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Food Allergies

You are what you eat

Food Allergies
Food allergies are a significant cause and a contributing factor to illness, especially in the so-called developed world. This problem has increased dramatically in the last half-century due to the widespread use of pesticides, fertilisers, herbicides, antibiotics, food additives, food colourings, food preservatives, genetic modification, and food radiation treatment to preserve it. Some doctors estimate that almost 50% of the problems for which patients consult doctors are related to food allergies. Hence, diagnosing food allergies and removing offending foods from the diet is essential to help people recover from their problems. The failure to diagnose food allergies effectively causes people to continue to suffer from chronic illnesses (which means that they suffer from the problem but never get well) and continue to try symptomatic treatment for the rest of their lives. Allergic reactions causing liver damage have been well-known for centuries. In his Hippocratic writings (Penguin Classic Edition, Page 136) written in the 5th century BC, Hippocrates describes a jaundice caused by consuming beef and milk. Some people also suffer from food intolerances, which produce gastric symptoms like gas and diarrhoea without symptoms elsewhere in the body. The most common food allergy seen today is allergy to dairy products, estimated to affect more than 2 billion people worldwide. Of the three major racial groups, the Han races (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thais, Vietnamese, Burmese, etc.) are usually deficient in Lactase after infancy. They are unable to tolerate and digest cow's milk. Milk products are not a usual part of these people's diets. For people with a milk allergy, foods from these countries are usually safe to eat as a milk-free alternative to their current diets. The subsequent most common allergy is a gluten allergy, which affects an estimated 750 million people worldwide. Other food allergies, in order of frequency, are allergies to aluminium, nuts especially peanuts and almonds, shellfish (more common in areas where industry pollutes the sea bed with industrial wastes and heavy metals), fish, animal products, Monosodium glutamate (MSG), antibiotics, eggs, lentils especially soya, chickpeas, kidney beans and heavier beans, artificial colourings in food, nickel, chocolates, citrus fruits, white sugar, preservatives & alcohol. Allergic diseases like allergic rhinitis, asthma, eczema and ulcerative colitis are treated symptomatically with antihistamines, corticosteroids or other immunosuppressants. Treatments for these problems usually continue lifelong, with a gradual accumulation of side effects of these drugs over a lifetime. If we treat these allergic diseases by removing the cause of the allergy, then the symptoms disappear and stay away as long as we avoid the offending agent. Milk is often a common precipitating factor in all the conditions described above. If you have a milk allergy, complete abstinence from all milk products leads to a magical resolution of the symptoms over a few months. The therapeutic problem lies in finding methods that allow the physician to safely and correctly diagnose the allergy the patient suffers from. The only way to be sure if you are allergic to a particular food is to abstain from that specific food and all its products in all its forms for at least three months. If the symptoms improve with this abstinence, then the diagnosis that you are allergic to that food is probably correct and taking that food again should bring back the symptoms. Most intelligent people, however, are satisfied with the improvement in their health and do not unnecessarily inflict further suffering on themselves by taking that food ever again. Food allergies may disappear after some years, or their manifestations may change. A safe method of leading your life in good health is to plan for lifelong abstinence from the offending food. Our immune system has been designed by nature to protect our body from damage by external forces. An essential part of this system is the antigen—antibody system. Antibodies are the body's protection against invasion by external threats like bacteria, viruses, fungi, etc. The body creates these antibodies to destroy foreign proteins (antigens) that irritate or damage and protect itself. The immune system produces antibodies to react to specific proteins. Antibodies are present in large numbers in those areas which are exposed to invasion from the outside, like the skin, stomach, intestines, lungs, vagina, etc. These reactions in the stomach and intestines can manifest as hyperacidity, peptic ulcers, colitis, gastrointestinal bleeding, haemorrhoids (piles), indigestion, gas, diarrhoea or constipation. If we continue to consume foods we are allergic to, the intestinal lining will be destroyed, and the foreign protein can enter the bloodstream through the ulcers. This is also called the "Leaky Gut Syndrome". The free antibodies in the blood react with these proteins to form dense, tangled masses called immune complexes. Auto-Immune Diseases Once the protection offered by the intestine and liver is breached, antigen-antibody reactions can occur in any part of the body. External proteins in foods contain some amino acid sequences, which are also present in some proteins in our body. If antibodies are formed that recognise these sequences in the body's proteins, then these antibodies attack the body, causing a series of diseases called "autoimmune diseases". This often occurs in the synovial tissue of joints, attacking it and causing symptoms diagnosed as Rheumatoid arthritis. Such reactions can also cause diseases like SLE, scleroderma, cardiomyopathy, Hashimoto's disease, which affects the thyroid gland and breast problems like fibro-adenosis, which may progress to breast cancer. In the uterus, it can cause fibroids and endometriosis. If it occurs in the lungs, it may cause asthma, bronchitis and interstitial lung disease. If it appears in the brain, it may cause memory loss, dyslexia, attention deficit disorders (ADD), multiple sclerosis, transient ischaemic attacks and even paralytic strokes. Such reactions can occur in any part of the body, creating a wide variety of diseases, including glomerulonephritis, which leads to kidney failure. Toxic levels of heavy metals also trigger autoimmune disorders. Some examples of these are multiple sclerosis and autism, often started by mercury and lead toxicity; Scleroderma triggered by lead, iron, copper, aluminium and cadmium; rheumatoid arthritis triggered by lead toxicity; etc. Some Common auto-immune diseases are:- Rheumatoid arthritis. The immune system produces antibodies that attach to the linings of joints. Immune system cells then attack the joints, causing inflammation, swelling, and pain. If untreated, rheumatoid arthritis causes gradually causes permanent joint damage. Reduce immune system overactivity. Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) (lupus). People with lupus develop autoimmune antibodies that can attach to tissues throughout the body. The joints, lungs, blood cells, nerves, and kidneys are commonly affected by lupus. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBS) (IBD). The immune system attacks the lining of the intestines, causing episodes of o, rectal bleeding, urgent bowel movements, abdominal pain, fever, and weight loss. Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease are the two primary forms of IBD. Multiple sclerosis (MS). The immune system attacks nerve cells, causing symptoms that can include pain, blindness, weakness, poor coordination, and muscle spasms. Type 1 diabetes mellitus. Immune system antibodies attack and destroy insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. By young adulthood, people with type 1 diabetes require insulin injections to survive. Guillain-Barre syndrome. The immune system attacks the nerves controlling muscles in the legs and sometimes the arms and upper body. Weakness results can sometimes be severe and hinder the person. Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy. Like Guillain-Barre, the immune system also attacks the nerves in CIDP, but symptoms last much longer. About 30% of patients can start using a wheelchair if not diagnosed and treated early. Treatment for CIDP and GBS are essentially the same. Psoriasis. In psoriasis, overactive immune system blood cells called T-cells collect in the skin. The immune system activity stimulates skin cells to reproduce rapidly, producing silvery, scaly plaques on the skin. Graves' disease. The immune system produces antibodies that stimulate the thyroid gland to release excess amounts of thyroid hormone into the blood (hyperthyroidism). Symptoms of Graves' disease can include bulging eyes as well as weight loss, nervousness, irritability, rapid heart rate, weakness, and brittle hair. Destruction or removal of the thyroid gland, using medicines or surgery, is usually required to treat Graves' disease. Hashimoto's thyroiditis. Antibodies produced by the immune system attack the thyroid gland, slowly destroying the cells that produce thyroid hormone. Low levels of thyroid hormone develop (hypothyroidism), usually over months to years. Symptoms include fatigue, constipation, weight gain, depression, dry skin, and sensitivity to cold. Myasthenia gravis. Antibodies bind to nerves and make them unable to stimulate muscles properly. Weakness that gets worse with activity is the main symptom of myasthenia gravis. Vasculitis. The immune system attacks and damages blood vessels in this group of autoimmune diseases. Vasculitis can affect any organ, so symptoms vary widely and occur almost anywhere in the body. Conclusions. Food allergies are a severe problem that is affecting an increasing number of people all over the world. They cause many issues, which can be alleviated or cured by not eating the offending food and its products. If you have been diagnosed with a food allergy, you need to completely abstain from all products containing that food to allow your health to recover. Cheating on your diet will give you trouble, which may cause permanent damage and take years to reduce intensity. Always check the ingredients of all your products if you have an allergy.
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