What is an allergy, how is it different from a food sensitivity, and why elimination diet will help you figure out the difference between the two?
Allergy is a reaction of the immune system to a foreign substance, which under normal circumstances would not trigger a reaction. These substances are called allergens and would include things like pollen, certain types of food, animal hair, and so on.
The immune system’s job is to take care of your health and protect you from harmful pathogens. When the immune system notices something that can harm you, it starts to attack it. This reaction can show up in different ways: a skin rash, itching, sneezing and stuffy nose.
ALLERGY AND SENSITIVITY TO PRODUCTS – MY STORY
I had never suffered from allergies. However, a few years ago I started having serious skin problems – first, there was slight dermatitis on the chin, then persistent rhinitis (stuffy nose), a rash on my face, and endless headaches. Doctors diagnosed me with teenage acne (!) and prescribed me an antibiotic. When this antibiotic did not help, they prescribed me another one. I started having chronic pharyngitis (which is a pain in your forehead due to blocked nasal cavities), which makes it especially difficult for flights and business trips (it seems that something has exploded in my head), which was also treated with an antibiotic. In total, in one year I had six courses of different antibiotics, which had completely messed up my gut health and digestive function and I ended up calling an ambulance.
After that, I decided to study my body on my own in order to help myself recover and understand the causes for its malfunction. When I tried to take an allergy test, it showed that I have no allergies. Which meant that something else in my life was triggering such a reaction. Nevertheless, none of the doctors could explain to me what it was and just continued to offer more pills.
It turns out there is a difference between allergies and food sensitivity. When your gut is inflamed (which was aggravated by taking antibiotics in my case), there is a significant chance that food particles can enter the bloodstream through the intestinal wall, triggering an autoimmune reaction. During the process, the body starts to attack itself. Allergy can be confirmed using an allergy test. Food sensitivities are much more difficult to diagnose, but the elimination diet is a great place to start and it has helped me personally!
WHAT IS AN ELIMINATION DIET?
If you suspect you have allergy or sensitivity to food products, you should try an elimination diet. The diet works as follows: all food products that can cause an allergic or food reaction should be excluded from the diet for a certain time (3-5 weeks).
PRODUCTS TO BE EXCLUDED:
- Gluten (wheat, rye, barley etc.)
- Legumes and soybeans (including soy sauce);
- Corn and its sub-products;
- Citrus products;
- Nuts and seeds;
- Seafood, particularly shellfish.
Within 3-5 weeks, your body should be completely restored and rid of this product. If your allergy symptoms persist, it could be caused by some other source, and it is best for you to see your doctor.
Next, you need to try to introduce one product from each group and observe the symptoms.
The symptoms include:
- Watery eyes, itching;
- Stuffy nose;
- Sleep problems;
- Joint pain;
- Headaches or migraines;
- Breathing problems.
If you experience any of the symptoms listed above after consuming one of the products, you may be allergic or sensitive to this product. It is advised that you eliminate it from your diet. Eventually, when your gut is healed, you can try to introduce this product back into your diet and watch out for the reaction.
WHICH PRODUCTS DOES THE ELIMANTION DIET ALLOW?
- Fruits (except citrus products), berries;
- Cereal grains (except for gluten) and porridges, including rice and buckwheat;
- Meat and fish (except smoked ones);
- Vegetable milk and products derived from it (except soy);
- Water, teas;
If you have a feeling that you have a specific reaction to any product, you should definitely try the elimination diet. When you discover these products (or not), you can book an allergy test in order to determine if it is an allergy or just a sensitivity to some products.
Assuming this is a sensitivity to products, after a certain period and having restored the intestinal mucosa with the correct diet, you can try again to return them to your diet.
Children should only try this diet under the supervision of a doctor or nutritionist.
If you suspect you might be sensitive or have a reaction to certain products but do not know where to begin, I can help! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or sign up for a free 20-minute consultation and I will help you get on the right track.