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Food allergies could cause variety of illnesses

Have you ever wondered why your child suddenly turns into someone who can’t sit still, doesn’t listen to you and cannot remember the math problems that he/she whizzed through, just yesterday? Your child may have food allergies.

Although people are familiar with the stuffy nose, itchy eyes and even rashes that may accompany the onslaught of seasonal pollens and molds, food allergies are often unrecognized and ignored. Many folks have difficulty believing that a healthy food item can be interpreted by the body’s immune system as a foreign invading protein, to be destroyed. This destructive reaction to common foods causes an inflammatory cascade of events that include swelling, rashes, spasms and even mood reactions.

Food allergies can be causative for arthritis, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, intestinal spasms, GERD, inflammatory bowel disease, eczema and a variety of pain syndromes. Food reactions can also be and frequently are related to autoimmune disorders, such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, vitiligo, pernicious anemia and others.

Children are particularly susceptible to the effects of food allergies and may manifest them in mood changes as well as physical signs. Some people describe the effects of the “brain on food allergens” as a curtain clouding mental function. Removing the offending foods “lifts” the curtain and the patient may experience clarification of thought as well as a calming.

My favorite example of food allergies was the first child I treated, who had been “excused” from kindergarten three times with a variety of excuses, such as failure to mature. He had repeated rashes, difficulty with bedwetting, was in constant activity, usually humming or doing something disruptive. He was unable to color within the lines of his coloring book at the age of 5.

After testing for food allergies, it was found that he was allergic to dairy, wheat and peanuts. His favorite foods were milk and peanut butter sandwiches. On removing these foods from his diet, his behavior calmed and he was able to quietly play and concentrate, and the incessant humming stopped altogether. He no longer had rashes, the bedwetting was resolved, and he was able to color within the lines in his coloring book. All these changes occurred within three to five days of discontinuing the food allergens.

Food allergies often stimulate endorphins (feel-good hormones) in the body, so the foods involved are often the patient’s favorite ones. This process becomes addictive, and discontinuing the foods may actually invoke withdrawal symptoms. The good news is that they usually do not last for more than three days and there are natural therapies which effectively stop cravings for these foods and calm allergy reactions to them.

Common food allergies are dairy; wheat/gluten; tree nuts such as cashews, almonds and walnuts; chocolate; and eggs. A simple elimination of the foods involved can greatly alter the immune stress, relieving many physical and mental problems.

Dr. Laurie Marzell is a naturopathic physician and certified menopause practitioner with the North American Menopause Society. She specializes in hormone replacement in men and women.

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