In the last blog I explained food allergies occur because of a reaction from the immune system to foods that are eaten and processed by the digestive system.
There are several different immune responses and I discussed the anaphylactic response. In this installment I will discuss another type called the hypersensitivity delayed reaction. As a review from the last article this is what is happening in the body there are proteins on our foods that act as a marker to tell our body what we are eating. These proteins are called antigens. When our immune system comes in contact with our foods it identifies the food and our body then registers whether we it is something that it is allergic to or not. If our immune system has a reaction to the food then it produces a substance called an antibody which then attaches itself to the marker or antigen on the food. This antigen-antibody complex alerts the immune system to come and get rid of the substance that is causing the reaction.
In hypersensitivity delayed reactions the food allergies symptoms did not happen immediately or as forcefully as in the anaphylactic response. Instead the immune system may respond up to 72 hours after the initial exposure to the food that has been ingested. Food allergy symptoms can range from puffiness in the eyes, sinus problems (either short term or long term), canker sores, constipation or diarrhea, upset stomach including heartburn or indigestion, rashes, itching, eczema, hives, gas, bloating, inability to lose weight, abdominal cramping or arthritic type symptoms including swelling of the joints.
Most people do not realize that emotional or mental health related symptoms can also occur including depression, emotional upset, irritability, difficulty concentrating, difficulty sleeping, or migraine headaches.
The most common food allergies are milk and dairy, egg, peanut, tree nut (walnut, cashew, etc.), fish, shellfish, soy, corn, and wheat. In the naturopathic and medical community there are several different ways to diagnose food allergies and unfortunately there is no one gold standard to identify these allergies.