what causes food allergies?

Great panel discussion with Dr. Stephen Wangen from the IBS Treatment Center and a round table discussion. Education is the best way to understand what’s going on with your body!


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

Many people with chronic headaches suffer for years with no permanent relief.

Whether or not you have migraine headaches, tension headaches, sinus headaches, or an undetermined form of headache, it is very possible that you are suffering from food allergy-induced inflammation. Recent research on migraines indicates that food allergies mediated by IgG-type antibodies are specifically to blame.

A headache is really a symptom of something else. It is obviously pain in the head, but the common factor is that headaches of all types usually involve inflammation. If the immune system reacts to one or more of the foods that you eat, then an inflammatory reaction is taking place that can potentially affect your head. Such reactions are far more common than many people realize.

The inflammation and thus the headache will resolve once the triggering food or foods are removed from the diet. Sometimes this is easier said than done, because the foods that we eat are often complicated combinations of numerous base foods. But once the problem is understood, the results can be dramatic.

Food Allergies and Headaches: Q&A with the IBS Treatment Center’s Dr. Stephen Wangen

Is It Possible to Eliminate the Pain and Inflammation without Drugs?

Very often it is actually possible to eliminate the cause of the pain and inflammation without resorting to drugs to suppress it. Inflammation is actually caused by the immune system, which then leads to pain. 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.


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This is a very important issue and an important question.

Antibiotics are definitely a double edged sword. You can’t just use them and think that there are no negative consequences. And remember, this article is only referring to the classic definition of food allergy, which is limited to only 5 symptoms – asthma, anaphylaxis, hives, eczema, and allergic rhinitis. It’s possible that the issue is far more significant that just those 5 symptoms.

The basic finding of this study is that giving kids multiple courses of antibiotics when very young increases their risk of developing food allergies. 

This is hypothesized to result from the alterations in the gut microbial community.  The association between food allergies, digestive disorders, and the gut microbial community is well known to the IBS Treatment Center.

While not at all surprising, this study simply provides more evidence that the immune system is very important to health and the microbes in our digestive tract are very important to our immune system.

Thoughts? Please feel free to share them in our comments section.

Excerpt from FamilyPracticeNews.com:

Antibiotic exposure during the first year of life is associated with an increased risk of food allergy in young children, according to findings from a large case-control study.

The risk is greatest among those exposed to multiple antibiotic courses, Bryan L. Love, Pharm.D., reported during a late-breaking abstract session at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.

The mean number of antibiotic courses received by 1,105 case patients with food allergy was 2.65, compared with 1.84 for 6,433 food allergy–free control patients. The mean time to first antibiotic course was 181.5 days for those with food allergies, compared with 190.1 days for controls. These differences were statistically significant, said Dr. Love of the South Carolina College of Pharmacy, Columbia.

Additionally, only 24% of case patients, compared with a third of controls, had never received an antibiotic.

Later vs. earlier antibiotic exposure (during months 7-12 vs. months 0-6) also was associated with greater likelihood of developing food allergy (odds ratio, 1.98).

“This makes sense, because [months 7-12] is typically when new foods are being introduced to children,” Dr. Love said.

Image thanks to amandabox.blogspot.com


I don’t believe that pesticides are necessarily causing food allergies, but they certainly aren’t helping.

Think of the health of the body like a bucket. A bucket can only handle so much water. At some point it will overflow.

The body can handle a certain amount of insults, both physical and otherwise. But there is a threshold that is reached at which point symptoms become evident.

Food allergies and foreign chemicals are both stresses on the body. The body can only handle so much. Therefore it is safe to assume that pesticides are going to bring out more food allergy symptoms. 

Excerpt from HealthDay.com:

Researchers from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) noted that the chemicals, known as dichlorophenols, are also used to make pesticides and may be found in treated fruits and vegetables.

While the study could not prove a cause-and-effect relationship, it suggests “that high levels of dichlorophenol-containing pesticides can possibly weaken food tolerance in some people, causing food allergy,” the study’s lead author, allergist Dr. Elina Jerschow, explained in an ACAAI news release. “This chemical is commonly found in pesticides used by farmers and consumer insect and weed-control products, as well as tap water.”

The study, published in the December issue of Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, involved more than 2,200 participants in a U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, aged 6 and older. The researchers found that those with sensitivity to one or more foods had higher levels of dichlorophenols in their urine compared to people without such allergies. Overall, more than 400 of these people had a food allergy and more than 1,000 had an environmental allergy.


(image thanks to ovguide.com)

People with food allergies are often disappointed when they learn that they have them because it means not eating foods that they like. While there are good substitutes for many allergenic foods and it is becoming easier and easier to find well-labeled products in the grocery store and even restaurants, it can be challenging to completely avoid your allergenic foods. Social situations, especially family meals, or meals at friends homes can be very challenging.

The natural question is then “What if I eat just a little”? The answer is complicated. This is really two different questions: “Can I eat just a little and not suffer IBS symptoms?”, and, “Can I eat just a little and not do any damage to my body?” Depending on the strength of your allergy and other factors influencing your immune system at the time you may not be able to eat any of your allergenic foods without suffering from digestive problems. In other instances or you may be able to eat a full portion without noticing significant negative effects. The immune system is very complex and influenced by a wide variety of factors.

Unfortunately, you can’t even necessarily rely on your symptoms to tell you whether or not you are being negatively affected by your food allergy. In the case of celiac disease, a gluten intolerance, all gluten must be avoided, regardless of the symptoms. Some celiacs experience significant illness if they ingest even the slightest amount of gluten. Others have no noticeable symptoms at all.

Unfortunately, there isn’t enough research about most food allergies to understand the variety of ways that they affect us. What we do know is that
when you eat something to which you are allergic you are stimulating an immune response to that food. This immune response has potential long-term negative effects, regardless of your experience when you eat the food. But we don’t know how significant those effects really are.


Food allergies can be the cause of many chronic health problems.

Food allergies may be one of the most prevalent health problems in our country and are certainly the biggest problem that I 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.

Food Allergies: IgE and IgG

The immune system functions like a sentinel standing guard against foreign invaders. In the case of an allergy, the invaders are called allergens. The primary weapon that it uses against invaders is the production of antibodies. The antibodies cause reactions that result in the offending allergens being removed from the body. In many people, foods act as allergens rather than nutrition. This can result in the symptoms of IBS.  

The immune system produces numerous kinds of antibodies, called immunoglobulins. IgE and IgG are acronyms for the two different kinds of antibodies produced by the immune system in allergic reactions to food. You might be asking why you need to know this. Conventional allergy testing looks for IgE reactions only. These types of reactions typically occur immediately after contact with or ingestion of the allergen, and in some cases can cause serious, even fatal, health problems. Potential IgE reactions include swelling of the lips and tongue, hives, bloating, abdominal pain, or sudden diarrhea. These are the reactions that people usually think of when they hear the word allergy. However, IgE reactions can also lead to many other symptoms not traditionally recognized as being caused by food allergies.

The problem with this type of testing is that most food allergies are not IgE reactions, but are rather IgG reactions, which usually show up hours or even days after ingestion of the allergen. They are generally not nearly as dramatic as the more severe IgE reactions, and usually result in “mere” constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas and abdominal pain. Both antibodies are important, and food allergy testing should include both or the cause of IBS may be missed.

For more information about this subject refer to The Irritable Bowel Syndrome Solution.

Image thanks to simplemom.net