Food Allergies

(img thanks to commons.wikimedia.org)
(img thanks to commons.wikimedia.org)

Food allergies can cause a lot more problems than you or your doctor probably realize. After having worked with thousands of patients with food allergies, we know this to be true.

Although there is plenty of published research on the symptoms of food allergies, there is also a lot of misunderstanding due to conflicting definitions of allergies; some testing methods that are scientifically invalid; and the length of time between exposure to a food and the reaction.

Headaches, including Migraines

Headaches are about inflammation. And food allergies are also about inflammation. It is not at all unusual for our patients to report that their headaches have disappeared once they know how to stop triggering them with their diet.

Ear Infections

If your child suffers from more than just the very infrequent ear infection, then they probably have a food allergy. Kids should not get ear infections. Proper testing can reveal whether a child has a food allergy that is contributing to their susceptibility to ear infections.

Sinusitis

As with kids and ear infections, adults often get chronic sinus infections. Don’t think that it must be caused by bacteria or
an environmental allergy. We regularly see chronic sinus problems that are caused by food allergies come to an end when the patient is properly diagnosed and treated.

Eczema and Hives

Whether in infants, kids, or adults, eczema and hives are often triggered by food allergies. Even if an allergist has told you that you don’t have a food allergy, you could still have one. Standard tests, including skin prick testing and RAST testing
cannot measure allergies mediated by certain types of antibodies.


(photo via wikimedia commons)

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Dr. Stephen Wangen of the IBS Treatment Center.
Dr. Stephen Wangen of the IBS Treatment Center.

Laura is a 35-year-old mother of two who had been experiencing fatigue, headaches, bouts of constipation and diarrhea, and obnoxious bloating. At times she looked and felt six months pregnant due to the bloating.

When Laura first came to see us, she was certain she must have a food allergy or intolerance. She knew she reacted to food, so she assumed food caused the problem, although she couldn’t put her finger on which food or foods were the trigger.

In fact, she told us it didn’t matter what she ate—everything she ate caused problems and she never really felt good. She further noted that fatty foods, sugary foods and raw foods seemed especially problematic, and with those she would feel even worse.

Laura was very frustrated. She wasn’t able to do the things that she wanted.

Her job was being affected because she couldn’t attend meetings as needed. And her social life was just as compromised, because everywhere she went she had to know where the bathroom was located.

Laura said that we were her last hope. She had seen lots doctors, had many tests done, and even had two different colonoscopies, but nothing had helped.

She was told that she would just have to live with her symptoms. Laura found this unacceptable. She knew that there had to be a cause for her symptoms and she was determined to find out what it was.

When we met with Laura, we agreed that there had to be a cause. First we had to narrow down the possibilities.

After testing, we discovered that she did not actually have any food reactions, even though she suffered symptoms from consuming most foods. So there had to be a different cause behind the reactions to the foods she ate.

This may sound confusing, but when a patient says they react to a food, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the food is the original cause of the problem. There are many reasons you can react to foods. Some of them are due to an actual immune reaction, and some are because of other problems that result in feeling reactive to foods. (A glaring example is food poisoning. If you have food poisoning, it’s not the food that is the problem.)

The next step for Laura was to determine why she still felt reactive to foods. After mapping out the ecosystem of her digestive tract, we discovered she had a yeast overgrowth.

There are few issues in medicine as controversial and as misunderstood as yeast. Yeast, commonly referred to as Candida, is usually associated with vaginal yeast infections; occasionally a patient may also contract oral thrush, or Candida of the tongue and mouth.

However, yeast can also over-colonize the digestive tract, such as in Laura’s case, with disastrous results.

Yeast is a common part of the digestive ecosystem, but only in very small amounts. The more territory yeast acquires, the more problematic it becomes. Yeast doesn’t ferment foods in the same way that healthy bacteria does, and this can result in a variety of digestive problems and bloating. Yeast overgrowth can also cause fatigue, headaches and many other ailments.

Once we began to treat Laura for her yeast she immediately noticed a difference. However, yeast is not easy to treat, and it took Laura four months to recover. Each month was better than the last, and now that she has gotten control of her yeast problem she is ecstatic.

Laura no longer has bloating, constipation, or diarrhea. Her headaches went away after the first month, and her energy is unbelievable. With her treatment Laura was able to get her life back, and we couldn’t be happier for her!

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Dr. Stephen Wangen of the IBS Treatment Center.
Dr. Stephen Wangen of the IBS Treatment Center.

Lactose intolerance is a deficiency in the enzyme lactase. Lactase is the enzyme that digests the milk sugar lactose.

People with a lactose intolerance typically experience an upset stomach, bloating, gas, and loose stools. These are also common symptoms of a dairy allergy.

Many patients complain of a lactose intolerance. They usually say that taking Lactaid or a digestive product designed for lactose intolerance will resolve their digestive problems. However, they obviously didn’t schedule an appointment just to tell me this and they are usually experiencing one of the other symptoms associated with a dairy allergy.

Not surprisingly, the lactose intolerance usually turns out to be a dairy allergy, which is an actual immune response to dairy. The dairy allergy has apparently damaged the digestive tract to the extent that it has caused a deficiency in the enzyme lactase, which is produced by the cells lining the digestive tract.

Many people mistakenly believe that they can continue to eat dairy products as long as they take a digestive aid, or they avoid milk but still eat cheese, etc.

Unfortunately, most continue to suffer from their milk allergy even though their digestive symptoms have diminished. If you have a lactose intolerance and experience any of the symptoms listed on page one then you should be tested for a dairy allergy via an ELISA blood test.

CONTACT US with questions or feel free leave a comment below.

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(commons.wikimedia)
(commons.wikimedia)

Chronic congestion of the sinuses, ears and/or the nose can be an extremely frustrating sinusitis problem that does not ever truly seem to go away. 


All too often I hear patients state that they have not found relief even after many rounds of antibiotics or multiple surgeries. This is because antibiotics and surgery often don’t address the cause of the congestion.

What Causes Sinusitis and Runny Nose? 


Sinus infection (sinusitis) and runny nose are inflammatory conditions that result in mucous production and congestion. This leads to the resulting problems of sinus pressure headaches, a runny nose, or stuffy ears. 

Then What Causes Inflammation? 


Inflammation is caused by anything that can activate the immune system. It can be caused by a bacterial, fungal, or viral infections, or by environmental or food allergies. 

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Dr. Stephen Wangen of the IBS Treatment Center.
Dr. Stephen Wangen of the IBS Treatment Center.

Reason #1

One major obstacle to figuring out which foods are problematic is that, even on an elimination diet, you may not have truly eliminated all of your allergenic foods.

Assumptions are often made about which foods are allergenic and which foods are not. These assumptions are often wrong. Even on an elimination diet you may still be eating something that will trigger your IBS, even if you are eating foods that you normally don’t eat.

In order to solve your IBS, you may need to stay away from entire food groups, not just one or two foods.

Food groups are much more difficult to avoid than you might think. One in particular that commonly causes problems for IBS sufferers is dairy. But dairy is not just milk.

Dairy includes cheese, butter, sour cream, cream cheese, ice cream, and yogurt. It’s found in many baked goods such as muffins, breads, and cookies, as well as in many cream soups, some salad dressings, and milk chocolate. Coffee and lattes are another common source of dairy. Even margarine contains dairy. The list goes on and on.

Two key components of dairy are whey and casein, which many people cannot tolerate. These are used as additives in a great variety of foods, even those you wouldn’t consider to be dairy foods. Look at the labels on the packaged or processed foods you buy. Even non-dairy coffee creamer contains casein, for instance.

This example demonstrates how complicated it can be to avoid entire food groups in order to assess the dietary trigger of your symptoms. Many other food groups are just as complicated. If you remove only one part of a food group from your diet, you won’t really know if that group actually causes your symptoms. You need a great deal of information about the foods you eat and what they contain in order to understand which foods trigger your symptoms.

Reason #2

Another problem is that you may react to more than one food. In fact, most people with IBS are sensitive to more than one food or food group. You may suspect that your symptoms are caused by a certain food, but find that, even after you eliminate that food, your symptoms remain. This may lead you to mistakenly see the eliminated food as not part of the problem.
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New research on asthma is showing that a diet high in fiber helps to reduce asthma. Connecting diet to asthma is an important step. As the article notes, asthma is about inflammation. The next logical question should be, “What is causing that inflammation?”

Those of us working in the world of food allergies and intolerances recognize that if a person has an immune system reaction to a food then they can generate inflammation. That inflammation is not just located in the digestive tract, it can be experienced throughout the body. Therefore, it can be expressed as a wide variety of symptoms, including asthma.

It is not unusual for patients to note improvement in their breathing after learning to avoid their food allergen or intolerance. We encourage anyone with asthma or any other breathing problems to seek out the help of an expert in food allergies and intolerances. The link is real.

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(photo: commons.wikimedia)
(photo: commons.wikimedia)

Food allergies can cause a lot more problems than you or your doctor probably realize. After having worked with thousands of patients with food allergies, we know this to be true.

Although there is plenty of published research on the symptoms of food allergies, there is also a lot of confusion due to conflicting definitions of allergies; some testing methods that are scientifically invalid; and the length of time between exposure to a food and the reaction.

The following are a few of the more common conditions that we regularly see cured by avoiding a food allergen.

Headaches, including Migraines

Headaches are about inflammation. And food allergies are also about inflammation. It is not at all unusual for our patients to report that their headaches have disappeared once they know how to stop triggering them with their diet.

Ear Infections

If your child suffers from more than just the very infrequent ear infection, then they probably have a food allergy.
Kids should not get ear infections. Proper testing can reveal whether a child has a food allergy that is contributing to their susceptibility to ear infections.

Sinusitis

As with kids and ear infections, adults often get chronic sinus infections. Don’t think that it must be caused by bacteria or an environmental allergy. We regularly see chronic sinus problems that are caused by food allergies come to an end when the patient is properly diagnosed and treated.
(more…)

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(photo: commons.wikimedia)
(photo: commons.wikimedia)

Hypothyroidism is a serious condition found in many people with and without food allergies.

However, people with food allergies, particularly those with celiac disease (a gluten allergy), frequently suffer from hypothyroidism. 


Hypothyroidism causes fatigue and weight gain as well as other problems, and is often overlooked and misdiagnosed due to complexities in thyroid testing and symptoms which may overlap or contradict the symptoms of food allergies.

What Is the Thyroid Gland?


The thyroid gland sits in the neck in front of and on both sides of the trachea and secretes thyroid hormones. These hormones regulate metabolism and thus affect many aspects of health. 



What Are the Symptoms of Hypothyroidism? 


Lack of adequate thyroid hormone production may result in one or more of the following symptoms: fatigue, weight gain, constipation, cold extremities, inability to focus, forgetfulness, dry skin and depression.

How Is Hypothyroidism Typically Diagnosed?

Most physicians measure thyroid function not by testing thyroid hormones, but by testing levels of TSH. TSH stands for Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. TSH is produced by the pituitary gland and stimulates the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormones.

As thyroid hormone production drops, TSH levels are supposed to automatically increase to compensate for low thyroid hormone levels. Therefore a higher than normal TSH level indicates a hypothyroid condition.

Why Does Hypothyroidism Frequently Go Undiagnosed?

Unfortunately, TSH doesn’t always respond correctly to low thyroid hormone levels. If the actual thyroid hormones themselves (called T4 and T3) are not checked, hypothyroidism can be missed. I’ve seen several cases of hypothyroidism with low thyroid hormone production and a normal TSH level.

Also, most physicians are using old data and a normal reference range that is too large when determining whether or not the TSH level is normal. This means that many people are being told that they have a normal thyroid when, according to the latest scientific standards, they are actually hypothyroid.

What Is the Current Standard for Determining Hypothyroidism?

The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists recommends that the normal reference range for TSH be reduced by nearly half, down to 0.50-2.50. The old range is 0.50-5.00. (The higher the number, the more hypothyroid you are.) This means that thousands of people are being misdiagnosed and are actually hypothyroid.

Unfortunately, most physicians have been slow in adopting these new standards and many people continue to be misdiagnosed.

QUESTIONS?
Contact our office directly at info@ibstreatmentcenter.com or 1.888.546.6283.

(photo: commons.wikimedia)

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For several decades skin testing has been the standard way to test for allergies.

The potential allergen is injected under or scratched into the skin, and any resulting inflammation (also known as wheal) is measured. The size of the wheal supposedly determines whether or not an allergy is diagnosed.

This technique leaves much to be desired because we don’t inject food into our skin when we eat, nor do we necessarily get a red bump when we have a food allergy. This is also a subjective test. There is no scientific standard for the amount of swelling required for a positive result.

Equally important, this test can measure only an IgE antibody reaction. And even so, it often is negative, missing elevated IgE levels that are evident with a blood test. The IgG antibody is not tested for at all.

Many people are incorrectly told after skin testing that they do not have a particular food allergy. Others seem to react to everything that is tested. Skin testing is probably relevant only for life threatening (anaphylactic) types of food allergies, but in these cases the patient often already knows that he or she has the food allergy.

A more accurate way to detect most food allergies is through ELISA (ee-LIE-za) testing of the blood. This test measures the actual amount of both IgE and IgG in the blood. This very specialized procedure is performed only by doctors trained in recognizing and treating food allergies. It is run only by specialized labs equipped to handle such sophisticated testing.

QUESTIONS? Contact the office of the IBS Treatment Center directly at Info@IBSTreatmentCenter.com.

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(img via commons.wikimedia)
(img via commons.wikimedia)

Food allergies can cause a lot more problems than you (or your doctor) probably realize.

Having worked with thousands of patients with food allergies, we at the IBS Treatment Center know this to be true.

Although there is plenty of published research on the symptoms of food allergies, there is also a lot of misunderstanding due to conflicting definitions of allergies; some testing methods that are scientifically invalid; and the length of time between exposure to a food and the reaction.

Let’s go over some of the more common symptoms that we often see at our clinic.

Headaches, including Migraines
Headaches are about inflammation. And food allergies are also about inflammation. It is not at all unusual for our patients to report that their headaches have disappeared once they know how to stop triggering them with their diet.

Ear Infections
If your child suffers from more than just the very infrequent ear infection, then they probably have a food allergy.
Kids should not get ear infections. Proper testing can reveal whether a child has a food allergy that is contributing to their susceptibility to ear infections.

Sinusitis
As with kids and ear infections, adults often get chronic sinus infections. Don’t think that it must be caused by bacteria or an environmental allergy. We regularly see chronic sinus problems that are caused by food allergies come to an end when the patient is properly diagnosed and treated.

Eczema and Hives
Whether in infants, kids, or adults, eczema and hives are often triggered by food allergies. Even if an allergist has told you that you don’t have a food allergy, you could still have one. Standard tests, including skin prick testing and RAST testing cannot measure allergies mediated by certain types of antibodies.
(more…)

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DrWangenPressPicWeb-199x300Food allergies may be one of the most prevalent health problems in our country and are certainly the biggest problem that I (Dr. Stephen Wangen) see in my clinic.

But if you’re like most of my patients, you’re probably thinking, “Not me, I don’t have a food allergy.” 
Most people think they have a pretty good idea about food allergies. They may know someone who has one and think, “My problem isn’t like theirs.” Or they may just think that food allergies normally result in hives, a rash, or some kind of medical emergency. 
In fact, food allergies can be the cause of many chronic health problems.

What Is An Allergy?

An allergy is what results when your immune system is inappropriately activated. Your immune system is designed to attack bacteria, viruses and parasites. It is not intended to attack the food you eat. But this is exactly what happens with some people. This is called a “food allergy” or “food intolerance.” 

When your immune system is activated, antibodies (also called immunoglobulins) are produced. Antibodies in turn trigger an inflammatory response.

Inflammation causes pain and tissue damage, leading to further symptoms. Increased mucous production is another aspect of an immune response. 

When a food is broken down and absorbed, it is distributed through your bloodstream to all of your tissues. Therefore an allergic reaction can occur just about anywhere in your body. 

We don’t really understand why a food allergy can exhibit itself so differently in different people. However, every individual is unique and seems to have a unique weak point where symptoms of a food allergy show up first.

QUESTIONS?
Contact the office of the IBS Treatment Center directly at info@IBSTreatmentCenter.com or toll-free (in the U.S.) at 1.888.546.6283.

COMMENTS?
Feel free to add your comments below.

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Which Foods Contain Lactose?

(commons.wikimedia)
(commons.wikimedia)

Obvious Sources of Lactose

  • All cheeses
  • Butter, many margarines
  • Goat’s milk
  • Half-and-half cream
  • Ice cream and many sherbets
  • Milk (whole, skim, dry powdered, evaporated)
  • Yogurt

Hidden Sources of Lactose

  • Artificial sweeteners containing lactose
  • Breads, biscuits and crackers, doughnuts made with milk
  • Breading on fried foods
  • Breakfast and baby cereals containing milk solids
  • Buttered or creamed foods (soups and vegetables)
  • Cake and pudding mixes, many frostings
  • Candies with milk chocolate
  • Cookies made with milk
  • Hot dogs, luncheon meats, sausage, hash, processed and canned meats
  • Mayonnaise and salad dressings made with milk
  • Nondairy creamers (except for Coffee Rich)
  • Pancakes, waffles, toaster tarts
  • Pizza
  • Weight loss products
  • Many prescription drugs: birth control pills, thyroid medication and medications for gastrointestinal disorders (such as Reglan and Xanax)
  • Many types of vitamins
  • Foods containing whey, casein, caseinate, or sodium caseinate

If you think you may be lactose intolerant, it’s advisable to get a breath hydrogen test so that you can determine to what extent you have the intolerance. 
Lactose intolerance is something that needs to be dealt with if you want to improve or preserve your health. CONTACT US with questions.

(image thanks to commons.wikimedia)

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(img thanks to fatlossbasics.com)

We received a good question from a former patient about finding a decent protein powder that is dairy, egg, and soy free and wanted to share.

I was a patient of Dr. Wangen’s several years ago and have sent many friends to see him since.  I have felt so much better after seeing him and feel he and your center are a blessing. I have both dairy and egg allergies amongst some other foods.  I’ve been doing a soy protein shake every morning and now have been rethinking the soy and wanted to check to see what Dr. Wangen thinks about soy protein powder and if he has a suggestion about a good tasting  non dairy, non-soy protein powder.

I have tried a couple of Vegan protein powders and they taste terrible.  I’ve also done research and looked at forums etc trying to find one that is not chalky or gritty and read somewhere else that you may be able to handle Whey protein powder if you have a dairy allergy but have been too nervous to put that to a test.

Thanks!

Cathy W.

Dr. Wangen’s response:

I find that it’s a lot of trial and error.

However, I can save you from the error of whey protein. If you look back at your food allergy test results, you’ll notice that whey is on the test and one of the very positive results.

It’s always part of a dairy allergy. What you read was confusing dairy allergy with lactose intolerance. 

Pea protein seems to be fairly popular.

If you shop around online you can find all kinds of protein powder. But I hear what you’re saying about gritty protein powders. Different companies can also vary widely with the quality of the powder, even if they’re using the same ingredients.

Image thanks to fatlossbasics.com

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Anything can be an allergen. Even carrots! (img thanks to carrotmuseum.co.uk)

Anything can be an allergen. Even carrots! I never assume that any one food is good or bad for everyone. Everyone is different.

Study: Component-resolved in vitro diagnosis of carrot allergy in three different regions of Europe.

BACKGROUND:
Carrot is a frequent cause of food allergy in Europe. The objective of this study was to evaluate a panel of carrot allergens for diagnosis of carrot allergy in Spain, Switzerland and Denmark.

METHODS:
Forty-nine carrot allergic patients, 71 pollen allergic but carrot-tolerant patients and 63 nonatopic controls were included. Serum IgE to carrot extract, recombinant carrot allergens (rDau c 1.0104; rDau c 1.0201; rDau c 4; the isoflavone reductase-like proteins rDau c IFR 1, rDau c IFR 2; the carrot cyclophilin rDau c Cyc) were analyzed by ImmunoCAP.

RESULTS:
The sensitivity of the carrot extract-based test was 82%. Use of the recombinant allergens increased the sensitivity to 90%. The Dau c 1 isoforms were major allergens for Swiss and Danish carrot allergic patients, the profilin rDau c 4 for the Spanish patients. The rDau c IFR 1 and rDau c IFR 2 were recognized by 6% and 20% of the carrot allergics, but did not contribute to a further increase of sensitivity. Among pollen allergic controls, 34% had IgE to carrot extract, 18% to each of rDau c 1.0104, rDau c 1.0201 and rDau c 4, 8% to rDau c IFR 1 and 7% to rDau c IFR 2. Sensitization to rDau c Cyc occurred in one carrot allergic patient and one nonatopic control.

CONCLUSION:
Component-resolved in vitro analyses revealed a significant difference in IgE sensitization pattern between geographical regions and in the prevalence of sensitization to carrot components between carrot allergic and carrot-tolerant but pollen sensitized patients.

View this study in its entirety on the National Institutes of Health web site.

—-

Ballmer-Weber BK, Skamstrup Hansen K, Sastre J, Andersson K, Bätscher I, Ostling J, Dahl L, Hanschmann KM, Holzhauser T, Poulsen LK, Lidholm J, Vieths S.

Source
Allergy Unit, Department of Dermatology, University Hospital, Zürich, Switzerland. Barbara.ballmer@usz.ch

—-

Image thanks to carrotmuseum.co.uk

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(image thanks to arthritis.org)

What Does “Arthritis” Mean? 


The word “arthritis” simply means “joint inflammation.” There are basically two types: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. 
Osteoarthritis is inflammation caused by degeneration of the joint and is due to chronic wear and tear. Osteoarthritis is most commonly found in the knees. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a more generic term for inflammation, pain, and swelling of joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is most commonly seen in the hands, although it can affect just about any joint in the body. In children this is called juvenile arthritis.



The Traditional Approach to Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is considered by conventional medicine to be an autoimmune condition of unknown cause. This belief ignores a large volume of scientific evidence pointing to food allergies as a major cause of arthritis. The medical community has focused almost solely on treating arthritis with anti-inflammatory medications, either prescription or over-the-counter. These medications offer temporary relief of the pain and swelling, but they never cure arthritis. Over the long term this type of treatment also comes with a host of side-effects. 



Is It Possible to Eliminate the Inflammation without Drugs? 


Very often it is actually possible to eliminate the cause of the inflammation without resorting to drugs to suppress it. Inflammation is actually caused by the immune system. The important question is, “Why is the immune system creating inflammation?” 



What Triggers the Immune System to Create Inflammation? 


As you already know, bacteria, viruses, and parasites trigger an immune response. But anything that triggers an immune response also triggers inflammation. This includes foods that are incorrectly identified by the immune system as not belonging in the body. Therefore an allergic reaction to a food can result in inflammation of the joints. 



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