Due to a variety of factors, food allergies and sensitivities are on the rise. Whether there are more people with issues, or better diagnostics, these food problems can be very debilitating and limiting. Traditional medical care has included invasive testing and treatments. Chiropractic care and advice can help people in their wellness lifestyle.
Food Allergies and Sensitivities: The Differences
When a food ingredient, such as a protein, is considered harmful to a person’s immune system, the body mistakenly creates antibodies to defend itself. Common allergy-producing foods include tree nuts and peanuts, shellfish, dairy, eggs, wheat, and soy. Intolerances and sensitivities are not allergies because the response comes from the digestive and not the immune system. A common food that triggers these discomforts includes lactose, which is in dairy. Allergic reactions are more severe, and they can range from rashes, to diarrhea and nausea, from itchy skin and chest pain, to full anaphylaxis (full-body allergic reaction). Intolerances can also include diarrhea and nausea, gas, heartburn, headaches, and irritability. Intolerances, or sensitivities, are much more common than allergies.1 Intolerances come on gradually, and allergies have a severe, immediate reaction.2
Traditional Diagnosis and Treatments
Some medical methods for diagnosing food intolerances include “hydrogen breath testing” for lactose intolerance and fructose malabsorption”, elimination diets, and ELISA testing for immune responses to certain foods. Also, autoimmune diseases must be ruled out, such as Celiac Disease (which causes reactions to gluten). Depending on whether or not there is an intolerance or actual allergy, treatment methods vary. There are skin tests and blood tests, and medical history is also considered. Treatments can “involve long-term avoidance, or if possible re-establishing a level of tolerance”.3 If food allergies progress, and the offending foods cannot always be avoided, patients have to wear medical alert jewelry, carry an epinephrine (adrenaline) injector, or seek out emergency care.4 Some reactions can come during the testing process. “In provocation (challenge) testing, you eat a small amount of the suspected food allergen under medical supervision.”5
A Chiropractic Perspective
According to Claudia Anrig, DC, “One of the three causes of the vertebral subluxation may be chemical, the family wellness chiropractor may…approach the role of nutrition in their practice.” In that vein, prevention is important. Many childhood disorders can be caused by, or worsened, by dairy. These include tonsil and ear infections, asthma, intestinal bleeding, diabetes, and ear infections, as noted by Dr. Robert Kradjian, chief of breast surgery at California’s Seton Medical Center. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding dairy before a child turns 1. Anemia and food allergies are another risk of dairy consumption. The AAP suggests breastfeeding exclusively, without supplementation, for the first year. Aside from allergy prevention, and avoiding trigger foods, chiropractors can help patients’ immune systems. Dr. Anrig states, “I have seen that when families participate in healthy lifestyle choices that includes wellness chiropractic care for their children, very few children manifest food allergies.”6
There is more information on allergies and chiropractic treatment.