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Approximately one in five adults and children, as well as probably one in three humans with behavioural problems, are sensitive to or observe allergic reactions to common foods such as milk, wheat, yeast and eggs. The knowledge that these food and chemicals allergies can adversely affect mood and behaviour in children has been reported, however ignored for a long time.


In the 80s, researchers found that allergies can affect any system in the body, including the central nervous system - a result that has been confirmed by recent tests. Allergies can cause a variety of symptoms, such as fatigue, decreased processing speed of thought, irritability and agitation, aggressive behaviour, nervousness, anxiety, depression, ADHD, autism, hyperactivity and some learning disorders.

Sometimes an IgG food allergy test can identify any type of food, that once removed from the daily diet, may increase sociability, facilitate digestion, regulate bowel functions and remove stomach aches.

Such symptoms, in susceptible children can be caused by a variety of substances, although these typically involve reactions to common foods and food additives. Some children, particularly those suffering from ADHD or hyperactivity (hyperactivity disorder and attention deficit) may react to salicylates - a typical component of many healthy foods.
The most convincing evidence of the widespread effects of allergies originates from a crossover study, double-blind, placebo-controlled, well-conducted by Dr. Joseph Egger and his team, who studied 76 hyperactive children, in order to find out if their diet could contribute to behavioural issues. The results revealed that 79 per cent of the children tested reacted adversely to artificial colorants and food preservatives, especially to tartrazine and benzoic acid, which produced a marked behavioural deterioration.

However, Egger noted that no child reacted solely to these aliments. In fact, they discovered 48 different foods that produce symptoms in the children tested. For example, 64 per cent of children tested reacted to cow's milk, 59 per cent to chocolate, 49 per cent to wheat, 45 per cent to oranges, 39 per cent eggs, 32 per cent to 16 per cent peanuts and sugar. An interesting point was the discovery that the children's behaviour was not the only thing that improved after the change in their diets. Most associated symptoms had also decreased considerably, including headaches, abdominal discomfort, chronic rhinitis, pain in the limbs, skin rashes and mouth ulcers. Other studies have shown similar results.

These studies are good examples that the problems created by allergies often produce a variety feel of physical and mental but affecting many body systems. Furthermore, allergies are specific to each individual, just as the symptoms they cause.
Allergies, intolerance or sensitivity?

Nowadays, people use the terms 'food allergy', 'food intolerance' and food sensitivity indiscriminately. What then is the difference between them? The classic definition of allergies are exaggerated to a simple physical reaction to a substance, where the immune system is clearly involved. The immune system, namely the defence system of the body has the ability to produce "markers" for substances it dislikes, the classic example being named IgE antibody (immunoglobulin type E). When food containing the allergen are digested, it enters the bloodstream as the marker IgE, triggering the release of chemicals (see figure below).

 

These include histamine, which causes the classic symptoms of allergy - skin rashes, hay fever, rhinitis, sinusitis, asthma, eczema and anaphylaxis (a reaction in the mouth and throat swell and gives an asthma attack strike at sometimes accompanied by a rash, rapid lowering of blood pressure, irregular heartbeat and loss of consciousness).



All these reactions 'measured by IgE' are immediate, serious and can be fatal

 



Figure A.1 IgG cause allergic reactions

 



Food intolerances and sensitivities are reactions to foods in where there is no measurable antibody response. Examples include lactose intolerance, where the child lacks the enzyme to digest milk sugar (lactose) leading to diarrhoea or abdominal discomfort when drinking milk, as well as intolerance to a flavour enhancer, monosodium glutamate, increasing hyperactiveness in children.

Top ten allergic aliments:

Any food can cause an allergic reaction, but the most common are wheat and other grains with gluten, milk, eggs, foods containing yeast, seafood, nuts, peanuts, garlic and soy. Most food allergy is a reaction to a specific protein that food - especially the food we eat most often.

Wheat is likely to be highest on the list, as it contains a substance called gliadin that irritates the intestinal wall. The gliadin is one type of gluten, a sticky protein that allows to form pockets of air when combined with yeast - thus allowing the growth of bread dough. Eating too many wheat based products is not good for anyone and it is especially not recommended for your child if he developed an allergy. The links between wheat allergy, autism and ADHD were well identified. Rye, barley and oats contain much less and containing gluten are of different types. So, even if your child is allergic to wheat, he may be able to tolerate rye, barley and oats. At the same time, some children who are allergic to wheat, rye and barley can tolerate oats, since these do not contain gliadin.

Dairy products, including cheese and yogurt, are reported as causing allergic reactions in many children. Some seem to tolerate goat's or sheep's, but not cow’s milk. However, this is likely to occur due to low quantity consumption; sheep's milk and goat's milk tends to be packaged in smaller containers and are not available everywhere. Allergic reactions often include stuffy nose, frequent colds, indigestion and bloating, feeling of heavy head, fatigue, earaches and headaches.

Controlling allergies:

Of all links that have investigated, the relation between behavioural problems and allergies is the most referenced. If your child is hyperactive or has tendency to inexplicable mood swings, it may be of value to  perform an allergy test. We shall consider various options.

Testing for Allergy:

 If your child has a history of infantile colic, eczema, asthma, ear infections, hay fever, seasonal allergies, digestive problems (including bloating, diarrhoea and constipation), frequent colds and any behavioural problems or learning disabilities, then there is a valid reason to suspect a delayed food allergy reaction and you should attempt a test to identify the culprit. The best test is the IgG ELISA, using a blood sample (a simple finger prick, which can be made with a home kit).
The test is best conducted under the observation of a nutritional therapist or specialist in allergies, which can then define a diet that will remove all products causing the allergy and include appropriate alternatives.

An alternative method to identify food allergies is the elimination of specific dietary elements and screening. This involves removing all likely culprits from the diet for a certain time period (usually between two weeks to three months), and observing any behavioural, mental or physical changes. The food can be reintroduced, in a controlled manner, while checking the state of health. However, it should be noted that this method is not entirely accurate due to the varying dosage quantities of a product that a child or an adult can react to.

As you already know, if you have an allergy IgE, the food in question (such as peanuts or shrimp) must be avoided for life. However, allergies IgG - that have a delayed effect and smoother - may not be long-term. By identifying foods that are allergenic and avoiding them without exceptions for six months, you may improve your digestive health as well as potentially lose the allergy. However, in some cases, an IgG allergic reaction can react similarly to IgE allergies, affecting an individual for a lifetime (for more information read Hidden Food Allergies Patrick Holford and Dr. James Braly).

The intestinal factor:

The digestive problems are often the underlying factor in delayed food allergy reaction, or IgG. Many children have digestive tracts which are too 'permeable', meaning that partially undigested proteins enter the bloodstream and trigger reactions.

This permeability may develop due to frequent use of antibiotics or aspirin, gastrointestinal infections, fungal infections such as candidiasis, or due to a deficiency in essential fatty acids, vitamin A and zinc. Therefore, identifying and avoiding what we are reacting to is only half the problem with respect to a food allergy IgG. The other half is to return to a healthy digestion. A child with food allergies symptoms, such as ear infections or frequent respiratory infections, has a good chance they will be given antibiotics by your doctor. This can increase the intestine’s susceptibility to allergies and deteriorate, leading in turn to more antibiotics and a vicious cycle unnecessary health problems. It is clearly better to deal with the underlying cause of the symptoms, identifying the allergenic food and removing them from the diet, instead of relying on antibiotics for a short-term relief and long-term worsening of the problem.

There are several ways to try and reduce the allergic potential:

• Remove all dairy and wheat based their feeding for a month or more to observe its effects. In any case, try to limit these dietary food groups, by not eating them every day.

• Improve digestion in food including plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds and fish, which contain essential fatty acids and zinc.

• Minimize the use of antibiotics as they damage the digestive tract.

• If you suspect you may have a food allergy, perform a IgG ELISA food allergies test and see a nutrition specialist. Both of these methods can identify what is allergic, define a course of action to reduce your allergic potential and ensure that the diet remains balanced and healthy when excluding the problematic aliments.

 (Patrick Holford)

 

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