What is a food allergy exactly? Food allergies or sensitivities do not trigger the same kind of symptoms we normally associate with allergies such as sneezing, wheezing, hives, runny nose, etc. A food allergy is based on some type of immune malfunction, which has its origins in the digestive system. Because of this reason, some scientists are slow to recognize the reality of food allergies nevertheless, their far reaching symptoms and very marked effects on certain susceptible people cannot be ignored. What we eat can and does affect how we feel, both physically and emotionally.
A great number of health care experts support the notion that food allergies can cause hyperkinetic behavior in children. For this reason hyperactive children or those diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) are immediately taken off of sugar, wheat and chemical additives. While the evidence is not totally conclusive, enough data suggests that hyperactivity is related to food choices. In other words, certain foods initiate a cascade effect in susceptible individuals causing a dramatic change in mood and behavior.
Elisa Lotter, Ph.D., relates the story of Henry, a mentally disturbed seventeen year old who had been on tranquilizers, electric shock treatments, and psychotherapy for several years with no significant improvement. He was subsequently placed on a strict fast in which he was given only spring water. After four days he experienced a complete reversal of symptoms, until the fifth day, in which he was given a meal consisting of only wheat. Within an hour, he began to experience negative, paranoid thoughts. Further testing confirmed that when certain foods were withheld from Henry, his symptoms disappeared; when they were added back, he became mentally disturbed once again. Doctors Philpott and Kalita, in their book Brain Allergies, discuss the very significant mental impact that dairy products and cereal grains have in some schizophrenics. The implication is that hidden food sensitivities and intolerances may be responsible for a number of emotional disorders in certain susceptible people.
The very nature of what we eat is often unknown to us. In other words, we open microwaveable dinners, brightly colored boxes, and gladly ingest a number of mystery ingredients and chemicals. Marshall Mandell, M.D., has written two books and numerous scientific papers on the subject of food intolerance. He says, ôContemporary mass-production strips food of many valuable nutrients that, were they left intact, would provide protective benefits.ö When humans tamper with natural food substances they can become contaminants rather than nutrients to the body. Such contaminants can trigger a change in mood or other physiological response. During an allergic reaction, for example, the body leaks histamine from the capillaries, which can cause edema or swelling around them. Dr. Mandell believes that the same reaction can take place in brain cells when you eat a culprit food, causing a disruption in brain chemistry. In addition, in the same way that muscle spasms cause the bronchiole tubes to constrict during an allergic asthma attack, Dr. Mandell proposes that similar spasms in the small arteries of the brain can reduce the flow of glucose, oxygen and other nutrients to brain tissue. Both of these scenarios would naturally precipitate a change in behavior or mood.
Regardless of the mechanisms, sensitivities to certain foods can make us feel mentally and physically depressed. This is the reason some people feel unusually good when they fast. Food sensitivities have been linked to autoimmune diseases, inflammatory bowel diseases, and a number of mental disorders.
What To Do if You Suspect a Food Allergy
One of the easiest ways to determine if you are suffering from a food allergy is to keep track of your pulse rate after eating. Sit quietly and count the number of beats that occur in a minute. A normal pulse ranges between 50 to 70 beats per minute. After you have