your bloodstream, sensitivities trigger slower responses within your cells.


Signs of Food Sensitivities and Allergies 

Are there certain foods you crave often, such as milk, ice cream, pasta or bread, for example? Ironically, the foods you crave are often the foods that cause you problems; that you have sensitivity to.   

Other questions that can help you determine whether or not you might have a food sensitivity or allergy are: 

  • Do you experience bloating after meals, gas, frequent belching, or any kind of digestive problems? 

  • Do you have chronic constipation or diarrhea? 

  • Do you have a stuffy nose after meals? 

  • Do you have low energy or feel drowsy after eating? 

  • Do you have frequent headaches or migraines? 

  • Does anyone in your family have food allergies?

Which Foods are the Most Allergenic?

Topping the list of the most allergenic foods are:

If you think you're suffering from a food allergy, avoiding these foods is a good place to start. You can also be sensitive to food additives like artificial colors, preservatives and flavor enhancers (MSG), so avoiding processed foods can also help. And, although the jury is still out on the health effects of cloned foods, I am willing to bet they’re not without ramifications.


How to Figure Out What Foods You’re Allergic to:

One of the best things you can do if you believe you are suffering from a food allergy is to do a diet elimination challenge. Simply remove all foods that contain what you believe you are allergic to and see if your symptoms improve over the next few days. You may need to go as long as five days to give it a full trial.   If the symptoms disappear in one day, of course you have your answer. The real clincher, though, is to reintroduce the food or drink (on an empty stomach). If the suspected food is the culprit you will generally be able to feel the symptoms return within an hour. This can be difficult if you eat a lot of processed foods, as these often contain "hidden" ingredients like corn, milk, soy, wheat, yeast and artificial additives that are often problematic. The most suspect foods will be those eaten daily or more than once a week, as well as foods that you crave or eat at night. In extreme cases where it is difficult to isolate the offending food, you may even need to go on a fast to see if your symptoms resolve.  

Why You Should Always Address Your Food Allergies?

After you identify what foods you are allergic to, you will want to avoid them as much as possible. Your symptoms will likely disappear or improve once you reduce your exposure. If you don't take measures to address food allergies, you can end up with permanent, long-term damage. Allergies can put constant and unnecessary stress on the immune system that will weaken it over time, possibly leading to chronic or degenerative disease.

As an added bonus, eliminating your food sensitivities and allergies can also
help you lose weight! 


When you eat a food that you are sensitive to, it causes a series of negative biochemical reactions in your immune system and digestive tract that can hinder your weight loss efforts. It also decreases your serotonin levels, which can make you feel slightly depressed, causing you to turn to simple sugars and carbohydrates for relief. 

Tips to Resolve Your Allergy Symptoms:

In terms of food sensitivities, a comprehensive nutritional approach is vital, and most people's sensitivities dramatically improve when they follow my
nutrition plan. This includes avoiding sugar, fruit juices, most grains, and pasteurized dairy products.  If you find that milk (one of the most common allergies) is the problem, it would be worthwhile experimenting with raw cow's milk to see if that still causes a problem. If it does, you can also try other species’ milk, like sheep, goat or lamb's milk.

Another important principle is to
avoid all gluten for a few weeks. That would mean absolutely no wheat products. We use this approach in my clinic with really great results. It is quite shocking how many people are actually gluten sensitive; their condition radically improves once the wheat is removed from their diet.

Making certain that enough long-chain animal based omega-3 fats (DHA and EPA) from fish or krill oils are included in your diet is also helpful, and another trick that also frequently helps is to add some beneficial bacteria to your gut by taking a high quality probiotic.
Chemical sensitivity is a very real affliction, and those who suffer from it are not making their symptoms up. However, the causes of chemical sensitivity can extend beyond just the physical -- there are often emotional traumas, sometimes not readily apparent to the sufferer, which have set the stage for the major disruptions in the detoxification and immune systems. In these cases, emotional treatments like the psychological acupressure method known as the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) can be extremely helpful.



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